Wedding Planning Tips
You are now engaged! Congratulations! Now, what do you do? Book a hall? The church? A DJ? Find a dress? It can be so overwhelming! The moment you tell someone you are engaged they are suddenly a wedding planner and each one has some different you MUST do right away!
As a professional Wedding Photographer, I have personally photographed over 400 weddings. As a studio owner, I have planned over 1000 weddings. We are here to help. Here are some insider planning tips to help you plan the Stress-Free Wedding of your Dreams!
There are two stages to wedding planning. The actual research part. Looking for your vendors, reading reviews, booking appointments, going to tasting etc. Then there is the actual day of planning. What time should hair and makeup start? How long does it take to go from your church to your venue? How long do family photos take? I am going to break down part 1, which is the Booking Your Vendors, and part 2 which is Making a Plan. To help guide you to planning your stress-free wedding.
Booking your Vendors:
Here is a list of the big vendors used on a typical wedding day, as well as an approximate time frame when you should book these vendors.
1st Venue (Book this Vendor about 1 - 2 years prior to wedding)
Venues get booked up very fast and they have limited availability, without this having your venue and a date locked in, you can’t move forward with any other vendor.
2nd Dress (Try to have a dress about a year prior to your wedding)
Most people do not know this, but it can sometimes take up to 9 months from the moment you select your dress to receive it. It is a good idea to start looking at wedding dresses sooner rather than later.
3rd Church (Book this Vendor about 1 - 2 years prior to wedding)
Churches get just as booked up as the Venue. They have limited availability as well but can perform multiple ceremonies per day. Also, without a locking in a time for your ceremony, you can’t plan the rest of your wedding day properly.
4th Photographer (Book this Vendor about 1 - 1½ years prior to wedding)
Photographers and Videographers are arguably one of the most important vendors of your day. A skilled Photographer & Videographer will be one of the first vendors booked aside from your venue and church. To ensure you have the Photographer or Videographer of your choice I would lock in your photographer at least a year in advance.
5th DJ / Band (Book this Vendor about a 1 year prior to your wedding)
Your DJ / Band will determine if your wedding is a fun event your friends and family will talk about for years to come. Or a snooze fest where everyone sat at their table all night. Just like your photographer, a skilled performer is going to get booked up earlier than a nonskilled entertainer. The earlier you book, the better chance you have of getting the best DJ/MC the company has instead of the last guy on their list.
6th Florist (Book this Vendor about 8 months prior to your wedding)
Flowers are either very important to you or not important at all. Some people spend thousands of dollars and some spend as little as possible. A florist is not like a Professional Wedding Photographer or a Professional MC, they are more of a product. Yes, you need skilled Florist to come up with beautiful centerpieces and the right combination of certain flowers to get the desired effect/feel but they can do put together many arrangements per day and do multiple events per day. With that being said, you still want to give them ample time to get in the specific flowers so you want to book this vendor about 8 months or so prior to your wedding.
7th Limo (Book the Vendor about 6 months prior to your wedding)
Unless you are booking a specifical limo, or need some type of very specific party bus Limos are typically one of the last vendors you book for your wedding. The prices vary greatly from company to company, my best advice for you is to shop around, choose a company that has good reviews and tries not to overpay. On a side note, a limo company that has an on premises auto mechanic is a good choice because they do all of the upkeep in the house.
There are always going to be other things you have to do for your wedding such as send out Invitations, choosing favors etc. These are usually left for almost dead last on the list of importance and can be booked/purchased inside the 6-month mark.
Also, this should go without saying, but you do get what you pay for more times than not. If you find a wedding DJ that is willing to DJ and MC your event with lights and all of the trimmings for a really cheap price, chances are they are crappy. Think about it, if you are a skilled professional, you are going to be pretty sought after. Why would you sell your services so cheap? Now, I am not saying to go out and pick the vendor with the highest ticket prices because prices do not equal quality. I am just saying to compare a few vendors and see what a reasonable price is. That price is going to vary state to state so do your research and don’t just pick someone that has a low price tag. Because then all of this planning is really worthless if you pick less skilled non-professional vendors that are going to mess up your wedding.
The Planning Stage:
Time is going to be the number one factor when trying to plan your wedding day. Not enough time for hair and makeup to do their job will result in you running late to your church. Not enough time to take your wedding photos will result in you missing cocktail hour. There are 24 hours in every day, and when planning your wedding, you need to make sure that each one is used to its utmost potential.
Every wedding is different. Some have churches, some have first revealed. Some weddings everything from the getting ready to the reception is done in one location, others have 5 locations. What does this mean? It means there is no cookie cutter way of saying this is how long everything should take.
Each vendor is going to need a certain amount of time to do their job. You are going to need to sit down with each vendor and ask outright, how much time are you going to need? Then plan your day accordingly. After planning 1000 weddings, I always air on the side of caution. Whatever time they are going to need, add in more time just in case.
After you have the approximate time, that each vendor is going to need to accomplish their duties, talk to your photographer. They are going to be able to help you coordinate your day so you get the most out of it. Why your photographer? Am I saying this because I am a photographer? Kinda, but the truth is, your hair and makeup person does her job and leaves. Your limo driver does his job and leaves, your DJ shows up almost at the end of your day. Your photographer is the one that is going to be with you ALL day long. He is going to be able to take all of the information from your other vendors and help you put together a timeline that works, not just for the beginning of the day, but until the last song plays.
I hope this helps you get on the right path to planning your stress-free wedding day.
Thank you and have a great day!