Let's talk about what wedding vendors you'll need and the best order to hire them! When you're just getting started planning your wedding, it's essential to have a wedding vendor checklist list to refer to. We can help! Use the order below to create a vendor checklist for your wedding, complete with suggestions for a hiring timeline! You can also score your FREE copy of our Ceremony Placement Cheat Sheet to start planning your wedding ceremony!
The very first thing you should choose is your venue.
The most obvious way to start your wedding checklist is with your venue! Try to have your venue booked at least a year in advance, if possible. You won't have as many options available if you wait too long! Don't pay for anything (especially book dates with nonrefundable deposits) with other vendors until after you've booked the venue. The foundation of your wedding day rests on the site or place you choose to have the celebration. Be positive your date is available (popular dates can be more expensive) and within your budget with the venue before placing a down payment and deposit for any other of your wedding professionals.
Next, you want to hire a photographer.
What checklist for a wedding wouldn't have the photographer next? When hiring a wedding photographer, it's essential to ask yourself if you want a videographer too. Not hiring a videographer is one of the biggest regrets couples express after their wedding. However budgets are also important, so weigh the pros and cons of hiring a wedding videographer. If you do decide to spring for a videographer, you should hire them at the same time as your photographer. Pick your photographer 10 to 12 months in advance if possible, but the sooner, the better!
Keep in mind; some wedding professionals can take on multiple events in one day. A caterer might have numerous crews, a baker can drop two to three cakes off in a single day, or a DJ may have other associate DJs that work under them. Photographers, however, can be only at one wedding at a time. Since photography is an art form, it's a lot harder to replace someone and keep that same artistic style you've picked. So book your photographer near the beginning of your planning process.
A licensed and insured caterer and bartender.
We suggest 10 or 11 months in advance but don't get stressed if you plan your wedding with a shorter timeline. Pick your caterer early in the hiring process! Food represents a large part of your budget, and quotes can vary extensively. The goal is to get food out of the way early to see how your menu choices will affect your overall wedding budget.
Caterers will first ask for an estimated headcount early on so they can give you a quote. Typically they'll get a final headcount two to three weeks before the event, so you know you're ordering the correct amount of food for the number of guests attending. Don't forget about hiring your wedding bartender! If you've decided you want to offer bar service to your guests, book a professional bar company at the same time as your caterer.
Choosing a wedding planner or Day-Of coordinator.
If you decided not to hire a wedding planner, you should consider at least a day-of coordinator! A professional wedding coordinator or Day Of coordinator will make your wedding day run smoothly from beginning to end! They'll act as your problem solver so you can fully enjoy your wedding day! They'll make sure the small details are covered and manage your vendors, so your wedding gets executed as you've planned it. You should hire this person at least three to six months out, but in all honesty, the sooner, the better! They can give you great advice and reputable vendor referrals to help in the planning process. They also may have other tools or programs you can use to help with the planning, even if you've opted for a partial or day-of-service wedding service.
After that, you're going to want to consider a florist.
Picking the right florist is essential because quotes can vary highly depending on what you order. Rush orders for specific flowers can cost as much as 75% over the regular price! Remember to book at least six to eight months in advance, if possible. The florist is an area you may need to adjust once you can see how it will affect your budget.
Now, it's time to choose your entertainment or your DJ.
Live or local bands may need to be hired early in your process. If they're a popular band, they may be booked for your date already! Finding replacements that sound similar could be difficult depending on where you live. Hiring a live band is very similar to why we suggest hiring a photographer early on! A DJ is a little bit easier to replicate since they will be playing music from a playlist. Theoretically, another DJ could easily do the same. Although, some DJs are just better than others! DJs usually also double as your MC or Emcee and will handle your announcements unless you've made other plans. Keep this in mind when choosing your wedding DJ. You'd like to hire them at least three to six months out to make sure you still have an excellent selection to pick from. But as always, the sooner, the better!
Wedding cake baker!
Schedule tastings with you and your partner to ensure you're getting a dessert that you'll both enjoy! Make sure to do this about six months in advance.
Your hair and makeup team.
You want to make sure to hire this person three to six months out! If you are requesting that they come on-site the Day of your wedding, you might want to look closer to that six months out, if not earlier. Be sure to specify this in the beginning, to ensure travel requirements are taken into account. Be ready with a list of who will be getting their hair and makeup done, and more importantly, who's covering the bill. If all the bridesmaids are getting included along with the bride, payment for beauty services should be discussed beforehand.
A wedding officiant.
The ceremony is an essential part of the Day, so this is a vital hire not to miss. There are several options for ordained officiants available in most communities. It should be relatively easy to find somebody that will marry you! Check with your local church or use social media to ask for recommendations! You can also elect to have a friend or family member be ordained. Just be sure to check local laws to ensure an online ordained is accepted and legal.
Next are hotel and guest accommodations.
If you want to block off hotel rooms for guest accommodations, you should do that at the beginning of your booking process. Remember, hotels will only offer $10-$20 off per room per night. It's not substantial savings if you decide to skip it. Three months out, you need to have all of your hotel rooms blocked off so you can notify your guests, and they can begin booking. In all honesty, though, hotels can get booked up quickly. We recommend including your accommodation information when you're sending out your invitations.
Let's talk invitations.
Invitations go out six to eight weeks before the event, but you're going to have to get these printed! To do that, you're going to need at least a month's notice, so start designing your invites 4-5 months prior. There are usually local print shops that specialize in custom work if you need it. You can also check with online vendors if you are more price-focused.
Lastly, you should hire transportation if it's needed for your venue.
If you need a shuttle bus or a trolley to help get your guests from one point to another, or if you want your driver, like a limo service or getaway car service. Complete this about three to four months in advance to ensure they have your date available.
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