After the excitement of getting engaged settles in, it’s time to get down to work and start planning your wedding.
While organizing a wedding can seem like a daunting task, don’t fret: we’re here for you. Note: The standard wedding timeline is one year from the engagement, so we’ve used that here as a frame of reference (but it’s important to note that these are suggestions based on the pace of the industry).
Here’s how far out you should book each wedding vendor, from florists to caterers, and everyone in between.
Before you can book any vendors, you need to set a wedding date. Once you do that, your wedding venue should be booked first. Typically, wedding venues are reserved one year in advance.
Some people hire their wedding planner before anything else. If you’re someone who knows that they want to hire someone to do the bulk of the wedding planning, reach out to possible candidates right away. While you don’t want to reach out the second that you get engaged, once you know that you’re ready to move forward, start requesting meetings with wedding planners. This should happen about one year in advance.
Wedding photographers are often booked up early so they're one of the first wedding vendors that you should book as soon as you lock-in a wedding date with your venue. In other words, it’s normal to book a photographer one year in advance of your wedding. Don't worry, though, if you don’t find a photographer that you love right away. Many people book photographers 10-12 months out.
Much like photographers, good wedding videographers are in high demand. Book your wedding videographer 10-12 months before your wedding, if possible.
You want to get the best food possible for your wedding budget and theme. Booking a wedding caterer is one of the important vendors for many couples, as good food can really make an event stellar. It’s best to start researching your caterers 10 to 12 months before your wedding, and look to book 8 months or so in advance.
You’re ready to say “I do,” but you need someone to legally marry you and your partner. You want to choose the right wedding officiant, so meet with a few options before settling on the perfect one for you. It’s safe to book an officiant about 8-10 months out from your big day.
Flowers are gorgeous—and the florist who's going to make your floral dreams come true will likely book quickly. Start the process early so that you find someone who matches your budget and style. Book a florist 9-10 months before your wedding day.
The kind of music that you want for your big day is up to you. If you’re going to hire a live band or DJ, book your wedding entertainment about 8-9 months out. Live bands need to coordinate with multiple members’ schedules, so it’s best to move fast when you find a group that you like.
Tasting cakes is probably the best part of deciding on a wedding cake baker. Set up tastings around 7 months out from your wedding. Do your research on flavors and styles and go into the meeting with ideas in mind.
Hair stylists need to be available on your big day, but they also need to be available for trial runs, too. It takes time to do research and find a stylist that you really like, so you’ll want to start the process early. Start research about 7 months in advance, and aim to book about 5-6 months out.
Makeup artists follow a similar timeline as hairstylists. And you'll need to book at least one trial run. Start looking for artists that you like (social media is a great place to discover local ones) early on and book around 6 months in advance.
Start your vendor search on the right foot. Zola will help you find vendors that fit every budget and wedding style—all pre-screened for you.