Wedding Checklist

Plan ahead! Vendor timelines for booking event venues, DJs, caterers and more

Are you getting ready to plan a once-in-a-lifetime event? Be sure to allow plenty of time because popular venues and vendors book up several months and even years in advance. If you’re wondering how far in advance you need to book a wedding venue, DJ, photographer, florist or caterer we’ve got the details here! Not sure how early you need to order the dress for your special day or how long alterations take? We cover that, too. 

Vendor timelines for weddings, quinceañeras and other once-in-a-lifetime events

18 months or more: Secure your venue

If you have a particular venue in mind, especially if the event will be held during the busy summer months, plan to book your hotel or banquet hall at least 18 months in advance. If you can be more flexible with the date, 12 months ahead may be enough time but you’re unlikely to find a venue with only six months to spare.

In addition, you may need to allow even more time when planning an event in the next couple of years, as many people rescheduled their events due to COVID-19.

It’s also important to find out what amenities the venue provides. For example, at DFW Celebrations we provide tables, chairs, linens, ice machines, floral centerpieces and other amenities free of charge (see our Event Services page for details). If you need to rent any of these items, plan to make arrangements with a rental company at least 6 months in advance.

Check out our vendor checklist and tips on choosing vendors here.

One to 2 years out: Book wedding photographers, videographers and DJs

Two years may sound like a long time but some of the best photographers and popular DJs’ calendars fill up quickly. Booking these vendors two years ahead isn’t uncommon in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

You may be able to hire a photographer, videographer and entertainment 12 months or less prior to your event but waiting could be risky, and you’ll be less likely to pin down your first choice. If you must plan an event on shorter notice, you may have better luck securing your preferred photographer, DJ or band during January, February or March, which are the least busy months for events in DFW.

One year in advance: Order the dress

Once you’ve ordered a wedding dress or quinceañeras dress, it typically takes about 6-7 months for the dress to arrive at the store. On top of that, alterations normally take anywhere from a week to a month, depending on how busy the seamstress is and how many alterations you need.

While rare, there are occasions when a dress arrives in the wrong size and can’t be altered. If you need to reorder, expect to wait another two months for the right size to arrive. Considering everything that could go wrong, we recommend ordering your dream dress at least a year in advance.

Six to 12 months out: Hire florists, cake bakers and catering

Most florists, bakers and caterers require less lead time because they typically retain larger staffs. That being said if you’re looking for an elaborate cake from the most popular baker in town, he or she may require more advance notice. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential vendors, contact them to verify lead times.

As with the venue, be sure to ask the caterer whether they will provide china, stemware and flatware. If not, you’ll need to provide your own or arrange to rent those items for your big day (6 months in advance).

Have questions about budgeting for your special event? Check out our recent blog on budget-setting tips for weddings and other celebratory events.

We can help you plan a celebratory event in Dallas-Fort Worth

The friendly event planning specialists at DFW Celebrations are passionate about helping clients plan and execute memorable events. If you’d like to check the availability of our Dallas banquet halls or schedule a tour of our facility, contact us today.