Hiring Wedding Vendors… Key Questions to Ask
Hiring Wedding Vendors… Key Questions to Ask
The right vendors will make your wedding day perfect!
Your wedding is probably the biggest party you’ve ever thrown. A typical wedding relies on multiple vendors and has much more in common with a corporate event than a cocktail party, so you have to embrace the fact that you are now a project manager for a large, complicated and expensive project. If that’s not enough pressure, it’s also a project with many stakeholders and potentially significant emotional baggage.
Contributing to the complexity are the multiple moving parts–your various vendors. At minimum, most weddings rely on these: wedding planner, venue, caterer, officiant, photographer, florist, and DJ. Bonus vendors may range from bartenders to gown consultants to videographers to photo booths. Organizing a wedding is not for the faint of heart!
We’ve got some tips for you, but they’re just the tip (haha!) of the ice berg. Here are some basics, but we suggest you consult the vast and very helpful resources online. Search “questions to ask wedding venue” and you’ll find lists with as many as a hundred questions! Scan the resources, articles and checklists on the web and consolidate a list of questions that reflects your needs. Each vendor will require questions specific to their services, but here are a few important questions that will apply to any vendor:
- What’s your story? Why and how did you get into this business?
- Are you available on our date?
- Will you work with our venue?
- Will you work with us according to our budget? Are you in our price range?
- How long have you been in business?
- How many weddings do you do each year?
- What percentage or your business is weddings?
- What’s your availability, during planning and on the day of?
- Who is the wedding day point person, and how to I contact him/her?
- Can you share recent references?
- Can you share recent examples of your work?
- What’s your cancellation policy?
- What’s your payment structure?
- Do you have liability insurance? (This will cover little surprises like injury due to falls or damage to rental items)
- What’s your backup plan if you’re ill or indisposed at the last minute?
- What’s your backup plan if the weather goes bad?
- Do you charge travel and/or overtime fees?
- What does your planning process look like?
- What’s your preferred mode of communication?
It’s also vital to embrace your role as a project manager. Arranging a wedding is like a second job, and should be treated like one. As you deal with a range of professionals, conducting yourself in a professional manner will get the best results. Be punctual and business-like at meetings and expect the same from your vendors. Presenting yourself in business or business-casual attire will convey a better impression than showing up to your first meeting in workout wear. It’s literally a job interview for the vendor, and you are the boss!
While it’s tempting to meet with a dozen competing vendors for each role, that’s sure to invite burnout. Limit yourself to three or four candidates. Hone your short list by getting recommendations from friends, giving extra credence to those who had recent events. Check the list of preferred vendors provided by your venue, and also the lists on other reputable venue sites. Check vendor websites and make a quick initial inquiry to verify that they’re in your budget, they are available on your date, and they will work with your venue.
When you meet, take chemistry into account. You’ll be working closely with these people on a very big day, perhaps under significant pressure: It’s important to feel some mutual connection. You have plenty of questions, and your vendor should be patient and gracious in responding to them. It’s vital that your communication styles are in sync.
After the meeting, take time to digest the experience. You don’t need to make a snap decision: most vendors will hold your date for two to seven days after the meeting. Consult your notes, compare your experience with the various candidates, and honor your gut instincts.
In a future blog we’ll give you some ideas on where to find the perfect vendors for you wedding. Attending local wedding or bridal fairs is a great way to informally meet several vendors in one outing. The Gardens of Castle Rock hosts a wedding fair each Spring. You can always just contact us and we can provide recommendations from the numerous vendors who have provided services for events at The Gardens. The right vendors will make your wedding day perfect!
Photos by Anthologie