So you’re getting married! You’ve said yes, told all of your BFFs the great news, and changed your social media status to “engaged”. Then you realize that now you have the insurmountable task of planning your wedding. Excitement and exhilaration turn to panic and mild hysteria.
Here’s a guide to get the planning juices flowing and make sure your wedding day goes off without a hitch (well…with a hitch…you know what I mean).
Ok, get your head into the game and hunker down for what could possibly be the craziest next few months of your life. Yay! You need to first decide where (at least the city) you are going to get married. Once you’ve got that decided you can then start picking out all the vendors.
I would seriously consider hiring a wedding planner as your first vendor. They can help with all the other planning and take a load off your trembling shoulders. They can also recommend online sites to create registrations and get ideas from. If you are feeling tenacious and want to do it alone that’s fine too, just realize that I tried to warn you.
Wedding planner or not, here is a list of vendors that you need to start thinking about along with a suggested time to book them in advance.Wedding Planner – 12+ Months
Reception Venue – 12+ Months
Ceremony Site – 12+ Months
Caterer – 11 Months
Photographer – 10 Months
Reception DJ – 10 Months
Videographer – 7 months
Ceremony Officiant – 11 Months
Florist / Décor – 6 Months
Transportation – 5 Months
Reception Band – 10 Months
Ceremony Musician – 8 Months
Wedding Cake – 5 Months
Chocolate Gifts for Guests – 5 Months
Tuxedo – 4 Months
Favors – 3 Months
Invitations – 6 Months
Wedding Dress – 11 Months
Please note that these are suggested times and vendors. You may not need or want a band or a tuxedo or even a cake for that matter. That is totally up to you. Obviously the lead times will change depending on your situation and priority for each as well. If a huge priority is getting the perfect Photographer, book them early.
The more specific you want and more limited the resource, the earlier you need to book. Summer weddings are also busier for most vendors, so try to book a few months earlier than the ones shown above. Again, if the service requires a specific person or service, try to book earlier since they are a limited resource (venue, photographer, wedding planner, etc).
At the outset of your planning expedition, create a schedule that you can start to fill in as you go. List each vendor, list scheduled dates, pickup times, contact info, etc. As you get closer to your wedding date, add more specifics including pickup times, meeting times, and eventually, your wedding day schedule, including any rehearsals.
In order for your wedding day to be the most wonderful and less stressful, share this schedule with all vendors involved. I suggest doing this via Google Docs or some other free method of collaboration. I know you may think, “Why should I let the reception DJ know what the ceremony schedule is?”. Trust me. It’s a lot easier for you to worry about one master schedule and share it with all the vendors than having to pick and choose the specific details you think each one needs to know. You may not think the photographer needs to know what the first song is, but if someone forgets to tell him or her that it’s starting, at least they’ll recognize the song and jump into action. It’s just so much easier if the caterer, photographer, DJ, band, videographer, etc are on the same page without you having to run around the day of the wedding to let them know what is going on.
Remember to include in your schedule sharing the bridal party and any close family that may be helping out. It’s amazing how many times brides forget to share the most important info with the bridal party assuming that they already know just because they should be the ones closest to the couple.
Planning your wedding, especially without a planner can be extremely difficult. Hopefully knowing who all the players are and getting them on the same page will help you have the most memorable day ever. Good luck!