So the questions popped, the “yes” is said and the venue is booked… are you thinking “now what?!”? If you are, then look no further as I’ve written you a guide on when to book your wedding suppliers! I’ve spoken to some of the best in the business and found out how far in advance they get most of their bookings, and put it all in one handy guide for you!
Have you booked your venue? If not, check out this blog post of questions to ask when booking your venue!
Now I’m doing this a little differently to most wedding planning timelines… most that you’ll see will say “18 months before… 12 months before… 6 months before”. However, everyone has different length engagements! Some people leisurely plan their wedding over the course of a couple of years, and some (myself included haha!) plan it over a matter of months (9 in my case!). So for my planning timeline, I’m dividing it up into sections of the suppliers you may want to book and when approximately you should book them.
Obviously this is just a rough guide, and just because you don’t book them when this says, it doesn’t mean suppliers won’t be available. However, by reading this and booking when they say it is best to, you give yourself the best chance of booking your dream team of wedding suppliers for you day!
I get wildly different timelines for bookings for photography, some I have been booked two years in advance for, my shortest booking was just four weeks prior to the wedding! However, I would advice to book at least 12 months in advance, and if you’ve got your eye on a certain photographer or certain style, there is no harm in booking as soon as you have your venue booked! Doing that means you have a better chance of your chosen photographer still being free, and peace of mind that your day is going to capture exactly as you want it to be.
Flowers are a big tradition at weddings, and can really define the feel of your day. Ellice from Willow and Blossom Floral Design has written a wonderful blog post all about when to book your florist and what to have in place before you book. She recommends to start looking and booking your florist around 9-15 months prior to your wedding day. As she says, “If you have found a florist who’s work and style you love, I would say there is no harm in contacting them early. If it is too far in advanced and they aren’t accepting bookings yet they can let you know when to get back in touch.” You can find her blog post here! https://www.willowandblossomfloral.co.uk/post/when-should-i-book-my-florist
When looking at your hair stylist, you have to remember that you’ll need time to have consultations and trials so it is important to leave enough time before your day to book these in. Claire from Barberella said that you should book your hair stylist no later than 6 months before, but ideally a year or further in advance. Nicola from Bespoke Bridal Hair by Nicola Marshall already has bookings into August 2021, and pointed out that she can only do one wedding a day, so once a dates gone, it’s gone!
Following on from hair styling, if you are looking for bespoke hair accessories matched perfectly to your dress and overall look, perfection takes time. Rachel from Rachel Sokhal Bridal Accessories recommends that as soon as you have your gown then get in touch and get designing with her!
Mmm, who doesn’t love cake right? The right cake can be an absolutely showstopper (sorry-not-sorry for the GBBO pun right there!), and can be a real talking point of your day. Nina from Meadowsweet Cakes, and Shelly from La Belle Cake Company are both in agreement that you should book your wedding cake at least 9-12 months beforehand, but booking 12-18 months beforehand will give you better availability. These two are super experienced in the wedding industry, and make some seriously yummy (and spectacular looking) cakes, so they know what they’re talking about!
If you are going to have a humanist ceremony, or want a ceremony somewhere a bit alternative and need to book a celebrant, you need to do so with plenty of them to design your ceremony. Susan from Beautiful Ceremonies says that the majority of her clients this year booked under a year before their day, and the shortest was just 6 weeks before! Kelly Hawes followed on from this, saying that “it’s not always about just having their date available but also having the time to meet the couple and write their ceremony, so 6 weeks would be the minimum I’d be happy to book. Most of mine are 6-12 months ahead of time. I only do 1 ceremony on a day so once the dates booked it’s gone!”
Have you considered having a videographer? I spoke to Grace from Keeley Wedding Films, and she said: “When booking videography brides seem to have two approaches. Either they know they definitely want a wedding film and book well in advance, or they realise last minute they don’t want to regret not having one. Booking in advance is always a good idea as it means you can shop around, find the right videographer for you and they’re more likely to have your date available still! I’d encourage you to book your videographer 9-12 months before your wedding day. Recently a bride decided she wanted her wedding film just a week before her wedding, unfortunately we were unavailable but I quickly found 20+ videographers who were available. Anything is possible, it’s only too late once your day is over… I hope you find the perfect videographer for you! Happy Wedding Planning!”
Now one that people always wonder about is how far in advance to send out invitations… couples don’t want to send them too soon and they get forgotten about and lost, but send them too late and people may have plans. Katy from Olive and Millicent Stationery have some great advice:
“Save the dates can be sent as soon as the venue is booked, but if they’ve booked their date less than 8 months before their day, they can go straight to invitation stage.
Invitations should be sent out between 3-6 months before (can be a bit earlier for a destination wedding). House collection designs have a faster turnaround time, so I usually have availability all year round for these and they take up to 4 weeks to produce. For anything semi-custom/bespoke couples need to allow 6-10 weeks production time and need to be booking in with their stationer ideally a month or two in advance of their desired start date.
Any day stationery needs to be booked in around 6-8 weeks before the wedding (even if they’ve not got all of their final details confirmed at that stage).”
Now, you’ve had a beautiful ceremony, gorgeous photos at a beautiful venue and eaten scrummy food and cake… now you want a party that is going to be amazing! Dan from JN Sounds said that any later than a year and they’re likely to be booked, so if you want a DJ who is guaranteed to get people up dancing, you’re better off booking sooner rather than later!
First Dance Lessons
Uh oh. It’s here. The part of the wedding that all us two-left-footed (yep, I’m one!) people dread. If the thought of your first dance fills you with dread, you may want to think about booking someone to teach you to dance. Alison is just the person for that and she told me:
“By starting earlier there won’t be any last minute panic, stressful, ‘shotgun’ wedding dance lessons, which we see quite often and clients leave maybe even a little less confident about dancing than when they first started. Try reversing the shotgun schedule: more frequent lessons at the start, no less than 4 months in advance. This will mean that wedding planning mania sets in closer to the event, whilst your mind is working overtime thinking of everything else you need to be doing, you only need to manage some last minute polishing and rehearsal sessions with a more relaxed frame of mind.”
She has also written a blog post about this if you want to know more about first dance lessons… perhaps it’s something you hadn’t considered! http://theloveofdance.co.uk/practice-makes-permanent/
So there it is, my guide to when to book your wedding suppliers! And like I said, if you are closer than that to your wedding day, don’t panic, I’m sure you’ll still find some great suppliers who are free!