You're engaged... now what? Your guide to booking your suppliers and when you should.
Oh my goodness, it's happened... you're engaged! You've celebrated, raised glasses, shown off your ring - life is feeling pretty good. But then the questions start rolling in... Have you set a date? Where's the ceremony? Are you having a band or a DJ? Before long, what was once a fun, exciting time is now one full of questions and uncertainty.
The average couple is engaged for 20 months before they get married. This may seem like a long time but there is a lot to be done to make sure that your wedding day is planning to perfection. So where do you start? My complete guide to when you should be searching for and booking suppliers will help you map out your wedding planning journey! Remember - all of the below can be planned by a wedding planner if you choose to have one!
First things first. Find your wedding planner. Okay, I know I am biased but hear me out. A wedding planner will be able to find the perfect venue for you as a couple. Sometimes couples will have their heart set one somewhere specific to get married (I've chose my venue about 20 years ago but anyway...) and that is fine - planners will often offer partial planning packages and can jump into the wedding planning at the point that you need them, or can help you out on the day with on the day coordination. For more information on the planning and coordinating packages that Clover & Fern offer click here!
Regardless of where you are in the planning, it is always good to get your wedding planner booked in as soon as possible. I know that personally I don't like to book myself up too much as I like to be able to dedicate all the time I can to each couple and their day, so we will often be booked up quite early!
It goes without saying that this is something that needs to be booked in the early days of planning. Popular venues can get booked up years in advance, sometimes up to 3 years, especially on Saturdays, so if you have your heart set on a certain place, book an appointment to have a look around! A good time to aim for is between 18 months and 2 years before your ideal date - remember that it takes on average 250 hours to plan a wedding so you will need to fit this in somehow!
So you will now need to have a look into who will perform your ceremony. It doesn't matter if you are going for a religious service, a humanist blessing or a legal ceremony - the booking process will always be the same. This is where it can get a little tricky as you don't want to find the perfect venue and the person to perform your ceremony isn't available, and visa versa. So that you're not juggling dates, most venues will put a date on hold for a short amount of time before you pay a deposit, so this gives you time to contact the relevant church or registry office.
Photographers are up there with some of the most talented people that you will have at your wedding - and the demand for them will reflect that. Photography is something that is really personal to your taste, so its rare that couples will choose just anyone to shoot their day. You will have these photos for the rest of your life so that you can relive your day over and over again, so a vast majority of couples will invest a large portion of their wedding budget in the photographer that they love. Not only to make sure you get the photographer you want, but booking early means that you can dedicate that part of your budget to it and know that you didn't have to make sacrifices further down the line.
It also gives you plenty of time to get an engagement shoot in which is something that a lot of photographers offer. This is the perfect chance for you to get to know your photographer and also gain a bit more confidence in front of the camera ahead of the day.
Some venues will not have their own caterers, which means that you will need to find your own. This needs to be done soon after your venue is chosen, as a wedding without food... well it's just not a wedding is it! If you can find a caterer that also supplies staff and a bar you're onto a winner, but if they don't then it may add to the planning time as you will need to find companies that offer what the caterer doesn't. Keep an eye on our website and social media for the launch of our bespoke catering service!
Florists will often be incredibly busy as they are not only supplying flowers for weddings, but for birthdays, Valentines, funerals and the times when partners have forgotten anniversaries... so this is something that will need to be done soon. It's always great to have an idea of what you would like for your flowers, but even if you have booked your florist well in advance, I would avoid discussing the types of flowers and colours you would like until about a year before, as the scrolling through Pinterest and all the changing styles may change your mind and you will end up with something you no longer like on your day.
Hair and make up
Similar to florists, hair and make up artists don't always do just weddings, however hair and make up artists are so talented and will often be able to accommodate idea changes right up until you have your trial (which I recommend being booked in between a year and 6 months before your day).
This is another one that can get booked up fast - luckily we have a huge range of talented musicians to choose from here in the South West but if you were looking for something really specific or slightly different, I recommend getting them booked early on to make sure that you get what you wanted.
Most cake makers in this country are self employed and work from home, which means that they wouldn't be able to take as many bookings as a larger company. There is no harm in getting your date booked in with a cake maker with rough ideas of what you would like and then you can discuss colours, styles and flavours at a later date (but no later than a year before!)
This one all depends if you are opting for Save the Dates. If so, you will want to pop this one in higher in the list, preferably after you have found your venue. There are so many options for stationery, ranging from simple and effective (and easier on the wedding budget) options such as Papier to stunning bespoke, hand written calligraphy. If you are going for the bespoke option, it goes without saying that you will need to get this sorted sooner rather than later as the design process can take a while and it is not being mass produced.
A good tip is to hold on until you have decided the colour themes of your wedding to ensure a cohesive look throughout.
So this one can be tricky - you don't want to choose your dress too early as there are so many factors that can change. You could easily change your style in two years, pregnancy, weight changes, the list goes on, but on the other hand you want to make sure that you leave enough time for dresses to be altered. The sweet spot is probably 18 months to a year before your day!
If you are choosing a bespoke gown designed for you, I recommend no later than 18 months before.
So that's it! No, I'm sorry, that's really not it. The thing with weddings is that they are all so different - every one is unique to you and can be dictated by what your venue offers, your personal preferences, your location, the list goes on.
If you have any questions on your wedding timeline, please feel free to drop me a message here or send me a DM on Instagram!
For more info on our services, read about our Wedding Planning Packages here
Phoebe - C&F