One of the biggest challenges in wedding planning is booking and coordinating the variety of vendors necessary to make your day a success. Finding the right photographer, caterer, florist, makeup artist, hair stylist, and videographer takes time and effort—two things many couples just don’t have as they’re planning their wedding day. 

A wedding planner can take this often-overwhelming work off your hands, allowing you to focus on things like writing your vows and making decisions about what you want your wedding day to look and feel like.

Whether you choose to hire a planner or handle vendor coordination on your own, there are quite a few steps involved in finding the right people and companies to help make your wedding vision a reality. 

Do plenty of research

When it comes to finding vendors, you want to start early because properly research takes time and will make a huge difference. Don’t just hire the first vendor you speak to. Instead, take time to interview and research several different caterers or photographers. Look through their website and social media pages and check out online reviews from previous clients. Ask for quotes to determine if their services fit within your budget.

Interview your options

Once you’ve done some preliminary research, arrange phone or in-person interviews with your top contenders. Actually talking to a vendor allows you to determine if they will be a good fit for you and your wedding and will meet your specific needs. Remember that the best vendors should make planning your wedding easier, not more challenging.

Be clear about your desires

Don’t be afraid to tell vendors exactly what you want. Doing so upfront will save time for both of you later on in the process and will lead to fewer questions on the actual wedding day. Let any potential vendors know your budget, your expectations, and your specific timeline. If you aren’t specific about what you want, a vendor may not be able to give you a correct price, so be sure to let them know exactly what you’re looking for.

Make a decision and book

Once you’ve spoken to all potential vendors, review your notes with your partner and work together to make a decision. Don’t spend too much time debating over who to hire or your date may no longer be available. Get things finalized as quickly as possible, signing a contract, and setting the process in motion so you can check that item off your to-do list and move on to the next.

Coordinate and manage

After booking all your vendors, follow up with each, preferably by email so you have a written record of what you’ve requested and what information they have provided to you. Having all the info about your day in one place makes things easier for both you and the vendor and can help ensure that nothing is missed. Encourage vendors to ask questions to clarify anything so that you can deal with any potential issues early on, instead of at the last minute.

Take time to follow up

About a week before your wedding, contact each vendor again to make sure everything is on track for your day. This follow-up email is key because it reminds the vendor of everything you’ve previously discussed and gives you a chance to solve any problems that may have developed. 

Create a timeline

A schedule for your wedding day is absolutely essential to keep things organized (and keep you sane). Include in your timeline when each vendor will arrive and how much they will need to set up. Make sure you have someone in place to meet all vendors and to direct them to where they need to be in the venue. An organized, detailed timeline will keep you from frantically searching through your emails on your wedding day, trying to figure out when vendors will arrive.

The major keys to booking and coordinating vendors are research and communication. Being clear about what you want can save you a lot of headaches later on. And if the thought of handling all the vendors on your own feels like too much, consider hiring a wedding planner to help you handle all the details while you get to focus on the fun stuff and look forward to your big day!