The myths & realities of wedding planning: where to actually begin when you get engaged.

Pinterest is a fabulous source for many things;  adorable D.I.Y. crafts to pin on boards that we may or may not ever actually attempt, hair-color inspiration, and of course all things wedding related. The downside, however, is that these seemingly perfect, consolidated checklists are lacking up to date information.

Take it from me, a bridal hairstylist of nine years and the many vendors I’ve collaborated with to create a more accurate and current timeline. Wedding planning has changed drastically over the years (just ask your parents) and there’s nothing more disappointing then thinking you’re on track and then discovering all of your favorite vendors are already booked! Who’s to blame? Inaccurate timelines that are dressed up to look black tie ready when in reality, they showed up in a maxi dress.

cropped-fullsizeoutput_8259-e1516820894598.jpeg        Photo by Zach Popadin

First things first. The 3 myths and the reality checks…


Myth #1: Current Pinterest timelines will tell you to begin by establishing your budget.

What a sweet thought but no. If you’re a normal person, which I’m assuming you are, you will choose a number that feels somewhat daunting but within reasonable reach. It will be plenty of course, you’ll think, for your big day. After all, you’re no bridezilla and you’re marrying the love of your life. How much can hydrangeas and a rustic venue truly add up to?

Reality #1: Realize that budget for your entire wedding has basically only covered your venue and that doesn’t include anything but tables and chairs, maybe not even that much. Instead of starting with the budget, I suggest starting with a tentative guest list as your first step. The number of guests is the biggest determining factor in your budget.

Myth 2: Next up, choose your date.

How fun! A date with meaning perhaps like the anniversary of the first day you met or something catchy like 11/11. Your groom is bound to remember that one! The possibilities seem endless, don’t they?

Reality #2: Now is a great time to schedule some tours and choose your venue. They will be the one telling you your date choices. Want a Saturday wedding in September in a barn? Great, you now have two dates to choose from. What?! Flexibility will be key right about now because, of course, the more popular months and days of the week may be more expensive or have limited availability.  If your venue does not include food, you should book your catering now as well.

First Introduction to Fun: Don’t get upset and choose to elope just yet. Once you choose your venue, it will help guide the planning process in a really wonderful way that will start to allow you to have fun! Knowing the space you’ll get married in allows you to start envisioning your day. Do you want it to be bohemian, rustic, vintage or glamorous? It will be easier to begin setting the tone of the wedding now by narrowing down themes, color schemes, and vendors that fit the vibe you’re going for. It also sets a baseline for your budget and helps you to put everything into perspective as you begin hiring the rest of your vendors.

Myth #3: Make a wedding Pinterest board!

Reality #3: Okay so maybe this one’s not actually a myth. Definitely make a wedding Pinterest board but you’re going to want to break that up into many boards and subsections. Some examples include: hair, makeup, dresses, flowers, decor, signage, bridesmaid dresses. I was pleased with myself when I came up with a clever, fairytale wedding board titled, “In a land not so far away” for my own planning process a year ago. I then had to go through and reorganize because the amount of scrolling I had to do to find what I was looking for got ridiculous! A good rule of thumb is to have a board for every vendor you will hire. It will be much easier to pull up the photos you want to reference this way. Seem like overkill? Yes well, welcome to the world of weddings! And most importantly, don’t trust their timelines! Start researching vendors early and contact anyone you’re interested in working with as soon as possible.



Photo by SMS Photo

Now for the good stuff! This is the part where I give you the real deets; actual wedding vendors who’ve shared with me the truths in the industry about when to secure their services for the big day.


Venue: Immediately

Catering: Immediately

Wedding Planning: 1-1.5 years 

Photographer: 1 year-14 months

Hairstylist: 1 year

Makeup Artist: 1 year

Florist: 9 months-1 year

Transportation: 9 months-1 year

Videographer: 8 months-1 year

DJ/Entertainment: 8 months-1 year

Wedding Dress: 6-12 months

Ceremony Musicians: 5-9 months

Bridesmaid Dresses: 5-6 months

Officiant: 4-6 months

Day of Coordination: 3 months

Custom Decor: 3 months

Alterations: 1-2months


Photo by Jess Cremins

A few more helpful tips


  1. Limit the amount of work and research you have to do by finding a few vendors you love and asking for recommendations. Anyone who’s been in the wedding business for awhile will have tried and trusted vendors to refer you to. Plus you’ll be happy when the behind the scenes coordinating comes together even better than you expect because your vendors are in communication with one another.
  2. Combine your hair and makeup trials on the same day and line them up with your engagement photos, bridal shower or bachelorette party. This is an awesome way to see your whole look come together, get to know your vendors, and take advantage of how gorgeous you’re going to look! Also if you tie it in with your engagement photoshoot, you will get to see how your hair and makeup translates into photos which can help you evaluate if you want more or less. This can potentially knock out up to three vendors in one glamorous day.
  3. Don’t buy a dress until you’re sure. When you’re sure, stop looking at dresses!

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