Expert Wedding Planning Tips: Choosing Your Wedding Vendors

Today I wanted to give some general advice on choosing the suppliers for your wedding day. It really is crucial that in addition to liking their portfolio of work, you also like them on a personal level. More than anything, you need to have a team around you who you can trust.

Where To Source Suppliers From
So, where to start? I would begin by asking friends and family (especially if they’ve been married recently) if they can recommend any suppliers as a personal recommendation is always preferable.

They can also let you know if there are any companies you should steer clear of! Personal endorsements are likely to yield more local suppliers as well, which will save the cost of sourcing a national company who have to travel to you.

Magazines, blogs, wedding directories are all great sources too of course. Don’t just look at whoever is shouting the loudest and has the biggest ad – actually take the time to look at the kind of weddings they have worked on and what couples had to say about them.

You might not have thought of it, but social media is also an excellent tool for tracking down wedding suppliers. The wedding industry has a huge presence on Twitter and most wedding suppliers now have their own Facebook pages too, so you can find out more about them and interact with them virtually.

I always check out the ‘About Me’ page of a supplier’s website and have a look at their blogs to see what they’ve been working on most recently and to get a feel for their personality as well. 

It’s all very well if their work is amazing but you’re going to share a really important day with them, so ultimately I believe you want to get along with them.

Finding The Right Suppliers For You
Suppliers fall into two camps: those that you will mainly be interacting with in the lead-up to the day, for example your stationer, who you may be happy to interact with just via phone and email; and those that you will be spending most of the time with on the actual day, such as your photographer.
Once you’ve found a selection of suppliers that fit your needs and budget, you should arrange meetings with at least 2 or 3 of each type of vendor – anymore than that is likely to become overwhelming. 

Use meeting them as an opportunity to get to know them and how they work, not only on the day but leading up to it and afterwards, too.

Follow your instincts when meeting with suppliers: can you imagine spending time with them or do you think your personalities might clash, especially under constraints of time and pressure? Of course you want to look back at fabulous flowers and stunning photographs, but if your overriding memory is of a supplier that made you feel uncomfortable or stressed then I would say steer clear.

Getting The Right Person For The Job
Be honest with your suppliers about your plans for the day and your budget; these businesses are experienced at catering for a wide range of budgets and will want to save your money and their time from the outset. 

Florists, for example, can usually work to most budgets depending on the choice of flowers being used, but will always prefer to have a figure to work with.

If you’ve done your research right you’ll only be meeting with suppliers that fit your budget, but if you find they are over budget discuss with them if there are ways they could adjust their service to fit your budget. Photographers for example may be able to reduce their hours on the day or pay for the album after the wedding.

If you do contact or meet with a number of suppliers remember to go back to those that you don’t want to book and let them know that you’ve gone elsewhere. Don’t feel embarrassed to say no thank you, the supplier would much rather have a direct no than not know what your decision was or why.

Once you have chosen you preferred suppliers sign a contract with them that clearly details the service they are providing and when all payments are due, from the initial deposit to the final payment. 

Also pay attention to little details like whether they’re insured, their contingency in the event of cancellation or equipment failure and whether they need anything specifically on the day such as parking, access to the venue or meal stipulations.

On the subject of food, I would always recommend that you provide food (preferably a hot meal) to any supplier who is going to be with you for more than 4 hours; my motto is a fed supplier is a happy supplier! 

Most venues/caterers will provide a reduced price supplier meal so you won’t necessarily have to feed them the same food as your guests. Do look over the contract carefully and question anything you are not sure of and discuss it with the supplier so you can both reach an amicable agreement over it.

Working With Your Supplier
Be considerate of your suppliers’ time. You are only planning one wedding but they will be working on many more. Let them know of all your plans and notify them of any major changes that might affect them. 

Check with them how long they need to do their job leading up to the day and on the day itself and put together a timeline so everyone is clear on your expectations and the timetable of events. If you hire a wedding planner they will take care of this for you.

Finally, if after your wedding day you’re really happy with everything they did for you, do take the time to send them a little thank you. An email accompanied with a few photos of their work or a handwritten note always means a lot and is appreciated more than you know.

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