That old adage about taking a village to raise a child also applies to a wedding; any bride or groom can tell you that it took a city (or at least it felt like it!) to turn their wedding day vision into reality. Before you start searching for and contacting your city of wedding vendors, confirm the most vital details like your ceremony site and venue (after all, you have to give the caterer and photographer your location!).
Start by having a conversation with your fiancée (and any family contributing to the big day). Set a budget, estimated guest list (at least, a number), and an idea of the time of year. None of these details need to be final; an estimate is a good start. For the date, for example, have a season or month that you prefer. As you contact wedding venues and ceremony sites (which can be one and the same), give them the season or month and ask for open dates in that period. Tour wedding venues with open dates that fit your criteria, style, and budget. Ask if the venue has an open vendor policy or if the venue has a list of preferred vendors to choose from. Book the venue that checks off all the important boxes, and get ready for the next step: finding vendors that can make the perfect wedding dessert, take fantastic photos and video, serve a scrumptious wedding meal, provide wonderful wedding reception decor…
How to find the right wedding vendors
There are quite a few wedding vendors out there, and just as many different ways to find them. Be cautious about who you hire. Even though your friend or family member might recommend a vendor or the website looks great doesn’t mean they can provide the high-quality service you want. If you feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to ask your venue staff for recommendations (or ask them to coordinate all the vendors as your wedding planner).
As you search for wedding vendors, be concerned about common red flags such as bad business reviews, no business address, or any hint that the company has a lack of experience (and back-ups, just in case!). Instead, look for favorable reviews, photos, videos, and satisfactory business ratings and customers (it doesn’t help if they are excellent at what they do if they can’t manage their appointments and finances).
Once you compile a list of prospective vendors for your big day, schedule face-to-face meetings. Be prepared to walk away from vendors who don’t have a business location to meet, seem inexperienced, don’t listen to you, have hidden fees that push the cost over budget, or want you to sign a contract with fine print that makes you uncomfortable.
Ask your vendors how you should communicate with them in the future. This is important so you don’t feel ignored and get the responsiveness you need as you plan your big day. Make sure they have a line of communication you’re comfortable with; you don’t want to choose a vendor who’s only comfortable with electronic communication and ignores your phone calls (or vice versa).
Wedding vendors to contact
___Wedding Attire (Dress & Tux)
___Invitation Printer (& online invites if applicable)
___Entertainer (DJ or Band)