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The big proposal has finally happened and the excitement is palpable! From family to friends everyone will be asking you the same question, "When's the big day?" And while you and your significant other can't wait to tie the knot, there's a lot that goes into the planning, especially choosing the right vendors. Like a giant puzzle, they are the pieces needed to bring your wedding to life!

Since many popular vendors book up well in advance, we've put together a checklist of what you'll need to consider right off the bat along with some of the most sought-after services you should book sooner rather than later.


Creating a budget is the first step for any type of event. Before you can start locking in your vendors you need to have an idea of just how much you can spend. Come up with a realistic plan of all the things you want to incorporate into your day and create a spreadsheet listing out each item, in the order of importance. Wedding sites such as WeddingWire offer free and easy-to-use planning tools; take advantage of their budgeting tool to help keep track of all of your expenses.

Guest Count

In the early stages of planning your numbers might not be exact but it's a smart idea to have a tentative guest list; you'll need it when you start looking at locations. While the number might go up or down a few, try and get as close a count as possible. That way when you're booking your reception you'll have a good idea on what size space will best fit your needs. Popular spots such as Violette's Cellar in Staten Island, NY offer a few different rooms that hold a varying amount of guests. A popular choice amongst couples is The Tosca Room, an elegant private dining space that can accommodate up to 160 seated and 250 in a cocktail setting.

Event Date

Without a date securing vendors is an impossible task. If there is a specific catering hall or particular vendor you want to be a part of your special day, you can always narrow things down by choosing a particular month(s) and find out what dates they have open in the time frame you're considering.


As soon as you have your date book your venue! If you're having your ceremony in a church or any location other than where your reception is being held, book these both simultaneously because popular dates fill up fast. For example, if you know you want to get married at one of the elope to Gatlinburg Tennessee wedding chapels, book it as far in advance as possible. You don't want it to get booked up on your chosen date! If you plan on the ceremony being in the same spot as the reception, look at venues that offer a variety of options. The Stonehouse at Clove Lakes in Staten Island, New York is situated on its own private island surrounded by nature. A beautiful gazebo offers the perfect spot to exchange "I Do's." With so much to offer, venues such as this one can be booked well in advance, and while you might not be planning on waiting along to get married, keep in mind others are!


As soon as you've secured your location, hire your photographer. The more in-demand they are the quicker they'll book up so start making those appointments as soon as possible. If you have a few favorites, do a little homework on each, and make sure their style of photography fits what you envision for your big day.


The entertainment is such an integral part of your event, it's what makes for a great party. Hence, the need to look into dj hire, or band hire, as soon as possible because a great entertainment vendor can book up at least two years in advance. If you don't have someone specific in mind, do your research. Booking a DJ or a band is a personal experience, you don't want to hire someone you've never seen or heard of before. Ask for recommendations, attend a showcase, and get a sense of who you're hiring. Make sure the company is insured, that they're legitimate, and are consistently employed. Most importantly, talk to the person who will be working on your event. You want to not only convey what you're looking for but to ensure you're both a match.

Everything Else

This includes things like invitations, dresses, tuxedos, cake, favors, and any additional fun vendors [think cigar rollers, photo booth, candy table] that you want a part of your day. Transport is another big detail people forget about. Whether everyone is making their own way there, or you want to rent a private jet, this is something you must consider beforehand. While they might not need to be booked immediately, why wait if you know what you want and who you want to hire. The earlier the better; that way you can enjoy the time leading up to the big day.