Reading to get started planning your wedding? It can seem daunting at first, with so much to book and trying to pull together the perfect team for your wedding.
It's alllll about research when it comes to wedding vendors, so we're not going to recommend anyone specific here. However, the order you book your wedding vendors is actually important.
Some wedding vendors are more key to the day, or book up faster than others, so even if the wedding stationery is a passion project for you, we're afraid knuckling down to find your dream team in other areas probably should take priority.
Follow this guide on which wedding vendors to book first to get you started, and read online reviews and schedule meetings/calls to make sure you’re hiring the absolute best once you've picked your favourites. Happy planning!
1. Wedding venue
There's no wedding without a wedding venue, even if you decide that venue is the registry office, so this is the first thing to tick off.
Consider what type of wedding you want and the wedding venues that might suit that style (for example, a festival style wedding probably won't work in a five star hotel that is more likely to host a black tie affair), then take into account your total number of guests, and where you would like to host your celebration.
Your guest list number will dictate which venues you need to scratch off your list in your chosen location, which will either narrow down your options, or tell you that some of the guests are going to have to go in order to fit your dream venue. Then, it's time to arrange some venue tours.
The rest of your wedding vendors will kind of fall in around the dates your venue is free and your venue location, so there's almost no point in looking at anything else until you've got the wedding venue nailed.
2. Wedding photographer
Most wedding photographers book up more than a year in advance, especially for popular weekend wedding dates (including Fridays in many cases), so this should be second on your list of wedding vendors to book.
Take a look at as many wedding photographers as you can find (checking their Instagrams often gives you a good general overview of a photographer's style, and if you've never really thought about it before, it might take you some time to figure out the style you like.
After you've narrowed it down a little, it's worth checking out some of the full real wedding galleries many of them will feature on their website to see how they shoot weddings from start to finish, which will give you a good idea of if they're the people for you.
3. Wedding band/music
A lot of people are very picky about their wedding band and we're not surprised. Successfully filling your dancefloor often hinges on a decent band.
A lot of the most popular wedding bands - the names you'll know from other weddings you've been to, probably! - will book out fast so if you loved a particular band at a pal's celebration, it's worth getting in touch early on.
Because wedding bands are one of the top three things to book, even the less big names do start taking bookings more than a year out, so it's no harm looking. A lot of people think they have to see a band live before they book them, and if that's a priority for you, fire ahead.
However, rest assured that many, many couples book their band based on recordings or YouTube videos, so don't feel like you're making a mistake if it's not going to be possible to see them in advance. If you like what you're seeing and hearing from their portfolio, you're probably in a good spot.
Looking for the best in the biz wedding vendors? Check out our Confetti Recommended Suppliers!
4. Wedding videographer
This is sometimes a controversial one, because a lot of couples tell us every single year that their biggest regret is not booking a videographer at all. In last year's survey, 41% of couples said exactly that. Eek!
Wedding videographers are increasingly booking at the same rate as wedding photographers, so we would advise discussing whether a videographer is something you want early on and working it into your budget at the start, if that's the case. That way, you can enquire with your top choices and get your wedding date while it's still available.
A lot of couples who decide early on that they can't fit it in the budget or that wedding photos are enough for them, but then later decide they will get a wedding videographer to avoiding regretting foregoing it, end up with much slimmer pickings to choose from as other couples booked their videographer at the same time as their photographer.
So we'd say, make a decision and stick with it. But if you're on the fence remember that most couples tell us in the end the day goes so fast, you can't see or be there for everything, and even if you could, so much happens that you can't possibly remember it all. Video captures those sorts of moments far better than still imagery can, so it may become a very valuable to you once the big day is over and done.
You might also like: Should you book a wedding videographer? We asked the experts!
5. Wedding officiant
If there's no wedding without a venue, the second thing you can't forge ahead without is a wedding officiant. If you're getting married in a church, this may be more about seeking out a parish that works for you, whether that be your local one or one near your venue.
This will come with a priest, or you can enquire about your own priest officiating your marriage in a particular church, which varies by parish. You can find out more about church ceremonies here.
If you're getting married in a registry office, the state will assign a civil registrar to you so you won't have to 'pick' one, as such. It's a little more complicated if you wish for your civil ceremony to take place at your venue - either you can get a state registrar but this comes with its own rules and restrictions, or you can get a celebrant from another organisation, like humanist celebrants, which typically means you must do a registry office ceremony first. You can find out more about civil ceremonies here.
No matter which way you plan to have your ceremony officiated, it's important to book them early on. Churches will usually have a set number of wedding masses they will perform in a day or week, and independent celebrants tend to book up early as they often will only perform one ceremony a day, so it's worth bumping this up the list ahead of some of the decorative details.
Which wedding vendors should you be thinking about next?
Once you've got the big five boxed off, the following wedding vendors are where you need to focus your attention:
Hair and makeup - If you're not particularly bothered about booking very specific hair stylists and makeup artists, these can probably wait a little longer. However, if you know you're going to be picky or if you have specific beauty vendors in mind, often they can book out up to a year in advance, which many couples don't expect, so get in there quick to avoid disappointment.
Caterers - You don't want to leave guests hungry so if your venue package doesn't come with wedding caterers already built in, you'll want to nail down your food vendors quick sharp.
Florist - If you have particularly elaborate floral plans for your wedding - like a big floral installation or moongate or the like - you may want to book your florist early on so you can be slotted into their schedule. A florist may be able to provide bouquets for multiple weddings in a day, but if you need them on-site to construct something from scratch, that may be the difference in who is available and who isn't.
Cake maker - Similar to hair and makeup and florists, if you've got an elaborate design in mind or you just know you'll be selective about who your caker is, this is one to prioritise as many of the most well-known wedding cake makers book up fast, even though they can often do multiple weddings in a day.