Wedding Wisdom Wednesday: When to Book Your Vendors

Local wedding pros share insight and tips for planning your wedding.

Carla Welechuk Kowski
Planning the day of your dreams requires proper planning.

Weddings are one of the most special occasions in one's life. From the venue, décor and flowers, to the hair, makeup, catering and entertainment, everything is important and has special meaning for the couple. But with hundreds of couples looking for the same dates, booking vendors is becoming increasingly difficult. In the past, weddings were typically planned a year or less in advance, but with changing trends, it is essential to book vendors even earlier.

There are only 52 Saturdays in a year, and with summer being the most popular wedding season, it is important to act fast. The demand for wedding vendors is high, and waiting too long to book can leave you with limited options—or no options at all. Booking early gives you a chance to pick your ideal date and ensure that your preferred vendors are available. Even if you are planning a wedding for 2024 or 2025, it is best to start booking vendors now to avoid any disappointments.

When it comes to wedding vendors, some require more time than others. For example, wedding venues are typically booked first and require a year's notice or more … and popular dates go quickly. Wedding planners, photographers, videographers and gowns should also be booked or ordered well in advance. Caterers, florists, DJs, stationers and hair and makeup artists may require slightly less time, but it is still best to book them as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

Booking vendors early not only gives you peace of mind, but can also save you money. Vendors often raise prices annually, so booking early can lock in current pricing. You can then allocate those savings to other areas of your celebration.

If you are newly engaged, start booking your vendors today! Here’s a cheat sheet of which vendors to check off your list first:

  1. Wedding planner: Booking your wedding planner first can save you considerable money, headache and confusion. They will guide you through the process and recommend other vendors who will best suit your needs.
  2. Venue and catering: If you are not hiring a wedding planner, booking your venue will be the first thing you do. The venue will lock in the date and set the “mood” for your entire event. If a caterer isn’t included with your venue booking, be sure to book one on your own at this point, too.
  3. Photographer and videographer: Two of the most important vendors you will choose are your photographer and videographer. Outside of your wedding planner, these are the people you will spend the most time with on your big day. It is essential that you vibe with not only their style, but their personality as well. After all, all you have left after you’ve said your “I do’s” are your memories, photos and videos.
  4. Gown and beauty team: Unless you’re buying off the rack, you’ll want to order your wedding gown a year or more in advance to give the manufacturer time to make and ship it, and to allow for alterations. And I may be a bit partial here, I think hair and makeup artists need to be booked this early, too. Many online checklists suggest booking these vendors three to six months before your wedding, but these days, this is often too late! If all you have left after the wedding is your images, you want to be sure you look good in them right? Just like choosing your photographer, you want to choose a beauty team whose vibe matches yours. Your getting-ready time will take a large portion of your day: If you’re the only one getting hair and makeup done, plan to spend two to three hours with your pros. But when other people, like bridesmaids or moms, are also receiving services, getting ready takes, on average, four to six hours. You’ll book your hair/makeup previews (aka trials) closer to the wedding date, but getting on the artists’ schedules early is a must.

Of course, these aren’t the only vendors you need to book a year or more in advance; don’t delay when it comes to other key vendors, like your florist, dessert maker, DJ and the rest, either. With limited availability and high demand, it is best to start planning your wedding as early as possible. Waiting too long can result in limited options, disappointment and even higher costs.

Carla Welechuk Kowski has been in the beauty industry for over 20 years, working as a beauty educator for Chanel, a celebrity personal travel artist, a corporate and personal stylist for Microsoft, and the senior lead artist and general manager for Salon Maison in Seattle, Washington, and in Orange County, California. She’s also served in various other scopes of the wedding industry, including as a wedding and event designer in the early 2000s. In 2018, Carla foundedAlea Beauty LLC to offer a more personal and specialized beauty service. Since establishing new roots in Ohio, Alea Beauty has expanded to three more locations across the U.S., in California, Arizona and Massachusetts. She addedGlow by Alea Beauty, a spray tanning service, in 2021. In 2022 Carla launched Kowski Creative LLC, a creative coaching and female entrepreneur mentorship program to help empower fellow business owners and future entrepreneurs.