What’s the secret to an amazing wedding that’s low stress? A team of talented, professional wedding vendors, of course! If you want a beautiful, memorable, and smooth wedding, you’ve got to work with pros. While you can wait a little while to book some vendors, others should be booked at least a year in advance to ensure you’ve got the exact team you want. Here’s your guide to the seven wedding vendors you should book right away and why!

Your Wedding Planner

The first vendor you should hire is your wedding planner, and 12 months in advance isn’t too soon to sign a contract. According to the top wedding planner, Evelyn Francesca in San Diego, CA, choosing your wedding planner first is crucial because you’ll want their guidance during the rest of the wedding planning process. Of course, it also reserves your date on their calendar so no one else can take it.

From this point forward, your wedding planner is an invaluable resource who can offer experienced advice during the rest of your vendor interviews. He or she will help you review contracts and ask pertinent questions you may not have thought of.

Of course, you can begin researching other vendors and touring venues but don’t set anything in stone until your wedding planner can offer her input.

Your Venue

Wedding Venue
Wedding reception venue in a large marquis with elegant formal white table settings and a view of a garden

The next thing to book is your venue, and you should plan on taking this step at least 12 months before your big day as well. Popular venues book out well in advance, so the sooner you have a signed contract the better. 

Knowing what will be included in the cost of your venue will also help you plan out the rest of your wedding budget. For example, some venues include catering in the price of the contract, others may offer an open bar, fancy linens, or centerpieces for the guest tables.

And, whether you choose a barn in the country or a glamourous ballroom at a fancy hotel, your venue will affect every other decision you make about your wedding- from your dress and flowers to the food and cake.

Your Caterer

Now that you’ve booked your venue and you have your planner’s valuable input, the next thing to check off your list is your caterer. The food is a major part of the entire wedding experience, so you want to make sure you’ve got the caterer under contract for your big day. Catering is also usually the next biggest expense after your venue, so knowing how much you’re going to be spending is crucial for planning out the rest of your budget.

Your Photographer

Plan on booking your wedding photographer around 11 months before your big day. Most wedding photographers work alone or with a small team, so their schedules fill up fast. Booking early ensures that you’re not disappointed with your choices.

Be sure to consult with your planner and take your venue into consideration when choosing the style of your wedding photography. Digital photography is the most versatile and works great indoors or out. Light and airy film photography requires natural light, so it’s best for outdoor venues.

Starting your search early also gives you time to become familiar with a photographer’s style and check out their online reviews before the initial interview. Your photos will be your wedding day keepsakes for the rest of your lives, so this is one of the most crucial decisions you’ll make.

Your Videographer

Your videographer should also be booked about 11 months in advance. Videographers work alone or with small teams, so they’re calendars fill up quickly, just like photographers. You’ll want to ensure that the person you hire has a great editing style and knows how to capture the most important details, like the ceremony and your first dance.

Of course, price is important too, and starting the process early gives you a chance to negotiate and compare pricing. But don’t wait too long to sign a contract! Your wedding video allows you to relive the big day with family members who couldn’t be there and will help you remember all of those details you worked so hard to create.

Your Florist

Wedding Flowers

Plan on booking your florist at least eight months before your wedding. This should allow enough time to get on the books with a wedding florist you love and start brainstorming ideas that fulfill your vision for your flowers.

Your florist and wedding planner can help you narrow down your color palette and decide which flowers you love. Knowing the style of your flowers and how much they’re going to cost will be super helpful going forward.

Your Cake Designer

Cake on plate and on a table
Cake on plate and on a table

Around the same time you book your florist, go ahead and hire your cake designer as well. Although a cake designer can deliver more than one cake on a given day, the good ones are in high demand and there’s a limit to how much they can do. Getting them under contract well in advance ensures that you’re going to get exactly what you want.

You can always wait to narrow down flavors and do tastings until a bit closer to the big day. Do some research before your tasting because there are tons of frostings and finishes to choose from and you’ll want one that fits your wedding style and tastes.

One Final Tip

Although choosing your wedding dress isn’t technically booking a vendor, you’ll want to do it as early as you can in the wedding planning process. The style of dress you choose will influence all of your other decisions, so don’t wait until the last minute to decide you want a formal gown when the venue you booked is more casual.

Once you’ve got all of the most crucial vendors worked out, you can relax and start searching out the perfect wedding entertainer, stationer, makeup artist, and hairstylist. There are tons of details to consider when planning a wedding, so remember to rely on your wedding planner as much as possible so you can enjoy the experience and not be overwhelmed.