13 Jan

The Order: Hiring Vendors

Planning a wedding is like putting a giant puzzle together. Every piece of the puzzle contributes to the overall vision. Every vendor at a wedding is responsible for bringing those puzzle pieces to life. Hiring reputable and trustworthy professionals that a couple can has confidence in is an incredibly important part of it.

As always with wedding planning, thinking of what the priorities of the event are is the first step. Having a clear understanding of what is an absolute must-have, what is negotiable, and what isn’t necessary but would be nice are three areas wants and needs can be filtered into. For example, if there is a specific photographer or band that the wedding day just wouldn’t be complete without, it will be more urgent to lock them in for the wedding day, as opposed to a couple who is more flexible.

However, securing any vendor may prove difficult if you don’t have a firm wedding date. That is why securing the ceremony and reception venue are the first decisions to be made. Some planning to-dos have to take priority only because the next vendor cannot be booked without some information.

Overall, vendors can be grouped into two categories: those who serve more than one wedding per day, and those who can’t. If a vendor can only accommodate one wedding per day (like a photographer, DJ or band), they need to be booked before other vendors like florists who can handle multiple weddings. Essentially, these multiple wedding vendors are second tier decisions that need to be made. In many cases everything is tied back to date and venue. It is possible for those vendors that can accommodate multiple weddings in a day to cap out, so to speak. That is to say they may only take 3 weddings per weekend, or something along those lines. That doesn’t mean you need to jump on your second tier vendors first, but it also doesn’t mean you should wait around until the last minute to organize them.

So what is the ‘best’ order to tackle vendor shopping and hiring?


1. Ceremony & Reception Venue and Caterer

Everyone will want to know the when and where of your wedding, but vendors need to know. More so, the venue you select will become the canvas of the wedding you envision. Many couples host their ceremony and reception at the same location which makes coordinating the venue easier than ceremonies and receptions held in different locations.

If opting to have your ceremony in a church or other religious venue, be mindful of the religious calendar and possible weekends that would not be available for a church ceremony. Like any venue, they have other events to contend with.

The venue you choose to work with may determine which other vendors you’ll be working with. Many venues keep this very open ended, but there may be required vendors that you use for various things like linens, furniture or event lighting.

It is possible that your venue offers a choice of caterer. If so, as soon as you contract your venue, begin considering which caterer you want to work with. While many caterers are able to accommodate more than one wedding per day, this is one vendor you’ll want to lock down as soon as the venues have been confirmed.

2. Officiant

We have great love for great officiants and know they are often not discussed much in wedding planning circles. You simply cannot be married without an officiant and quite frankly, this is a pretty important vendor. Too often wedding guides and website leave out this crucial wedding component. After all, the ceremony is where you are actually getting married!

If the ceremony is being held in a church or other house of worship, it’s very likely that finding an officiant will not be on the to-do list.  Yet, 2/3 of all couples are hosting their ceremonies in other non-religious locations, and many times at the reception venue itself.

Think of it this way: A couple books every other vendor on this list and then can’t find someone to perform their wedding ceremony… How would you feel?


3. Photographer

Popular photographers book up quickly. They are the storyteller of your day. They are the ones entrusted with capturing your story timelessly, to be enjoyed in pictures for years to come as you reminisce about such an incredibly happy day. Securing someone who speaks your language is important. Of all the vendors at the wedding, the photographer is the one that interacts with the couple the most. Interviewing multiple photographers will likely be needed to find the one you click with best.

Keep this in mind: The better you connect with and get along with your photographer, the more comfortable and relaxed you’ll be in front of their camera on your wedding day.

4. Music

One of the reception highlights for many guests isn’t the first dance or the cake cut, but how much fun they have on the dance floor. A fantastic band or DJ will be able to keep your dance floor filled all night long. Ideally, you’ll want to select your music and entertainment about 6-9 months before the wedding day. If possible, check out your vendor live. Many bands will host rehearsals or performances so prospective couples can see them for themselves.

Don’t forget: Your DJ or band is the MC, the master of ceremonies, of your event. They are responsible for making the announcements, introducing the couple, and keeping the energy alive. If you are bored with them at your meeting, chances are they may bore your guests on the dance floor.

5. Decor Designer

Does your ceremony or reception space call for something different? Grand? Elegant? Many times couples will hire a company to install draping or other decor elements that need to be professionally handled. This can be a way to turn an otherwise normal ceiling into a dramatic tent top, or take a flat wall and turn it into a textured fabric background. Aside from a caterer, this vendor will work closely with your venue. Set up for these types of installations, depending on how elaborate, can take up more time than the vendor window allows before the event. Also, be sure to ask if your decor company and venue have worked together before. If not, you may need to provide them with venue information such as room sizes and ceiling heights so they have the right materials to achieve your look within the space.

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6. Florist

Once the date and venue have been selected, the colors have been coordinated, and the vision becomes clearer, it’s time to hire a florist. These components can significantly influence the types of arrangements selected. If possible, consult a florist during the season you are getting married so you can see what blooms will be available first hand.

Avoid Disappointment: If you plan the aesthetics backwards, it could be a huge letdown if the flowers you have been dead set on aren’t available during the time of years you’re getting married.

7. Videographer

More and more photographers are offering videographer services. If you can book them simultaneously, do it! If you are selecting someone separate of your photographer, be sure you inquire about if they have worked together before. On the day of the wedding, these two vendors will work side by side to capture all the details and special moments. They will essentially trail one another throughout the whole day. So, it’s ideal if they are familiar with one another.


8. Invitations

Yes, invitations are essentially a vendor and not just some item needed for every wedding. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all of the invitation options on the market. There are two options available: predesigned invitations or custom designed invitations. The latter requires you work with an invitation designer to create your one-of-a-kind invite. It’s also possible you may work with a calligrapher too. The invitation selection and design process usually happens about five to eight months before the wedding.

Point of Note: Guests are better able to plan their attendance when invitations are sent eight to twelve weeks before the wedding day. Don’t forget to require RSVPs no less than a month prior to the wedding. Especially if you are offering a choice entrée and have important catering numbers to communicate.

9. Hair and Makeup Artists

Beauty services used to be a last-minute addition to a wedding budget, but those days are long gone. During peak wedding season popular makeup artists (MUAs) can be booked up to six months or a year in advance. Don’t schedule the makeup and hair trial too far in advance. Three months prior to the wedding is the perfect amount of time to create a fresh look for your special day.

11. Transportation

Whether it’s a limo, a private historic car, or a trolley – transportation can be a very fun element to compliment a wedding day. Whatever method a couple chooses, it usually isn’t finalized until about 3 months prior to the wedding. Transportation isn’t one of those wedding areas that anyone can image too much conflict, but if you are marrying in May, June, September or October, it is possible that you may have proms and homecomings to compete with.

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