Congratulations! You’ve found the person of your dreams, said yes to the marriage proposal, and now it’s time to start planning. So. Where to begin?
There are a couple of different ways to approach how you book vendors for your wedding. The way that you choose is really going to be defined primarily by your preferences and proclivities. For some people the photographer is the most important thing beyond the marriage itself. For others, the setting is more important. I have covered weddings where the couple felt more strongly about the meal they were going to serve than they did about my photography services. The most common way is to choose a venue first, then go down the list. Typically, couples book their photographer second, but sometimes they'll choose to book photographer and venue simultaneously.
In my experience, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is if you’ll hire a dedicated wedding planner vs. handle the plans yourself and (potentially) rely on a day-of coordinator through your venue.
With that in mind, here's a breakdown of how my clients normally book their wedding date without a planner:
Venue and photographer
Use the venue’s preferred vendor list (trust me on this) to select the following
DJ / Musicians
When a couple books through a planner, this is what it looks like:
Wedding planner, who then guides you through:
Venue / photographer
DJ / musicians
Generally speaking, it's a very good idea to at least contact your venue and photographer first thing. Our dates fill up quickly, so there's a symbiotic relationship between the date you want to be married, the venue you want to be married at, and the photographer you want to cover your wedding. As soon as you know any of those three elements contact or decide on the other two.
The next most critical tier of booking includes the DJ, any live musicians, caterer, florist, and Cake artist. my recommendation is that you take the preferred vendor list from the venue and contact vendors directly. Any additional staff will usually also be referred directly from the venue.
Managing all of the logistics associated with planning a wedding will quickly help you realize why wedding planners are awesome if you can afford them. If a wedding planner is not in your budget, consider at least hiring a day-of coordinator to help make sure everything runs smoothly. Believe me when I say you do not want to be related to this person. Yes, there's a story there. No, I'm not going to tell it… today. ;-)
In any case, it's important for you to look at the reviews of potential vendors , and to ask around for references. From the perspective of booking a photographer, poke around the website. Ask to see some full weddings, not just the portfolios. Seeing what a photographer has delivered to other clients will really help you get a handle on what to expect them to deliver to you. Your wedding day is likely to be a blur by the end; it's incredibly important to hire people you trust. Experience is paramount. Ask your vendors about weddings they've worked before. Ask them about things that went wrong, and how they fixed them. Ask your photographer what they like about the venue. Ask your Venue what they like about your photographer. The key to making this whole process run smoothly is to ask a lot of questions and pay attention to the answers.
I would love to continue this conversation with you offline, and be a trusted part of your special day. Drop me a line here.