With all the different wedding planning guides out there, which run on 12, 24 or even 36-month timelines, it can be super confusing to figure out when you should book your wedding vendors. If you have gone to a bridal show or bridal expo, your conundrum might be complicated by the fact that the vendors there insisted that you book immediately in order to take advantage of certain special offers available only at the show. That means you might have some services booked well in advance, and others not so much.
There is a general rule of thumb that if it’s a service, like the entertainment or the religious officiant, you should book right away, and if it’s a product (like stationery, gown, cake) you have some leeway, because the vendors of these products have enough product to go around to you and all the other couples getting married on that day. Too early, and you have tied up a lot of deposit money in the hands of vendors. Too late, and you run the risk of missing out on essential wedding services – or having to choose your second, third or fourth choice! Here we try to de-mystify precisely when you should book all your services.
Wedding Planner/Coordinator – 12 months out
If this person is going to be coordinating your entire wedding, it just makes sense to hire them right at the beginning, right? That way, they have plenty of time to organize your big day.
Venue/Reception Hall/Banquet Hall – 12 months out
Couples planning to get married in the popular spring and summer months (May to August) should take this a step further and book as soon as they have a wedding date, even if this is 2 years out. Having your preferred location booked means you can then start hiring all your other vendors.
Officiant: 9-12 months out
Some popular Toronto wedding venues, like the Old Mill, come with a ceremony officiant already, but if you want to hire a specific religious, spiritual or significant person to deliver the ceremony, you need to book them right away.
Caterer – 9-12 months out
Caterers appreciate the lead time, as they might be booked for multiple weddings on the same day if you’re getting married on a weekend in a popular month.
**Wedding decorator – 9-12 months out
Really, as soon as you have the venue, don’t you want to make sure it’s going to look wonderful on the special day?
Photographer – 6-9 months out
If you want a top tier photographer, we suggest booking even sooner; but there are many wedding photographers in the GTA, so this is one area where, if you’re not extremely fussy about having the best of the best, you do have some leeway. The same goes for the videographer, if you will be using one.
Band/DJ/Entertainment – 6-12 months out
Again, this is one of those subjective ones: if you have your heart set on a particular band, musician or DJ, you need to book earlier rather than later; otherwise, there are many capable acts in Toronto that you can book a bit closer to your date.
Flowers & Cake – 6 months out
While you might think you can get away with putting this off, if you want certain seasonal flowers – or certain elaborate cakes – you want to book 6 months before your date, just to be safe.
Limo – 6 months out
Seems ridiculous when the Yellow Pages are full of limousine services, but if you’re getting married in the summer, it’s also prom season – you might have trouble finding a reputable limo driver (or several) on a Friday or Saturday night.
Stationery – 4-6 months out
You can do an electronic ‘save the date’ the second you have a firm date and venue, especially since the summer months book up so quickly with planned vacations. But the actual invites can wait a bit.
Looks like you’ve got some phone calls to make!