|A lot of brides don’t know where to start when they plan a wedding so they approach booking wedding vendors randomly and never establish a budget. They end up losing money on deposits and spending more than they needed to. Approaching your wedding planning randomly or emotionally is a bad idea. Below is a fool proof plan for booking wedding vendors.
You should first announce to everyone you’re engaged before you book or do anything. Why? Because most likely your family and friends will help you plan if you tell them you’re getting married and you’re going to need all the help you can get. Friends who have gone before you can suggest vendors and give you a realistic perspective on prices and who was pleasant and easy to work with. Family may offer to help pay and that will help increase your wedding budget.
Pull together your own contributions and your families and figure out a budget before you start shopping. It’s a good idea to put all the money for your wedding, including family help, into one checking account that is for the wedding only. That way when you find the right vendors you can go ahead and book them and not wait to get a check from your parents risking losing your first choice to another couple. You’ll also know the total amount you have to spend so you can make a realistic budget for each vendor. There are lots of free wedding sites with budget calculators that can help you establish amounts to shoot for. I have a page on my website with a sample budget break down you can use as a guide at http://www.crousephotography.net/budget.html
Now that you know how much you have to spend you should ask friends, go on line, and visit bridal shows to find the right vendors for you. You may want to open an email account just for the wedding so you can close it and not have all the wedding junk mail afterwards in your regular email account. You may even want to open a temporary PO Box for the same reason.
Every bride wants to start looking for her dress first, but the first vendors you should be looking into are your ceremony and reception locations. You want these two locked in first before any other vendors because you may find you have to change your date if the locations you love are booked. If you’ve already contracted a photographer before your reception location and you have to change your date, the photographer you booked may not be available the new date and you may lose your deposit. That goes for florists, DJs and many other secondary vendors as well. You may also find you need to increase your budget for your ceremony and reception because nothing is available for your original amount which means you may not be able to afford that $2600 gown you purchased three weeks ago, but now you’re stuck with it or you’ll lose your deposit. Secure your ceremony and reception first so this doesn’t happen to you.
After those locations are booked, and that means you have contracts and have paid deposits on them, then you can start looking into dresses, cakes, photographers, DJs, bands, transportation, etc. Start meeting with vendors in the order of importance. If great entertainment is number one on your list, then schedule meetings with DJs and bands first while your money supply is still ample. As your wedding checking account lessens, you can cut back on the vendors at the bottom of your list that are least important to you. Book the same type of vendors at the same time. For example, book consults with all the photographers you’re interested in the same week so that it is easier to remember information and compare. You’ll be able to make a decision on who to book more quickly as well. If you meet with one photographer, then a month later you meet with another photographer and you decide you liked the first one better. The first photographer may have booked another couple for your date and you’ll get stuck with the one you didn’t like or was too expensive. Vendors may offer deals that are time sensitive, too, and you’ll be able to take advantage of those deals if you book consults with the same vendor types close together.
Plan your wedding randomly and you may end up paying more than you planned. Or worse, with vendors that weren’t your first choice. Follow this plan, and your wedding will turn out the way you envisioned it and you may even stay within the budget you established in the beginning of your planning.