With the right wedding professionals on your team, planning your dream wedding is more than doable! You need a flexible crew who’s on board with your vision and ready to collaborate. But, with the wedding industry as big as it is–and with so much information online–it can be challenging to narrow down the best team members for your unique wedding. This short guide can help you find the best wedding vendors for your big day.
9 Steps to Finding the Best Wedding Vendors for Your Wedding
1. Set Your (Ballpark) Budget
First, you need to know where to start. Set your budget range. I recommend a range instead of a specific set amount because it can be stressful—if not impossible—trying to hit an exact amount. Shoot for the lowest point on your range, and don’t worry if it goes a little above. Just be aware of your max.
From there, prioritize your vendors, and set the top 3 most important ones first. Determine how much you’re willing to spend for each. Work your way down the list. That way, if you need to save a little, it won’t be as big of a hit to skimp or even skip some of the small, less important pieces.
Once you’ve separated your budget between wedding items, do some pricing research. Many wedding professionals do not have pricing on their site, but some will include, “starting at X amount.” That will at least give you a general idea if they could work within your budget or not. Feel free to reach out and inquire about pricing too. They may have packages or discounts not mentioned on their site.
2. Listen to Your Circle
Firsthand experience goes a long way. Ask around among friends and family members who’ve recently tied to the knot to see if they have any recommendations (or warnings!), and take their input into consideration. Keep in mind that everyone has their own unique style and personality, so what worked for them may not work for you and vice versa. But it is incredibly helpful to know if they absolutely loved (or didn’t care for) someone they worked with, and why.
3. Read Reviews
Reviews are important, but be sure to consider the context. For instance, you may see that they have two contradictory reviews side-by-side. Pay more attention to the reviews that address their overall experience, professionalism, flexibility, communication, and integrity. Are they the real deal? Then, you can get into the style and personality aspect after that. But poor reviews mentioning things like tardiness, lack of communication, missing details, not receiving promised services etc. can help you weed out the bad ones right away.
4. Get Professional Input
I highly recommend hiring a wedding planner. In addition to helping you plan, they’ll help you stay on budget, find great deals and packages, network with vendors, and offer solid advice, including which wedding professionals would best suit your wedding vision and budget. An experienced wedding planner has worked with many vendors and will have a much better idea of who to recommend.
5. Are They Collaborative?
Every now and then, you’ll come across wedding professionals so focused on their own niche and creative vision that they’re unwilling to collaborate as a team with other wedding vendors. Stay away from vendors who have a poor attitude or speak negatively about other vendors. You want a flexible team player who will work hard to collaborate toward your overall vision for a seamless wedding.
6. Ask for Examples of Their Work
You gotta love this digital era we’re in. Sadly, some vendors are not above stealing other’s photos and promoting portfolio examples as their own. Ask to see several recent weddings or specific samples of their work that are in line with your own wedding vision. It’s a red flag if they beat around the bush or only offer one or two examples you’ve already seen. (I’d love for you to peruse my blog and portfolio if you’d like! Or visit my website for more information.)
7. Schedule a Meeting—In-person, Zoom, or Phone Call
On that note, it’s easy to mask fraudulent behavior online. It’s harder in person. As easy and convenient as online booking may be, I’d encourage you to get in touch with each vendor. When you have a chance to personally interact with the vendor, you’ll probably have a better feel for their authenticity. Not only that, you’ll also be able to see if you mesh well with each other. As talented as someone might be, you need to make sure your personalities don’t clash. You’ll be spending quite a bit of time with them and entrusting them with your big day, so the interpersonal dynamics are important! Relationships—good or bad—with your vendors can greatly impact your overall wedding experience!
8. Make Sure They’re Actually Professionals—AND Read the Fine Print
Don’t shy away from an agreement or contract! It’s a sign of professionalism, and it protects both of you. Agreements allow each party to know what to expect. It should outline the services, pricing, cancellation or extenuating circumstance policy or (like COVID, other illnesses, emergencies, or bad weather), and more. However, make SURE to read all of the fine print, and ask questions if you think something else should be included.
9. Listen to Your Gut
Finally, once all of those boxes are checked, go with your gut. Who are you drawn to? Did one vendor’s work really captivate and speak to you? Who did you genuinely click with? This is your wedding, so while others may recommend someone else, don’t end up with regret because you never reached out to the one who caught your eye.