As soon as you become engaged, reserve your wedding and reception sites, says Michael Erb, founder of www.cnyweddings.com, a wedding planning website. Some people may even choose the site first and then pick the wedding date based on what’s available.
As owner of Michael E Mobile Sound, a DJ business based in Camillus, Michael often finds himself doubling as a wedding planner for couples who hire him. When I asked his advice on a timeline for planning a wedding, Michael chuckled at the assumption that lead times are black and white. Rather than guarantees, he stresses that suggested lead times are just that: suggestions. “Popular reception halls are booked one to two years in advance. Some are in such demand that they run their bookings almost like a lottery – by only letting people call to make reservations on certain days at specific times of the year. On the other hand, the VFW hall down the street probably won’t be booked as early as a place like Geneva on the Lake.”
After you book your venues, says Michael, secure the entertainment. He suggests a lead time of nine months to a year for hiring a band or a DJ. “The more popular entertainers are going to be booked early. It all depends on how well-known they are, so use common sense,” he explains.
Hiring a photographer would be next on the list, followed by the caterer, baker and florist. A shorter lead time is possible for businesses large enough to accommodate more than one wedding in a single day. For example, florists, bakers and caterers can potentially supply multiple weddings at once, so their lead time could be more flexible. Six to nine months is a good rule of thumb, says Michael.
While more lead time may be what the experts advise, less is what most couples are giving. “Ten years ago, I was booking my DJ business a year to a-year-and-a-half in advance. By December, I would have 80 percent of the following year booked,” said Michael. “Now I have more couples calling me with only four to six months notice, and the year is only 50 percent booked by December.”
With all the expenses of planning a wedding, finding ways to save money is important to most couples. One option is to have a smaller reception and still have a high quality wedding. More couples have gone this route during recent economic times, Michael says. “They may invite only 60 to 90 people instead of 150 to 200 people. By cutting the guest list, they don’t have to sacrifice the quality of the reception.”
Because summer is still the peak wedding season, couples may find better deals – and better availability – if they choose to marry at other times of the year or even other days of the week. If your favorite venue is booked on Saturdays, shifting the wedding to a Friday evening or Sunday afternoon may allow you to get the location of your dreams. Getting married in the “off-season” may also allow you to get better deals from wedding vendors.
If you’re going to sidestep the summer and push your wedding to the spring or fall, remember that there is a downside: the cooler weather can make outdoor venues a risky choice. If you’re set on getting married among the fallen leaves or newly blooming tulips, make sure you have a backup plan – or at least a matching coat and umbrella.
by Kari Anderson-Pink
Kari Anderson Pink lives in Victor with her husband and three children. In addition to writing, she plays the harp, piano and organ professionally and also teaches skin care and makeup artistry. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.