11 MONTHS TO GO: BOOKING KEY SUPPLIERS

Here’s what I’ve learned about wedding planning after being engaged since February – it is a full-time job. There is never a moment I’m not thinking about some element of the wedding. And if I DO get a minute where I’m not thinking about it, my mum or my best friend is thinking about it.

With 11 months to go I started contacting key suppliers. I know, I thought 11 months was a long time too but according to everyone else I am already late to the party. Even in the wedding world I’m running late.

The good thing about our venue (more on that later) is that their wedding package includes both the ceremony and the reception plus an in-house florist and caterer. Our wedding coordinator won’t set up a meeting with me until January because there is absolutely no need to talk about flowers and food until then. That is supposed to reassure me…but I want to talk about flowers and food now. Can I talk to someone about flowers and food?!

So really we only had two key suppliers to find; entertainment for our guests and a wedding photographer. Both took weeks of searching and talking and googling and rifling through magazines to figure out what we actually wanted.

Just in case anyone is finding this wedding planning diary remotely useful for anything other than bad jokes, I’l talk through the process of finding both our photographer and our band in the hope it might help you too.

Finding a photographer

Like a panic-stricken bride-to-be with absolutely no idea where wedding photographers hang out, I googled “wedding photographers in Norfolk,” because Google is always there for you. I found a few websites and spent hours looking through portfolios, trying to figure out if I wanted something along of the lines of these cleverly edited, special-effecty photos or maybe these very natural, candid shots of grandparents laughing and flower girls holding hands. Did I want a male or female? Full day or half day? I didn’t know.

I e-mailed a local guy who was listed as Norfolk’s most desirable wedding photographer. He was already booked. Idk I have this unattractive quality of always wanting what I can’t have, so I sulked and contemplated bribery and was this close *holds thumb and forefinger 1 inch apart* to a tantrum when Norfolk’s Most Desirable Wedding Photographer sent me another e-mail. He apologised and like the hero I imagine he is, listed 5 of his desirable friends along with his glowing recommendations. After that, there were more portfolios. I found two photographers that I loved just as much, coincidently one male, one female.

We set up meetings. It wasn’t anything formal – luckily they both lived nearby and popped round for a drink after work one day. I think it’s super important to meet a couple of photographers before you make a decision – after all, you’re going to be sharing your wedding day with this person on an intimate level. Will everyone feel comfortable around him/her? Will they fit into your crowd? Do you get along? Is she/he easy to talk to?

I didn’t know what to expect when meeting Him. He was a great guy. Very passionate about his work. His portfolio was stunning. We got on well. I couldn’t see a rational reason not to book him. Until we met Her. She was just like us. Her photos were natural, candid and beautiful. She was funny, easy to talk to, interested in us as a couple. She was a perfect fit for reasons of the, “I-Got-That-Feeling” variety.

If you are not choosing your wedding suppliers based on the emergence of “the feeling”, then these questions might come in handy when you’re meeting potential candidates.

Has he/she shot a wedding at your venue before? If so, ask specifically to see those photographs.


Does he/she have examples of the USB or wedding album included in the package?


Do you have artistic rights over your photographs? I.e can you reproduce them freely?


Does he/she offer full-day or half-day coverage?


Are you responsible for his/her travel expenses?


How many images will you get?


Does he/she have insurance?


Does he/she offer discounts for off-season or weekday weddings?


How safe are your photographs? (One of the photographers we met backed up all photos for 3 months not only on a USB in his home, but an identical USB in his car – just in case his house burns down!)

Most photographers will ask for a deposit to secure your date, so it was a good thing we started that bank account back at the 12-months-to-go mark because it meant we had enough.

Choosing a Band

From the outset, we knew we wanted a band. A lively, talented, young, urban band who would make our grandparents forget their arthritis. Someone told me back at the very beginning of wedding planning to write down three words that encapsulated everything we wanted from our day.

Tom and I wrote down something along the lines of, “FUN,” “RELAXED,” AND “PARTY”. With that in mind, a live band was a no-brainer and we opted for a band to take us from the wedding breakfast to half past midnight. I actually found the band we wanted from a wedding magazine. It was a feature on local, top-rated bands in different areas. Luckily, they were free for our date and after listening to their repertoire on Youtube and their website, we decided to put another hefty deposit down.


Do you want a live band or a DJ?


If you’re thinking of booking a live band, can you go and see them perform? 


Do you want a string quartet or acoustic soloist to welcome guests as they arrive?


Do you want live music to walk down the aisle to?


Will the band or group you choose play your first dance song?


Do you want guests to be able to interact with the band in the evening? I.e, Karaoke?


How many sets will the band play?


Does the band come with a DJ service for when they aren’t on stage?


Do they require food/drinks during the evening? 

So, 11 months to go and we’re looking pretty organised. The only thing worrying me at the moment is money and having enough time to save up. We know how much we need to save each month to be able to afford everything, but saving such a large chunk of our monthly income is really starting to take its toll! We have had to seriously cut-back on pretty much everything and we’ve even invested in hot water bottles so that we go as long as possible without putting the heating on!! It does all seem a bit silly when you think about it. I’m constantly torn between the “you-only-do-this-once” mentality and Holy Shit Why Do We Need Canap├ęs?

One of my very best friends told me last night to, “forget all the stress and remember that nothing lavish beats the relationship you will have forever.” I think I’ll get that tattooed on my forehead. And Tom’s.

Are you wedding planning? Have you booked any suppliers yet? I’d love to chat to other brides-to-be!

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