So you’ve got the ring – now what? Wedding planning can be daunting! How are you, someone who has never planned a wedding before, supposed to know what to do next? Don’t fret; I’ve got you. After planning over 50 weddings, I know a thing or two about how booking your vendors in the right order will not only save you stress but also save you some money. The first and most important wedding planning tips I can give you is exactly this! Here are my suggestions for booking the right people, in the right order!
BEFORE YOU CONTINUE…
The very first step before booking ANYONE is to set a hard-max budget. Talk to your decision makers (mom, dad, grandmas, partners, etc..) that will be financially contributing. Ask what they are wanting and willing to spend. Gather these numbers and divide it between each vendor. For example, if your budget is $30,000, decide how much you’re willing to spend on the venue, how much for florals, so on and so forth. Every single one is going to want to know what you are willing to spend so they can offer you services that fit that budget. Okay, now you have a budget – these are your first picks.
The two most important pieces in your wedding day! If you are someone who knows exactly which venue you want.. book it now! Getting the date is the first step to booking the rest of your vendors. Most vendors are booking at least 6 months-1 year out, so they are going to have to know what your date is to ensure availability.
Call me biased – but your wedding planner is your next step (if not your first). They are there to guide you through this entire process. Whether you’re a do-it-yourself couple or someone who needs all the help in the world – your wedding planner will be the most vital resource throughout this entire process! Need a planner who makes wedding planning make sense? Let’s talk!
Your next big three! There are what I like to call your “money-eaters”. Okay – that’s a little dramatic because they are not actually out to eat your money. BUT, they are going to be your next highest cost in the scope of vendors. Good photographers range from $2500-$6000+, catering is a per-head cost averaging out to around $20 per guest and your florist is going to be a minimum of $2000 for a 100 person wedding. These three vendors are where you will find yourself pushing the limits of your budget (and rightfully so!).
On top of these three being your most expensive vendors, these are vital to your wedding. Photographers are the one thing that will last forever after a wedding. Caterers feed your people to keep them dancing all night. Florists make your space feel like a wedding. All three provide tangible, long lasting impressions for not only you, but your guests.
As I said before, you will find yourself pushing budget with these three! By booking them first, you will know exactly where you stand when you go to meet with the next group. Did you go $500 over your florist budget? No worries! You can make up for that in these next categories!
I’ve coined these three my “under-rated” vendors. They are often the ones that people do not throw a large portion of their budget to – but it cannot be stressed enough how important they are to your day. The only reason these three are not grouped with the first is simply due to the nature of the business! Rental companies, DJ companies and HMUA teams can book multiple weddings in a day without sacrificing quality. Disclaimer: don’t take this as a “I can wait to book them at the last minute” though – the earlier you can book ANY vendor – the better!
You’ve got your major players booked now, yay! Next up are those final details that make your wedding stand out. I know that cake is going out of style and you may opt to do a fun dessert bar instead – but if you are a cake person they should be your next person if not with group 3! Especially if you’re wanting something epic.
These vendors are only here because typically they are not on my client’s high-priorities list. Therefore they are more of a “as budget allows” type of vendor. If you’ve got some wiggle room in the budget consider adding a fun photo booth, some light up marquee letters, a fancy get-away car or even a custom dance floor (yes those exist and yes they are epic!)
My final thoughts…
All of these vendors are equally important to the success of your wedding day. This is simply to give you an idea of what order I prefer to book them for my clients and what I have seen that works for ensuring that we stay within their budget. The number one thing to remember when booking vendors – get to know them. You will be with them on the most emotional, high-stress day of your life. You kind of need to enjoy being around them, and be able to trust their judgement!