Confessions of a Philadelphia Bride | Dos and Don’ts for Choosing Your Wedding Vendors
You’ve filled your Pinterest with a cohesive style and vision but now you need to find the perfect vendors to execute that vision. The vendor selection process is quite the whirlwind that starts almost immediately after you’ve chosen your date! Embrace this decision-making process – it’s your chance to make your dream wedding a reality! But, since I know it’s not that easy — here are a few tips, tricks, and suggestions for researching, choosing and communicating with your vendors!
Do: Have in-person meetings with as many vendors as possible.
Communication via email, text or even phone calls is much different than getting to know someone face to face. In person meetings allow both you and your potential vendor to see personality traits and click on a whole new level. In my opinion, floral design meetings are a must – meeting the Carl Alan team in person and seeing their passion for my wedding, made the decision easy for me when it came to floral and event design!
Do: Take notes before, during and after your meetings!
Before – write down what you learn during your online stalking…I mean..researching sessions. Take notes of any questions that come up/things you want more information about. During – lots of information is going to come your way during the first in-person meeting. Be sure to take notes and highlight the things that mean the most to you and your wedding. After – take a second after the meeting ends to decompress and write down any unanswered questions or things you may have missed during the meeting. The next day, take the opportunity to follow-up, thank the vendor for their time and ask them the questions you forgot to mention. This also gives you some insight into their communication skills and how quickly they respond to you!
Do: ASK around. I found almost all of my wedding vendors through word of mouth referrals or vendor referrals!
Thank goodness Vito (Vice President/Floral Artist at Carl Alan Floral Design) suggested Maggpie Rentals for my furniture – they were a dream to work with and perfect for my style! After I received a referral, I took it upon myself to research their work – not only the portfolio on their website or the gorgeous pictures that have been featured on blogs, I took to Instagram as well. Their photo captions, lifestyle and inspiration pictures helped me get to know their personalities and see if we would mesh well together! This one goes for your photographer especially — you have to feel comfortable with them! Lucky for me, Shaun Reilly was a family friend that has worked many events for my mother in law. But when I took to his Instagram, I knew his intuitive eye for the perfect lighting was going to be amazing at the Free Library of Philadelphia!
Do: Create a workflow and establish a communication plan with each vendor.
Although your wedding is the only wedding you’re thinking of, be mindful that many (if not all) of your vendors won’t even start thinking about your wedding until about 1 month out. Having a workflow and communication plan will help ease the stressful thoughts about when and how often to check in with those vendors.
Do: Set expectations when it comes to communication with all vendors!
This is for leading up to and on your wedding day. Are you the type of person who likes phone calls only? Texts only? Strictly emails? Establish a communication technique that works well for all parties and schedules involved. Also, on the wedding day, be sure to create and distribute a communication plan — no vendors are to call the bride!
Do: Stay organized!
I am very old school in this respect, so I kept a wedding notebook with me at all times for notes, contact names, phone number, and emails — I was able to write notes/questions anytime they hit. It was also great to have all notes in one spot when speaking to my catering contact, I could refer to the details from all vendors. Once the need for note taking was complete and as my wedding day approached, I created a contact info spreadsheet to be distributed to my mom, mother in law and maid of honor. I also kept all wedding emails very organized via folders in my Gmail inbox and kept a printed copy of contracts/scope of work to refer to in a pinch.
Don’t: Price shop!
I know lots of vendors are throwing up praise hand emojis for this one! Like most services, it’s almost impossible to compare two vendors apples to apples. When you are shopping for a vendor, instead of looking at price first – look at the style and their brand to ensure it matches the style you want for your wedding, then talk pricing. Pricing — a conversation that should be had face to face! Some photographers have an a la carte option to make their service more affordable and most florists will suggest more affordable flower options to keep their prices reasonable. There are other vendors where pricing is non-negotiable – with these vendors, you should feel comfortable asking them for suggestions or referrals for vendors that are in your budget. The wedding industry is very small and tight-knit – there’s a high likelihood that they will have a great referral! In this case, you should also repay the favor by referring them to your friends getting married as well.
Don’t: Continue shopping once you’ve made a choice. This will drive you crazy — I speak from experience!
Once you make the decision and sign on the dotted line – cross it off your list and do not look back. Having to make lots of big decisions in a short period of time can cause our brains to question every decision once we have a second of downtime! Have faith in not only yourself but also in the vendors you chose. If you’re having a tough time with this, go back to the notes you took during/after vendor meetings – this will help reiterate and reinforce why you chose them!
Do: Trust and let go.
This is much easier said than done, but after all the research you’ve done in choosing your vendors – at some point, you need to put your trust in their hands and let go. If you’ve done your homework, choose the vendors that know your style and portrayed your wants and needs – they will make it happen!