You’re Engaged! Who do You Hire First?

November 3, 2023


Congratulations! You are engaged to the person of your dreams and now you get to start planning your Northern Michigan wedding. Northern Michigan is a unique place in that we are really busy with weddings June-September and then things start to slow down. That is only four months, so vendors, venues, and services book up so fast during those months. At first, this process can feel a bit daunting, but it can also be so so fun! Keep reading for a checklist on how to get started started planning your Up North Wedding.

Wedding Planner, Venue, Date, and Budget

First you need to hone in on a venue, date, and ballpark wedding budget. These all sort of happen at the same time. Your date might depend on when your venue can host you. And your budget might also depend on where and when you are getting married. (see these tips for ideas on how to save by getting married on a non-Saturday)

Alternatively, if your budget includes a full service wedding planner, I suggest starting by hiring that person and they can help you select your venue and date. If you have room in your budget for a wedding planner, I highly recommend you hire one. You can view my list of favorite northern Michigan wedding planners here. If your budget doesn’t allow a full service planner, perhaps you can look into a month-of or day-of planner. If you are foregoing a planner altogether, often times your venue has a coordinator who can be of great help!

Private vows are always such a personal way to share a private moment together.

Hire Vendors Who Book Up Quickly

Start by making a list of your must-have vendors and then look at who is booking up quickly. Most photographers are just one person, so if you really want a certain person, lock them in as quickly as you can. Cake, florists, and DJs often can book multiple events on one day, so they are slightly less urgent. But in an area like northern Michigan, it’s a good idea to book everyone as quickly as possible.

The most commonly booked vendors for a northern Michigan wedding are:

  • Wedding Planner
  • Northern Michigan Wedding Photographers
  • Videographer
  • Caterer (if your venue does not offer food)
  • Florist
  • Cake/Dessert
  • Band/DJ/Ceremony Music
  • Hair & Makeup
  • Rentals (tent, decor items, etc. Your planner will help with this)
  • Transportation (if you want a shuttle to help transport your guests and/or wedding party)
  • Invitation Designer
  • Officiant (if you’re not getting married in a church)

Start Dreaming

I am sure you have a million ideas swirling around in your head. Can’t decide between a traditional white and greens look, or do you want to go more bold and add in a bunch of color? Whenever I am unsure of what direction or vibe I want to go with, I always start a Pinterest board and just start pinning anything and everything.

Type in things like “2024 wedding trends” or “tented wedding” or “colorful beach wedding” or whatever words describe what you think you want. Pin everything that catches your eye; floral installations, centerpieces, wedding outfits, cakes, decor items, place settings, ceremony spots, wedding party photos, etc. Once you pin for a few days, you will start to see a theme develop. Once you see that theme, then you have a clearer picture of what direction you want to go.

This is also really helpful to do even before you start reaching out to vendors. Some vendors are selective with the style of work they book, so they will love seeing what you have in mind to make sure they are the best fit for you.

I have a bunch of boards saved with my own photography, so check out my boards for wedding florals, ceremonies, receptions, wedding party portraits, and more here!

Sweetwater Floral knocked this wedding out of the park!

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I have been photographing weddings in Northern Michigan for 16 years now and have found some spots really stand out.  I have compiled a list of my favorite locations and would love to share it with you to help in planning your Northern Michigan wedding!

My Fave Northern Michigan Wedding Venues

Nerves be gone!  I'm here to help your day feel joyous and stress-free.

© 2008-2024 Stephanie Baker Photography