The adventure of planning a wedding can sometimes be a bit overwhelming and stressful. Part of that overwhelming feeling can often be because there is indeed so much to plan but you don't really know where to start. Let's take a look at the most common time frames and order that couples choose to search for their wedding vendors and plan their wedding.
Ceremony & Reception Venue: ~ 11 months before wedding date
Couples tend to search for a wedding venue first. Large and popular venues do tend to book up the quickest and if the venue you have your heart set on isn't available on your wedding date, it's not unheard of to switch your date to a date when you can book your dream venue. A reason why it is a good idea to book your venue first is because many other vendors will need to know where you're wedding is going to be prior to you being able to book their services. Not to mention, getting your venue picked out and booked first takes a lot of the stress and pressure off you right away!
Wedding Planner: ~ 10 months before wedding date
If a couple is wanting to hire a wedding planner, often times they will hire their wedding planner prior to booking with a photographer. If a couple has their heart set on a specific photographer, however, then they will often times book with that photographer prior to hiring their wedding planner. A wedding planner is a great asset to couples who either don't have time in between work and life to dedicate to their wedding planning or couples who prefer to have that stress taken off of them by a professional. Often times wedding planners will have recommendations for various wedding vendors that they have worked with and trust as well.
Wedding Photographer: ~ 10 months before wedding date
A couple will usually spend time researching wedding photographers and may meet with a few photographers before making a final decision on which one will make that perfect addition to their growing wedding day vendor team. Many photographers book up by about 6-8 months prior to a wedding season, if not sooner, so you definitely don't want to wait to book your wedding photographer or your favorite just may be booked on your wedding date already.
Catering: ~ 9 months before wedding date
Catering is another aspect that couples tend to want to get out of the way so they ensure the type of food they want is going to be available. The style of reception you're planning can help you decide what food you want to have. Knowing what type of food you plan on serving will make finding a caterer easier.
Live Band or DJ: ~ 8 months before wedding date
Once you make the decision on whether you would prefer to have a live band or a DJ, the search begins! A DJ can typically provide sound and music for both the ceremony and reception and live bands may or may not have that capability, depending on the band.
Videographer: ~ 8 months before wedding date
Some couples know right from the start that they want to hire a videographer for their wedding, but others take time weighing the pros and cons or prefer to see how their vendors fit into their budget prior to booking a videographer. Often times your wedding planner and photographer will know of good videographers they can recommend to you.
Florist: ~ 7 months before wedding date
If you're planning to have live flowers for your bouquet, bridesmaids bouquets, boutonnieres, and decorative floral arrangements, you definitely want to make sure to book your florist with plenty of time in advance. The other option with flowers is to do silk flowers, which can be ordered or if you're a DIY bride, done yourself.
Officiant: ~ 7 months before wedding date
If you're getting married at your church, often times your pastor will be the one to officiate your wedding ceremony, but if you're getting married at a venue like a country club or under the gazebo at a local park you'll need to find an officiant.
Cake/Desserts: ~ 6 months before wedding date
The first decision you need to make in this area is whether to have a wedding cake or to have desserts, like cupcakes or random dessert spread. Even when couples choose to have desserts, they will often times have a small cake for the cutting during the reception to have the photographer capture the cake cutting tradition. Just like other wedding vendors, bakeries will often book up during wedding season since they can only make so many cakes/desserts per day.
Event Rentals & Invitations: ~ 5 months before wedding date
Event rentals include things like your ceremony arches and chairs, reception tables and chairs, etc. If your venue does not include these things, you'll want to make sure you don't forget to rent these things yourself. Wedding invitations are generally sent out about 8 weeks prior to the wedding date, but the hard part is picking out your dream wedding invitation suite. There are so many unique styles and this is an area where you can let your personality as a couple shine through! Something to consider when ordering invitations is your overall wedding theme so that every aspect of your wedding stationary and décor details remains consistent.
Hair & Makeup Artists: ~ 3 months before wedding date
Many brides do not think about getting their hair and makeup done by a professional artist until the last stretch of their wedding, but it is definitely something to consider. Many makeup artists have specialty makeup that is designed to give you a natural, yet flawless finish and hair artists are able to create beautiful bridal masterpieces with your hair that most people couldn't even begin to know how to do. Most artists will also allow you to do a trial run so that you can rest assured they have the same vision you do for your hair and makeup.