How To Choose the Right Wedding Vendors + All Questions You Must Ask

Your vendors are essentially the corner stones of your wedding, and therefore it is fundamental to find those that you feel confident in to involve on your Special dDay. They are in charge of many elements and practicalities and your wedding would not be possible without them.

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Your vendors are (or at least should be) experts with the skill and experience to make your wedding day as good -or even better- than you had envisioned. Finding the right ones can be a difficult task, but we have prepared you with the crucial questions you need to ask in order to establish the best one for your unique events.

We have started with a list of crucial questions that you MUST ask your wedding venue. The list may seem long, but you will be glad once you got it all covered.

Many of the items on the list you could probably find out from their website. And things such as date availability, cost per guest and catering you can cover in an initial email. That way there will be less to ask about during your visit.

 

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From your wedding planner to the person serving the ice cream cones, you want to make sure they are trustworthy, capable and suitable for the task. Hiring a vendor, is pretty much just like hiring a potential member of staff for your office. It is a relationship that needs to be both productive and worthwhile.

Your choice of vendors makes your wedding truly unique. If you don’t feel 100% sure about their track record or your impression of them, just look further, as you don’t want to have to be unnecessarily worried about the turnout.
The first vendors you should definitely nail down as soon as you can, should ideally be your officiant and your photographer.

Just as with you venue, the best photographers tend to get booked up months ahead, so definitely start to look around as soon as you know your date. If you have specific people in mind, you should contact them before your date is booked to avoid disappointment.
If you are intending to make use of a wedding planner (awesome idea if it fits in your budget), it is advisable to hire her/ him early so they are involved from the start of your journey. Hire them even before you hire any other vendors, as they will know some of the best wedding vendor in the industry and might even help you with a discount.

As tempting as it might be to go with a cheaper option, you are risking a below-standard service. There is always the possibility it will work out great, you might be lucky – but it could also be a potential risk. An experienced wedding vendor knows how to meet your expectation and exceed it, and they also have the expertize to know how to handle any on-day crisis, should they occur. Maybe you’ll feel tempted to save on a just-out-of-college photographer, but it could mean you miss out on certain photos as they didn’t have the foresight to capture it at the right time, or camera battery ran out. An in experienced cake baker might not have had a back up plan if her assistant forgot a certain ingredient – or worse: damaged the cake in transport.

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It is fair to say though, that newer vendors sometime make a lot more effort in order to earn a great reputation fast. Asking for a few references could be a great way to find out about others experiences with a particular vendor, especially if they are new on the block, and that goes for all vendors. Unless you check up a rentals agency’s track record, you can’t  be sure if you’ll have a no-show and stand without a tent on a rainy wedding day. The day needs to be perfect, right? So, our advise is to never take risks with anyone who is going to be involved in it. Planning a wedding does involve risk-taking, but wherever possible, you want to prevent having to second guess yourself.

How to find your vendor depends quite a bit on where you live. Asking around amongst friends and family can be a reliable way, but also don’t be afraid to make use of instagram or local directories to guide you right. Check out wedding directory websites from your area, or wherever you are planning to wed. The well known ones will easily be found in search engines, and the smaller, unique ones either by word of mouth in your network, or on niche wedding blogs such as junebug for eclectic weddings or deer pearl flowers for rustic weddings, or which ever niche you are in to.
If you are looking in South Africa, a generally great place to look is Confetti.co.za.
Pay attention to reviews on these sites, and visit the vendor’s official website and social media profie to get an idea of their previous work.
Make sure to not just be lured by a nice ad. Always check their background, reviews from previous clients and read their terms and conditions attentively.

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Take inspiration by checking out real weddings or styled shoots on blogs and magazines (it is like reading a vendors portfolio)- not only as inspiration, you can also take advantage of these snippets of insight to vendors potential. Make a shortlist after your research, and call or email them to check availability. Discuss your expectations (set your standard early on, and soon enough you should know who fits your requirement.
Just as when finding a mate, some sort of click is  important, and although you will need to gel with their personal nature, remember that as long as you are in a business contract, to always communicate proffessionally – it will protect you both. Always treat your vendors with respect, even though emotions might be running high at times.

During my search for a hairstylist, I had a trial with a professional and reputable stylist that had been recommended by a good friend. She had a very hip and glamorous hair studio, 20 years experience, great pictures, and did Brides all the time which was all very assuring. But more than I could handle, she had negative remarks about my hair that made me feel less than beautiful.  Eventually I couldn’t bear the thought of letting her near my wedding day – she had already made me feel completely insecure, which is not ideal for my walk down the aisle. My hair was perfectly fine both then and at my wedding. I decided that no matter how great your reputation might be, my stylist need to make me feel good and not terrible about myself.
Lesson learned: ONLY hire vendors you find agreeable and supportive of you. On this important day, you want to be surrounded by reassuring people that make you feel happy.

As much as you choose by their track record, also choose with your instinct. Be discerning – these are people you are going to have to trust with something so precious as your wedding day. This is the time when you are allowed to be ridiculously picky, so choose well.

By starting your vendor research early and being meticulous with your choice, you will have less risk of having to sack a vendor just a few months or weeks before the wedding, when it could be impossible to find a replacement.

 

Once you have hired your vendor and the contract is signed, you have to let go a bit and just trust both your judgment and your vendors ability. If you made your decision wisely, you can feel confident to leave the rest to them. If you can’t relax around them, it will drive both you and them crazy. It is not productive to micro manage vendors when they have done their job many times, nor will they respond well. You chose them because of believing in their skill, so give them a chance to showcase it. Definitely give clear directions and instructions at the start and when it comes to crunch time, but there should be no need to watch their every step. If there are issues, work together professionally.

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We made this list of vendors that you most likely are going to need/ want. Depending on your weddings requirement of course, but this is a indication of what you need people to help you with.
We have put the “big” ones in bold, but YOU are the sole designers of your event, so what you prioritize is uniquely according to your vision! Perhaps you are doing your own flowers, or arriving by helicopter.

Note that some wedding venues will provide their own vendors. Book your venue early and ask to find out if you would be allowed to bring your own. If you are set on a specific photographer, you might have say now to the venue who require that you use theirs as part of the package deal – it might or might not suit you.

The numbers in brackets is how many months ahead you should aim to book them, as a conservative guideline.

  • Wedding venue (12)
  • Wedding planner (12)
  • Wedding photographer (11)
  • Caterer – unless included with venue deal (10)
  • Videographer (10)
  • Ceremony music and/ or vocalist (10)
  • Musicians for cocktail hour and dinner, or someone to manage a playlist (9)
  • DJ, sound system, dance floor (9)
  • Additional entertainment such as live jazz band, ice cream van, fire works or whichever kind your dream wedding calls for (8)
  • Stationery designer and possibly a calligraphist (8)
  • Furniture, linen and table ware rental (check with venue if included) (8)
  • Marquee tent rental; If your outdoor reception needs extra space or proofing against weather uncertainties (7)
  • Additional decor rentals such as ceremony arch, lights and draping (7)
  • Florist (7)
  • Cake baker (7)
  • Day of coordinator (6)
  • As a Bride, you’ll probably want hairstylist and makeup artist for yourself and bridesmaids, and mothers too. (6)
  • Staffed bar, help-your-self mimosa or beer station or similar. (6)
  • Transport: to ceremony, away car after ceremony and for the exit, and car for family. Perhaps guest shuttle if the wedding set up requires it. (5)
  • Parking unless included with venue; if you live in South Africa, a parking guard is almost essential (4)

Pick the vendors who understands your vision and shares your enthusiasm for it. Someone you can count on and can communicate well with  – this is the vendor who will help you reach your dreams.

We at Sheer Ever After at passionate about guiding newly-engaged couples to their Dream Wedding. Check out all our other planning articles for sensible guidance and inspiration for a fuss-free wedding.

Good luck with finding your vendors, and remember to check back in soon for more planning advice!

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