For your dream wedding vision to come true, all the pieces of the puzzle need to come together. And an important part of bringing each of those pieces to life is hiring the right vendor, at the right time. As soon as your wedding date is set, I repeat, as soon as your wedding date is set, the first step should be booking your key vendors – or at least, be aware of the timeline when you should book them. A trustworthy vendor can help you feel more confident in your vision, offer a realistic approach, and work hard with you throughout the bridehood journey. But where to begin?
Well, that’s a million-dollar question, which thankfully we have an answer to today. There’s an order you should follow while booking the vendors because each one gets booked at separate times and needs time to be prepared for their bookings. We consulted experts in the respective fields and asked them when they think couples should book them, so here’s your complete guide on the right time to book your wedding vendors.
Wedding Venue & Caterer:
Couples should start looking for a wedding venue as soon as they get engaged. Venue shopping takes time; as you first pick options inside your budget, go for a walkthrough, and possibly a second one if you’re still confused between a couple of choices. For wedding venues, the earlier you start, the better. Some venue owners recommend couples begin their search ideally a year before their wedding date. Especially if your favored venue is popular, seasonal, and a budget-find.
Booking your wedding venue first also helps because they can offer lucrative deals with caterers, rentals, and decorators, which can save some crucial wedding planning time and money. This is particularly true for destination wedding hotels. Moreover, the first question a lot of your wedding vendors like photographers, makeup artists, decorators, etc. will ask is ‘where’s the wedding?. This helps them figure out their traveling expenses and accommodate their other bookings. Consider venue booking as a foundation to book all your other vendors on.
If you’d ask us which wedding vendor you should splurge on the most: our answer will be a photographer. They are the ones who capture your wedding day in the best way possible and seal in the memories that literally last forever. Hiring the right photographer and videographer is crucial, and even more crucial is the time when you hire them.
“When it comes to booking your wedding photographer, an ideal timeline would be six months in advance and no later than four months,” says Abhiram Rajan from Shutterbug Film Company, Bangalore. “The reason being we start receiving queries more than six months in advance, and if you delay there are chances your favorite photographer is already booked. Off-season weddings are easier to accommodate though and booking 2-3 months in advance is fine,” adds Rajan. We also recommend meeting your photographer/ videographer in person or over a video call as you’ll be working very closely with them, physically and figuratively, on your D-Day.
A makeup artist is the one who will bring your bridal vision to fruition. After lehenga and jewelry are all set, makeup artists help you cover the last stride towards your bridal look. Needless to say, booking the ideal artist at an ideal time is important. “You’d want to book your makeup artist six to eight months prior to your wedding, some brides even book us almost a year prior to their wedding,” says Niharika Gokhale (@glamocracy), a Jaipur-based makeup artist.
“Everyone out there wants quality vendors, for which they plan well in advance. Leaving things to the last minute means you can miss your preferred vendor, someone you’ve been longing for a long time,” adds Gokhale. A proper timeline also allows the artist to understand the bride’s expectations, taste, and style. It also leaves time for a trial run so there will be no surprises on your special day. Further, many artists, like Niharika, also guide brides to achieve flawless skin and tackling skin issues, which becomes easier when you have time on hand.
Wedding Planner & Decorator:
A good wedding planner can take away all the stress from the couple. Depending on your budget and needs, an energetic and experienced wedding planner can do almost anything for you: from getting quotes from vendors, negotiating contracts, arranging wedding supplies to entertaining wedding guests, and making sure everything goes as planned. Considering how valuable they are, the earlier you get a planner on board, the better.
Kriti Sharma, the founder of Nazara decor, suggests booking your wedding planner 6 months prior to the wedding and decorator around 3 months before. “This gives you more time with both of them so they execute your dream wedding flawlessly,” says Kriti. “In addition, we also get time to pitch and execute creative options while also understanding the needs of the client and their family,” she adds.
The highlight of those endearing mehendi portraits you’ve bookmarked is your bridal mehndi design. And hiring a henna artist that understands this aspect and executes it with intricacy is vital. “One should book their mehendi artist at least 3 months prior to the wedding because any sort of delay would leave you with fewer options,” shares Nasreen Sayyed from NS Mehendi Artist with Wedbook.
Most mehendi artists also have a group of women to accompany them for wedding guests’ henna, so that’s another thing to check off the to-do list. Keep in mind though that this is just an average time span, “the best mehendi artists get booked super early, especially when it’s peak season or wedding season” says Nasreen. So if you have your eyes set on a popular henna artist, start enquiring and reserving dates four to five months before the big day.
Ah! Every bride’s favorite part – shopping. You’ve been pinning those gorgeous lehenga options your whole life, and now it’s time to finally go out and pick one for yourself. And when should the hunt begin? Well, Rahul Dalmia from Savya Couture advises, “A good starting point for brides is to start shopping 3-4 months before the wedding. It takes time to go through all of the various outfit options catering to your style, needs, and expectations. It also gives us time to give you extra attention, customize any outfits, and make changes along the way if necessary.”
Finding the perfect trousseau takes around two weeks of endless lehenga store visits, continual trials, and a draining decision-making process. But in the end, you should feel confident with the outfits you’ve chosen. “Many brides doubt their decision. This isn’t good for them and for us. As a trusted lehenga store in Chandni Chowk, we do attempt to accommodate last minute requests where possible, but we’d strongly advise brides to feel secure in their choices after they’ve been made,” adds Dalmia from Savya Couture.
While the invites don’t go out two months before the wedding, there’s a lot that goes into designing them. Further, when it comes to finalizing invitations for an Indian wedding, parental approval also matters. And the more people involved in decision-making, the more time it can consume. We spoke to invitation designer Kriti Basra from Shubhlekh for her expert advice “Ideally, the couple should finalize their invitation design 4 months before the wedding, so it can be sent 2-3 months before your big day.”
While the paper invitations have a certain old-world charm attached to them, “more and more couples are opting for digital invitations due to the global pandemic,” shares Basra. And there are certain others who’re doing it for the environment. “It can take anywhere between a week or two to get e-invites ready after the design is finalized,” added Kriti before signing off.
When it comes to a sangeet choreographer, start early – but not too early. “Ideally, we’d recommend couples to book us a month or two prior to the wedding. Any delay means missing out on your favorite choreographer. Even if they say yes, your preferred schedule might not match theirs as they already juggle between multiple weddings,” says Shrishti from Dancescapes.
“Moreover, having time on hand means the couple and their family have sufficient time to practice. In the last few days, the bride and groom are really stressed, so we also want to give them time to relax. In addition, we can also work on props, themes, and customizations if we have a few weeks and give the best piece of choreography for you and your better half,” adds Chandigarh-based choreographer.
The one aspect of wedding planning grooms are more excited about than the brides is the ‘honeymoon’. We guess it’s just a man thing. Anyway, after dancing, singing, and crying your way into the wedded bliss, a dreamy getaway is the best cure for an exhausted bride and groom. While some couples want to leave for their honeymoon right away, others want to take a few weeks off. That is entirely up to you. No matter when you plan to drift off, we’d recommend starting planning at least four months prior to it and confirming everything within a month.
This is just a general timeline for booking your vendors. Feel free to maneuver it depending on your personal preferences, needs, and vendor popularity. Some sought-after vendors, especially venues, are booked more than two years in advance. Speaking from personal experience, I, along with my family, wanted to book Gateway Resort Pushkar for my brother’s wedding, and it has a two-year wait. So, if you have your eyes set on a much-desired vendor, the early, the better.
Get done and dusted with booking your key vendors and then, you can de-stress and focus on other wedding details as the time goes.