Getting engaged can be an overwhelming experience. Your fiance slips the ring on your finger: tears, happiness, champagne...you call your friends and relatives to relay the exciting news--and they are immediately asking you questions like "what's the date??" "have you picked a photographer??" "my cousin's sister-in-law does floral design on the side and she'd probably give you a great deal."
Um...WHAT?? Fifteen minutes beforehand you were happily in a relationship between two people and all of a sudden with the addition of one small piece of jewelry everyone and their mother feels like they have the right to give you advice. I personally think it's the same phenomenon that makes people feel like it's ok to touch a pregnant woman's belly--hello, personal space? But I digress...
Even though those first phone call questions are a little over the top, after you bask in the engagement glow for a little while, it's time to get down to business! You have to start choosing vendors. There are two routes to go at this point:
1) I want to get married May 4th and I don't care where!!
2) I want to get married at my church/the gorgeous art museum in my home town and I'm flexible on my dates.
If your dates are flexible and you already know the venue or a list of venues to choose from, you want start making calls! Many of the top venues book up well over a year in advance.
Once you've booked your vendors OR if you already know your date and need some guidance, my first suggestion would be to start interviewing wedding planners/coordinators. Even if all you want is "day-of" coordination (which is really a misnomer...another post on that coming up!) many wedding planners (including Five Grain Events!) will give you vendor recommendations from the time you sign the contract. If you wait until 3 months from your wedding date to choose your coordinator you're really missing out on one of the most valuable parts of hiring one. They have lots of experience in the industry and can help you find the absolute best florist, dj, photographer, etc. for your budget--instead of the one you're booking just because they are the only one you know!
How do I know which vendor is right for me? This is a question I think is especially important to bring up. I know that looking ahead to all the expenses associated with a wedding it can be difficult not to go with the cheapest person you can find. I have to urge you not to go this route!! Meet with each vendor (and if you have the time...two-three in each category) until you find the person you feel totally comfortable with. Ask lots of questions and even just chat with them. The vendor's personality is inevitably going to come through on whatever is created for your wedding--so finding someone you 'click' with is essential.
If you feel 100% comfortable with everyone who is working together to make your wedding the day you've been dreaming about, you'll have a much better experience during the process and that $200 you might have saved going with "the other guy" will be forgotten!
How did you know your vendor was right for you? :)