How far in advance do you need to have vendors booked?
This right here is kind of a difficult question. To put it simply - the earlier the better. If you are absolutely in love with a certain caterer or DJ that have been highly recommended to you, there is a pretty high chance they are on a lot of peoples radar. The sooner you decide on who you want, the better your chances are of booking them for that date! The most important thing that you need to have booked before you can book anything else is your VENUE! You need to be sure that all your other vendors are free on the date of your wedding which means you are going to want your venue and date set in stone fairly early. After that the next big three are your caterer, DJ, and photographer/videographer. These are vendors that tend to fill up relatively quickly, if you have someone in mind, reach out to them as soon as you set that date!
It’s important to note that the “importance” of vendors changes from person to person. If you really don’t have a photographer preference but know exactly who you want for your flowers then book them first!
Reserving Hotel Rooms
If you know that you will be having a large majority of your guests coming from out of state or more than 2 hours away, you will need to reserve blocks of hotel rooms to accommodate your guests. There are a few things you will want to keep in mind upon booking lodging for your guests.
You will want to reserve hotel blocks in various price ranges. Some of your guests may not have the funds to stay at a high end hotel for a night, so try booking a few hotels in a close vicinity of each other so you do not have to put any financial strain on your guests.
Whatever you do - don’t commit and sign contracts to pay for rooms not filled. If a hotel requires this, go on to the next one. There are many hotels that will not try to force you into a contract so be sure to look for ones that will not hold you financially responsible if not all rooms in your block are booked.
Ensure that hotels you are looking into are not too far from the venue and if they are offer some sort of transportation. You do not want to make your guests take too long of a ride to the hotel (30 minutes is a reasonable time), especially after a night of drinking and dancing, they will most likely want to get back as soon as they can.
If you do decide to do room blocks - think about including a Welcome Bag for your guests which adds a sweet personal touch. Here some things to think about including: a map of the city they’re staying in in case they want to explore, an itinerary to follow with bus times, addresses, times, etc., a personal note, snacks, or even drinks since bottled water in a hotel room can add up quickly! Learn more about this under “Printed Materials - Welcome Bags.”
Trials with vendors
A little nervous about what to expect on your wedding day? See if your vendors offer little “trials” that are included in their services!
Caterer: Almost all caterers include a tasting when you book with them, so use this time to see if you like what they have or maybe want to make small changes to the food they’re serving.
Photography: See if your photographer includes an engagement session in your package. If they do, this is the perfect way for them to know you better and have a mini “test run” before photographing you on your big day.
Hair + makeup: Most hair and makeup artists include a trial in their package or offer them for discounted rates. This is a great way for them to see what your skin type is, how certain makeup looks on you, your hair type, and also gives you a chance to see if you want to change anything or do not like the way something looks!