The early bird catches the worm – but does the early couple capture the supplier?
If you’re wondering how far in advance you should be booking your suppliers, we’ve got the insider info you need to know!
How early should I book my wedding suppliers?
There’s no ‘right’ length of engagement, so sometimes monthly countdown wedding timelines aren’t all that useful. You’re probably not going to be booking your venue 12 months before your wedding day if you get engaged 9 months before it!
But, as a general rule, if you’ve found the supplier of your dreams and you’re dead set on them, it’s fairly simple: get in touch as early as you can.
This is especially true of suppliers who will be more in demand, who can only take one booking per day – like photographers – or per weekend, where a lot of travel is required.
It’s also true of particularly popular dates. (Summer Saturdays and bank holidays, where you at?!)
If you get in touch at the earliest point, you know you did all you can to secure them.
Having said this, some suppliers only open their diaries up so far in advance. If your wedding is further away than they’re currently booking, make a note in your diary or calendar of when you’ll be able to book them, so you don’t miss your chance!
And, on the other side, you don’t want to panic book suppliers you’re not 100% sure on purely to tick a box – so Jenny, don’t be hasty.
There’s no point in kicking back to relax with all your suppliers booked and two years to go, only to spend the next 24 months worrying that you actually don’t really like or trust any of them…
What wedding suppliers should I book first?
This is quite a personal question, because every couple’s priorities are different – they may even be different between you and your partner within the couple.
One of your first activities should be sitting down together and working out what matters most to both of you! Your top priorities should be towards the top of the budget and should be organised sooner, so you can work out what budget is left for those nearer the bottom.
Having said that, across the board the main big hitters to get near the start of your wedding timeline are your venue – because all your other suppliers will need to know where it is! – your caterers, and your planner (if you’re having one – and they may come before the venue, if they’re helping you search for one).
These suppliers influence the rest of your plans, so they come at the start. Another one to book early is your photographer, as they typically get booked about a year in advance.
If you’re looking for bespoke stationery to be made, including save the dates, it’s a good idea to get these in motion early on too. Once you have the date cemented, you might as well tell people – you want your dream guests there as much as – if not more than! – your dream suppliers!
(And if you want to let them know virtually via a state-of-the-art wedding website… Well, you know exactly who to call. We’ll be waiting.)
What wedding suppliers should I do last?
Though the smaller details and finishing touches are often the most fun, these are the ones that don’t need to be nailed down quite so early on – but none really have to be left ‘last’!
Certain suppliers physically can’t do their work until closer to the date, for example bespoke outfits (who need up-to-date measurements to make their garments). They often ask for at least six months, with anything below that being accepted on a case-by-case basis and potentially incurring a rush fee. However, a lot of the time you can register your interest or effectively book your slot way before that.
And beware, you can wind up spending more than you’d planned on little details if you focus on it too early, because lots of little purchases add up without you realising.
(Editor’s note: I had an 18 month engagement; when I couldn’t organise the big things so far out, I started organising the small things. I accidentally spent £200 on my cake topper, because it was something I could Do Right Now. Towards the end, I really wished I’d had that £200 to go on other things!!)
Pictured: the world’s most expensive cake topper. Kooky Weddings
But it’s also worth bearing in mind that the ‘smaller’ items you may be buying online will need delivery time, especially if they’re being sent from overseas, so make sure you don’t leave these too late if you’ve got your heart set on something international.
When to book your wedding suppliers
Fine, fine, we’re nothing if not crowdpleasers. We know you might agree with all of the above and still want to have some form of wedding booking timeline – so we proudly present to you:
Between the start of your wedding planning and around 12 months before the day
- Book your wedding planner (if you’re having one)
- Book your venue(s)
- Book your caterer
- Get your wedding insurance, so that all of your deposits are covered
- Book your celebrant, if you’re having an independent or Humanist ceremony (want to know more about them? Check out our blog here!)
- And if not, you’ll need to book your registrar, or book the place of worship and the minister
- Book your photographer and videographer, if you’re having one!
Around 8-10 months before
- Start looking for your wedding outfit – most places have a six month lead time so you can work out what you like before having to decide!
- Book your florist
- Book your cake maker
- Book your decor
- Book your musicians and entertainment
- If you’re looking at bespoke wedding jewellery, now’s a good time to start with that
- Get your wedding website sorted (helllllloooooo…)
- And remember to send your save the dates!
Around 6 months before
- Look into ordering your wedding party’s outfits
- If you’re going on honeymoon, start putting plans into motion
- Order your wedding invites to send
- Choose your wedding gift registry or honeymoon fund in anticipation of your invites actually going out
Around 4-6 months before
- Book the hair and make-up artists you’ll want there on the day
- If your rings won’t be bespoke, now’s a good time to buy them
- Look for your wedding accessories
Around 2 months before
- You can start to buy your gifts for others if you’re getting any
- And finalising the finer details, giving you plenty of time to account for postal delays, etc.
Around 1 month before
- Order your final on-the-day stationery, like table plans
Finding your perfect wedding vendors
Now all that’s left to do is actually find your dream wedding suppliers! Check out our list of the best wedding suppliers in London to get you started!