What Wedding Vendors Should I book first?

I know I know no one ever told you wedding planning would be THIS hard! Don’t worry here’s a guide to help you ease the stress and break it down for you! First, evaluate your priorities. Is there a vendor you’re dying to have for your wedding let’s say you have your heart set on a specific photographer, venue or videographer? It’s important to prioritize your priority vendors to ensure you book them or at least have enough time to find someone else you love as well. Always check vendor review on Facebook, google, yelp, wedding wire, the knot, etc. ask your vendor where you can view some of their reviews! Make sure your vendor has insurance and is a legal business! Never give someone a deposit without a signed contract!

Venue: Camarillo Ranch House | Photographer: Melaney Sotelo Photography | Coordinator: Three Sisters Events

There are two types of vendors those who can only service one wedding per day and those who can service multiple. Always book the vendor who can’t take on more than one wedding per day first. These may include wedding planner, caterer, photographer, and band/DJ. Check with your vendor if they offer associates or have a team to be able to service multiple weddings in one day or not.

Photographer: Melaney Sotelo Photography

1.Wedding Planner

Hiring a wedding planner first will save you lots of headaches and feeling overwhelmed. They are trained professionals who know what to look for and how to get you the best deal for your money while assuring quality. Your planner can guide you through the wedding planning process, as well as offer help with vendor shopping. Most planners have vendors that they closely work with and even offer their brides discounts.

Venue: McCormick Ranch House | Photographer: Melaney Sotelo Photography


Reserve your venue ASAP! It is on the harder side finding a venue that will accommodate your guest count, your needs for your wedding and that is available. Especially if you plan to get married in a major city like Los Angeles, dates can be booked up as one or two years in advance. Your venue will set the overall tone and look for your event, keep this in mind when venue shopping. Keep in mind a rough idea of what you want your wedding theme to be in order to not book a gorgeous venue that goes against your theme. Will you be having your ceremony at your venue or a house of worship? Double-check with your venue if you are allowed to bring outside vendors. Some venues REQUIRE you to use their vendor list which doesn’t allow flexibility for budget or a variety!

Venue: Camarillo Ranch House | Photographer: Melaney Sotelo Photography | Coordinator: Three Sisters Events


Does your venue offer onsite catering or will you need to look into offsite caterer? Catering companies often not only offer food and drink but also tables, tablecloths, chairs, plates, and silverware. A caterer and a venue are usually booked together or at the same time because they take up the majority of the money! Remember to consider vendors that offer vegan options or substitutes because some of your guests might be allergic to certain food items and the last thing you want is for someone to have an allergic reaction.

Venue: Lake Oak Meadows | Photographer: Melaney Sotelo Photography


Photographers book up quickly! They typically get booked up a year or two in advance. Your photographer is not somewhere you want to cut costs. They ensure your wedding day is not only one day but that you have these memories to keep for generations to come! Some photographers love destination weddings (myself included) don’t be afraid to ask for a quote from a photographer who’s not in the state you’re getting married in. Check if you’re photography is insured; some venues require your photographer to be ensured and even if they don’t it’s important that your photographer has their own insurance! Photographers don’t provide raw images to clients.

Camarillo Intimate Backyard Wedding | Photographer: Melaney Sotelo Photography


Your photographer and videographer will work together, they don’t necessarily need to be from the same business however they can meet together or give them each other information prior. You want to make sure you view their work and that their style of shooting is what you want. Do you want a one-minute video, do you want an Instagram video? Ask your videographer what’s included in their package. Videographers don’t provide raw footage to clients.

Camarillo Intimate Backyard Wedding | Photographer: Melaney Sotelo Photography

6.Music and Entertainment

An amazing DJ or band will get your guests booties off their chairs and dancing the night away! If you can explore a variety of DJs and bands then I suggest you start searching about six to nine months before the wedding so you can meet with all the vendors. If you have a specific vendor such as a violinist etc. then book those fast because there’s been an increase in unique entertainment for weddings.

Venue: Lake Oak Meadows | Photographer: Melaney Sotelo Photography


The Majority of couples meet with florists between a year to six months out. When you meet with a florist you should already have a wedding theme and colors set so that you can set your flowers and floral decorations around that. The last thing you want is to go with a red rose and have a blue and black wedding color theme. Meet many florists until you find one you like and that offers you a great deal. Consult with your florist during the season you will be getting married to see what flowers are in bloom during that time.

Camarillo Intimate Backyard Wedding | Photographer: Melaney Sotelo Photography

8.Invitation Designer

Start planning five to eight months before the wedding. This allows couples enough time to receive their guest’s RSVP’s and gives calligraphers and couples enough time to create final wedding details such as the escort cards. If guests don’t send you their RSVP you can also provide an online RSVP form for people who forget. Save the dates can be sent out at least a year in advance especially for destination weddings.

Photographer: Melaney Sotelo Photography

9.Hair and Makeup Artist

Popular and good artists are booked six months to a year in advance. You want to schedule your makeup trial the day of your engagement photos to save costs and see how your makeup will look in pictures prior to the wedding date.

Camarillo Intimate Backyard Wedding | Photographer: Melaney Sotelo Photography

10. Cake/Dessert

Cake and Dessert should be hired three to six months in advance., It is becoming more and more popular to not have just the traditional cake but also a churro cart, ice cream, etc.! Will you only be having a cake? Are you including gluten-free options? A lot of factors to consider with deserts. Does your company offer a churro cart or just churros in baggies?

Venue: Camarillo Ranch House | Photographer: Melaney Sotelo Photography | Coordinator: Three Sisters Events


Depending on your wedding location(s) will your guests have enough parking to arrive at their cars and back safely on their own or will you provide transportation? Book your transportation three months before the wedding. If you’re getting married on busier months such as May and June then book at least 6 months ahead. Will you be renting out a limo or party bus for your wedding party? Will your photographer and videographer be able to find parking in these different locations?


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April 2, 2020



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