Wedding Planning Basics: When to Book Your Wedding Vendors


You have your wedding date, now what? We want to help you get your wedding planning under way and make sure you know when to book your wedding vendors!

In this blog post we’ll cover some of the major wedding vendors but this doesn’t mean you won’t have others like: photo booth, dessert vendor, etc. Your wedding planner or coordinator should also be able to guide you through this process but we at least want to get you started.

Bride and groom holding hands at wedding ceremony site

When should I book my wedding venue?

Before you can book any other wedding vendor, you need to secure your wedding venue. Typically, this is the first vendor to get booked because it will determine not only the location of the wedding but also the date.

We recommend reaching out to your dream wedding venue at least 1 year before your ideal wedding date to check availability. If you want to know exactly what sort of questions you should be asking your wedding venue, read 5 Questions to ask your Wedding Venue next.

If you don’t know where to begin with searching for your wedding venue, we suggest booking a full service wedding planner first so they can help you with the search! Trust us, it’ll make things a lot smoother and faster.

When should I book my Wedding Planner or Coordinator?

Next on the list of wedding vendor priorities should be your wedding planner or coordinator if you haven’t done so already. Wedding Planners and Wedding Coordinators have different roles and different packages they offer but regardless of the role that you choose, if you have a wedding planner or coordinator in mind, you’ll want to book them as soon as you’ve secured your wedding venue!

Wedding Planners

A wedding planner will typically be there anywhere from 6 months to 1 year before your wedding. They help with vendor research, design aspects, logistics and of course, day of coordination. If you want support with all of those elements, you’ll want to hire a wedding planner.

Wedding Coordinators

A wedding coordinator usually comes in anywhere from 6 months or less before your wedding date. He/She will gather the details that you’ve planned leading up to this point and put them together in an organized fashion. The wedding coordinator will be there on the wedding day as well!

When should I book my wedding photographer?

We know you’ve probably had your eye on that one wedding photographer for a while after seeing all their amazing work on Instagram! Well, similarly to venues and planners, photographers get booked up pretty quickly. We recommend booking your photographer anywhere from 8-12 months before your wedding.

Tip: Book an engagement session with them first to see if you like their work and use those photos for your Save The Dates!

Wedding photography of bride and groom

When should I book my wedding caterer?

You can’t have a wedding without food! A caterer is an essential part of your wedding but also something that’s important to explore before booking. We recommend scheduling catering tastings with your top caterers 6 months or so before your wedding.

The good news with most catering companies is that they have multiple teams meaning they can service more than one event per day. Be sure to confirm that with them if you need a little more time before booking!

Cheese and fruit tray from wedding cateror
Venue: White Star Station // Planning and Design: Darla Walker Events // Florals: Sam Franklin Florals // Photography: Rafferty Photo // Draping: Jason Events // Beauty: Bangs and Blush // Models: @lovealwaysallip & @landry_thatcher // Dress: Vow’d Weddings // Tuxedo: Regal Tuxedo // Videography: Open Roads Media // Arbors: Marsh Made Design  // Signs & Lettering: Scruffy City Letters // Rentals: All Occasions Party Rentals // Catering: By the Tracks Catering // Bar: Single Barrel Events // Desserts: Moonshine and Suppertime // Cake: Regina Long // Lighting: Sound Revue Entertainment

Now that you have a good idea when to start booking your wedding vendors, it’s time to get to work! Be sure to check out our preferred vendor list with some of our favorite wedding pros in east Tennessee.

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