Give yourself enough time to get your team in place.

By Jenn Sinrich
March 16, 2020
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Even if you just got engaged, you're probably already starting to think about planning your big day. And that's a good thing, since planning a wedding is most certainly a process that requires multiple steps. One of the first tasks on your list of wedding to-dos is to select vendors. It's a smart idea to get started on this process earlier than later, as vendors tend to book up fairly quickly and you'll want to ensure that your top choices are available around your desired wedding date.

According to Lisa Costin, wedding planner and founder of A Charming Fete, the time period for hiring vendors can sometimes depend on the time of year. "During peak wedding season it can take a little longer to get a response from vendors or to get in-person meetings scheduled because vendors are typically very busy executing weddings for the current season, but during the slower months (December-February), they can typically hire more quickly," she says.

The actual process from start to finish depends on the type of vendor. "A caterer may take much longer to book if, for example, you're meeting with and scheduling tastings with multiple different caterers," says Costin. "There will also be some downtime between initial consult, quote, tasting, proposal revisions, contract signing, and so forth, so this process could take months because you're often working around their schedule." If the couple has to travel to these appointments, be it a few hours' drive or perhaps a flight to the city they're getting married, the time necessary is increased further.

On average, Costin estimates that it takes anywhere from two to six months to book most of the key vendors (including the venue, caterer, photographer, wedding planner, and florist). "If you are engaged in prime wedding season and want to begin your planning, it is important to understand that response time (as well as quotes and proposals) from vendors may take much longer," she says. "You may not be able to book these vendors until they slow down, so during this time you should do your research and spend time booking vendors that may have the time to meet with you." Once you find a vendor that you're happy with, you'll typically have to put down a deposit to hold your desired date.

If you've hired a wedding planner, you'll likely find the entire process of hiring additional vendors much more seamless, as they often know upfront what the minimum spend requirement is (if there is one) and if the vendor is going to fit into the client's budget. As a result, there is less concern when it comes to depositing to hold the date. Once the deposit is paid and contract is signed, the vendor is booked, however, Costin explains that some couples may want to review several different photographer options and meet with them in person to see if their personalities click. "This could take several months depending on the schedules of the couple and vendor," she says.

Bottom line: If there is a wedding vendor you simply cannot live without, Costin recommends contacting them immediately. "Try to get a base quote (so you can confirm that their services fit within your budget and that your budget items are prioritized and allocated appropriately) and deposit with them to officially 'hold your date,'" she adds.

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