Wedding Vendors: Getting Started

Wedding vendors often take up a significant portion of a wedding budget. Professional photographers, videographers, caterers and other vendors help make your wedding an event to remember. When choosing which professional vendors you hire, make sure you’re getting the best services for your money. When booking and hiring vendors, don’t settle on the first vendor you come across. Educate yourself and be prepared to do some detective work.

Begin by writing down your wedding wish list. Order the list by priority level. What’s more important to you, flowers or catering? Do you want a DJ or a live band? Do you want both? Do you need a limousine for the bridal party? How about a butterfly release? Are you willing to bend on any of your plans? Keep your list flexible as you research and visit with wedding vendors. You never know when something might catch your eye.

Once you’ve identified your needs, it’s time to get online to search for local wedding vendors. Spend time reading about vendors before you call. Check for general price ranges online, but don’t expect to get a firm quote from a website or a quick phone call.

Visit the vendor’s website. Does it look professional? Look for quality photography and testimonials. Use a notebook or binder to keep your initial impressions and budget estimates organized. Use your browser’s bookmark function to save your favorites for easy reference. Read online reviews when available.

Always schedule a face-to-face interview with potential vendors. Couples planning destination weddings often visit the location for a weekend to meet with local vendors. If this is impossible, be sure to spend time on the phone with the potential vendor or work with a planning liaison that can vouch for vendors. While you may only work with your vendor for one day, you want to have a decent rapport and you need to feel comfortable expressing yourself.

Write down questions ahead of time and bring them with you to the interview. And don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Take notes and ask for documentation such as rate sheets, menus or portfolios. Ask to speak directly to former brides and grooms. Vendors should always be able to provide references.

When visiting wedding cake vendors and caterers, sample the food. Ask to try both high-end and budget options. This will help you decide where to save and where to splurge. Ask live performers for video or audio samples.

Many wedding ceremony and reception locations recommend certain vendors, caterers and musicians. While these recommendations can be helpful, they’re usually not mandatory. Use recommendations as a starting point, but do plenty of comparisons and research on your own. Before you book a location, be sure that you can use your own wedding vendors.

Don’t rush into booking a vendor. Remember to read the fine print before you sign anything. Ask for contracts ahead of time if you’re not comfortable taking time to read thorough them in front of the vendor. Make sure the vendor’s contract details cancellation policies, gratuity policies and any additional fees. Once you’ve booked your vendor, keep in touch and stay on top of your deadlines and responsibilities as your wedding approaches.

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