Know what to book, when to book and why. Make your choices and then protect yourself.
||When to book
|Service||At least eight months before the wedding||Churches and other sites as well as clergy/officiants are often booked up to a year – especially for Saturday bookings.|
|Reception site||At least eight months before the wedding.||Popular sites are often booked up to a year ahead.|
|Don’t make choices immediately after you get engaged. Wait awhile. But when the wedding date is chosen, it’s time to move ahead.||Choices made too quickly are often mistakes that are awkward to correct. The size and formality of the wedding should be decided before you consider who and how many will make up the bridal party.|
|Gown purchase||At least six months before the wedding.||Most gowns are made out-of-country and require substantial lead time to be processed and imported.|
|Invitations||Order four months before the wedding for formal invitations from a major printing house.||Allow time to see a sample to proofread and remember; they should be mailed six weeks before the wedding.|
|Photographer||Four to six months before the wedding.||Photographers usually book just one wedding per day and the best are booked early. Ask if they are squeezing in a second wedding!|
|Caterers||Four to six months before the wedding.||Popular caterers are booked well ahead of time. Ask for a food tasting before you set the menu.|
|Attendants’ gowns||Meet with your bridesmaids at least four months before the wedding.||Bridesmaids usually pay for their gown and should have some input on style. The bride selects the colour.|
|Transportation||If using limos, book four months before the wedding.||It depends on the time of year. If it’s prom season, good luck!|
|Musicians/DJ||For both the service and the reception, book three months before the wedding.||Musicians aren’t in short supply, but you may have a preference for a specific person or group, so pin them down.|
|Rentals (tents, tables, chairs, china)||Two to three months before the wedding.||These usually are easily available|
|Cake||A couple of months before the wedding.||There’s no big hurry, but get the decision-making out of the way to relieve your stress.|
- Make a list of all relevant questions before you meet with a potential vendor.
- Throughout the interview, make notes. Don’t rely on your memory.
- Get a written estimate when the decision is made.
- See that every detail is covered in writing.
- Make sure that the name of the individual who will be at your event is on the contract, plus the date, time and site of the wedding.
- Check that the price includes any extra fees, such as for overtime, delivery or car mileage.
- Finally, sign the contract.
Note: The vendor may not have a contract, so prepare one yourself. You and the vendor both should sign it, date it and each keep a copy.
Have a written agreement about the deposit you will be required to pay as well as the cancellation terms should you want or need to cancel their services. Pay deposits immediately after you have made a decision.
Note: A major mistake made by bridal couples is assuming that because their date was available when they met with the vendor, that somehow it will stay available. The date is not held until the deposit is paid.
Don’t sign any contract until you have checked out at least three references (and you don’t want these to be friends or relatives of the vendor!) If the vendor seems to be insulted by this request, you have the wrong vendor. Move on.
- You will get the best from vendors if you treat them with respect and show appreciation for their advice and their work.
- If you don’t agree with a suggestion or product, be polite. “It’s very nice, but not quite what I had imagined.’’ Be cooperative because vendors go out of their way to please nice people.
Note: Vendors have dozens of ways to get even with, or slightly sabotage, disagreeable and demanding clients. No unpaid overtime for these clients!
You inevitably will think of additions or changes after the contract is signed. Do not make changes by phone. They must be written and dated, so there is proof of the request.