HIRE THE PHOTOGRAPHER AND VIDEOGRAPHER. For photos, that’s
ideally “about eight hours during a typical wedding to capture (everything
from) the bride getting ready down to the end of the reception, so like most
photographers I can only do one wedding a day,” says Mill Valley–based
Meghan Roberts, who photographed about 15 local weddings last year (see
her work in this section).
SECURE YOUR INVITES. Choosing an online site like minted.com allows a
bit more time to order, but to create that personal touch (and learn the virtues of linen paper versus pearlescent), give yourself six months to choose a
design and have any custom artwork done. Calligraphy services should also
be booked at this time; check out artists’ portfolios on sites like etsy.com.
ORDER THE CAKE. Take a tip from Martha Stewart and pick a cake with
a design that matches your wedding’s aesthetic. A formal affair calls for
structured and multitiered cake; cupcakes or even doughnuts are perfectly
appropriate for less formal events.
BOOK YOUR HONEYMOON. Reserve your hotel and purchase flights at
least six months out to get just the room you want — think honeymoon suite.
DECIDE ON THE DRESS. “With custom dresses you
want to allow enough time for all the fittings,” says popular Marin wedding dress designer Amy Kuschel. “The
fittings will continue up until the week before the wedding,” she adds.
BOOK THE REHEARSAL DINNER VENUE. Ask the maximum capacity and make sure your guest list doesn’t
exceed it, warns Bay Area wedding planner Alison
Hotchkiss, whose company Alison Events has planned
more than 400 weddings. “Also don’t forget a backup plan
for rain or inclement weather.”
HIRE YOUR FLORIST. “I’ve been booked from more than
a year in advance to as short as two weeks before a wedding, but four months is really ideal and will give you just
the right time to choose in-season and local flowers,” says
Apple Daoruang, owner of San Anselmo’s Local Flora.
CHOOSE A CATERER. “Before you sign the contract,
find out how long the caterer has been in business and
check the reviews on sites like Yelp and wedding sites
like theknot.com,” says Marin’s Stan Vail, owner of All
Seasons Catering. “You’ll want to finalize the menu about
three months before the wedding date as you do the walk-through of the venue with the caterer.”
RING TIME. If your wedding bands are going to be
custom, give the designer enough time to create and complete them. For one-of-a-kind rings the process starts
with a meeting between you and the designer. “I then create a sketch and wax carving for approval. We spend the
next months collaborating and communicating, ensuring that we are creating exactly what people want,” says
jewelry designer and Larkspur resident Ashley Berman
of Ashley Morgan Designs, whose pieces are sold at San
Francisco’s Gump’s and San Anselmo’s Blanc.