I’m engaged! Where do I start? What should I choose first? So many questions and only 12 months to plan. I want a cookie. Wait! I need to look fabulous in my wedding dress, no cookie. I should Google personal trainers…

Sound familiar? Well after you determine your budget and guest count, and finalize your venue, it is the list of vendors that need to be secured. I am going to go over which ones should be contracted first, and which ones you should leave until the last minute.

First things first… You want to start with the vendors that can only work one wedding a day. The Wedding Planner, Photographer, Videographer, Band, DJ, Makeup Artist, Hair Stylist, and Officiant can all only be at one wedding at a time, so you want to make sure you get first dibs on these. Also, this will give you plenty of time to plan through all the logistics. For example, the photographer will probably shoot an engagement session, they will need a shot list, a timeline. etc… Give yourself ample time to figure these items out and send them to the vendor.

After you have those out of the way, move to the other vendors that can do more than one wedding, but may have limited time or stock. These include furniture rental, caterers, dress shops, tuxedo rentals, limo companies, and stationers. For example, many couples dream about arriving in a vintage car. In Miami there are about 30 vintage Rolls Royce cars in the city. But let’s say you want a specific color, then you have an even more limited selection. These vendors should be booked early. Another example is the stationary store. They have plenty of invitations, but long lead times. Ample time should be given to guarantee prompt execution and delivery, (stamping, calligraphy, and mailing times are things you should consider.)

And finally, leave the more detailed and creative vendors until the end. Not too close to your wedding, but after everything else has been handled. These include the florist, decorator, ballon artist, and cake baker. The reason? If you do these items too early you will change your mind and will end up making multiple trips to the vendor to revise your plans. For example, I had a bride that chose her cake one and a half years before her wedding. It was her dream cake and she knew what she wanted. But then she decided on a nautical ballroom instead of a historic one, so she spent another hour changing the cake. After that, the bridesmaids dresses went from gold sequin to purple chiffon, so she made sure to change the cake. And after that, the lace on her gown completely changed, so she changed the cake for the fourth time. LESSON: Wait until you have all your details sorted, and then decide on items like the cake, which depend on all those other details.