Once you start planning your wedding, you realize there is a lot that you need to delegate. Whether you hire a wedding planner, do everything yourself, or find something in between, there will be vendors you have to work with. Choosing these vendors can be stressful and difficult. As a wedding photographer, I’ve been in lots of venues and seen a lot of vendors. There are some good vendors, some shady vendors, and some people who don’t work well with everybody. How do you know who to choose?
The most obvious thing is to ask around. If you have friends who are newlyweds, ask who they used. You might find a great photographer or a perfect baker, possibly someone who was not on your radar before. Think back to the weddings you have been to. Was there a location you thought was lovely or a DJ that kept you on the dance floor all night having a great time? Talk to the bride and groom to get that contact information – and ask about their experiences with the vendor. Sometimes people can be difficult to work with but give great results, and that’s something you might want to know in advance. If you haven’t found any good vendors yet, check bridal magazines for ads and look around on the internet. If you’ve got a location or one vendor, ask who we use or are familiar with. Sometimes locations will have a list of approved vendors, and sometimes we have relationships with others and can get you a discount!
Your job once you’ve got a list is to narrow it down. First, look around online and see if you can find reviews from clients. Check with the BBB and see if there have been any complaints. Get rid of those people right away. Next, call and confirm if they are available on your date. That might cross off a few more and save you some time. While you’re making your inquiry about availability, set up a meeting. You want to talk to these people and get a feel for them. This is your wedding day, one where you might be stressed out beyond belief, so trust your instincts. If someone seems flakey, bristles at your requests, or clashes with your or your partner’s personality, you should keep looking. Now is not the time to ignore your gut! Even if the meeting goes well, ask for references. Then actually contact those references! Ask questions. Make sure that they used the vendor’s services and were happy with it. Ask if anything came up during their relationship with the vendor that might also come up with yours.
Finally, lock them down! Book the people you want to use as soon as you can. This is as much for them as it is for you. Please protect yourself. Make sure you get everything in writing. Be sure that you have a signed contract that clearly states every single thing you expect from your vendor. While I hope that everything will go smoothly, taking basic precautions to be sure that you’re covered in case there are any issues is just smart!
I wish you the best of luck with your search!