Congratulations to all newly engaged couples of the new year! This is such an exciting time for you! Yet, after you announce to all your friends and family your joyous news a new realization will dawn that now you have to plan your wedding. As you begin to peruse the numerous boards on Pinterest for inspiration or take notice of magazines at the local checkout for themes, colors, etc. there is another thing to consider. Before you dive headlong into choosing the color of linens you want, you need to ask yourself, “When should I book my photographer and other wedding vendors?”
Trust me when I say I understand the fun of diving in head first into projects. I am guilty as the next person, but it never hurts to slow down and create a game plan. There is a reason behind why companies create wedding planning worksheets and albums.
As a professional wedding photographer, I can tell you that wedding planning can be stressful for a lot of people. But it doesn’t have to be with a little forethought. Let’s look at some suggested timelines for when you should be booking various wedding vendors beginning with photography.
When to Book Your Wedding Photographer
I recommend to all my clients that you look to book my services for your wedding date at least 12 months in advance.
You should also consider what your chosen wedding date is as well. For example, if you want to get married in the Autumn in the month of October in Western North Carolina I would suggest even booking your photographer or videographer up to 18 months in advance.
Because October is the prime month for weddings in the greater Asheville area due to the colorful leaf changes and cooler weather.
If your chosen date for this month, or any others for that matter, have already been filled with your chosen photographer don’t hesitate to ask about the day before or after for availability.
Also, keep in mind that most venues offer discounts for weekday weddings.
Nevertheless, every year a month or two before October arrives, I get frantic emails or calls of brides trying to find coverage for their October wedding date. Sadly, I must turn them away.
If capturing your celebration through imagery is important to you, book your photographer early. The early bird does catch the worm.
When to Book Your Wedding Venue
At the same time, you are looking to hire your photographer you need to be considering the venue that you want to host your event. You should look at booking your wedding venue around 12-18 months in advance.
Venue’s calendars also fill up quickly, especially in the most popular months. However, as stated above, if your chosen date has been taken be sure to inquire about weekday pricing.
If you are out of town, I suggest that you book a weekend to visit your chosen area and contact your list of venues you have in mind for tours.
This is also an excellent time to meet your photographer or photographers you want to consider, face to face.
When to Book Your Wedding Florist
Once you have decided on your venue the next step is to choose your wedding florist. It sincerely helps your florist to know the location of where you are getting married, so they can accurately quote you on the costs of your flowers.
When contacting your florist, it is also important to let them know approximately how many guests will be in attendance, so they can plan how many centerpieces you will need.
Timelines are crucial for your florist because they must stay in constant contact with growers to ensure you get the flowers you have requested.
I recommend booking your florist 9-11 months in advance of your wedding and having all details finalized with them at a minimum of 6 weeks before your date. Changing details at the last minute with your florist is difficult due to the delivery and availability of live flowers.
When to Book Your Wedding Officiant
If you have chosen to not get married within a religious organization, you will need to look for an independent officiant. Although wedding officiants do not generally stay for all the festivities of your special event, they often perform more than one ceremony per day.
That is why I recommend booking your officiant at least 8 months in advance if not sooner.
When to Book Your Hair & Makeup Stylist
As with everything else if you have a preferred stylist in mind book them as soon as you settle on your date. However, if you are looking to find someone, I suggest booking your hair and makeup stylist at minimum 7-10 months in advance.
Most hair and makeup stylists also have their own salons with regular clients, therefore, it is important to get on their calendar, so they can plan accordingly.
I also recommend if you have the time to do at least one run through of your chosen hair and makeup with your stylist before your wedding ceremony. This will give them an idea of what will work for your skin tone and type of hair.
When to Book Your Cake Baker & Caterer
No wedding is complete without a lavish cake and food for yourself and guests! If your venue does not provide you with a caterer package you will need to discover a cake baker and caterer on your own.
When to Book Other Wedding Vendor Services
There are a variety of other wedding services and vendors that you may need on your wedding day. For example, day-of coordinators, musicians, DJs, transportation, tux rentals, linens, tents, etc. I personally recommend having all your vendors booked by at least 6 months out.
My personal philosophy is to plan ahead and make your wedding experience be as fluid and relaxed as possible. If you hire a wedding planner, they will walk you through each of these steps and assist you in finding all the vendors that you will need for your event.
If you have a preferred vendor of any kind book them as soon as possible so as not to be disappointed.
Also, I am always here to assist my brides in their planning with a list of recommended vendors of whom I have worked with professionally. If you ever have questions, feel free to contact me at Sabrina L. Greene Photography’s contact page!