Everything You Need to Know
Finding wedding vendors can be overwhelming, which is why we’re here to make it easier. From planners to florists to DJs and everyone in between, we’ve compiled the top professionals in the industry across the world. Search thousands of wedding companies on our site and filter the list of wedding vendors by location and vendor type, then view photos of their work at real weddings to get an idea of their style.
If you’re in more of the early inspiration stage and not sure where to start, browse real weddings in your area, and view the complete list of wedding vendors for each one, then go beyond inspiration and book the vendor teams behind the weddings you love. It’s helpful to see examples of flowers or cakes that aligns with your wedding style or vision, so searching our library of wedding galleries by style is a great place to start.
We’ve outlined an overview of the different types of wedding vendors, how to create a wedding vendors checklist, and other invaluable information including what wedding companies in each category usually charge (and how much to tip your wedding vendors.)
What are the different types of wedding vendors?
To help get yourself organized, it’s a good idea to start your wedding planning process by creating a wedding vendors checklist—and to keep track of your planning progress as you go. If there’s a particular wedding vendor you already have in mind, like a specific wedding caterer or wedding invitation company, start to compile lists of your favorites in each category so that research feels less overwhelming as you move down the list. Here’s a list of key wedding vendors to research and consider for your wedding day:
The world is literally your oyster, from hotels to restaurants, estates to vineyards, and of course churches and other religious venues. Wedding venues are one of the most important vendors you can choose, not only because it sets the state (and budget) for everything else, but because many offer additional wedding services or all-inclusive wedding packages. If you prefer a more hands-off approach to wedding vendors list, you can choose a venue with a wedding caterer, wedding florist, or wedding band already lined up.
Wedding Planners or Wedding Coordinators:
This is the person who is going to oversee wedding vendors at every step of the process. A wedding planner is involved early in the process and may have a list of wedding companies they recommend, whereas wedding coordinators will oversee the logistics of your wedding vendors on the day of your wedding, but not really before.
Your invitations are the first introduction to your style and vibe that guests will see, so choosing a wedding invitation company that specializes in your favorite style goes a long way. And the options run the gamut: there are wedding companies that specialize in stationery with organic inks, recycled paper, alternative materials, avant-garde or traditional invitations. This is a great place to express your wedding personality and theme.
Your photographer is the wedding vendor who will take all of the effort that you put into wedding planning that comes to life on one 24-hour day, capture that moment, and make it last a lifetime. No pressure! But it’s why it’s so important that you do your research, from independent photographers to those who are part of a wedding company that provides photography services.
To really capture the energy of your Big Day, consider looking at wedding videographers. While some wedding photographers offer both services, specialized videographers may have additional equipment such as drones that they will use, and preserve your wedding day in a completely different way.
One of the most fun parts of wedding planning is meating with different wedding companies who offer catering services, and tasting their menu of options! A wedding caterer may offer tastes of the hors d'oeuvres or mini versions of the main dishes they can make, whether you choose to have a buffet or individually plated dinner. If you have guests with special dietary restrictions—or maybe you want to have an entirely plant-based or farm-to-table menu—be sure to ask each wedding caterer what their capabilities are. Unlike your wedding invitation company which can really be located anywhere, this is a vendor who really needs to be based in the same city as your wedding venue.
Wedding Cake Bakeries:
Some wedding catering services also provide a wedding cake. But for the largest range of options and skills, consider having yours created by an independent wedding cake bakery.
No wedding vendors checklist would be complete without mentioning wedding florists. While most florists can provide flowers for a wedding, the top wedding florists specialize in designing for weddings exclusively. Another wedding vendor who really needs to be local (or a short drive away), your wedding florist is one of the biggest contributors to your overall wedding theme and decor.
Wedding Decor and Rental Companies:
If you choose a resort or hotel venue that offers all-inclusive wedding packages, you may not need to worry about furniture rentals, but just the unique decor elements that will make the space yours. But if you are having a tented wedding, or your event space is a blank slate, you may need to rent furniture, kitchen equipment, and of course, the tent! You may find that a wedding company that rents out furniture can also provide table settings, or that your tent company can provide lighting. Or you may prefer to hire each speciality individually.
From a string quartet playing you down the aisle, to live wedding bands and wedding DJs, your wedding musicians will set the score for each moment of the day. Wedding DJs can also provide music for all aspects of the ceremony and reception, depending on your preferences and budget.
Wedding Hair Stylists and Makeup Artists:
To look and feel your best on your wedding day, you may want to consider hiring a hair and makeup team. While totally a matter of personal preference, this is a wedding vendor most couples are glad they hired—and picked carefully, as you want to make sure that your hair stylist or makeup artist’s personality will be calming and positive, since you will spend a lot of time with them on a very big day!
From religious leaders, privately ordained individuals, and government official or other person whom the state gives the power to perform a marriage ceremony (be sure to check local guidelines), your wedding officiant is a very important part of your ceremony. Unless you go to city hall, there is a good chance that whomever you choose to marry you will want to set up time to get to know you and your partner, so be sure to allow plenty of time between selecting this wedding vendor and the Big Day.
How much do wedding vendors cost?
As a point of reference, the average cost of a wedding in the US is $20,300. The two significant factors that influence this figure are the location of the wedding and the number of guests. In this sample scenario, there are about 66 guests at $307 per guest. You can drive the cost up or down by re-prioritizing your wedding vendors and choosing higher tier (aka higher priced) options for your priority items, and more affordable options for the areas that are less important to you. For example, the wedding vendor categories in which couples end up spending more than they had originally budgeted are: wedding photographers or wedding videographer (46% of couples) and wedding catering services (40% of couples).
At the end of the day, it’s helpful to know what the market rates for wedding vendors are before you start reaching out to individuals. The biggest expense of your wedding is most likely to be the wedding venue (an average of $15,163-$42,801 in the US), followed by a live wedding band ($4,019-$7,145), wedding photographers ($2,630-$5,130), and wedding florists ($2,379-$6,050). Where your wedding and your wedding vendors fall in that range will depend on your overall budget, as well as where you are located. A wedding planner will charge a lot more in New York or LA than they do in rural Kansas or Mississippi.
Many wedding companies have set fee structures. Some offer all-inclusive wedding packages, which may appear to save costs, but gives you less flexibility on which wedding vendors you end up with (expensive or inexpensive). Working with your own list of wedding vendors gives you a lot of freedom, but it does take a fair amount of time and research to sort through per hour rates, day rates, flat fees, and vendor-specific wedding packages.
Most wedding venues require sizable deposits, whereas other vendors might not. Some companies from your wedding vendors checklist may let you split the total expense into multiple payments that you begin making at the time of booking. The trick here is to put together a wedding vendor checklist that lets you keep track of what you’ve already paid for, and what payments remain—and when they’re due.
If you do not trust yourself to keep the information together, hiring a wedding planner whose job is to stay on top of this can be a huge help.
Should you tip wedding vendors?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is that, while it is entirely up to your discretion, it is customary to tip your wedding vendors, which is why it’s crucial to allocate funds for gratuity as part of your overall budget.
But how much should you tip wedding vendors? Figures vary, but there are some dos and don’ts. For example, you do not need to tip the wedding stationery company or your florist. But food and beverage providers should receive between 10-20% of the total food or beverage bill. For drivers or chauffeurs providing transportation, 15% or $50-$100 each is recommended. The photography and videography teams should receive 5-7% of the total package. And plan to give the musicians $50-$100 per person, the hair stylist and makeup artist 15-20% of the bill, and any other individuals working the event (tent set-up and managers, portable restroom managers, security, etc. $30-$100 depending on your region.
Sometimes, a wedding company may add the gratuity in as part of their all-inclusive wedding packages. Use your wedding vendors checklist to keep track of who follows this practice and who does not. After all, you do not want to double the money for your wedding DJs while neglecting the wait staff just because their wedding company does business differently.
What comes with a wedding package?
The advantage of wedding packages is that you don’t have to spend as much time researching and selecting each individual wedding vendor. Wedding venues that offer packages generally have contracts with florists, photographers, even officiants, and provide catering from an on-site restaurant or a preferred wedding company company otherwise affiliated with the venue.
Many wedding venues, in particular private clubs, have in-house wedding wedding planners or wedding coordinators who are available to help with the planning and logistics of your wedding. These wedding vendors can be the point person for questions, deliveries, and to ensure that all goes smoothly on the day-of, but may not offer the custom attention and services of an independent wedding planner.
The following wedding vendors are frequently included in a wedding package:
- Wedding Planner, Wedding Coordinator or Wedding Designer
- Wedding Catering Services
- Wedding Florist
- Wedding Stationer (for day-of paper like programs and menus)
- Wedding Decor & Rentals.
- Wedding Photographer
- Wedding Hair & Makeup
- Wedding Musicians
- Wedding Officiants
If you are planning a destination wedding at a wedding venue that you only know from photos, you may welcome the venue’s preferred wedding vendor list with trusted wedding companies in the area. Wedding packages abroad can be extremely helpful.
But the downside of all-inclusive wedding packages is that you usually cannot substitute one or two wedding vendors. It is typically an all-or-nothing team arrangement. So, if there is a wedding stationer or wedding band you particularly love or wedding caterers you were hoping could provide the food for your wedding, you may be happier choosing your own wedding vendors list than doing a package.
How do you find wedding vendors?
If you’re looking for our particular type of wedding vendor, our wedding vendor directory is an excellent place to start. Search thousands of wedding vendors who have worked with the top wedding planners and photographers in the world, and filter by location and wedding vendor type. Or you can browse our library of wedding galleries to find your favorite weddings, then book the wedding vendor teams who made the event come together.
Another great resource is word of mouth referrals. Is there a recently married friend who would love to share his or her recommended wedding vendors list? It’s always nice to work with a trusted wedding company that your friends have loved. If you were at the reception, you might have noted that the wedding catering company, wedding musicians or even the wedding venue were particularly memorable, and can ask your friends for the details.
If you’ve already selected your wedding venue or a pro to help with wedding planning, they may have a wedding vendor list of trusted professionals that they like to work with.
How do you choose wedding vendors?
Once you’ve compiled a favorite wedding vendors list, it’s time to make some decisions. Maybe you are torn between a wedding venue you like and a location your partner likes. How do you decide between a wedding planner and a wedding coordinator?
The most helpful option consists of wedding vendor websites. These typically showcase the best work a wedding company has done, and ensure that you’re getting an experienced, professional wedding company. Wedding vendor websites may also have reviews from couples who’ve worked with them, as well as outlining some of the details for wedding packages.
Whenever possible, meet with representatives from each wedding company in person. Talk one-on-one with the wedding caterers, wedding officiant, and wedding designers before making your decision. You will be working with each wedding vendor a lot, so it is good to make sure your personalities click. If you are not sure what questions to ask your wedding venue or any potential wedding company, or what to look for, here are some tips:
- Wedding Company Experience: How many weddings have they done? How many do they do a year? Do the wedding musicians’ website or social media page indicate that they have a lot of experience, or are just starting out? (And most importantly, do you like the music you like the music?)
- Wedding Company Professionalism: Does the wedding band or catering company have a website and portfolio that look professional? Are there reviews from other couples on Google or elsewhere? Many couples are happy to share their experiences if you can get in touch with someone who worked with them.
- Wedding Packages: How much does the service cost? A wedding budget is like a puzzle. You may not want to go big for everything, so prioritize which vendor categories are most important to you, and where you may want to go with a higher priced vendor. Many wedding companies’ and venues websites will indicate whether they offer an all-inclusive wedding packages, wedding packages abroad, or more of an à la carte wedding package.
For the wedding company that is a lower priority on your wedding vendor checklist, make your budget the priority. What matters most is different for every couple, and it might mean the wedding caterer for some and the wedding decorations rentals for others.
When should you choose your wedding vendors?
Some couples are engaged for two years, while others have two-month engagements. So the time you take to put together your wedding vendor list is going to depend on how soon you’d like to get married. But know that, the less time you have, the less likely your first choice wedding venue or any other wedding company will be available for your date.
Here is a rough timeline of when you should aim to check each box on your wedding vendor checklist:
- 12 Months: A year before the actual event, find your wedding planning professional. Because this wedding company can be an excellent resource for all your other wedding vendors, a large number of concerns and important design questions, nailing down the wedding planning pro early is a must. Similarly, reserve your desired wedding venue as soon as a desirable date appears—they snap up quickly!
- 10 Months: Now is the time to interview wedding photographers and look for a wedding videographer. Because the best wedding photographer and wedding videographer will be in high demand, reserve their services early. Now is also the time to choose your wedding florists and wedding caterers.
- 9 Months: Find your music wedding vendors, whether that be a live band, ceremony musicians, or a wedding DJ.
- 8 Months: Find a wedding officiant. Often a wedding officiant will want to meet or even require premarital counseling before agreeing to do a ceremony. Now is also the time to choose the wedding company for your dress and the stationery suite.
- 7 Months: Unless the wedding company doing the catering is also providing the cake, this is the time to visit wedding cake bakeries for your tasting (one of the most fun parts of wedding planning), and make a decision.
- 6 Months: Hire the wedding makeup artist and hair stylist who will be there on your special day to make you your most beautiful. If you are planning to offer hair and makeup to your bridesmaids or mothers of the bride/groom, they may offer wedding packages based on the number of people. You should also try to reserve any wedding decorations that need to be rented within six months before the ceremony. You may need to source rentals from multiple wedding vendor websites, so it’s good to allow ample time.
This timeline might feel intimidating, but just take it one step at a time. It really helps to start with inspiration from weddings you love, and then reach out to the vendors who made it happen. Have a few favorite wedding planners, venues, florists and photographers on your wedding vendor list, so that if your first choice is unavailable for your wedding date, or is prohibitively expensive, you have already spent the time researching and finding others you love.
You can also divvy this list up with your wedding planner—especially for vendors where it’s most important that they are safe and trustworthy, like a tent company or bathroom rental, so choosing a wedding company whom your wedding coordinator or planner has worked with before is a smart idea.
Do all your wedding vendors need to be local?
Many wedding vendors are willing and accustomed to traveling for destination weddings—which also means you could source a particular wedding vendor you love, like a photographer or wedding planner who lives in a different city—and are able to do much of the wedding planning remotely. Some wedding vendor websites will specify where they are based and if they are open to travel. Note that the rates for wedding packages abroad may be different than a domestic wedding package.
Working with a team of wedding vendors who are willing to travel gives you even more options than those based in your area. If you are getting married in your small hometown, but want a fancy New York wedding photographer, you will likely find one who is happy to accommodate you. Many wedding planners are bicoastal or have multiple offices, and can travel to you for in-person meetings leading up to the wedding. What’s most important is that they have a network of vendors at the wedding location
In general the wedding vendors that are more capable of traveling for your wedding are wedding photographers, wedding videographers, hair and makeup artists, and wedding musicians. You can work with a wedding stationery company who is based anywhere, just be sure to allow ample time for shipping if you want to stuff the envelopes yourself or have the postage stamp be from your city.
Wedding decor rentals are on a case-by-case basis: many ship nationwide, but others (like furniture, tents and other larger-scale rentals) can be contracted with locally. But for things like table linens and place settings, you can find wedding rentals vendors who ship nationwide.
Some vendors it’s easier to work with if they’re located where you are or in the location of your wedding, because they will have a network of resources local to the area. This includes wedding carters and cake bakeries, wedding florists and wedding officiants.
Some wedding packages abroad include an officiant. This may be any individual who is licensed to marry people only in a certain country or state. Check local laws if you are hoping to have a wedding officiant travel for your wedding. Frequently, city hall will have information on how to secure a marriage license.
If you are interested in working with vendors who will be traveling for your event, whether that’s to your city or for a destination wedding, be sure to include their travel and accommodations in your wedding budget. Wedding vendor websites may spell out that you are expected to cover the cost of travel and accommodations for any vendors who travel from out of town for your wedding (though some may have it built into their packages). This may also include wedding rentals for equipment such as lighting or audio-visual hardware when hire a wedding band coming from out of town.
Because the costs for wedding packages abroad as well as all-inclusive wedding packages locally vary considerably, it makes sense to crunch some numbers. It’s likely that the cost of travel for a special DJ will be more expensive than one from the local wedding vendor list who is included with a wedding package. But the quality may be different. Depending on where in the world you’re getting married, the costs could balance out.
How do I get in touch with wedding vendors?
Once you’ve compiled several favorite options for each category on your wedding vendor checklist, it’s time to reach out! Start with the vendors who book far in advance, as well as the ones where you want to devote the majority of your budget. You’ll need to know exactly how much you have left to spend on your other wedding vendors. Once you’re ready to set up interviews to meet each wedding vendor in person, you can get in touch directly on our site.