Wedding Planning Timeline: When to Book your Vendors

Carnation Farms Wedding

Breaking Down Your Planning Timeline


Acquired.  Wedding date: chosen. You’re fifteen episodes deep in “Say Yes to the Dress” and drooling over that lace-backed gown when you have a realization that you should probably get some of the other stuff done.  Do you book your DJ first?  How far out do you need to reserve a venue?  Are you supposed to get the bridesmaid dresses when you pick your dress?  You suddenly realize how much you have to get done before you get to say “I do.”  Yes, you have a lot on your plate, but you can get through it without feeling overwhelmed.  

12+ Months 

The Big 3.  That’s your Wedding Coordinator, wedding venue, and reception venue.  Your venues are going to determine more of your wedding than you may initially realize.  Some venues require that you use their services or limit what kind of services from which you can hire.  Your choices here are instrumental to almost every decision you make after this.  The exception is picking your Wedding Coordinator.  Sometimes it’s best to select a coordinator first and help them get you started, even with your venues.  They’re pros, they know the industry and they will quickly get to know you.  Coordinators are an investment, but they’re a good one.

10 Months

The tenth month is all about picking your vendors.  This one is especially important if you are getting married during wedding season (June-September).  Photographers and Videographers start booking for weddings around a year in advance, so if you have your heart set on someone in particular, now is the time to lock them down.  You’ll also be able to chat about engagement shoot dates once you find them, so that’s one more thing you get to check off.

It’s also time to pick a caterer and a florist.  You don’t want to end up being forced to pick from what’s left because you put this off.  It is possible that the caterer is determined by the venue you’ve chosen, but if it’s not, then get in touch with a few and get some quotes and sample menus based on the season.  It’s an easy enough task, but one you’ll regret putting off.  

9 Months

Ready to dance?  It’s time to book your DJ or band.  Your wedding coordinator will come in handy here.  They’re going to know how reliable the bands and DJ’s in your town are and can get you in contact with them.  DJ’s are pretty flexible to suit your personal style, but it’s not a bad idea to check out the band before you book them.  Can you image trying to dance to a band you don’t enjoy? 

8 Months

You get a fun one now.  At eight months, it’s time to pick the dress!  Bring your best friends/mother/sisters and make your first appointment at a couple of bridal shops.  Bridal shops vary widely in what they carry, so don’t limit yourself to one.  Grab different styles, too.  It’s possible that you never imagined yourself in a ballgown, but that doesn’t mean you won’t fall in love with one.  If you’re feeling a tight squeeze on your budget, give the bridal outlet shops a chance, too.  Their selection may surprise you.

The other tasks you should take care of this month is the ceremony music and officiant.  It’s also the time to reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests and order your Save-the-Dates.

7 Months

Call your bridesmaids this month and get together to find dresses.  Go in with two things decided.  First, know your colors.  Can they wear shades or are they wearing the same hue?  Secondly, are you willing to let them wear different styles or the same one.   

Then, get together with your fiancé and eat some cake!  Bakeries require a decent amount of time to bake all those beautiful tiers and decorate them just as you always dreamed.  Book a couple of appointments at bakeries and get to tasting.  If you are hiring a honeymoon travel consultant, now is the time to book them, too.  It’ll save you on last-minute flight and hotel prices.

6 Months

At six months, you’ll want to book your rentals and order your invitations.  Ordering now will prevent you from having to pay for unexpected rush-delivery or lack of stock.  Book your makeup and hair stylist now, too.  You’ll want to get in for a trial run before the wedding, and they book up around wedding season, as well.

5 Months

Groom’s attire is a little less involved than the wedding dress, so tux’s and suits get to wait until month 5.  Just like wedding dresses, the suits will require adjustments, so getting this taken care of now allows time for multiple fittings if necessary.  It’s also a good time to pick any jewelry, veils, shoes, etc. if you haven’t already.  Afterward, book your transportation to the wedding venue, the reception, and of course however you plan on exiting your reception.  Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be a limo.  Town cars, classic cars, and even horse-drawn carriages are at your disposal.  Have fun with it!

3 Months

HELLO, home stretch!  At three months it’s time to do something for you and something for your guests.  Either buy or make your guest favors this month.  If you are making them, get together with some of your best friends and make a party of it - favors can become tedious tackled alone.

Lastly, it’s time to pick out your wedding bands.  It’s funny that we save this one, which seems so fundamental, for the end but think of it as a celebration of the past nine months of planning.  Like bridal shops, not all rings, or jewelry stores, are created equal.  Make sure you give a few a shot and check their repair and financing policies before you buy.

Now, you’ve earned it.  Put your feet up and take a deep breath.  You’re ready to get married!