What Order to Hire Wedding Vendors - Advice from a Wedding Planner!
If you are reading this post, my guess is that you are digging into the world of planning a wedding. I wanted to help you with organization and thought I'd share a few tips for you on how to hire wedding vendors (and in what order).
Believe it or not, there is a method to the madness! In Colorado, we have some of the BEST vendors and venues in the Country. This also means stiff competition to secure your favorite florist, photographer, and yes...yours truly (your wedding planner)!
It makes it that much more important to plan early and plan well so that you don't have to compete so hard for your top choices!
Read on for tips and advice for not only finding wedding vendors, but hiring them in a logical order.
The Order to Hire Wedding Vendors
When you hire vendors for your wedding, you are looking for a magical team of people who will not only care about your day as much as you do but who will work beautifully together too!
It's easy to get caught up in a frenzy just booking people as fast as you can, but let's take a step back for a moment.
Having a personal connection with each of your vendors is KEY. Look for people that you feel truly comfortable with, those that make you feel happy and that might be a great friend to you. Your wedding vendors will be spending a lot of time with you, so make sure they are people you want to be near.
Professionalism also rules! Look for quality services from vendors who have glowing reviews (if you need help finding people, I'm your gal!)
#1 - The FIRST Wedding Vendor you should hire is (drumroll please)...a Wedding Planner!
I get it, no everybody feels that they need or want a wedding planner. If you are drawing a hard line in the sand with this one, that's ok! Skip to line two.
If you aren't sure if you need one, or can't wait to get on one your side, let's keep going!
A wedding planner can help you with everything from finding qualified vendors, through making sure that your veil is picture perfect on the day of the wedding.
If you are looking for full-service wedding planning, start with hiring a planner (easier still, get started now and send me a note! I'd love to work with you on your Colorado or Cancun, Mexico wedding!).
Why? Your wedding planner can help you find, tour, and book (ie, interpret all that fine print and the venue rules) the venue of your dreams. We may also have some incredible ideas for venues you would not have known about otherwise (lesser-known gems that don't advertise as much).
#2 - Venue & Catering
By now, you and your planner (if you hired one) have sat down and discussed what you are hoping your wedding day might look like.
You have an idea of how many guests you plan to invite and the types of venues you are interested in as they relate to your desired theme (example, barns and ranches or more traditional garden estates).
Tour the venues that fit your preferences and budget, and book the date! Popular venues often book a year or more in advance, so you definitely want to get on this one quickly.
With the date set you can head straight to catering, where you'll get started with tastings (YUM) and get an idea of what your reception cocktail hour and dinner might look like.
Good catering companies book up fast as well, and many venues have 'preferred caterers'. It feels fast to jump on a venue, a date, and catering but I promise, it's well worth staying one step ahead of the crowd here.
Your wedding venue and catering will make up the bulk of the expenses for the wedding, so don't make yourself 'venue poor'! Make sure that you not only stay within budget, but don't stretch yourself thin before you assemble the rest of your team.
#3 - Photography & Videography
It's much easier to approach photographers and videographers when you know your wedding date, so as soon as you do, it's time to book these artists for your wedding.
Your planner can offer some referrals, or you may already have some solid favorites from Instagram or Google Search whose work really speaks to you!
While there are literally 1000's of these vendors to choose from in Colorado, the best book up quickly and often well in advance. Meet with a few who catch your eye and get on their calendar (before somebody else does).
If you aren't sure about videography fitting into your budget, it's ok to sit on this one for a bit. If it's VERY important to you, however, it's worth reaching out and letting them know you are interested!
#4 - Officiant, Florist, Bakery, and Hair & Makeup
By now you have your planner, venue, catering, and photography booked.
None of that matters if you don't have an officiant! Not only will securing them for the date now ensure that they'll be there for you, but it gives you plenty of time (ideally 4 months or more) to go through the counseling process that many require.
Next up is your florist; you now have a good idea of where your budget is after all of the massive expenses associated with the venue and food. You may also have a great idea about the style you are looking for! As with photographers, meet with a few who catch your eye; ask questions, find out how their style and design process will work aesthetically with your venue and ideas.
Choosing a cake designer or baker will be easy at this point, as you will have a great idea from your florist what to expect design-wise, and what you want your reception to feel like as well. Go to a few cake tastings and make sure to look at their portfolio!
Lastly, secure your hair and makeup artist and team for the day! Having a stylist come to you at your hotel is the best way. It's easy for you, relaxed, and allows everybody to stay together. The longer you wait to hire though, the harder it is to find available stylists who are willing to come to you on your wedding day.
#5 - Wedding Attire
It's time to go shopping!
Some designer wedding gowns require an 8-12 month lead time (though many are closer to 4-6 months). Make sure you are shopping with plenty of time to make this happen, also keeping in mind that alterations can be a 4-6 week process.
For menswear, it's time to start looking at options. Whether you rent or go totally custom, this is the time to start putting things together! Rental orders should be placed no later than 8 weeks prior to the wedding, while custom suits can take 4-8 months or longer depending on the designer.
For your wedding party, shopping now also makes sure that everybody has plenty of time to shop, save up, and place their own orders! I recommend choosing the bridal attire and groomswear first, and then selecting wedding party attire to fit the aesthetic.
#6 - DJ, Entertainment, Transportation, and Bartending/Liquor
You have a great idea of the final look and feel of your wedding, and know generally what to expect from the day. Now it's time to add entertainment!
If you are interested in hiring a band, I recommend booking them as soon as possible; the best ones go fast and have limited availability.
DJ's and other entertainment can be much more flexible, but if you want one with a great reputation now is the time to get on their calendar!
Don't forget to book your transportation: limos, shuttles, etc. especially if you are booking during a holiday weekend of popular wedding date!
Lastly, if your catering package doesn't include bartending, this is the time to make that happen. If you need recommendations, your planner will be a great resource for this!
#7 - Hotels, Getting Ready Rooms, and HONEYMOON!
If you've come this far, you're almost there!
Book your hotels, hotel blocks, and getting ready rooms at least 3-4 months in advance of the wedding, so that the information can be available for guests as well as in the interest of planning your timeline.
This is also a great time to book your Honeymoon; shop for the best deals and get it booked so that you have something really amazing to look forward too when the day is over.
Phew, I get it, that is a LOT to think about!
As a wedding planner, I can help walk you through all of this, step by step. I can help you decipher all of the rules and fine print and retainers of all of the vendors you'll be hiring and working with, and I can even help coordinate them so you can be much more hands-off.
Ready to plan your Colorado wedding? Get in touch!