As a newly engaged bride-to-be myself, I’m experiencing a whole lot of new things being on this side of the planning process! If you’re in this stage of life and looking for vendors too, congratulations!! I love that I can now have a new understanding of the pleasures and stresses that my couples are going through, and it makes it a lot more relatable! So in essence, here’s the start to your wedding vendors checklist.
So obviously everyone has their own priories on what to book first, but these are a few principal vendors that you’ll need to look at securing early on in the wedding planning process. This is because they tend to book the earliest in advance and people who may need to have some influence on other aspects of the wedding, even though you may think each vendor is separate. I know, as a photographer, that brides often don’t realize there is a difference between the timeline that a planner would make and one that would help a photographer out substantially to get the most out of your wedding day images!
First of all, when you get engaged, the first thing people ask is “have you picked a date yet?!” In my mind, the date shouldn’t have a huge weight, unless it’s an important anniversary such as the day you met or started dating. If your dream venue and dream photographer, for instance, are busy on your previously picked date, is it really your dream wedding?
If you’re thinking about hiring a planner, they’re good to have early on in the process to get your thoughts together. I know looking at my own Pinterest boards, that I like a lot of things and my thoughts are all over the place. They can help hone in your style and aesthetic that you are looking for. Planners will help you with ALL your other vendors! Even if you do not want a full-time planner, I highly suggest hiring a day-of coordinator so that you don’t have to keep your own day on track and your maid of honour can enjoy the day as well!
Your venue is the one thing that will completely set the scene for your wedding and the look that you are going for. Securing your venue is the first vendor you will book, unless you have hired a planner. You cannot book anyone else without it; if you don’t have a venue, you don’t officially have a DATE even though you may have your heart set on one!! This is, as I said, why your date shouldn’t be your first priority. But keep in mind that different months (and years lately) have different desirability. We found that 2017 booked up fairly quickly due to events in Ottawa for Canada’s 150th, with couples also wanting to marry that year, and therefore many of us vendors also started booking into 2018 quickly due to overflow. Years that have big events happening within them or years that sound good (2020) will fill quickly. Also keep in mind if the date is really that important to you or if you’re willing to lose out on other vendors to keep “your date.” Is 08.08.18 really that great if you don’t have your dream venue?!
You may also not be aware, photographers book up early and quickly for the following year. It seems even MORE so lately!! Brides are prepping their weddings further and further in advance. Some photographers have booking caps, such as not booking more than one year in advance. But many photographers are not as strict and will accept bookings about a year to a year-and-a-half (sometimes two!!) in advance. I’ve booked weddings up to 30 months in advance!! It’s not uncommon for me to start booking summer weddings for the following year in early January, so my best advice to you is to reach out and inquire with photographers as soon as you’ve booked your venue, especially if they are popular in your area.
Even now, I find that brides often don’t see the need for a videographer. For a while, as a photographer, I pondered this decision as well; I thought all I needed were the photographs, but after watching several videos, I fell in love with hearing couples read letters to each other the morning of, the live reactions, the vows. More people are starting to realize this and videographers are becoming more popular and are booking much sooner in advance as well. If hiring a videographer is in your budget, some of my favourite videographers that match my style in Ottawa are Matt & Kat Films, Bryan Jones Videography & Rowland Films.
I know this is not as much ‘a vendor,’ but many brides don’t realize how early they should be starting to look for their wedding gown! To those new to the engagement/wedding planning process, most think they go into a dress shop, find the one they want and walk out with it. Yes, it CAN happen that way but only if the off-the-rack size fits you like a glove. The NORMAL process is that those are trial gowns, much like the frames at the glasses store. You try it on, then they order you a brand new one that is the perfect size for you. This often takes MONTHS, and that doesn’t include time for alterations either which is another few additional months.
Check back shortly for a guest post by Dana of With Love Bridal Boutique to hear about her recommendations for the dress purchasing process!
If there are any other things that you are wondering what the recommended time is to book before your wedding, leave a comment or email me and I can expand on this post!