Updated: Apr 4
Number two on this list of most common questions is: How do I pick my wedding vendors?
Absolutely do not book any vendors until you book your venue. (The only exception to this would be if you plan to book a full-service wedding planner!) Without booking your venue, you likely don't have your date set in stone, and you absolutely don't have your location set in stone. These are two crucial pieces of information for your vendors as they draft your contracts. Especially caterers, DJ's/bands, and any rentals that are being delivered.
Once you have secured your venue, that's when vendor research should start. In my professional opinion, you should start with: Planner or Coordinator, Catering, Photography/Video, DJ/Band. These vendors are the most imperative to ensure your wedding goes off without a hitch. This also means their calendars book up the fastest. You may also notice these vendors will likely be the most expensive outside of your venue - but I really want you to remember something here - you 100% get what you pay for. Two of the biggest regrets I hear from brides are not hiring a DJ & not hiring a videographer. If you don't have a DJ/Band, and you don't have a coordinator, the chances of your schedule of events being followed are incredibly narrow. Your wedding day will be over before you know it & there will be things you miss as you're getting photos taken, or changing your attire. A wedding video guarantees that you will have a way to relive the day over & over & over again. Don't pass this up.
Once you have picked out your planner or coordinator, catering, photo/video & music, then you can move on to all the rest. Rentals (if needed), Officiant, Florists, Bakers, Bartenders, Decor Teams, etc. Maybe you want a special kind of ice cream from a particular shop downtown, and that's great! I love a unique dessert & so will your guests! Wait to talk to them until you've lined up the first big 5. Remember, no date = no contract. No location = no contract. The added stress of changing your contract details, added fees, and any other hooplah - just isn't worth it.
I know what you're thinking - "okay, okay, okay, but how do I pick them, Syd?" I hear you.
Of course the first thing on most of our minds is pricing. I have a whole different post about budgeting and how to navigate that here. I'll keep it short here -- you should know what your total budget is, and what your rough allotment is for each component of your wedding before you're touring venues. If you don't know these things - please check out that article before you continue here. (Just trust me, babe.)
So now that you know what your budget is for each component - you can really start researching. (Remember - these numbers are estimates - and they're there to help guide you and keep you within your original total budget amount!) Now if you're anything like me - you're going to start with pricing before you even look at what is offered. Which means before I even look at the catering menu - I am looking at the price tag. Staying within the budget is always my key focus because I know I can circle back with an increased budget if absolutely necessary. You can do this with almost every vendor that you need to book. Exceptions would be some bakers, florists, and decor teams, as their total pricing usually requires a consultation first.
Once you have compiled your research & have at least 3-4 options for each vendor, (Remember to start with the big 5! Venue, Planner/Coordinator, Catering, DJ/Band, Photo/Video!) then start booking consultations. This is a very important step! This is your chance to essentially interview them, and yes, you should. These are the people you will be investing in, to help you build out & create your dream wedding! It is crucial to make sure that your personalities mesh - especially for Planners/Coordinators & Photo/Video. These people will be by your side, all day, you'll want to make sure they are someone you can get along with easily. You will also want to take this time to confirm if they have any travel fees and make sure they are licensed, insured, and reputable. Here are some questions that I highly recommend every couple asks their potential vendors.
Things to Consider for ALL Vendors
- How long have they been in the industry?
- How many weddings have they done? (If under 5 years.)
- What is included in the packages?
- How far away are they located?
- Are they licensed & insured?
Things to Consider for Planners/Coordinators
- How many weddings do they take on in a year?
- Do they provide coverage for the rehearsal?
Things to Consider for Photo/Video
- What is their editing style?
- Do they have experience with the style of venue?
Things to Consider for DJ/Band
- What style of music do they specialize in?
- Is there an extra cost for emcee services?
- How much time is needed for set up & take down?
Things to Consider for Catering
- How do they handle allergies? (If applicable.)
- Do they have a beverage service package?
- What, if any, service ware is included?
- How much prep space is needed on-site?
- What equipment is needed?
Things to Consider for Officiants
- Do they have any religious requirements to perform the ceremony?
Things to Consider for Florists
- What type of flowers/greenery do they specialize in?
- Do they need to prep anything on site?
This quickly turned into an overload of information, but the moral of the story is this:
Venue first, vendors second. No date & no location = no contract.
Big 5 First -> Venue, Planner/Coordinator, Photo/Video, Catering. DJ/Music.
Pick vendors based on these 3 things: what you can reasonably afford, personalities mesh well, and you genuinely enjoy the product they provide.
If you still have some questions, or just want to chat with someone to get some perspective, you know where to find me.