If you are just starting out as a wedding vendor or have recently moved to a new area, it may be very beneficial to contact catering managers at area hotels and leave them some promotional materials or a business card. Also consider contacting churches and other places of worship that hold weddings, historic estates, function halls, restaurants and any other establishments that might be in the position to refer your services.
Don’t expect to see a lot of referrals from this legwork initially. As you begin to work at some of these venues, however, having already had the chance to make contact with the staff will help in solidifying a good working relationship and they will be much more inclined to refer you to other couples in the future. Once you feel you have a good relationship established, this would be a great time to ask if they have a vendor referral list that you might be added to.
If you’re having a difficult time booking those first few jobs, offering to work for free at a friend’s or relative’s wedding can be helpful to (1.) start generating word of mouth buzz from the guests who attend the wedding, and (2.) build up your portfolio (photos, testimonials) which will help instill trust and establish your experience in the eyes of your potential clients.
In addition to providing your services for free to friends, etc., you might also consider brainstorming about potential outlets where you could volunteer your services, for example, performing music in a hospital or charity event. You never know who will be in the audience, and more than likely you’ll be asked for business cards if your performance is professional and polished.
Lastly, you may want to consider some form of wedding advertising to help get your business off the ground such as taking out an ad in a print or online bridal publication.