You’ve gotten engaged and set a wedding date – congrats! Now, what’s next?
Do your homework with your fiancé and set a ballpark budget. Then start looking for vendors for the big day.
“You want to look at your overall budget, what’s affordable for you, and divide the total number into vendors and how you want to split them up,” said Ashley Fonzo, director of sales & events at Irem Clubhouse in Dallas, Pennsylvania.
What details are most important to you? Is it the food, the flowers, the DJ or the cake? Allocate more of your budget toward areas that are higher on your priority list. Some couples may allocate 40% of their budget to the venue (Irem Clubhouse, for instance, offers a package including cocktail hour, dinner, centerpieces, etc.). Then, they might spend another 15-20% of their budget on the photographer and DJ and the remainder on the florals, weddings dress and wedding day essentials. “Make a list and prioritize it,” Ashley said.
It’s important to shop around when choosing a vendor. Ask for client referrals.. Make sure you get along with your photographer and your DJ because you will be interacting with them all day, Ashley said. Meet or speak with them on the phone before the wedding. If not, make sure the DJ sends you a video of a wedding he has played at and the photographer emails you images of his or her work. A legitimate vendor should have a website and/or a social media presence.
You also need to be in sync with your wedding planner, Ashley said. “I tell couples to make sure they get along with the planner at their venue,” she said. “If your personalities don’t match, you may clash at your wedding and the day won’t be what you wanted.”
Don’t wait too long to book your vendors. The most popular ones will book up quickly, Ashley said. If you have someone specific in mind who you want to use, get in touch with that person as early as possible, up to a year in advance is preferable. The venue may have a list of vendors it works with and recommends.
“Choosing vendors is not an overnight process,” Ashley said. “It can take a few weeks to a few months to nail everything down. Don’t expect it to be turned around in a day.”
Many wedding websites, like The Knot, offer a budget calculator and also list vendors on their site. Some couples will write their own reviews and make note of what they did and didn’t like about their wedding. Read them!
Don’t forget some of the less crucial, but still important details, from hiring a limousine driver to take you from the ceremony to the reception, to making sure out-of-town guests have a hotel to stay at following the wedding. Ceremony music is something to think about, along with wedding favors, too. Giving your guests a treat they can take home with them is a small way to help them remember the special day you worked so hard to plan!