How to Plan a Wedding: What Order to Book Your Vendors In
We’re in week 3 of a series walking you through the step by step process of planning your wedding. In week 1, we talked about whether you should determine your wedding budget or guest list first & last week we took a dive into whether to book your Chicago wedding venue or Chicago Wedding Planner/Coordinator first. And now that you have your wedding budget, your guest list, your Venue, and your Wedding Planner/Coordinator, we’re going to take a look at what order you should book your Chicago wedding vendors in.
The first step to this is to determine your priorities. I’ll give you the exact order we recommend our clients book in, BUT we also customize this process based on their specific needs and priorities. Here’s what I mean by this: if you have a hairstylist you’ve been following on IG for the last 2 years and can’t imagine anyone else doing your hair for your wedding, BOOK THEM as soon as you have a date. While we absolutely have a process we guide our clients through, customize this order how it makes sense for YOU. It’s important to remember that for wedding vendors, our calendar is our inventory, and most of the time, we can’t just make more of it. So if there’s a key piece to your wedding vision, book that vendor at the top, regardless of where it falls on our list.
Now, wedding pros. I see you. Before I even get into this list I can hear some of you rolling your eyes from here. Our job as wedding planners are to create systems for our clients to follow and the reality is (or should be) that every single one of you requires a retainer payment and for most couples, it’s just not possible to pay every vendor a retainer payment at the same time. It’s also a giant pain in the ass to be interviewing dozens of vendors simultaneously. So yes, we have created a system to help our clients simplify their process and some of you are at the top of our process and some of you are at the bottom. It is what it.
Ok, now that we have all of that out of the way, let’s get into the vendor booking system. We break our planning process down into 4 phases.
Phase 1: Vendor Booking: Begins immediately after setting a budget & guest list and finishes at least 8 months before the wedding.
Phase 2: Design & Logistics: Begins 8 months before the wedding & finishes at least 4 months before the wedding.
Phase 3: Reconciliation: Begins 4 months before the wedding & finishes at least 2 weeks before the wedding.
Phase 4: The Wedding Day
Vendor bookings will happen in both phases 1 & 2, with the goal being to have all vendors secured no later than 6 months before the wedding.
In Phase 1 we book the following vendors in the following order:
Then, in Phase 2, we book the following vendors in the following order:
Hair & Makeup
Again, this list can be totally customized to fit your needs & priorities. We’ve had couples book their caterer as their 1st vendor because they really wanted to know those numbers before securing other contracts. We’ve had a bride book a hairstylist who specializes in boho braids first because they loved her work so much. We’ve had a client say photo was their bottom priority and it was the last thing we booked (though I’ll admit, this one gave me heart palpitations and nightmares for months).
I cannot stress enough to DO YOU, but when it doubt, this booking order should give you some guidance on who to talk to next.
Next week, we’re going to go back in the planning process a bit & take a deeper dive into booking your venue with tips on how to select the right venue for you.
Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner?