How Far in Advance to Book Your Wedding Vendors


It's the new year, which means things are back in full swing in wedding planning Facebook groups and all over social media - which also means the "How far in advance do I need to book X vendor?" comes up, a LOT.

Some vendors (photographers, venues in most circumstances, DJs, etc) can only take on one wedding a day, and some vendors, like wedding planners, only take on one wedding a weekend - so you need to book your preferred vendors as soon as you possibly can. I took it upon myself to chat with a few vendors to get their perspective on things.

"The Okanagan is crazy busy for weddings - something like 8,000 a year happen here. Personally, photography is a 100 on a scale of 1-100 importance. At the end of your wedding day, all you have left is your husband and your photos from the day. This means in order to get your preferred/dream vendors you need to book them fairly early on in the process. Personally, I book anywhere from 6-18 months in advance. The brides contacting me in the 6-8 month time slot are usually brides getting married in off season (for me that is November-April). I take bookings up to (usually) 18 months in advance, and love to do so!"
Samantha Banks
Samantha Banks Photography
Kelowna, BC

"Booking your makeup artist early should be top priority after finalizing your date. According to wedding planning books that I’ve seen and read they recommend booking your makeup artist 6-8 weeks before the big day. I was in shock when I read this as it’s very untrue! Unfortunately I turn down hundreds of last minute inquiries every year due to already being booked. The Okanagan is a destination for a lot of couples to marry. This means there is a great demand for vendors and vendors book very quickly, makeup artists included. Here’s some reasons why you should book your makeup artist as early as possible. Availability- As most makeup artists don’t work with “teams” you are reserving that one person for your special day, which means that once they’re booked, they’re booked. As most companies run by individuals, there are a limited number of bookings we can take per day/week/year. I, myself take bookings anywhere up to 18 months in advance for weddings.
No Compromise- If you book early, you’re more likely to book the artist of your dreams because their availability is open. You will not have to compromise on the quality of the artist you book. Remember, photographs of you will be taken all day and night long, and your face will be a highlight in most of the images. It’s so important to look and feel beautiful for these documented memories that will last a lifetime. You don’t want to look at your wedding photos years down the road and hate the way you look because you waited too long to book the artist that you wanted, and you ended up with someone with little experience.
Relationship- When you book your artist early, you start to build that relationship with your artist. You start to build a connection of trust and can get to know the person who will be spending a decent portion of time with you on your wedding day.
Putting Your Mind at Ease - When you book your makeup artist early, it’s another to-do on your checklist done. With no worries, your makeup artist will have you booked in and one less thing to worry about while planning your dream day. Your makeup artist will notify you when it’s time to start solidifying trial dates and confirmation of wedding day timelines. I hope that this list of reasons to book your makeup artist early inspires you to start sending out those inquiries to your favourite artist to secure them for your big day!"
Bri Stein
Bei Stein Artistry
Kelowna, BC

"The dreaded question amongst most wedding vendors is "Are you available for my date?" It's absolutely heartbreaking for me when I have to tell a bride that I'm already booked! A lot of online sources say that booking hair and makeup 3 months before your wedding is sufficient and that couldn't be further from the truth! Living in the Okanagan means that we have access to some of the most beautiful venues and scenic ceremony sites, it also means that most people consider beauty for their special day a top priority! It's not uncomming for brides to book 18 months before their wedding and I highly recommend 9 - 12 months in advance. We have over 10,000 weddings in the Okanagan every single year, unfortunately the number of qualified makeup artists servicing those weddings is significantly low compared to some larger metropolitan areas. Typically May through September will be fully booked by mid January for popular makeup artists, this means that brides who are waiting until 6 months before their date to book are left with sub par artists, or even worse yet - having to go to Sephora or MAC for their makeup! So I will leave you with this - would you wait to hire your caterer or book your venue until 3 months before your wedding?!"
Tabitha Joy
Ciao Bella Cosmetics
Kelowna, BC

"I’m currently taking brides into 2018 and have been for about since July 2016. I would estimate I was about 75% booked for 2017 season by the end of January. If you have a weekend wedding envisioned in the Okanagan I would suggest looking about two years ahead of time for booking your ideal vendors. The past couple seasons all of my Saturdays were booked a minimum one year in advance, and the holidays up to 2 years. I would highly recommend to couples that they be open to having a wedding mid week, or away from holidays if they are going to be booking a little more last minute. You will have a lot more opportunity to book with your vendor of choice! Happy Planning!"
Kris Rostecki
Inspirado Hair Design
Kelowna, BC

"Traditionally, wedding videography is something that couples ‘don’t think they need’ or have a ‘wait and see if it’s in the budget’ approach. In recent years, however, having a wedding film is service that has grown in popularity. Because of the increase in demand, securing someone to capture your wedding through video should be done 1-4 weeks after a date and venue have been selected. Securing a videographer early allows more communication, and for the filmmaker to get to know you better so that your story can be told in a more complete way. From my experience, most couples secure videography 8-12 months from their wedding."
Nick Miller
Nick Miller Films
Wichita, KS

"Choosing your wedding venue is one of the first items on the "I do" to-do list so the sooner the better. It is very common for brides to already know exactly where they want to get married and then it's just a matter of when. Booking early allows the couple the best chance of getting their dream wedding venue on their dream date. Top venues are often already booking well into next year having fully committed this season's most desirable dates to forward thinking brides. As an example, Sanctuary Gardens is already booked for 2017 and is actively booking for 2018 dates."
Kirstin Wakal
Sanctuary Gardens
Kelowna, BC

"Ideally, (me being totally selfish here), the earlier to book the date the better! But here's the thing. Wedding season is nuts, so in a perfect world, a bride would call/email to put a retainer down and hold their wedding date, and then wait until the off season to get into details for their wedding. This gives me the ability to focus on the project at hand, which I know they will appreciate during their wedding!"
Jenner Simpatico
Petal and Vow
Kelowna, BC

"At Okanagan Dance Party, we always tell our brides and inquiries to make booking their professional entertainment their third call. As soon as you have 1) Your Date, and 2) Your Venue, if you want 3) The Best Performers available to entertain your guests you should reserve them right away. And, when you're vetting your professional entertainers, always make sure you're dealing with an established company rather than a discount operator. Professionals own their own gear, have broadcast quality sound libraries, and work with the clients every step of the way. The sooner you have such a pro on your team, the more assistance they can provide, as well. For example, we can recommend other excellent vendors, suggest how the day should progress, and provide other services or equipment that you might think you have to rent elsewhere. If you want to ensure your guests get an Okanagan Dance Party, remember our booking motto: "It's never too early to book - don't leave it too late""
Paul Cousins
Okanagan Dance Party
Kelowna, BC

"Calligraphy is the perfect way to add a romantic, elegant touch to your wedding.  From the invitation suite, envelope addressing, day-of details like place cards and seating charts, there are so many different ways to use calligraphy to make an impression on your guests.  A good general turnaround time for a calligrapher is between 2-4 weeks depending on the project, keep in mind that like anyone in the wedding industry there are busy periods and the turnaround time could be longer.  If your wedding is fast approaching most calligraphers will take on projects with short notice for a rush fee, if they have availability.   If you're using a local or hobby calligrapher you should be safe booking them 3-4 weeks in advance, if you already know you want to book their services book in advance to avoid disappointment.  Calligraphers that are well known and in-demand will book months in advance, so you should book them 3+ months in advance.  There are endless ways to use calligraphy to add a unique and personal touch to your wedding, so find a calligrapher whose style will compliment the style and feel of your wedding."
Leanne Racine Brar
Wolf And Wander Calligraphy
Kelowna, BC