Even if you are just getting started with wedding planning, at some point you will need to research and select the individuals or companies who will help you to create the wedding you’ve always envisioned, helping turn your ideas into reality. With a little due diligence and some basic knowledge of the wedding business, you’ll be well on your way to making smart decisions about choosing vendors.
Planning a wedding in this economy will be a challenge for many (if not most!) couples today. But it is still possible to plan your dream wedding no matter what the current economic conditions. The first key is knowing the right questions to ask your vendors, catering manager, and anyone else that you are writing checks to on the big day.
Being aware of the types of costs that are typically associated with each type of vendor will prepare you for appointments, phone calls and email correspondence. In a nutshell, plan to say yes to the essentials but eliminate the unneeded “extras” wherever possible.
wedding packages vs à la carte services
When interviewing photographers, for example, simply knowing what costs are generally associated with shooting a wedding will in many cases allow you to customize your own “wedding package”. DO request the coverage time and shots you need, but DON’T sign up for the things you can live without (additional albums, etc.)
When a caterer provides a cost per head, you should always ask for a detailed breakdown of that cost – from the beverage costs to the silverware and linens.
Depending on the vendor and service provided, you may actually be able to save money by selecting a preset wedding package – for example, you may find a wedding officiant who also offers coordination services, or a husband and wife team who offer both photography and videography services combined into one package.
When you have narrowed down your vendor list to your top picks, do a bit of last minute research online or over a quick phone call by reviewing services offered by each company; when you meet in person with the vendor, review these options and don’t hesitate to say “no” to the things you don’t want or need. That saved money can instead go towards an extra special item or two that you may have been putting off buying, or simply saved for a rainy day.
reviewing vendor contracts
The most important item left to do after choosing vendors you feel comfortable with is to make sure you review the contract provided by each. Many vendor contracts are similar and cover the basics of when and where the wedding will take place, contracted start and end time for the vendor’s services, and deposit and payment procedures. These should be straightforward but if anything is unclear, now is the time to speak up and ask for clarification where necessary.
Lastly, make sure to read the contract thoroughly so that you are prepared for any stipulations required by the vendor. Many professionals who will be providing services for the entire day or entire reception (photographers, DJs, etc.) will require that a meal be provided by your caterer – this will be up to you to arrange with your catering manager before the event. And be aware of any hidden charges that could arise should your wedding run longer than expected, any travel fees for the vendor, etc.
Once you’ve done your research and selected some fabulously talented professionals for the big day, you can relax knowing that you’ve covered your bases and just let your vendors do what they do best – make your day even more fabulous!