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Say ‘I Do’ to Smooth Wedding Planning with Wedding Vendors To Book First

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Did you know that, on average, couples typically spend 12 to 18 months planning a wedding? And while you can definitely put together a beautiful and meaningful wedding day in less time, the steps to planning success are still the same. Here are the vendors you need to book first, along with their helpful advice.

Taking the first steps

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“An experienced wedding planner will guide you through the entire process, from working on your budget to getting you down the aisle,” says revered New Jersey wedding planner Lisa Ivler of Lisa Ivler Events, who works with couples in North Jersey, Connecticut, and New York City. “Go with a professional who offers creative direction, expertise in logistics, and comprehensive guidance. And the vendor coordination your planner provides is going to save you time and reduce stress.”

Whether you go with a full service wedding planner or day-of coordinator, you still need a place to celebrate. Finding your venue and securing your date also sets the stage for hiring the next round of essential wedding vendors. 

Along with budget and guest count, you should have a venue vision. Describes Vivian Buesking, Co-Owner of Circle of Seven Ranch, a unique Texas wedding venue located southwest of Houston, “You’re looking for the ideal backdrop for your special day as well as a place that elevates your guest experience. Don’t forget to include the practical factors like location, amenities, and flexibility in accommodating your specific needs and preferences.”

If your vision is a wedding weekend or you’ve invited a large number of out of towners, Kate Stevens, Co-Owner of The Lake House Inn, a luxury Bucks County, PA wedding venue, 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

“Rentals play a significant role in shaping the overall aesthetic of your wedding,” advises Designer Michele Rogers from Ace Party Rentals, an Indianapolis party rental company that provides everything from clear top tents to table decor. “Linens, serviceware, the style of a tent, specialty furniture all establish a framework for other design decisions like centerpieces and floral installations.”

If your venue is a “blank canvas,” you may want to utilize an event services company, explains Yoni Yemini, Co-Founder of creative Chicago wedding designers Ace Chicago Events. “Unlike event planners (with whom we work closely), who primarily focus on logistical coordination and planning, an event services company creates a concept or theme, designs it and then executes the vision. This often includes staging, lighting, draping, and decor installations. These services are provided in-house while other aspects, like floral decor, are outsourced to trusted and experienced event design teams.”

What’s next?

First planning steps also include gown shopping. “Wedding gown designers release new collections on a seasonal basis, with trends and styles evolving over time,” says Elicia Bonham, Owner of Country Bridals & Formal Wear, a popular New Hampshire bridal boutique in Jaffrey that serves brides throughout New England. “Manufacturing, shipping, fittings, and alterations take time. Shopping early ensures you can check out your options and allow for any shipping delays and necessary adjustments. And knowing your gown style helps with selecting the perfect bouquet.”

If you want professional engagement photos for your Save the Date, this is the time to book your wedding photographer. “Your engagement session is also an opportunity for you and your photographer to get comfortable with one another and even practice some posing”, says Portland ME wedding photographer Isabelle Miner of Shado of a Rose, half of a 5-star rated husband and wife wedding photography team. “Booking your photographer at the beginning of your wedding planning ensures we have time to get to know each other. And your engagement photo session helps set the tone for working together on your special day.”

Nail down the entertainment

To round out the top vendor echelon is entertainment. “Popular wedding dates fill up quickly,” notes prominent Detroit wedding DJ Seth Michaels of Michaels Entertainment, based in Troy, MI. “By looking early, you have more time to check out available DJs based on your personality and vision. Look for a wedding DJ who reflects your unique style, while keeping your guests engaged, entertained, and energized.”

Your DJ is also a terrific planning resource. Encourages Jason Strycharz, a crowd-pleasing Maine wedding DJ and Owner of  The Music Man DJ Service out of Kennebunk, “A great wedding DJ provides guidance on appropriate songs for key moments and offers suggestions – always based on your musical preferences. And an experienced DJ provides you with a thorough reception timeline and works with other vendors, like your day-of or venue coordinator and photographer, to keep things running smoothly.”

Matt Kays, Owner of Mountain Event Services, a Fort Collins wedding DJ company serving the “Front Range” of central Colorado and southeastern Wyoming, 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 ever-popular Cory Leonardo of Louisville wedding DJ company Party Zone Productions. “Creating a great guest experience is all about setting the tone for the reception and serving as the “voice” of the event. A skilled DJ is also 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. Your DJ plays a vital role keeping everything running smoothly and seamlessly.”

A DJ is also a valuable vendor who can provide other wedding amenities .  “Ask about additional services like photo booths, videography, and special effects, offered either a la carte or packaged with a DJ,” suggests seasoned wedding professional George Wainwright of Coastal DJ and Video, an entertainment company providing Outer Banks wedding DJs with offices in Kill Devil Hills, Beaufort, and Wilmington. “Booking multiple services through your DJ saves you time, ensures a more seamless planning experience and saves you money. You’ll also find consistency in quality when you book multiple services under one roof.”

And don’t forget …

While you’re planning that reception, don’t forget the ceremony! Reminds New York wedding officiant and creative vow writer Denise Drapkin of I Wed All,  “Couples want their ceremony to be personalized and meaningful. Booking your officiant early gives you time to collaborate,” offers Denise, who officiates weddings in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester. “And if you are intent on writing your vows, you’ll have plenty of time to compose those thoughts. Your officiant may also offer premarital counseling, so take advantage of enriching your future marriage during this time.” 

By booking vendors in these categories you’ll take the first important steps in planning your wedding. Be sure to choose vendors who get your vision, are excited to work with you, and fit 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.

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Pretty Pear Bride is The World’s Only Site for Plus Size Brides. Bringing Bridal Inspiration to brides that look like “YOU”, created by Shafonne Myers. Shafonne Myers is a certified wedding and event planner who longed for bridal inspiration that looked like her. She has created a website and magazine that brings bridal inspiration to plus size brides. She does speaking engagements educating the world about plus size brides and self confidence.
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