Take the First Planning Steps with these Key Wedding Vendors

When it comes to planning a wedding, most couples usually dedicate 12 to 18 months to putting together their vendor dream team. Though it’s entirely possible to create a stunning wedding day in a shorter time frame, the essential steps to planning success remain unchanged. Here are the vendors to book first, along with helpful advice from the pros.

Taking the first steps

“A full service wedding planner guides you through the entire process, from working on your budget to getting you down the aisle,” says renowned NJ wedding planner Lisa Ivler of Lisa Ivler Events, known for weddings in North Jersey, CT, and New York City. “Work with a seasoned event professional who offers creative direction, logistics expertise, and guidance all along the way.”

Finding your venue and securing your date sets the stage for every other planning decision.

Vivian Buesking, Co-Owner of Circle of Seven Ranch, a range style TX wedding venue located southwest of Houston, encourages merging your venue vision with practical considerations. “Take time to look for the ideal backdrop for the ambiance you desire. But don’t forget to include factors like location, amenities, and flexibility in accommodating your specific needs and preferences.”

Planning a wedding weekend or having a large number of out of town guests? Kate Stevens, Co-Owner of The Lake House Inn, an elegant wedding venue in Bucks County, PA, reminds couples not to forget guest comfort. “Explore locations that offer on-site lodging for your wedding party and special guests. Your venue manager can also direct you to other nearby accommodations and guest transportation options.” 

Continue the vision

“If your venue is a blank canvas, consider using an event services company,” explains Yoni Yemini, Co-Founder of award winning Illinois event decorators Ace Chicago Events. “We work closely with event planners. While they focus primarily on logistical coordination and planning,  we create a concept or theme, design it and then execute the vision with a combination of in-house talent and collaboration with other decor professionals.”

“Rentals play a significant role in shaping the overall aesthetic of your wedding,” advises Designer Michele Rogers, the creative heart of Indianapolis tent and party rental company Ace Party Rentals.  “Linens, serviceware, the style of a tent, specialty furniture all establish a framework for other design decisions like centerpieces and floral installations.”

What’s next?

Now that you have a date and a venue, it’s time to shop for a wedding dress. The process of ordering a gown is very different from buying ready to wear, explains Elicia Bonham, Owner of Country Bridals & Formal Wear in Jaffrey, a trendy bridal salon in New Hampshire. “Manufacturing, shipping, fittings, and alterations take time. Shopping early not only ensures you can check out your options, you allow for any shipping delays and necessary adjustments.” 

This is also the right time to shop for a wedding photographer, especially if you want engagement photos.  “Your engagement session allows you and your photographer to get comfortable with one another and even practice some posing,” says New England wedding photographer Isabelle Miner of husband & wife duo Shado of a Rose. “And your engagement session helps set the tone for working together.”

Nail down the entertainment

When it comes to weddings and entertainment, “Certain wedding dates, especially fall and spring, fill up quickly,” notes Seth Michaels, a highly rated wedding DJ in Detroit and Owner of Michaels Entertainment In Troy, MI. “Give yourself plenty of time to find more available DJs who match up with your personality and vision. And while reflecting your unique style, your DJ should also keep your guests engaged, entertained, and energized.”

Your DJ is a great planning resource, especially when it comes to reception timeline management. Encourages top Maine wedding DJ Jason Strycharz, Owner of The Music Man DJ Service in Kennebunk, “We’re here to give you guidance and offer suggestions. Count on a professional wedding DJ to create your reception timeline, share it with other vendors like your day-of or venue coordinator and photographer, and keep things running smoothly.”

And DJs are also reliable providers of wedding and reception enhancements.  “Entertainment companies have other services like photo booths, videography, and special effects,” explains George Wainwright, Owner of Coastal DJ and Video, an entertainment company with wedding DJs in the Outer Banks and offices in Kill Devil Hills, Beaufort, and Wilmington. “Booking these through your DJ saves you time, makes for seamless planning, and saves you money. You’ll also find consistent quality when you book multiple services under one roof.”

Experienced Colorado wedding DJ Matt Kays, Owner of  Mountain Event Services in the “Front Range” of Central CO and Southwestern WY,  understands the importance of client communication – both initially and throughout the wedding planning process. “We’re here to listen to you. Professional DJs communicate with their clients throughout the planning process, offering suggestions and solutions.”

Wedding entertainment is more than just memory-making music, believes Cory Leonardo of Party Zone Productions, a highly regarded entertainment company providing Louisville wedding DJs. “Creating a great guest experience is all about setting the tone with the music and also serving as the “voice” of the event. A skilled DJ is a Master of Ceremonies, making announcements, introducing speakers or performers, guiding guests through the reception’s activities and traditions and keeping everyone informed and entertained.”

And don’t forget …

“While you’re planning the reception, don’t forget the ceremony!” reminds popular New York City wedding officiant Denise Drapkin of personal vow writing service  I Wed All, “Couples want their ceremony to be personalized and meaningful. Booking your officiant early gives you time to collaborate. And if you’re intent on writing your vows, you’ll want time to compose your thoughts. And your officiant may also offer premarital counseling, so take advantage of enriching your future marriage during this time.” 

Take the first important steps to planning your wedding with these key vendors. And be sure to select the ones who get your vision, enjoy collaboration, and are financially compatible with your budget.

Brian Lawrence is a wedding business marketing expert who has helped thousands of clients like Alan Berg and Joe Bunn with consulting, marketing and web design. We’ve partnered with Brian Lawrence to bring this great advice from some of his amazing clients.