What wedding vendors do I hire first?

Wedding ceremony overlooking ocean and mountains

It’s no secret that planning a wedding is a lot of work!! A few weeks back on the blog, I dove into how when you said your best yes ever, you also said yes to a second full-time job! You can read that here! But today I want to help provide some clarity and balance on the ideal time to hire wedding vendors when planning your wedding so that you can take a proactive approach instead of feeling behind the eight ball from the very start!!

Now, first things first! This is your freaking wedding!!!!!! Let that sink in!!!!!

It should be a dream come true! An experience like no other! Something you look back on and relive for years and years to come!

So, from now on, we will refer to your wedding vendors as your dream team, because this is your dream day and I certainly am all for scouting out the best of the best to curate a vision into actuality.  

Keep in mind, all couples have a different length of time for their engagement and while there is not a right or wrong length, I do believe there is a sweet spot! Additionally, all couples have different desires on how they want their dream day to unfold so their priorities when booking their dream team may look a little different than the next couple and that is okay!!

Priorities are based on a few points; First, how many weddings is this vendor capable of producing in one day/weekend? If the answer is one, you need to get that vendor on the books sooner than later. Second, if a band is a MUST but you don’t really have a preference on what type of food you will serve, then, of course, you would want to research and book a band before a caterer. Lastly, (and a shameless plug from a professional wedding planner here)… if you plan on hiring a wedding planner, hire them FIRST! This task specifically (dream team selection) is exactly what they are there to help you with. I promise this resource alone is going to be a dose of stress relief when it comes to booking the venue alone!! They will undoubtedly save you dollars but more importantly your invaluable time, sanity, and happiness! 

Without further ado, let’s get this party started. 

Priority One Dream Team Vendors: (Vendors that can take one wedding per day)  

12 to 14 months in advance of Wedding Day

Wedding Planner

Wedding Venue

Wedding Photographer

Wedding Videographer

11 months in advance of Wedding Day

Wedding Florist

Wedding Caterer

Wedding Entertainment- Band/DJ

Priority Two Dream Team Vendors

Now – please hear me out!! These are by NO means “less important” vendors as far as the art and magic they create on Wedding days, BUT they do typically have a little more flexibility when it comes to dates and bookings!!

10 months in advance of Wedding Day

Wedding Apparel

Wedding Stationer

8 months in advance of Wedding Day

Hair and Make Up Artist



Lighting / Special Effects

Live Painter

7 months in advance of Wedding Day

Specialty Vendors such as Coffee Bar, Ice Cream Bar, Late Night Snack Truck, Etc.

5 months in advance of Wedding Day

Wedding Décor and Rentals

Wedding Planning Checklist

You want to think in terms of the order of importance by how significant their role is to you on your day. If you ask your sister-in-law, her answer may be different than your vision and that is okay! Do what fits your dream! Most importantly, hands down, are the wedding venue and wedding planner, and the rest follow in suite immediately after. The time frames above for suggested booking advance is a direct correlation to the upcoming Wedding Boom, where the United States is projected to see more weddings than it has since 1984, according to Forbes.

In light of the “Wedding Boom”, I want to round all of this out by giving you a pro tip. People are getting married everywhere as they step back into, dare I say, an almost post-pandemic world? Wedding vendor’s books are filling up quicker than ever and those vendors that only take one wedding per day/weekend, well they only take one wedding per day/weekend! If your heart is set on a spring rooftop wedding at Wild Dunes Resort then you need to find out their availability and work from there. You should be prepared to be flexible and patient if you want a weekend in prime Wedding Season. If you aren’t willing to get married on a weekday/off day for better odds at date availability, I would highly recommend you have an open mind and prepare for a longer engagement season because there are just that many people getting married right now.

I will tell you firsthand, there is something about the engagement season that you want to live in. You want to bask in it. Once it is gone, there is no getting it back. Don’t hear me wrong, it is a STUNNING life after, BUT embrace the season of engagement, let those who love you spoil you, take all the fun trips, and taste all the sweet things, but don’t rush it and don’t stress in it! If it happens to be 15 -24+ months-long, ENJOY the journey along the way and all that comes with it!