Step by step guide to booking your wedding suppliers
So you’ve got your venue sorted and a date is officially in the diary for your big day – WELL DONE, that part of the wedding planning can be pretty stressful! Now what else do you need to research and how do you find the right suppliers for you?
By this point you should know the budget you’re working with, the size of your guest list and the type of wedding you’ll be having. If not, nail those details now before you start booking other suppliers in for the day.
Let’s start with the basics, what kinds of suppliers do you need and how should you prioritise researching and booking them in? Of course, every wedding is different, but see below for a list of key suppliers with a rough idea of when you should prioritise getting them sorted.
Ideally 18 months out
Venue (or venues, if you’re getting married in one place and having the reception somewhere else) – this one is booked by this stage, YAY!
Registrar/other celebrant – whether you’re opting for a religious ceremony or not, make sure you book in whoever will be marrying you as soon as the venue is booked. Bear in mind that there may be some obligations that need to be fulfilled if you’re getting married in a church outside of your local area and factor any visits/meetings into your timeline.
Wedding planner - If you’d like support throughout the whole wedding planning process, it’s always best to bring in a wedding planner early. A wedding planner can guide you through each and every step of the way, helping you to bring your creative ideas to life and tracking down the best wedding suppliers to fit your brief.
Photographer and Videographer – some couples don’t realise how far in advance photographers and videographers get booked up. To avoid disappointment, start your research early (more than a year out if possible) and try to determine the style of wedding photography that you’d like for your day. Don’t get caught up in the technicalities if it’s not your thing, spend time researching photographers in the area you’re getting married and you’ll soon steer towards a certain style or photographer. Once you’ve narrowed down your faves, check out Instagram for their latest shots, read a little about them and the way they work on their website and get in touch.
Insurance – don’t let this one fall to the bottom of your list. Buy your wedding insurance right at the start, ideally before you start making big payments.
12 months out
Caterer – your venue should have let you know already if they have any preferred suppliers, so check in with your venue manager if you’re not sure. Take a proper look at your budget allocation again before you start researching caterers as costs can vary quite significantly. Consider what’s important to you with your catering and take your research from there – do you want a formal 3 course dinner? A modern, family-style set up? A laid-back hog roast? Cool food trucks? Again, Instagram is great for checking out what they specialise in and how they present their food.
Florist – get booked in with you florist of choice as early as possible, especially if you’re getting married during the summer months. Your venue should be able to provide you with at least a few florists who have worked at the venue before, so that’s a good starting point. Think about the types and colours of flowers you’d like as well as the style and utilise Instagram to find florists who look like the right fit.
Wedding Stationery – if you’d like continuity across your save the dates, invites and on-the-day stationery, make sure to find a stationer that you like the style of nice and early. Remember they’ll likely have lots of other bookings and there’s usually only one designer, so it’s best to allow plenty of time.
9 months out
Hair Stylist and Make-up Artist – both can be booked further in advance, so perhaps prioritise getting your beauty experts booked in just after you’ve sorted everything else above. Most hair & make up artists now have amazing Instagram accounts which showcase their latest work and give you a really good idea of their style.
Entertainment (a band, DJ, acoustic guitarist, dancers, magicians…you get the idea) – depending on the type of entertainment you’d like to have and how important a particular entertainer/band is to you, you may want to bump this up or down the priority list. Yes, there are lots of amazing bands and musicians out there, but many couples find they’re much pickier than they thought when it comes to style and repertoire. So if you absolutely HAVE to have a Mumford & Sons-esque band with the option of an laid-back acoustic set for the reception, BOOK THAT NOW.
6 months out
Cake designer – while you absolutely can get a friend or family member to make your cake, I’d always advise bringing in a professional if your budget allows for it. There are some seriously cool cake designers available with really unique styles, so if you’ve got your heart set on something very specific, get your booking sorted ASAP. Oh, and don’t forget the all-important tasting!
Transport (for you and your guests) – this is particularly relevant if you’re getting married in a different location to your reception venue. Consider putting on transport for your guests and research a range of local companies for quotes based on your total guest numbers. Always allow a few extra spaces for people who don’t confirm but get on the bus anyway!
Not ‘suppliers’ as such, but very important to mention:
Accommodation – whether you have on-site accommodation or plan to stay at nearby hotels, it’s best to place block-holds on rooms ahead of time. This is particularly important if your wedding is in the countryside with very few options for accommodation.
Decoration/styling – you will likely source bits and pieces from different suppliers, or even hire in a stylist to look after the whole look and feel of your day for you. It’s a key one to not leave until the last minute. Think about each room of your venue and how you’d like it to look, then determine whether you’ll need props/decorations/lighting to make it happen. It can be really difficult to pin down exactly what look you’re after, and that’s one thing a wedding planner or stylist can absolutely help with! We can take your brief and come back to you with a range of inspiration and ideas to work from.
Wedding dress, bridesmaids’ dresses and suits (and all the accessories) – this is obviously a pretty big one. However decisive you are, start the search for your bridal gown early as most dresses need to be ordered around 9 months before the wedding date, and you need to allow ample time for any fittings ahead of the day.
If you’re just starting out with your planning journey and think you might need a hand, get in touch for a free & friendly consultation. I can chat through how I can support and provide a bespoke proposal based on exactly what you’d like for your wedding day.