So, you’ve got the date and you’ve found the venue, now comes the tricky task of booking your suppliers. Some people like to get married within a few months of the proposal and others prefer to take their time and are engaged for several years! Each couple has different priorities when it comes to planning their wedding so when to book your suppliers is very much a personal choice. Finances also have a big part to play and it’s important to establish a budget before you start shopping around. I’ve spoken to some local wedding suppliers to help you plan how far in advance you need to book to find the right people for the job.
I became a wedding photographer back in 2013 and I’ve noticed a significant increase in the time between booking a wedding and shooting a wedding. This is especially true for some of the more popular dates like the May and August bank holidays. On average, I’d say people book about a year in advance but it’s not unheard of to get enquiries two or even three years before the big day. The fact that I get booked up so far ahead also led to me having a two and a half year engagement as I was already booked up over the summer!
The time of year and day of the week also has a big impact on availability. I quite often get short notice bookings over the winter months and for people choosing to get married during the week. January is usually the most popular time for enquiries and I often end up having to turn people away for Saturdays in July and August in particular. If you’re looking to secure your perfect photographer, I would suggest getting in touch with them as soon as you’ve booked the venue.
Many venues offer in house catering but if you are looking for something bespoke, it’s important to get this done as soon as you have your venue. Many catering companies also provide décor rentals such as chairs, tables, linen, plates and silverware.
HAIR AND MAKEUP ARTIST
Make up is a very personal thing so it’s important to find one that understands your style. I spoke to Sam from Beautiful You about how far in advance you should be booking your makeup artist.
“Just like you needed to move fast on your favorite wedding venue or photographer, you’ll need to make a decision about your makeup artist early on since the popular ones book up fast. You should lock in your preferred artist as soon as you have a wedding date and venue.”
Sam from Beautiful You | @beautiful_you_makeup_artist | www.beautifulyoumakeupartist.co.uk
Whether you’re having a band or a DJ it’s important to get this part of the day ticked off fast. I would recommend aiming to get someone booked around 9 months in advance. When I was planning my wedding, one of the most important things to me was finding a great band that could get everybody up on the dance floor.
After a lot of deliberation, we decided to book The Kicks from Alive Network around a year and a half in advance and we just about managed to secure them for our date.
Flowers have such an important role to play in the look and feel of your wedding. As with other suppliers, great florists get booked up earlier and earlier each year.
“Once you have your date and venue booked it’s a good idea to book key suppliers like florists, photographer and car hire as many of these specialists only accommodate one wedding a day so if you want the best secure them early.”
Tracey from Floribundi | @floribundi | www.floribundi.co.uk
Becca from Serendipity Brides had some great advice about when you should start shopping for the dress.
“You should start looking for your dress as soon as you feel ready to & go with the intention of wanting to find your dress rather than ‘just looking’ as this is when it can become confusing as you open yourself up to too many options. Designers generally work to a 6-9 month window in terms of ordering lead times, but we are well used to shorter times than this or indeed longer – some brides come to us 2 years ahead of their wedding day!”
Becca from Serendipity Brides | @serendipitybrides | www.serendipitybrides.co.uk
Lucy from Lucy Hart Bridal recommended buying off-the-peg if you’re having a short engagement.
“Buying off-the-peg is a little different and does allow you more time as all the dresses are ready-to-wear. Therefore, you can leave it much closer to the wedding date to make your final choice. Buying off-the-peg is a great option if you’re getting married in a hurry or don’t want the stress of waiting for your wedding dress to arrive in time.”
Lucy Hart Bridal | @lucyhartbridal | www.lucyhartbridal.com
For me, the cake tasting was one of my favourite parts of the wedding planning process so I made sure I booked my cake maker a good year in advance.
“Allow at least 4 months in advance of your Wedding day, preferably more – especially if your Wedding is during the Summer months or over Bank Holidays. Some Cake makers like myself take on a limited number of cakes each week so it is advisable to check availability. I regularly have bookings over a year ahead of the Wedding date!”
Amanda Reilly | @reillycakes | www.reillycakes.co.uk
Lead times for wedding stationary can vary a lot depending on whether you’re having something handmade or happy to go with a simple design. For all those getting married abroad, save the dates tend to go out a year or so in advance so it’s important to get a designer sorted fast.
I got my invites from Minted. They had a range of amazing contemporary designs and the quality was fantastic. They do ship from America though so bear in mind you may have to wait a little longer for delivery.
WHEN TO BOOK YOUR WEDDING SUPPLIERS
There are of course many more suppliers you may need to consider. One Fab Day have a really helpful and very detailed wedding checklist that you can view here: https://www.onefabday.com/uk/wedding-checklist/