When you first get engaged and start wedding planning, it can feel super overwhelming. Once you really get into it, you discover how much there is to do, even for smaller weddings. But don’t worry! There is an order to this, and you can definitely prioritize. Just take things one step at a time and know which wedding vendors to book first.
Your venue comes first because it determines so much. Most importantly, you book your venue first so you know your exact date, and you can start booking other wedding vendors. But on top of this, the size of the venue determines how big your guest list can get. Not to mention, your venue heavily impacts the aesthetic and vibe of your wedding. You’ll make color choices and decor choices based on your venue. Decor for a ballroom is going to be very different from decor for a barn wedding.
Your venue can also affect your wedding budget. If your venue has a getting-ready suite, then you can save money on transportation. If they don’t have catering on-site, you know you need to budget for a caterer. Since your venue often takes up so much of your wedding budget, booking your venue first gives you a better idea of your per-person cost.
Yes, we recommend having a planner. You can technically book your wedding planner before your venue if you need help picking out your venue or just have no idea where to start, but they often come second. Good wedding planners book up fast because they often only take one wedding per day or even per weekend. Some high-end wedding planners only take one wedding a month! So, they’re definitely one of those vendors to book first.
You want to make sure you’re booking a wedding planner that you’re comfortable with and who offers what you need. Take the time to interview planners and choose one that you vibe with, but start that search early. The earlier you have your wedding planner, the easier your planning process will be. They can really help you figure out all of those details.
If your venue doesn’t offer catering, you’ll need to find your own. This is especially important because catering often makes up the largest portion of your budget. Look around for caterers that offer the kind of food you’re looking for and that match the vibe of your wedding. Keep in mind that most caterers don’t offer tastings until after you’ve booked, and even then, it might be a small fee. But if your caterer has a restaurant or food truck, that can be a great way to taste their food and enjoy a night out!
This is another vendor to book first because they book fast! Like wedding planners, they’re often only doing one wedding per day or weekend. If you have a photographer in mind or you’ve found one whose work you LOVE, make sure you reach out ASAP. Your photography and videography are so important because they are your souvenirs from your big day. They help you to relive your day and remember how amazing it was! So, start your research early and get quotes from your favorites.
If entertainment is important to you, you’ll want to book those vendors first. This can include your DJ/MC, your band, or any actual entertainment such as dancers. Your entertainment can really set the tone for your wedding day, so you want to pick someone you love and trust to MC your day. For example, do you want a DJ who is more in the background or one who is actively engaging your guests? What kind of music do you want? Know what you want and book it early.
Wedding Vendors to Book Next
After these vendors comes everything else! Your florist is a big one because they can only book so many weddings in a year due to effort and having to source materials. If you really want a specific look or are hoping to book a large installation, you’ll want to add a florist to your list of vendors to book first.
Other vendors include hair and makeup (who book surprisingly fast), your ceremony musicians, rentals, lighting, stationery designer, officiant, desserts, and transportation.
Honestly, wedding planning is all about knowing what’s important to you and prioritizing that. This is also true when it comes to which wedding vendors to book first. If it’s important to you to have really cohesive stationery, you’ll want to book your stationery designer early. If you want really cool lighting, maybe that’s a priority for you. If you have a specific vendor in mind that you badly want for your wedding, reach out to them first. With the exception of having a venue and a caterer, everything is negotiable (though we highly recommend a wedding planner regardless of the type of wedding you’re having). Just know what vendors are important to YOU and book those early.
Erin Lafond is a blogger with ample experience writing about weddings. She planned her own wedding and got married in October 2019. She lives in New Hampshire and loves a casual wedding with luxury details.