If you’re beginning to prep for your wedding, there is one thing you will realize quite quickly: vendors matter, and booking them earlier on is ideal. But when there are so many choices available, how do you choose?
Here are 5 tips for finding and choosing your wedding vendors.
Where Do You Start?
There’s more than one way to find a vendor. If you live in a small town, your options may be limited to a handful of vendors for each service. In larger cities, though, options abound. If you do a Google search for florists in New Jersey, for example, several million results will pop up. So how do you pick?
Ask for recommendations
Among your family and friends, many people will have first-hand knowledge of which vendors rock at their job. They can also advise you on which local vendors you should absolutely avoid.
Do local searches
Websites like Facebook can actually be very handy for getting a feel for what a vendor has to offer, and it’s also a way to quickly view past client feedback. Many wedding-related sites and wedding venues will keep lists of vendor recommendations, such as our list of top vendors that have consistently offered quality work.
Establish a budget for each service
This doesn’t have to be exact, but a range of acceptable prices will help you eliminate the many vendors that may be wildly beyond the stretch of your wallet.
I Have a List of Potentials; What Now?
So you’ve gone through the potential hundreds of vendors and have a number of florists, caterers, vendors etc. that you are interested in. Where do you go from here?
First: know your date, or have a short list of potential dates. This will help you eliminate vendors who absolutely are not available.
Second: Pick your wedding venue, since every other decision will depend on this.
Third: Schedule appointments, because seeing a carefully chosen photo of a cake on Facebook may not be representative of a baker’s average work. For services like food, it obviously helps to meet in person so that you can actually taste test the options available to you.
Be on the Lookout for These Warning Signs
We’ve all heard horror stories of the cake that shows up lopsided or the flowers that arrive wilted and droopy. You want to avoid having anything like this distract you on your big day. For this reason, there’s a few red flags you need to keep an eye out for.
The vendor has a low rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
A lodged complaint doesn’t necessarily indicate a business is “bad,” but the BBB’s rating reflects not only complaints, but also how vendors handle said complaints. This site will also alert you to vendors who absolutely dropped the ball and never delivered on their promised services.
The vendor is hard to get in contact with
This may just indicate that they are very busy (and therefore: popular!). However, when your wedding involves a lot of interlocking details, you’re not going to want to work with someone who takes a leisurely week to reply to your initial inquiry.
They hedge on the price
While certain things are up to negotiation, a vendor that is hoping to slip in some extra fees at the last minute may avoid being completely upfront about what you should expect to pay. Any vendor with experience in the industry will be ready with a contract clearly spelling out their expected services. Check out The Knot’s guide for what to include in a wedding vendor contract.
Know What to Ask For
This may be your first time throwing a wedding, but you don’t need to approach it like a deer in the headlights. Know what to discuss with your vendors ahead of time so that you come across as confident, and also get the answers you need to ensure a smooth planning experience. What should you be asking for?
Asking for client referrals is a good idea
As BridalGuide points out, a past bride can give you an honest evaluation of what to expect, and what they would have done differently if they had the chance. A positive client referral from a past bride is a good indication thta a vendor is trustworthy and will do your wedding justice.
Ask what else they can do for you
Most vendors offer a wide range of services. Could your wedding photographer also do your engagement photos; perhaps for a discount? It’s worth asking about.
How long have they been involved in the industry?
Someone with 10 years of industry experience may be a more comfortable bet than someone who just started out 6 months ago; either way, it’s something you’ll want to be aware of.
Trust Your Gut
At the end of the day, this isn’t just ordering a birthday cake from your local grocery store; these vendors will be contributing to one of the most important days of your life. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t feel bad about walking away even if the DJ’s going rate seems like an absolute steal. It’s not worth worrying over for months, and you’ll be able to find another vendor that fits perfectly with your expectations.