7 Tips for Choosing the Best Wedding Vendors
They say it takes a village to raise a child... but it might take 2 villages to plan for a wedding. The world is filled with great florists, venues, caterers, and it seems like a new photographer is popping up every 10 minutes.
I won't lie - I had a pretty easy time choosing vendors for our wedding. We are fortunate to have some pretty wildly talented friends and family who are willing to work with us and make our wedding perfect. But it has taken a lot to get everything coordinated, planned, and figured out down to the last tiny detail.
Hopefully you find these tips helpful, because I wish I had known some of them sooner in my wedding planning journey.
A Real Life Guest List
It can be easy to get swept up in planning a wedding for 200+ people, but think about it. Do you want all 200 of those people memorialized in your photos? Narrow down a list of friends and family that are most important to you. If you and your fiancee are having a hard time shrinking down the list, try this: Separately, write down everyone you must have the wedding, in 60 seconds. Compare lists. The people who came first are definite guests. The people that perhaps the two of you left off may not make the final cut.
Passion Drives Priority
Take time with your fiancee to think about your passions and how they can be reflected in your wedding celebration. There are so many amazing ideas for weddings that nothing is going to be too off the wall or too conservative. The wedding should reflect the things you both are passionate about. If you both enjoy spending time outdoors, perhaps you have a more whimsical outdoor fairytale wedding. For the foodies, maybe ditch a traditional caterer and have a few of your favorite food trucks cater the wedding. Whatever colors, songs, books, or themes dominate your attention, plan around that.
The Budget is Boss
This should go without saying, but plan within your budget. When you get engaged, it needs to be a conversation you have early on with your fiancee and parents, or whomever is paying for the wedding. If your budget is small, then don't plan a wedding for 200 people. However, a luxury wedding is not out of the question. There are many ways to have your dream wedding on a smaller budget: Find a location in a suburb or town outside of a city center and scour Pinterest for DIY decorations. Etsy is another place that is great to find decorations for half the cost of wedding boutique. Your wedding can be ultra glam and reflect you and your fiancee's taste without breaking the bank. You might just have to get creative.
Ask Vendors for Referrals
One of the best places to find other vendors within your budget are other vendors. Your venue may have a list of preferred vendors for caterers, DJ's, bakeries, or even wedding planners - and generally, the options range from affordable to extravagant. Vendors have a huge network within the wedding market, so it's likely they have learned who they like to work with and who they don't. Find vendors that work well together and you'll feel more confident in your wedding day going smoothly.
Take Recommendations Lightly
Maybe your cousin's friend got married last year and has a whole list of vendors that she thinks will be helpful to you. Or perhaps your mother has the best idea for your reception. While having options are nice, take recommendations lightly. Other people won't have the same taste or preferences as you and your fiancee so while they think they had the best ever reception hall, it might not align with your theme or budget. That being said, it doesn't hurt to entertain options. You might come across a great suggestion and that will be hard to dismiss. So take all suggestions lightly and don't lose sight of the wedding you want most. We found our DJ by asking friends and we found someone who is the perfect fit.
So not all recommendations are bad.
Pick Vendors that Reflect Your Style
Thank goodness for the internet, because it makes choosing vendors a lot easier. While there are more options, you can also get a better idea of vendor's portfolios and style. Venues have images of many different events they've hosted to showcase the versatility of the space, photographers have extensive portfolios of weddings they've worked, and caterers have sample menus. If you want a classy, glam wedding, look for venues that are historic or are classic venue spaces. Don't pick a modern, industrial wedding space. Photographers generally have a style for their images, regardless of the subject or event. Some use light and sun to their benefit to create light, etherial images, while others use color contrast to make their subjects "pop." Find a style of photo you like and choose a photographer around that. We are blessed to live in a world with a thousand options, making it simple to find vendors that reflect your style and taste.
Know When to Walk Away
If you're not happy with a vendor, express your concern before flying off the handle and becoming Bridezilla. You may be able to compromise, or come to an understanding where you are happy with the solution. If your vendor is really unable to meet your requests and work as a team player, then it might be time to part ways. While that can be daunting and make you feel uncertain about your big day, you will be happier in the long run by choosing a more suitable vendor.
Our vendors have been nothing short of fantastic and accommodating - fitting our style and budget. Some were recommendations, some are friends/family, and others are vendor referrals. Don't feel like you have to plan everything without help.
Caterer: Santoni's Marketplace & Catering // Photographer: Tyler Lyons Photography
Venue: Chase Court // DJ: Music Masters of Maryland //Dress: David's Bridal
Florals: Florals Unique // Rings: Harry K Jewelry
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