Toughen up your negotiating skills, learn savvy secrets of the trade and find out how to have a wedding to remember with an extract from Revelry Events’ eye-opening (and hilarious) guide to planning
Where to find people
There are a hundred different ways wedding professionals can market themselves these days. Fairs, blogs, magazines and social media are a great source of information. But the best place to begin is with word of mouth. Crowdsource recommendations from friends, family and any suppliers you’ve already booked.
Venues often have a list of suppliers they trust, which is a good starting point, but do your own research as well – some venues receive a commission from the suppliers on their list. That’s not to say they’re not good suppliers – it’s just a business arrangement they have with the venue. But it’s okay to ask your venue how it put together its list, just to be sure you’re getting good advice based on previous work and not a wad of cash.
A note on awards and accreditations
The wedding business – from planners and photographers to bloggers and stationers – is largely unchecked and unregulated. This means there are no laws that govern what happens in the industry and no one officially checking that everyone is qualified, experienced and insured.
Anyone can set up a website and start being a wedding pro with the right motivation. We’re not saying this to freak you out. It just means that couples like yourselves have to do a little more digging and due diligence to make sure you’re putting your trust in the right people.
So if they’ve won awards, how recent are they? Check testimonials and Google reviews. Check portfolios include images from real weddings rather than just styled shoots. Styled shoots are creative shoots put together by a collaboration of wedding professionals, often for PR purposes.
They are great to show off creativity and build contacts with other suppliers, but they cannot replace real wedding experience. If the portfolio is not labelled into different real-life weddings albums, the easiest way to tell you’re probably only looking at styled shoots is weddings that don’t include a full set-up shot of the dining room or a real-looking couple.
All wedding professionals have to start somewhere and styled shoots are a great way to do this, but make sure the quote you’re given reflects this. It’s fair to expect a higher fee from a photographer or planner with a hundred weddings under their belt compared to someone who has only done ten.
How to choose
Get quotes from at least three different suppliers to get a sense of cost. There is no one-size-fits-all wedding, but if you get a few quotes you’ll get a feel for the right price and it’ll also help to manage your expectations. We strongly advise a video call or meeting with suppliers you’ll have a more personal relationship with, such as a planner or photographer. You need to feel comfortable with this person during planning and on the day itself.
Once the booking is confirmed and the contract has been signed, give your shortlisted suppliers a courtesy email to let them know you have gone with someone else. Don’t feel bad – they’ll be all right! It’s all part of the gig. But if they know you’ve picked another supplier, it means they can accept another enquiry for your date.
Wait until you’ve signed on the dotted line, though, as most suppliers will reserve your date as default and let you know if someone else wants to take it, but in case it slips through the gap and another couple steal your supplier (scandal!), at least you have a shortlisted option to fall back on.
Read all the contracts very carefully, make a note of when instalments are due and if your suppliers have any special requirements.
When everything does go through and you have 100% confirmed with your supplier, here’s how not to annoy your them (or be annoyed by them):
- Do keep in touch with your suppliers about anything that might relate to their role on your day, but don’t overdo it. If you’ve booked your caterers a year in advance, you don’t need to decide the way the napkins will be folded until much, much later.
- Do be aware you aren’t their only client between now and your wedding.
- Don’t call them out of hours unless you have a conversation scheduled. Yes, we all try to go above and beyond – and since couples usually have nine-to-five jobs, they often only get to wedding tasks out of office hours. But many suppliers work weekends as well as during the day, so their evenings are time for family, friends and binge-watching when possible.
- Do check the rider. Sometimes suppliers, like bands, have riders which outline what they need to have available on the day. This could be anything from bottled water and snacks to oddly specific beer brands and rooms full of kittens (though probably not –unless you can afford Mariah for your entertainment). Check what you’re agreeing to so you don’t fall into any traps.
- Don’t ask suppliers to copy other people’s work (to an extent). Pinterest is a brilliant tool for collecting images of wedding details you like, but don’t use it as a blueprint for your suppliers to replicate exactly. Trust in the expertise of the dream team you’ve chosen to create something unique for you, using your images as a guideline. You paid a lot of money for this person’s skill, so use it and be pleasantly surprised!