The short answer: The SOONER the Better!
So you are planning your wedding or your event, where’s the first place you start? Some people spend months—or even years—interviewing florists, booking cake tastings and clicking through photographers or videographers portfolios, all in an effort to come up with a team of vendors whose style and wedding-day vision all match theirs. However if you don’t have as much time as you’d like to spend planning your event and especially your wedding, my first piece of advice HIRE A PLANNER! They can pull together a roster of genius professionals to create your ideal event.
First and foremost start with the venue, as far as vendor bookings are concerned. Regardless of how long, or short your planning time may be, always give yourself as much time as possible to book the venue. In order to narrow your search, have a rough estimate of your guest list count. Let me be clear about the guest list count, this is a very “rough estimate” for your event, meaning, you are not actually making the list you just want an estimate of whom you would like to attend. You always want the venue to at least be able to accommodate this “rough estimate” number plus up to 50 extra(just in case). I can’t tell you how often guests lists are major topic of concern especially for weddings. (I have tips for that as well but that’s another post!)
Generally speaking from experience, finding a venue that meets all of your needs—location, guest count, vision, etc.—is one of the toughest things, by far on your list of to dos. For example, if you want to get married on a Saturday night in a prime month, which includes May, June, September, October, then expect to book 12 to 18 months in advance; if you prefer a quieter season, or would take a Friday or Sunday, or even a weekday plan to reserve 8 to 12 months ahead. Yes people book weddings during the week, TIP-its a lot less expensive too! If your venue doesn’t offer on-site catering, I definitely suggest prioritizing your food service vendor at the same time.
Reason being catering options can influence everything from your decor design and floral design, to your cake size and any future spending. All in all it encompasses such a large portion of the budget and there are so many options, as well as, things to consider that it can be quite an overwhelming factor.
I would definitely recommend securing other vendors—including the officiant, stationer and band—around the eight month mark, most calendars still have plenty of open dates. In some instances, for example, florists may only accept 1 event per weekend and may have a minimum on how much you must spend. If this is the case then booking your dream florist 8-10 months out, along with your Decor Designer is ideal. If you are looking for more of a standard florist, reserving them four to six months prior to your wedding day should be sufficient.
Also in the category of no more than 6-8 months out would be your photographer or videographer. Some photographers who only shoot one wedding each day, may book up more quickly than other pros, one thing to keep in mind, this is the vendor who will capture all the emotion and memories from this day. Do not drag your feet on this important piece of the puzzle.
Although all of the above are very true, planning a wedding or event in fewer than 8 months does not mean it can’t be done. I will say this again HIRE A PLANNER……..A planner can put you in touch with under-the-radar vendors in your city who may have more short-term availability, or help you find venues with last-minute openings for prime time slots (where you can sometimes negotiate a lower rate).
The one thing to keep in mind is that its your day and it’s going to be beautiful!!