Hiring the right wedding vendors is crucial to making sure your wedding runs smoothly and matches your vision. As a previous wedding planner, I can say, I have dealt with my fair share of vendors who didn’t quite live up to their expectation, and then some who far exceeded it! So what is the difference and how can you sift through all of your choices? Here is the low down on getting the best people for your day.
You need to start by asking YOURSELF these questions:
-Do you have a clear vision of your wedding day?
If the answer is no, then hold the phone. You need to figure that out first. You need to have a general guideline and some inspiration photos to start you off in the right direction. From a floral perspective, I don’t mind if you send me the “I can’t decide between this or that” BUT I don’t love when I get 27 photos, that are all totally different. It makes it really hard to give you an accurate estimate and see if we are the right fit for one another. Think about it this way – you’d want to choose a venue that matches the aesthetic of your vision so you wouldn’t have a church wedding if your inspiration is in a garden. The same concept flows through all your wedding vendor choices. Open up the world of Google and Pinterest and just start scrolling! Take pieces that you liked from weddings you’ve attended, and start blending them all together to get a general look and feel you are going for.
-How is the wedding vendor’s intake process and communication?
Communication is the key to life, you guys. If your vendor isn’t communicating well right off the bat, then my advice would be to move on. Even if it’s just a quick “I’m out of the office until Monday, and I’ll get back to you then,” rather than leaving you in the dark for several days on end, that is good communication. Is their contract and/or estimate clear? How do they react to your questions? Good wedding vendors are happy to answer your questions, we care about your day too! Usually, if you can see yourself having a glass of wine or cup of coffee with the prospective vendor, it’s a win.
-Have you seen your prospective wedding vendor’s social media and website?
What you see on social media and the web are *usually* pretty good depictions of a vendor’s work. There will likely be heavy filters on all the things, but stylistically, you can see what you like and what you don’t, and some of what they are capable of. The biggest fails I’ve seen (which, to be fair were pre-social media) were over promising and under delivering. Nowadays though, there is a degree or two of transparency thanks to the world wide web. Usually the better or more favorite things go on a social media page or website so you can at least get a sense of what’s what.
For a photographer, you can see their point of view and style. For a florist, you can get a sense of style and craftsmanship. For a venue, you can get a general feel (but you’ll need to dig deeper and visit the venue to look at the surrounding areas to all of those picture perfect nooks). For food, it may look good so it’s an ok place to start, but you should probably taste that food before making any decisions. Have you asked friends and family too? Talking to people you trust and seeing if they have feedback from either someone they’ve used or a wedding they’ve attended is always a good idea.
-Take preferred wedding vendor lists with caution
Sorry, I am probably going to take some heat on this one. You may be provided a preferred vendor list from any number of vendors (usually the venue). While this may be a totally wonderful resource, fair questions would be a) how these vendors are chosen for the list and b) when was the last time it was updated. It shouldn’t be a problem to ask those questions. I have worked at venues that opened 10+ years ago and haven’t updated their list since they opened. On the flip side, I’ve had venues with wonderful and fully updated vendor lists, so take the list as a suggestion, ask all the questions and decide for yourself.
Asking already-chosen vendors for recommendations is totally ok too, I have some solid vendors that I absolutely love working with and would love to pass on their names. Usually, vendors can gauge which of their contacts would best suite you, however, why I love working with them may be different than what you are looking for in a working relationship – so take the recommendation and then make sure that the point of view of the prospective vendor matches yours.
If all of this sounds really daunting and overwhelming, you can always contact a planner and/or designer to help you right from the start. They have their own recommendations, can field some new people for you as well, and help guide you through the process. To hire a great planner, I would just pay particular attention to their communication style, organization, and past references and you’ll be off to a great start. You will be working very closely with this person for some time before your big day, so make sure it’s someone you could easily sit down and have several conversations with.
Let the planning begin and remember to have a little fun! The process shouldn’t be forced or feel icky. Your day will be that much more enjoyable when things fall into place as naturally as possible beforehand. Don’t wait until the last minute (advanced planning is good planning), ask if you have questions, be clear on your vision. The things that feel right usually are – you got this!