You’ve done the heavy lifting - set a budget, drafted a guest list, picked a date and a venue...now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty of your wedding day.
Do you want a traditional cake?
Or will a cupcake tower be just right?
Should you supplement those gorgeous photos with playful video footage?
Will your bouquet drip with messy florals, or do you prefer something neater?
DJ? Or that awesome band you heard about last week? The details are what makes your wedding day yours!
So...where do you begin?
It can be tempting when you start planning a wedding, to go for all the bells and whistles. After all, who wouldn’t want gorgeous photos, lush floral arrangements, a donut wall? But hold your horses! The best way to start your vendor search is to sit down with your partner and your budget, and write up two lists: your Must Haves and your Wish List. Be honest with yourselves here. If you have a Pinterest or Vision board for your wedding, it might be useful to have it on hand to make sure you’re keeping in line with your wedding day vision as you plan just who and what you’ll need to help you make your day. Once you’ve decided what you need, and maybe where you can stretch a bit, you’re ready to start your search! But where do you begin? Well, first things first..
Ask your venue and/or planner for suggestions. As you probably already discovered, the wedding world is a small one, built in large part on reputation. If your venue has been established for a few years, they should have a list of vendors they’ve worked with and can recommend to their clients. Perhaps more importantly, they may have a list of vendors to avoid.
Once you have a preliminary list of vendors compiled, let your inner FBI agent loose and Facebook (and Instagram!) stalk your contenders! Social media pages are one of the best ways to really get a feel for your possible vendors. Not only can you see real-time photos and videos of their work, you can also see how they present themselves. Is their vision in line with yours? Do you like the story they craft? Have they worked in your venue or with your planner? And not only can you get a feel for one vendor on their page, you can see just who else they’ve worked with, as most will tag the other businesses they collaborated with at an event or styled photoshoot. Who do they like working with? Who would they recommend? Social media is also a great place to read customer reviews. Do those catering staff look dapper in their company photos? Check the comments and reviews on their public pages to see if they live up to their image, or if they left the hospitality at the door.
While you’re at it, check out bridal shows. This is a great way to meet your vendors face-to-face (more on that below) and talk to other couples. Swap notes with everyone you meet, compare vendors side by side instead of wading through endless webpages. Perhaps most importantly, see how they handle what is surely (for them!) a long and stressful day. Are they snapping at their staff or smiling and happy to be here?
Even if you can’t make the show, be sure to take the time to meet your possible vendors face-to-face. So you love what they do, and they have glowing reviews from customers...Great! But before you sign on that dotted line, make sure they’re someone you’ll be able to work with on what may be one of the most hectic days of your life. Find someone who’s willing to listen to your vision and work with you to help make your day exactly what you want - and are honest with you when they can’t or when your ideas may be out of reach of your budget. A good vendor will bring honesty and integrity to the table, even if that means tweaking your initial vision, to help create your dream wedding day.
Put everything in writing...and read it before you sign! It’s easy to get carried away with the excitement of your wedding planning. You’ve found the perfect photographer, and now you want to sign those papers and lock them down before they slip out of your fingers. They’re in high demand, after all! But stop right there! Wedding days are fun, beautiful, and also notoriously fraught with snags. What happens if your wedding photographer suddenly develops diabetes and goes blind (True story. This happened to a friend of mine!)? Are you covered in your contract? Or will that be money tossed to the wind? Be excited about your wedding day! But be smart too. Don’t get fleeced by sketchy contracts or bad luck.
Congrats! You’re in the fun part of planning a wedding! No doubt it will be a tad bit crazy and a tad bit hectic and a tad bit stressful.
But, the process of finding your vendors is also the beginning of watching your dream really begin to breathe.
Enjoy the process, let your creativity run wild, and get started on building your perfect day!