Wedding Planning Timeline: Advice for When To Book Your Vendors

Whether you have been engaged for a month or a year, you may have heard rumors that vendors have been booking up quickly over the last few years. While that’s true to some extent, today we wanted to share a little bit of what we have seen behind the scenes as Hudson Valley wedding planners. When it comes to your wedding planning timeline, we actually DON’T believe you need to book everyone two years in advance. Instead, we have developed a tried and true process for almost a decade now (and it’s still working now – even after the pandemic!).

wedding planning timeline advice

If you are already overwhelmed, just remember that it’s our job to make the wedding planning process easier for you. If you are reading this realizing you don’t want to do this all on your own, head here for current ways to work with us. We would love to guide you through your wedding planning timeline!

Our Wedding Planning & Design Timeline

Although we are known for our untraditional wedding designs, you may be surprised to hear that we usually don’t start with our design vendors. Below is a (quick!) overview of the four stages of wedding planning. We go through each of these with every couple. Logistics always comes first. We make sure to carefully craft a wedding spending plan (budget) and finalize your guest list (even if you do have A lists/B lists) so that all other wedding planning decisions can follow.  Skipping to more of the “fun” wedding vendors (like rentals or your florist!) is a surefire way to go over budget. Or worse – create logistical nightmares.

outline of wedding planning timeline

How far in advance should you book your wedding vendors?

Most vendors actually don’t want you to book 2-3 years in advance. In fact, after the last couple of years where booking so far in advance was a necessity, many are limiting their calendar. Many wedding vendors now only allow booking 18 months in advance. Now, couples race out and book as many vendors as quickly as possible but these longer timelines create more challenges. So if you have been feeling pressure, I hope you take this as a sign to relax. I’m going to break down how far in advance vendors should be booked. This is all based on our four-phase wedding planning timeline above!

outdoor wedding ceremony photos

Phase 1 Wedding Vendors (the first vendors you should book)

The first wedding vendor you should hire should always be your wedding planner. Yes, even before the wedding venue (although that should likely be a close second!). Truthfully, a wedding venue will likely be one of the biggest wedding planning decisions you make. If you aren’t sure if you have the budget for a wedding planner yet, check out our venue scouting service here. This is not a decision to make lightly as it really does affect everything else on your wedding day!

outdoor tent wedding reception in Hudson Valley

The other wedding vendors to book early (about 9-12 months in advance) are your wedding photographer and videographer, your band or DJ, and your caterer. These vendors tend to book up farther in advance than others. On top of that, they often take up a larger portion of your overall wedding budget. Book these vendors first, but only about a year in advance.

Phase 2 Wedding Design

Now, can we skip to the good part? Personally, this is one of our favorite phases in the wedding planning process. Anything related to your wedding design (your florist, rentals, linens, lighting, etc), should be booked about 6-8 months prior to your wedding day. Seriously. We typically work in untraditional wedding venues (you won’t catch us in a ballroom!) so when we say wedding design, we mean everything from tables to napkins. Trust us when we say, 6-8 months out is enough time!

wedding ceremony decor at Hutton BrickyardsHutton Brickyards wedding reception decor

Phase 3 Details

Lastly, phase 3 starts about 3-6 months prior to your wedding day. Here’s where we hire all of the “extra” wedding vendors. Things like your wedding stationery, favors, and welcome bags. All of the little details that you may want for your destination wedding in Hudson Valley.

Nothing is really booked in “Phase 4” so once you have signed and booked your last vendors, you are set!

unique wedding invitation set

Planning your 2023 Wedding

We hope this post has given you a little bit of relief when it comes to booking your wedding vendors for 2023 (or 2024). Right now, we are actively booking full wedding planning and design clients for 2023. We are also starting a waitlist for couples looking for wedding coordination in 2023. That’s right – we also don’t like to book too far ahead for certain services!

If you feel like our team might be the right fit for your wedding day, connect with us here. In the meantime, we are always sharing wedding planning advice and inspiration in the Hudson Valley over on Instagram. Make sure to say hi!