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How to pick your Wedding Vendors

Did you know, that in this great country of America, there are almost 3 million weddings per year?!?! Yeah, it’s pretty crazy and the industry keeps growing every year.

In such a large industry, you might think it would be simple to find the perfect wedding vendors for your big day because there are SO many out there. But, because of the hundreds of options, it can make decision making pretty challenging to find the best wedding vendors, specific to the needs of your day.

How to pick your Wedding Vendors

So, you need a venue, a dress, gorgeous flowers, a photographer, a DJ, catering and that’s not even the half of it (not to mention the challenges of the guest list, but that’s for another day). So, I decided to write this post with some tips to help you find the top wedding vendors that are the right fit for you and your future spouse.

Personally, the main ingredient is credibility. Whether the vendor is new or seasoned, you should be searhing for vendors that are credible. Credibility comes from the root word “credo”, which is Latin for “feeling of trust”. That trust is huge and it’s the main thing that keeps stress levels low on a day where they can get all sorts of high if you don’t chose vendors you can count on.

I really would like this article to be one of those complete guides, so I’m writing as if it is my ultimate guide to picking the ideal wedding vendors. After much research and personal experience, here’s what I got for you!

Before you start choosing: 

Before we get to the tips, there are a few quick bases to touch on. The current average cost of a wedding is right around $38,000! It’s pretty mind blowing how much money can be spent on that one special day.

With that stat mentioned, you’ll really want to set a realistic budget. This will be challenging to do and really tough to stick with, but it is possible. One part to help nail down the budget is going to be the guest count. Limiting the “+1” factor can really help keep the guest list stay under control.

The last thing I’d like to mention before getting to the top tips is, knowing the theme and colors for your wedding. Your vision will set the scale. Try and be specific from the start ( if you can ) because your imagination can run wild with all the possibilities while the budget gets tossed out the window. So when you know you FOR SURE want an ice-cream bar at your wedding, keep it at that rather than thinking more and splurging on the taco bar, mashed potato bar, AND late night mac and cheese bar. ( can you tell I’m hungry? ) There’s beauty in limitations especially when it comes to your wedding.

10 tips for finding the perfect vendors for your wedding:

  1. Keep the stress down. Stress is the worst possible thing for a bride to deal with. Most stress comes from lack of planning and preparation. We encourage everyone to get a wedding planner. They have great insight, passion, and can help you complete your list of needed vendors. Not to mention, there are plenty of tools and guides to help with your wedding planning.
  1. Take recommendations lightly. Just because a family member suggests a certain BBQ place to cater your wedding, doesn’t mean you have to. (Nothing against BBQ, we actually had BBQ pulled pork sliders at our wedding! – J )
  1. Prioritize your passions. For example, since I’m a photographer and I know that pictures are one of the only things that last after a wedding day besides the memories and videos, photography was THE most important part of our day. We wanted to ensure that we would have beautiful photos to look back on and show to our kids and grandkids one day. For another bride and groom, it may be a destination wedding and the experience they want their guests to have, a day they will never forget being in a gorgeous location they’ve never seen anything like. Whatever it may be, if it’s important to you like an epic location, don’t settle for a city park, when you can save up and have a smaller wedding in the middle of huge canyons in Utah!
  1. Real life guest list. Head count is essential for numerous areas of your special day and a big determining factor of your budget. When creating your guest list, do so as you see fit and not necessarily out of obligations.
  2. Research! Do your own “background check” on each vendor. Check out their blogs and examples of their work. Read the reviews posted by past clients. Almost 90% of people trust online reviews as if they were personal recommendations. We encourage you to take all those online reviews with a little more than a grain of salt.
  1. There’s only 1 first impression. First impressions are a big deal. They set the tone for your “gut feeling” and can be a quick reference to settle a tiebreaker.
  1. Voice expectations. It’s your big day. Speak up and let your voice be heard. If you have your heart set on something, ask for it. If they can’t deliver then maybe you could check if another vendor could be more accommodating.
  1. Don’t be afraid to say no. If your family has a recommendation or even if your vendor does, if you don’t like it, it’s totally fine to say, “no thank you”.
  1. Ask for references. This ties back in with #5 above, chat with previous clients of the vendors you’re considering. If the vendor refuses to give you references, maybe they aren’t confident in the experience they gave their past client or just not a good fit. Talking to past clients will give you a lot of insight, not just from the answers and questions you ask, but the tone in their responses.
  1. Hire within your budget. A particular vendor might be the absolute best in the world but if there is no way you can make it work within your budget, look for other options. We always tell our brides who may be on the fence with booking due to finances, “Please, do not go into debt to book us or any other vendor.” It’s just not worth it. If anything, that will put stress on your new marriage ( which is not the best way to start any marriage…debt is NO fun, just ask Dave Ramsey ) or your parents depending on who is paying/ in charge of the budget.

After interviewing a vendor:

During the interview/consultation, you asked great questions, now it’s time to reflect. After each interview is complete, ask yourselves a series of questions such as:

  • What was our first impression like?
  • Did we feel heard?
  • Were they attentive?
  • Does the vendor understand our vision?
  • Are they willing to stay within our budget?
  • Did our personalities mesh well together?
  • Do we feel comfortable enough to book?

These questions and those like it may seem silly or not necessary when choosing some vendors ( like say, the linens rep or someone you may not even see day of your wedding ), but ultimately you’re looking for vendors that can relate with your vision, respectful of your budget, and friendly or personable enough that would make you want to recommend them to everyone!

How to choose between two vendors: 

Stuck between two top vendors? Well, I came across this article and it was very fitting. Basically, meet them in person, trust your gut feeling from the first impression, make a pro’s and cons’ list (your mom probably already told you to do that from the beginning), and choose the “credo” one. Remember from earlier? Yeah, the feeling of trust. Which one do you mesh well with? Who would you want helping you with one of THE most important days of your life?

Beware of….

Ignorance is not always bliss. Like all big decisions in life, there are a few things that you should be aware of. Not being mindful of the next few things could end you up in a world of hurt.

  • Make sure you read ALL of every contract/agreement that you sign. Unfortunately, there are still vendors out there that will try to pull a fast one.
  • Ask about any fees that might be added for any changes to the timeline or the date.
  • Take every element into consideration – this kinda goes back to Mom’s good ole pro’s and con’s list. Writing things down really does help.
  • Hire the best in the budget but keep in mind you do get what you pay for. Spend your money in areas that are most important to you and your future spouse.
  • If you’re wanting a destination wedding, hire a local wedding planner or one who specializes in destination weddings.

Well, after 2,000 words later, I hope this compilation article was just what you were  hoping for and that you gained a little insight in choosing the perfect wedding vendors in the Tampa Bay Area or where ever you might be.

                                                               – Jon McClure

Now, feel free to check out some recommendations of our preferred vendors!

Sources:

Jon McClure

Husband to Tiffany, Jon Co-Founded FEATUREDphotog, a site for aspiring photographers to submit their photography and learn from the pros on the FP Podcast!

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