Congratulations! You just said 'yes' to marrying your best friend, your soulmate and your life partner. This is a big decision and one that should be celebrated! However, it can be overwhelming to think of all that you need to do before the big day. Where do you even start? Follow along as I walk you through steps you should take to ensure you get the date, the photographer and the wedding coordinator that you want.
Step 1: Celebrate
You and your partner have probably been through a lot, especially this past year, so make sure you take time for each other in this special, yet short chapter of your life. Whether that means throwing an engagement party, scheduling an engagement photoshoot, or simply having a one-on-one date night at your favorite restaurant. Recognize that this is the time to celebrate your love, your life, and your future together. Once you've taken the time to soak in this glorious chapter of your story you can start planning!
Planning Timeline for Securing Vendors
12-18 months: choose date, book venue, book photographer/videographer
10-12 months: book caterer & schedule tasting, book DJ/MC, book florist
8-10 months: purchase dress, book hair & makeup artist
6-8 months: book officiant, book bakery & schedule tasting
4-6 months: book day-of coordinator, book transportation, begin day-of timeline
3 months: Dress fitting, tux/suit fitting & rental
2 months: discuss script with officiant/ministry, give photographer shoot list, go over song list with DJ
1 month: confirm with all vendors and introduce day-of coordinator, final guest count to caterer & venue
week of wedding: schedule décor drop-off with venue & coordinator, go over rehearsal order with coordinator
day of wedding: relax and enjoy as your day-of coordinator handles everything for you!
Step 2: Pick a Date
This can be a tricky step since you may be date specific, have a seasonal preference or have no idea even where to start. Family and friends may influence this step as well based on school breaks, vacations, work schedules and a whole boat load of other reasons. You must remember though that this is YOUR day and trying to make everyone else happy is only going to make the planning process that much more stressful. If you fall in the category of being date specific, you may want to consider one or two backup dates incase you fall in love with a venue that is no longer available on your preferred date. This way you can secure the venue you love without falling victim to the first come, first serve booking process. Venue pricing may play a role in when you decide to book your date so the more flexibility, the better.
Step 3: Vendors
Once your date and venue are secured your next item on the to-do list is finding your vendors. Most venues have a preferred vendor list, which is where I recommend you start. These vendors have proven to the venue their services are professional, efficient and high quality. Besides your wedding coordinator, the DJ/MC is the most important vendor in my opinion since they set the tone for your wedding and keep the focus/attention for all major weddings events! But just because your DJ plays a huge role in your wedding doesn't mean the rest of your vendors aren't important as well. Cake, photography, food and beverage, videography, floral, dress and suit, ministry, are all big ticket wedding items that you and your guests will talk about for years to come. An engagement photoshoot is a great way to "interview" a photographer whose work you love to see if they would be a good fit your wedding day. The key with good vendors is great communication so make sure they have quick response times, transparency and can connect well with you!
*Keep in mind that your wedding coordinator will ensure all your planning, time, effort, money is all worth it in the end on your wedding day. They are there to ensure vendors and guests are where they need to be at the right times and if any hiccups occur they sort it out swiftly and gracefully so you don't have to worry about a thing.
Step 4: Planning
Now it's time for the details. Each vendor will have their own meetings to discuss theme, décor and details with you. Before starting the planning meetings with your vendors you should have a color scheme in mind that can be incorporated into every aspect of your wedding. Most couples base their colors off of what the bridal party is wearing and I highly recommend including different shades of the color(s) you like so that everything can blend together seamlessly. The glory of having a wedding day coordinator is that they should be able to organize all the moving parts into one document for you. This allows you to better see what still needs to be decided or get done and gives them all the information they need to execute your vision on the big day.
Weddings can be a big undertaking, especially for the couples who choose the DIY route so it's important to hire professionals who can provide you top-notch service and who can help guide you in the right direction. You will never regret having a day-of coordinator or an accredited catering company or even a highly reviewed DJ, but you will regret not investing in your day when the things you remember are the things that went wrong you never saw coming. There are so many vendors out there who want to make your day memorable, fun and worry-free... do your research, use their resources and let the professionals cater to YOU.