It sounds daunting, but the first step to wedding planing should be creating your (ideal) budget. Set reasonable expectations for what kind of bang you can get for your buck, but don’t be afraid to dream big and write down EVERYTHING. Include what you’d like to have in your dream wedding, then prioritize once it’s all on paper.
Once you have a list of all the grandiose items on your wedding planning bucket list, make a separate list: want vs. need. Separate the vendors into those two categories. Here’s what I would do to organize the need category, in descending order:
Here’s a list of some vendors and items that may be in your wedding planning want category that couples have said they spent TOO MUCH money on:
Things to keep in mind while creating your budget:
Your wedding vendors should be made up of people you trust; people you know have your best interest at heart. It may also be important to you that you share similar values and priorities.
Don’t be afraid to ask all of your questions during the initial meeting/consultation. I can only speak for us here, but we always appreciate an open and honest dialogue. We’ll let you know not only what you can expect from us, but also what makes us different than others.
There is a perfect vendor team for everyone, and they are waiting for you to pop into their inbox.
The venue you choose in the wedding planning process is likely the first big vendor decision you will make. This choice will determine your wedding date, and put the biggest dent into your budget.
It is recommended that your wedding venue is chosen between 16 and 9 months before your desired wedding date. The location you decide on may also have some peak & off peak pricing differences, so be sure to ask about that if it applies.
Being based in New York City, we have worked at some truly incredible wedding venues, and have even had the pleasure of traveling to Italy for a destination wedding! Here are some of our personal favorite venues to recommend:
Bryant Park Grill – New York City
Blue Hill at Stone Barns – Tarrytown, New York
Windham Manor – Windham, New York
Villa Medicea di Lilliano – Florence, Italy
For some, hiring a wedding planner is basically step one after getting engaged. For others, a wedding coordinator may not come along until after the date and venue have been decided. It is possible to plan a wedding without hiring a coordinator, but they may have some suggestions or vendor recommendations that you can utilize.
As soon as you book your wedding venue, you should plan out your DJ or band. Due to high demand, most entertainment books out over one year in advance. Something that we find is becoming more and more popular is a live music/instrument element alongside a DJ. This way, it’s like the best of both worlds!
While wedding planning, you may come to realize that photography is probably one of the most important investments you will make on your wedding day. It may sound biased coming from wedding photographers, but it’s true. After the cake is eaten, the flowers are dried, and the decor is returned, you are left with your photos (and video, too). Your photos will be cherished for generations.
Beautiful photographs and hard work behind-the-scenes come at a price, though. If you’re getting married in New York City, the average price for a wedding photographer will range from $4000 to over $20,000. Less experienced photographers may fall below the $4000 range. Most couples end up spending an average of at *least* $6000.
Personally, our starting price is about $5000 for photography and videography. You should book your wedding photographer between 12 and 8 months before your wedding day.
Wedding florists are usually the vendors that people are shocked to find out how quickly they will affect their budget. Flowers are not cheap, even less so if they need to be imported from another country. Make sure you have a good idea of what your wedding colors/theme will be. Some advice from my friend after planning her own wedding: “Don’t spend too much money on flowers, especially if you’re getting married outdoors. You can’t take it with you!
We have had the privilege of working alongside some extremely talented florists, so of course we have some recommendations.
Floraland Weddings & Events
Olivia Howard Designs
You should try to book your hair and makeup artist at least 8 months before your wedding. If you are having an engagement session, try to time your hair and makeup trial around the same time. You’ll be able to test the wearability of your hair and makeup while taking photos for about two hours. It’s not as long as a wedding day, but try to keep it on all day! This way, you’ll have bomb makeup and hair for your engagement photos and above all, you get to put the look to the test.
The above vendors are in my opinion some of the most important ones to book as far in advance as possible. During this process, you can adjust your budget and save some of the “want” items for any money you have left to spend. Just remember to stay true to your interests and personality! The right vendor will be able to make any vision you have come to life.
We're Sava, a small studio of photographers who bonded over our similar educational background, love of art, & general affinity for timeless wedding photos. Based in NYC, will travel, will pick up your coffee order on the way.