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Eeeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe…How To Pick The Perfect Wedding Vendors.

I’m a wedding planner and decorator. I work really hard for my clients and feel I’ve earned a good amount of respect in this industry. In fact, there are many wedding planners who do a great job—which is good for all of us. But in an industry that thrives on referrals, I’m always curious about the companies that aren’t so great. How do they stay in business? Why do people keep using them? Why didn’t anyone warn those poor brides about what they were getting into?

 

There are good and bad businesses in every industry, but every time I hear a horror story about a terrible photographer or a crazy DJ or a no-show caterer, I just cringe. With a little homework and the right questions, I believe those unfortunate decisions could be prevented. Here are a few of my golden rules when it comes to hiring your wedding vendors. Take them with a grain of salt…or a grain of rice, if you prefer.

 

  1. Don’t hire someone just because they are available. In fact, don’t make any wedding decision out of desperation (starting with getting engaged in the first place).
  2. Don’t make a move without a very detailed, well written contract. Get the details in writing and keep all those contracts in a binder. Make sure you READ the contract before you sign it. You’ll be surprised what you might find in the fine print. I know brides who literally paid for not reading their catering, photography and rental contracts. If you aren’t sure about a contract, call me. I know BS when I see it.
  3. Ask smart questions, in person if possible. It’s pretty easy to be shady in an email. It’s harder to look someone in the eye. You need to really get tough with these! Ask your vendors if they’ve ever disappointed a couple and what they did about it. Ask your photographer when you can expect your photos and get that date in writing. Ask your caterer what the final, actual cost will be and if they are going to try to sell you more later. Ask about your vendor’s communication style—can you call, text and email anytime with questions? Will they be available on your day or will they send someone else? How many other events are they coordinating on your wedding date? If you need a little help, I have lists of vendor questions you can use (or you can hire me and I’ll grill them for you).
  4. Make sure you have chemistry and actually like the people you are hiring. If you think your photographer is a jerk on the phone, imagine what he’ll be like on a ninety-five degree day with your loud and crazy family.
  5. Ask your other vendors what they think of each other. If you get the same response several times, listen to it. If you are impressed by a particular vendor at someone else’s wedding, don’t be afraid to use the same vendor. It’s not a copycat move. It’s a compliment.
  6. Bring your groom, a trusted friend or your mom along when you meet your vendors. The whole process can be overwhelming and it’s good to have a wingman (or wingmom).
  7. The word “free” is nice until you realize the cheap and crappy free stuff is ruining your wedding.
  8. Try not to give into the pressure of using a relative as a vendor. Your cousin might own a nice camera but that doesn’t necessarily mean she knows how to use it.
  9. If reading this post makes you break out in hives, leave all the hassle behind and hire a good wedding planner (hello!) to find good vendors for you.

My last advice to you on this topic is to assume nothing, leave no question unanswered and listen to your gut! Remember, this is your special day and everyone involved should be happy, accommodating and professional—right down to the girl bussing your reception table. If you would like a full list of the down and dirty questions I ask photographers, caterers and DJs, just email me and I’ll send it your way. Anything to make your day perfect!

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