While nobody planned on inviting a pandemic to the party, we can surely say that the current state of the world has turned weddings and event planning on its head. For couples looking to tie the knot in either 2021 or 2022, checking in with key vendors you want to have, has become more important than ever.
This list is not complete of all the vendors you may need for your wedding day, but I hope this helps you get a head start on building a timeline and knowing when certain things need to be prepared. For many vendors, 2021 will be a very busy year, and while we are here to bring your vision and dream to life, the current reality of the situation and state of the world requires a gentle hand, flexibility, patience and understanding for everyone involved, including yourself!
I’ve asked some of my favourite wedding vendors from around Alberta about their current timelines and what has changed during COVID-19 in the hopes that this will help with your planning.
If there’s a similar vendor that you want to hear from, let me know and I’m sure I can find the answer for you. 🙂
Wedding Photography – Pam Kriangkum Photography
Hello, yes, it’s me on my own website here to talk about when you should be booking your photographer. The recommended 1-1.5 year timeframe still stands, and choosing non-traditional dates (weekdays or Sundays) will help you secure your dream photographer. Since 2020 weddings were rescheduled for 2021, I recommend finding the non-negotiable vendors first for their availability.
Be transparent with all full-day-service vendors booked about the initial wedding date in case local restrictions are tighter than anticipated, and if you have a contingency plan to reschedule into the following year.
Smaller events like elopements can be booked within a 2 months of the event, and a weekday ensures flexibility during the summer months that will most likely guarantee your photographer is available.
Booking time: weddings: 1-1.5 year preferred, elopements: 2 months preferred
Wedding Planning Services – Evelyn Clark Weddings
Wedding planners usually book out 1 to 1.5 years from a wedding and are one of the first key vendors booked alongside photographer and venue. While booking times have changed a bit, Evelyn Clark, of Evelyn Clark Weddings notes that dates for the summer 2021 are pretty full, and Evelyn recommends booking out core vendors where there are fewer options or can do 1 event per day, like a photographer. “Things like invitations are later because people […aren’t sure] how to RSVP yet, and same with decor because we are not as certain on what a wedding will look like with fluctuations in guest size (you get more flexibility with design for smaller weddings)”
Booking time: 1 year minimum
Invitation and/or Wedding Stationery Design – Debbie Wong Design
For a short and sweet answer, Debbie Wong of Debbie Wong Design says depending on the couple’s budget and how close they are to a wedding date changes how and what she is able to design for the couple.
Smaller budgets get the best bang for their buck with semi-custom invitations, and the turnaround time is quicker than custom work. Debbie recommends mailing the invites roughly 3 months before a wedding, which means she still needs about 4 weeks to get their info printed and the packages finalized. So on the shortest notice, 4 months is needed from booking, conceptualizing, printing and getting the invites into your guests hands.
For larger budgets and/or more custom work, Debbie recommends a much longer booking time as much of her custom work are hand drawn or paintings, and need more time for preliminary sketches. “That would be roughly 4-12 weeks, depending how complicated paintings can be. Add on the 3 months mailing time, [and] they would book me on average 6-9 months ahead of the wedding.”
Due to COVID-19, she notes that people don’t want to mail their invites until closer to the wedding, but still recommends people to book in so at least she has the work scheduled. That way the majority of the design work can still be done without rush, such as the custom paintings, as those cannot be added on last minute due to time constraints.
Booking time: Smaller budget + semi-custom invitation: 4 months minimum
Larger budget + custom invitations: 6 – 9 month minimum
Wedding Dresses & Bridesmaid Dress – Delica Bridal
Saying yes to the dress has definitely changed depending on your local health restrictions, and while bridal stores like Delica Bridal are appointment only, brides-to-be are able to bring one guest with them, this applies to bridesmaids appointments as well. But don’t fret! The lovely ladies at Delica will help you set up a zoom or facetime with friends and family so they can still be a part of the experience.
Nicole, owner of Delica still recommends the 8-12 month standard timeline for choosing your dress, but alterations need to be booked in earlier than normal due to increased demand from previous postponements. Seamstresses are now seeing double the amount of brides!
Booking time: 8-12 months, with earlier booking time for alterations. (Chat with your local bridal shop when you find the dress you love, as each store and seamstress will be slightly different).
Floral Arrangements – Fleurs Flowers
This one depends on the size of the floral business you are ordering from, but for a larger shop such as Fleurs Flowers, since they receive larger shipments throughout the week, it’s easier for them to accommodate last minute orders as they can add onto pre-existing flower orders or use stock on hand. Bridget of Fleurs Flowers notes that, “we are proud to primarily use a floral wholesaler in BC who is the largest supporter of locally grown Canadian flowers in Western Canada, and we also have an amazing floral buyer who sources all of our import product from farms worldwide”. Smaller or boutique shops may have to create a new shipment for your order or source flowers from local suppliers, so it might be worth checking in with them sooner.
During normal times, Bridget recommends at minimum to book 3 months prior to your date so the shop can secure large quantities of flowers from the farm, but if you aren’t particular about any one bloom, beautiful large weddings and events can still be put together on shorter notice. But normally reservation timing is typically 6 months out from the wedding date.
Smaller functions or elopements can happen with a 4 week lead time, but as always, an earlier booking means they can procure specific bloom requests. Couples may request small bridal bouquets the week of the event, and while the request is always accommodated, the shop will be limited to flowers that are in current stock.
Booking time: Larger shops such as Fleurs: 6 months preferred, but can accommodate up to 3 months prior to the date; smaller functions or elopements: 4 weeks
Make sure to check in with the floral vendor you plan on working with well in advanced as boutique shops may need to put in your order well ahead of time.
Wedding Cakes & Confectionery – Brianne Gabrielle Cakes
Just like booking in your floral arrangements, the scale of the business you’re working with may change the timeframe of when you need to your reserve your cake. For boutique businesses like Brianne Gabrielle Cakes, the recommended timeframe of 6 months to 1 year is key. Brianne of BGC notes that while there’s been an uptick of clients waiting last minute due to the pandemic, the 6 month to 1 year timeframe allows for conceptualizing your cake and ordering the supplies needed.
As each cake is unique, Brianne mentions that a cake featuring fresh flowers versus handmade sugar flowers have very different timeframes, and information on key vendors curated (like venue, photographer, planner, florals) can influence the final concept.
Booking time: 6 months to 1 year preferred
Hair & Make Up – Veil Beauty Co.
Amy of Veil Beauty Co. says that the same recommended booking time of 9-12 months prior to your wedding still stands to ensure that your date is available, but to book at least 6 months out. Depending on the size of your bridal party, if it’s on the smaller side (2-6 people), you might still be in luck even if you have a popular date.
Booking time: 6 months minimum, 9-12 month preferred
Whew! I hope this guide gives you a more well-rounded understanding of the timeframes needed to secure your wedding vendors, and helps get you on your way to planning your perfect day, regardless of the size.
In 2020 I learned from the weddings I photographed that at the end of the day, you get to still marry your favourite person, that’s what matters the most. You will go through your wedding day having so much fun, and since you’re focused on all the good around you, everything else will fall away. And I really believe it as I heard many 2020 couples say they couldn’t have imagined it any other way.
So good luck with all your planning, and if you’re looking for a photographer in 2021 or 2022, get in touch, I know a girl who’d be excited to capture your love story. 😉