June 8, 2020
Hello everybody!! Today I’m tackling the topic of choosing wedding vendors- and I’m going to tell you what NOT to do when you are choosing vendors, and what things you should do instead in order to ensure that your wedding vendors are the perfect fit.
But before I do that…I want you just to take a minute and recognize that planning a wedding is a HARD task! I have mentioned that I tend to be a perfectionist enneagram one, so believe me when I tell you I had to- do lists up the wazoo when it came to planning our wedding. I had such high hopes that I would so easily find the wedding vendors of my dreams, but I actually made a lot of mistakes along the way.
I don’t want that for you!! I want you to have wedding vendors who you are SO excited to have as a part of your wedding day celebration. Let’s do this together and get you started on a path to choosing the perfect wedding vendors. Here’s exactly what NOT to do when you are choosing wedding vendors.
#1: Don’t Reach Out to Too Many Vendors
When you are at the beginning of your wedding planning process, you are being bombarded with vendors left and right!! Family members and friends are likely giving you their recommendations and you are scouring the google search results for vendors in your area. This is great- it is absolutely wonderful that we live in a world where you don’t have to choose between vendors who don’t fit your style. The beauty is that there is literally a vendor out there for EVERYTHING and everyone imaginable.
What you don’t want to do is go down the rabbit hole of researching every single vendor possible. If you haven’t listened to Episode #2: 5 Things to Do Once You’ve Got the Ring – press pause and go listen now! I promise I’ll be here waiting for you when you come back!
If you have tuned into that episode, you know how important it is to create a tone for the overall vibe of your wedding day. As cliché as the word vibe sounds, I like it better than the word theme because it encompasses more than what colors you want your bridesmaids to wear. A vibe sets the tone for your wedding day. Some couples choose to have an elegant wedding day, while others want a more relaxed and boho feel.
Having a set understanding of what you want the vibe of your wedding day to be will help you to NOT reach out to a plethora of vendors in the same category. I promise you, I was there with you. I had my google search bar open and loaded and about 40 tabs of possible vendors open at once. You know when your amount of tabs open gets so big that you can’t even see the icons anymore? Yup. That’s what was happening.
Rather than pouring hours into researching 20 different vendors, be selective and choose the top 4 or 5 that stand out to you most. Keep your vibe in mind as you look over their websites, their social media accounts, and their reviews from past clients. If they don’t immediately look like a good fit- CLOSE THAT TAB!!
This is a time when you have to be choosey!! Reviews and others experiences with vendors can be really helpful information, but that isn’t to say that just because your bff had so and so as their photographer that you must do the same. Look at people’s past experience who have had wedding days similar to what you hope for your wedding day.
Narrow down your focus so that you can really pour time and effort into researching a few vendors really deeply. You don’t want to take these choices lightly. Think about your florist for example. There are hundreds of options out there for how to get your wedding florals. Real flowers or fake? Next order your own blooms or have a florist make them? What types of florals do you need or want for your day? Now choose from this list of 50 florists who will make your floral dreams come true…oofta! It is a lot!
Cody and I see this so often in our experience as wedding photographers. We can tell within the FIRST email to us that potential couples send us whether they have sought us out for a reason because they think we would be a good fit or whether we are one in a sea of 50 other photographers that they’ve reached out to. Couples who genuinely want to learn more about our services have looked at our website. They’ve seen our past galleries and they follow along with us on social media.
Couples who are doing exactly what I’m telling you NOT to do and who are reaching out to many vendors at once usually answer our question of “Tell us more about you!” with “prices and packages please.”
Save yourself time and energy by narrowing your focus and only reaching out to a select few vendors who match your style and vibe!
#2: DON’T Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Once you’ve narrowed down your focus and you’ve started a line of communication with a few potential vendors, the worst thing you can do is not ask them questions. And I’m not talking about the basic questions like “what services do you offer, how much do you cost, are you available.”
This is another area where it is better to be prepared. There are MULTIPLE lists online that you can find that will list questions you can ask specific vendors in order to get to know if they are a good fit for you. For instance you might want to ask a potential photographer if they’ve captured a wedding at your venue before. You will want to ask your DJ if they will take into account your suggestions or let you be specific about songs you like/ dislike.
Here in the Midwest we don’t really like confrontation. Asking questions can sometimes feel like we are being pushy or asking for more than we deserve. But when it comes to your wedding vendors, you need to be sure that they are the best fit for you. This means that you have to TRUST them enough to ask them questions and reach out to them for help.
I remember the first venue that Cody and I toured together. We were shown around the barn and the property, and with each new part of the presentation, I had more and more questions. Who puts up the tables and chairs for dinner? Who moves them away for the dance? What if it rains? What time can we be here in order to start decorating?
But I was WAY too bashful and didn’t ask a single question. I remember talking with Cody on the drive home and realizing that we had the same questions and curiosities and neither one of us had the guts to ask the vendor for specifics!
Wedding vendors want to help you. They want you to choose them to serve you on your wedding day. I promise you they will be so excited that you are asking questions- especially if they are thought out questions that you are genuinely excited about getting answers to. So don’t just print a list off from the internet, but do sit down and think about questions beforehand so you are prepared!
#3: DON’T Expect That Everyone Will Be Available
This tip is more from a personal perspective. I know how hard it can be to have a plan set or have the perfect idea of who you want to be with you on your wedding day. Being in the wedding business is such a difficult but beautiful thing because unlike other businesses, who can serve hundreds of people in one day, wedding vendors make ONE choice of who they will spend their day with. Believe me we don’t make that choice lightly!!
When Cody and I were wedding planning, I was already following our wedding photographers- shout out to Maison and Caleb– we love you guys so much!! Maison and Caleb had recently shot a wedding at Sugarland Barn and I fell HEAD OVER HEELS for that venue. I was CONVINCED it was the one for Cody and I.
I was just getting ready to finally send them an email when I saw that NONE of the dates we were hoping for were available. It was so crushing to me. In the moment I felt like giving up- like no other venue would ever be as good as that one. I know, dramatic right?
Because planning a wedding is such an emotional thing, it can be hard not to get distraught when you hear that your dream vendor is not available on your date. However, if they really are your dream vendor, chances are they have some amazing friends who they trust that they can refer you to. If your dream vendor is booked, tell them exactly why they are your dream vendor and ask them if they have any recommendations of people who are doing work similar to theirs.
#4: DON’T Book Something Last Minute
Ok, I’m telling you this one in advance so that when your wedding day is only a few months away you will remember my words and not make the same mistakes I did! Ok?
In Episode #2 we talked about creating a wedding budget. It is vital that you prepare in advance for the money you will be spending. While you are doing this, really think through each type of wedding vendor out there- wedding planner, DJs, photographers, venue, florists, officiant, baker, caterer, calligrapher, the list goes on and on! Decide who you can’t live without on your wedding day and stick to that decision.
Creating a budget will actually help you do this- because you will be able to see what you can afford and what you should save your money on.
Let me tell you our own story. Cody and I knew that the dance portion of our wedding day was important to us. I had always dreamed of the big party I would have after my wedding. My family are definitely not shy when it comes to getting out on the dance floor.
However, I knew that I wanted to have some say in what songs were played during the dance, so Cody and I made the decision to save money and make our own wedding playlist. Cody and many of our friends are musically talented and so we would have access to all the equipment we would need in order to make it sound like a party!
Well…then a year went by and we still didn’t have a wedding playlist. We were counting down the months until our wedding, I was drowning in planning details and the stress of my job, and Cody was not the one who wanted to put together the playlist in the first place- at least not alone without my help.
So we got desperate. We decided we wanted a DJ…four months before our wedding day. Like everything in the wedding world, that is not much time to prepare or to search for the best fit. We were so desperate because the thought of doing it on our own was now way too overwhelming.
But we were in the worst place to make a decision. The timing was short so that ruled out many other vendors due to unavailability. We hadn’t budgeted for this so we were going to be spending money we didn’t plan on. And like I said, we were desperate for someone to take this weight off our shoulders.
We booked one of the first DJs to respond to our email. And it is to this day the ONLY thing we would change about our wedding day.
Did the DJ show up and play music? Yes. Did Cody and I not have to plan a playlist and figure out the technicalities? Yes. Did we love our DJ? NO.
Waiting until the last minute forced us to make a decision that we regretted. We weren’t in the right mindset to be searching for a good fit. We ended up making a last minute choice that caused us to spend money we didn’t have to have a DJ we didn’t like.
Take a Deep Breath
Now you know exactly what NOT to do when you are booking your wedding vendors. I hope that these tips can help you on your wedding planning journey. Wedding vendors are a critical part of your wedding day, and choosing them isn’t something you should do lightly! Learn from my mistakes and find the vendors that are the perfect fit for you.
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