Recently engaged and wondering about the exact timeframe to book each of your wedding vendors for a post-pandemic wedding? We’ve got you covered! We’ve compiled a list of commonly used wedding vendors in the blog below. Use the links below to jump directly to the wedding vendors you still need to book, in order to grab an estimated timeline. Or, for a comprehensive list of wedding vendors by scrolling through the entire blog!
- Dress Shopping
- Tux/Suit Rental
- Ceremony: House of Worship or Officiant
- Hair & Makeup
- Wedding Rings
- Rehearsal Dinner Venue
Wedding Venue 12- 24 months
You should book your wedding venue 12-24 months in advance of your wedding day. You literally do not have a wedding date until your venue is booked and your deposit is paid. Booking your venue will set the rest of your wedding planning into motion. However, don’t feel pressured to book a venue just because you want to secure your date! Create a list of potential venues in your area that you’d like to tour and make an appointment with each one. This is called a walk through and it’s an important part of choosing your wedding venue. Walking through each venue will give you an overall vision of how they can level up your wedding day and what kind of vibe to expect when your best day ever arrives. And that is something you will not get from a 360 tour.
Expected deposit 50% of your total or a flat rate
Securing your wedding venue will happen once your deposit is paid. Venues typically do this in one of two ways. Either by requiring 50% of your total cost or by charging you a flat rate which will then be taken off your final balance. Venues that do not offer in-house catering will usually lean on the side of a flat rate. While venues that offer more complete packages (bar, food, cake, day of coordinator) will ask for a 50% deposit.
Wedding Photographer 18-24 months
Hire Your Wedding Photographer anywhere from 18-24 months before your wedding date. Booking your wedding photographer used to come with a recommendation of at least 12 months in advance. Thanks to 2020, that time frame got blown to itty bitty pieces never to be seen or heard from again. Your search for a wedding photographer should start as soon as possible. Whether it’s a Google Image Search, or an Instagram search (if you’re a hashtag search-savvy couple). Quick tip, search Instagram for #yourareaweddingphotographer or #yourvenueweddingphotographer check top posts as well as recent ones.
You should book your photographer as soon as your wedding date is secured with your venue! Especially if you have a very specific vision in mind for your wedding photos. If you’re looking for a photographer with a modern vibe and a vibrant aesthetic, scour their Instagram account, their blog, and the gallery on their website to see if your vision aligns with their deliverables.
After all, there are few wedding vendors who will provide you with tangible items to hold on to for a lifetime once your day is over. Your wedding photos will be the longest-lasting, most sentimental item, aside from your rings of course! Your wedding photography will be an investment and should be chosen with tons of thought behind it.
Expected deposit 25%- 50% of your total package
Your wedding photographer will officially be your photographer with a deposit of anywhere from 25% – 50%. Your deposit is applied to the total of your balance.
Wedding Planner 12 months
Need a planner to keep your never-ending to-do list of random “I didn’t know I needed to do this” things straight? If you’re thinking about working with a kick-ass wedding planner, we recommend hiring them at least 12 months in advance.
And no, the planner or coordinator at your wedding venue does not count. They work for the venue, not for the couple. Your wedding planner works for you. And any planner worth their title will have an amazing list of colleagues and wedding vendors (also known as “friendors”) that they work with regularly who can provide you with the same amazing experience that aligns with your wedding day vision!
Expected deposit 25%- 50% of your total package
Wedding planners typically work with pre-set coordination services and will offer anywhere from 1-3 different types of packages to their clients at a set price. In order to book your wedding planner, they will require up to a total of 50% of your package, and of course, your deposit will be applied to your total balance.
Wedding Dress Shopping 9-12 months
Your wedding dress should be purchased 9-12 months ahead of your wedding that is if you’re not buying “off the rack”. If you or your fiance are going for a made-for-streaming dress-buying experience, you’ll need to plan way ahead. The typical dress buying process is this. Most bridal shops carry a selection of sample sizes for you to try on. Once you’ve found your dress, it will be ordered in your size which can take anywhere from 6-10 months for production, not including alterations. If you want to buy off the rack or ready to wear, for your gown, suit, jumpsuit, or two-piece blazer and pants combo you can pretty much go wedding day attire shopping up to 3 months before the date of your wedding. Again, allowing yourself time for any potential alterations, and to find the perfect shoes and accessories!
Expected deposit, ranges!
If you’re purchasing your wedding dress from a major retailer in NYC that rhymes with Schmeinfeld’s you can expect to plunk down a whopping 60% deposit. If you are purchasing your wedding dress from an “off the rack” store more local to you like Schmavid’s Bridal, then your deposit will be 25% of your total purchase. And, if you are going for a modern approach to wedding day attire shopping by checking out luxury retailers like Schmak’s Fifth Avenue, then you can expect to pay in full at the time of your purchase.
Tux/Suit Rental 3 months out
Opting to rent a tux instead of blowing some cash on a custom suit? You’ll be happy to know that renting a tux for your wedding day is one of the shortest processes! Your tux or suit rental should take a total of 3 visits, one for sampling color swatches and sizing, the second for picking up and trying on, and the third for the return!
Expected deposit, $20 to $150
The deposit for your suit or tux is more of a security deposit to safeguard any potential damages that might happen while it’s in your possession. Unless otherwise stated, your deposit should be refunded once the attire is returned and inspected.
Floral Design & Decor 9-18 months
The time frame for booking your floral designer can range from 9-18 months and will depend on whether your wedding date is at the height of wedding season.
Notice we didn’t say to book your wedding flowers, or to book your wedding florist? Floral designers take your requests for Cala lilies, peonies, roses, and wildflowers and turn them into a celebration. It’s less about sticking some flowers in a vase to place in the middle of the table and more about adding a flourish and a zing to the vibe and experience you want to create for your wedding day.
Expected deposit for your floral design will be a percentage of your total or a flat rate
Floral designers create custom packages based on your specific needs and vision. So it’ll be important to first allocate a portion of your budget to your florals and then work with your designer on the pieces you’d like them to create.
Ceremony: Place of Worship 12 months, Officiant 9-12 months
Planning a wedding ceremony in a place of worship will require planning up to 12 months in advance. Possibly even longer if you are getting married during peak wedding season! An officiant who can perform a non-denominational ceremony should be booked anywhere from 9 to 12 months in advance of your big day.
If you are planning a ceremony at your house of worship, they will have a fee in accordance with the regular members of their church. However, there are also many places of worship that do not charge any type of fee to perform your wedding ceremony but will accept any amount of donation as you see fit to tithe. A deposit for your officiant or clerk of court can range from payment in full to a flat rate deposit of $50 to $100.
Videographer 10-12 months
Need an amazing wedding film of your best day ever? Your videographer should be booked at least 10 to months in advance of your wedding day. Assuming, of course, that you haven’t already invested in a photo & video package from your wedding photographer. Wondering if you even need a wedding videographer? Well, kinda. An expert wedding videographer is a visual storyteller who will put the pieces of your wedding day together in a cinematic way. They’ll capture moments and pair them with sound bites and music so that you can easily recall the feeling and atmosphere of your day. Not too bad right?
Expected deposit 50% of your total package
Much like their still-life counterpart, your wedding videographer will typically require a 50% deposit in order to secure your wedding date.
Catering 8-12 months
Assuming that your wedding venue does not provide in-house catering and you need to find your own scrumptious bites for you and your guests to chow down on, you’ll need to start the search at least 8 to 12 months in advance. Looking for the whole caboodle? Signature cocktails, cocktail hour bites, dinner, dessert station, and late-night bites? Then you’ll be closer to the 12-month time frame. This will allow you to meet with your caterer to work up the menu and to have a tasting (one of the many perks of wedding planning!) in advance.
Look, serving your guests amazing bites and refreshing cocktails should not be an afterthought. When guests leave a wedding they will recall the experience they had. And it’s not going to be the same recollection of the day that from your point of view as the couple getting married. High at the top of the list of things they’ll recall from your day will be the food and drink. While the florals and decor will play into the overall atmosphere of your day and create the tone, the specific details are not something that will stick with them. However, serving them the most delicious spritzer garnished with fresh fruit followed by a succulent dinner; and later in the night, a stack of juicy cheeseburgers! Well, that’s something they will always remember! So, booking your caterer, kind of one of the most important wedding vendors!
Expected deposit will be 50% of your total package
Your wedding day catering package is another item on the wedding planning checklist that will be totally customized and personalized to your taste as well as your total guest count. Making it majorly important to set a budget ahead of time! Typically, caterers will require a 50% deposit in order to consider your wedding booked.
Rentals 6-10 months
Remember how we said 2020 blew the expected time frame for booking wedding photographers to itty bitty pieces? Kind of the same with rental vendors. Most rental companies recommend contacting them at least 6 months in advance (and some still do). But the new norm is closer to 10 months.
Rentals for your wedding day are basically anything and everything that you’ll need that is not bolted down. Have your eyes on some gorgeous modern velvet chairs for your ceremony seating? That is a specialty item that will need to be rented! Rentals can also cover items like your ceremony arch, and anything and everything for cocktail hour (bar, tables, seating, etc!), to lounge-style seating setups to create breakout spaces within your reception space. Linens, lighting, draping, backdrops, cake stands, it can all be rented! Working with a very unique color palette to play into your overall wedding day experience? Colored stemware, serveware, plates, and chargers can all be rented! Crazy good, right?
Expected deposit will be 50% of your total package
Many wedding rental vendors will also require an additional, refundable deposit for the goods you will be renting. Typically this deposit will be returned to you once the vendor has received their items back and has inspected them for any damages. FYI, depending on the level of service that you’ve chosen from your rental company, you may also need to allocate a portion of your rental budget for a setup & cleanup fee.
Scroll through the blog to find the exact time frame to book your wedding vendors!
DJ 10-12 months
Need an experienced DJ who can keep your guests out of their seats and on the dance floor? Finding an experienced DJ who can create a lit dance floor on your wedding day will require at least 10 to 12 months’ notice. Remember that thing we said about how the highest thing on the list of items your guests will recall about your wedding day will be the food and drink? Entertainment is a close second, maybe even first runner-up! And, let’s be honest, without a wedding DJ it’s not an experience, it’s just music! So yeah, finding the right one to vibe with you and your squad will take some time!
Expected deposit is 50% of your total package
Seeing an awful lot of “50% of your total package” in this list and starting to freak out? If you’re throwing an experience based wedding, you can expect to allocate the biggest portion of your budget to your food, decor, and partying bringing wedding vendors!
Photobooth up to 10 months
Remember those photo booths that we grew up with? The one in the mall or down by the beach? You drop in your dollars, sit on the stool and draw the curtain. Then the screen counts down until the rapid-fire flash comes at you 3 times and you wait for the strip to drop. Your wedding day photobooth will be absolutely nothing like that dinosaur booth of days past!
Photobooths are now an amazing way to up-level your wedding guests’ fun factor by providing a full-on experience! And yes, photobooths are considered wedding vendors, here’s why! Your photobooth will come with a skilled attendant, the backdrop of your choice, and fun props that will have your guests dashing in and out of the photobooth all night long! We don’t know what it is, but photobooths have a way of bringing out the carefree side in all of us. Major bonus, depending on the package you select, your photobooth will come with a strip of photos for you and one for your guests! And because we live in such a digital world, many photobooth companies will also provide you will access to an online gallery of everything shot the night of your wedding!
Expected deposit, flat fee to 50%
Some photobooth companies will take a flat rate deposit from $100-$300 and apply it to your package, and some will require a 50% deposit of the total of your package in order to confirm your booking.
Stationery 6-8 months
Dying to get those invites in the mail because it just won’t really feel official until everyone knows? You can order your invitations up to six months in advance of the date you need to mail them out. Which, coincidentally should be 8-12 weeks ahead of your wedding day so that you have plenty of time to get your final headcount to any applicable wedding vendors.
But, your wedding stationery is so much more than just your invitation suite! Because we already know that you are a savvy newlywed-to-be and you are planning an experience-based wedding day, ordering your stationery will look a little different than your cookie-cutter counterpart. You’ll want catchy welcome signs, fun programs, custom bar menus, signature cocktail signs (possibly named after your dog or your alma mater)!
Expected deposit, 50% to payment in full!
Ok, we’re counting ourselves as one of your wedding vendors! Once you send out those RSVPs; (12 weeks before your wedding, of course)! that is the perfect time to set up your Guestie event. You’ll start by creating profiles for people you know for sure will be at your wedding. For example, your immediate family and your bridal party. Once you start receiving your confirmed RSVPs, is when you can begin to add the remainder of your guests to your Guestie event. You’ll want to make sure to send out your Guestie invites to your confirmed guests sometime between the RSVP deadline and 2 weeks from your wedding day. This will allow guests plenty of time to get familiar with the other guests they will be celebrating with on the night of your wedding! Fun right?!
We’re also personally big fans of when our couples use their Guestie account for pre-wedding events too! Have any upcoming Bach Parties or Wedding Showers? You can 100% use your Guestie account for those too! However, if you’re going in for those pre-wedding events, you should sign up sooner, in order to accommodate the time frame of these events!
Scroll through the blog to find the exact time frame to book your wedding vendors!
Working with a stationer to create a completely customized wedding day stationery package will require a 50% deposit. However, if you are going with online design templates, then you will be required to pay in full at the time of your purchase.
Hair & Makeup 9-12 months
Getting ready on your wedding day is such a fun exciting experience that amps up the vibe for what’s to come. However, it can easily sour into a stress-induced mess, if you don’t have the right professionals in your corner helping you get ready for the day! Enter, hair and makeup artists!
Expected deposit, 50% to payment in full!
As with your floral designer, you want to find the right pro who can add that zing to your already curated wedding day vibe, which will take some Googling and scrolling on the ‘gram! Dig deep into their portfolios of past clients. What do you see? Is it a variety of wedding day looks that cater to the individual? Or is it the same look over and over again on a different face? Lastly, when reaching out to your potential hair and makeup artist, don’t be afraid to ask them the hard-hitting questions. Have sensitive skin and worried about what products they use? Ask! What about cleanliness, sanitation, and state certifications? Ask, ask, ask! A professional hair and makeup artist will communicate their process to you with ease and make you feel comfortable about taking the next step in working with them!
Entertainment 8-12 months
Want to surprise and delight your partner or your guests with some fun entertainment at your wedding? Surprise wedding day experiences that bring the party to the party are the new norm for couples who want full-blown a wedding day experience! Whether you are interested in having a live painter, fire breathers, LED robots, or a La Hora Loca, you’ll want to book your entertainment at least 8 to 12 months ahead of your best day ever.
Expected deposit is anywhere from 50% to payment in full
Once you find the entertainment that vibes with your experience you’ll want to get them booked ASAP! Depending on the entertainment that you hire (a solo bellydancer, or a choreographed dance company) you should expect to place a deposit of up to 50% of the total cost of your entertainment or to pay in full.
Transportation up to 6 months in advance
Dreaming of arriving at your best day in every in a vintage Rolls Royce, a VW bus, or an antique sports car built for two? The recommendation for ‘typical’ wedding day transportation (read: limo) is up to 3 months in advance, but specialty cars and transportation will take a bit more time to source and secure! PS: Are you booking a beer bus or a trolley for your bachelor or bachelorette party? Be sure to inquire about how you can work with the transportation company again for your wedding day, we’ll give you a hint, it rhymes with discount!
Expected deposit varies
If you are booking your transportation 100% online, you’ll be expected to pay upfront for the total cost of your needs (which is typically billed by the hour). Booking a specialty car will require more coordination between you and the vendor.
Wedding Rings 4 months out
A comfortable time frame for purchasing your wedding bands is about 4 months prior to your wedding day. This time frame will allow for any sizing that needs to take place to get the right fit! And while you’re at the jeweler, be sure to have any engagement rings cleaned & polished! You would be surprised how the tiniest speck not visible to the naked eye, can be picked up on camera!
Expected deposit, payment in full
Cake up to 8 months in advance
Assuming your caterer or venue is not providing your wedding cake, you’ll want to source and begin working with your baker from 6 to 8 months prior to your wedding day! Your wedding cake serves a few purposes. The first is as decor, yep – your guests will totally be taking photos of it! The second is ceremonial if you’ll be doing the whole cutting the cake and feeding each other thing. And the last, of course, is to be served as dessert! So yeah, cake, is kind of a big deal. Your baker will need to be someone with great design skills and culinary expertise. The best part is you’ll have the joy of going in for a cake tasting!
Expected deposit is anywhere from 25% to 50%
The amount that your baker requires as a deposit for your best-day-ever creation will vary on size, season, and final design.
Rehearsal Dinner Venue up to 5 months in advance
The length of time needed to book your rehearsal dinner venue will depend on the number of people attending, and the type of venue you have your heart set on. Is it a big blowout at a local trendy sushi restaurant with 50 people in attendance? Or is it a grab-a-slice and a pint at our favorite local sports bar with 12 people kind of get-together? See the difference? If it’s an informal event with just you, your spouse, and the bridal party then you may not even need to make a reservation in advance. If you plan on inviting all of your immediate family as well as your bridal party, then you’ll have to book in advance to find something that will accommodate you!
Well, here’s the thing, if you’re going to plan a formal sit-down dinner at a restaurant you might need to pick up the tab at the end of the night. Or, it’s possible to work with the venue of your choice to prepare a prix fixe menu that is capped at a per-person amount.
Still feeling overwhelmed at the thought of booking your wedding vendors? Bookmark this link so you can come back, anytime!