Wedding vendors play a unique role in your big day.
These individuals that were once strangers, invade your intimate space &
create the magic that your wedding day dreams are made of.
Simply put, you and your fiancé are the catalyst for this transformation. YOU have the power to define what qualities you want in the service providers surrounding you on your wedding day. In our experience, most couples start the planning journey by browsing through vendors. It usually begins organically from the rush of the proposal to asking friends & family, Google searches, reading "Top 10" lists for their area and getting lost in Pinterest and Instagram.
The problem with jumping right into the fun stuff is that the critical step of defining what you want is skipped completely. Subconsciously, you may find yourself expecting an inferior experience from vendors. What you want begins being formed from what you see, read, and hear about.
...But is that really what both of you desire?
I know it is so challenging to put on the breaks when you are ready to go 100 miles per hour planning your wedding, but stopping to give yourself and your fiancé space to consider what you want will make all the difference.
Before Google and social media start bombarding you with seemingly endless choices, having a clear picture of what you want in each of your Big 5 vendors - venue, photographer, videographer, DJ and florist - will help you navigate through all the options thrown at you. You will be able to quickly see which vendors would be a good fit and which you should walk away from. With a zillion decisions to make when planning your wedding, being able to say yes and no quickly will protect your emotional health.
So...CONGRATS! You are engaged to your person, the one that makes your heart skip a beat and brings a smile to your face. Share those ring shots with family, friends and spam your social media feed! Next up, planning a wedding. (EEK!) Take some time to sit down together, maybe for an intimate dinner at home or an evening at your favorite coffee shop or brewery and start making lists. (Sexy, I know.)
This is the golden opportunity to share your expectations and wedding dreams with each other...and list it all! Don't hold back. Don't restrict yourselves to a real or assumed budget. Don't be constrained by where you live. Like a vision board, this is where both of your dreams come to life.
Here are some general questions to get you both started:
- How do I want to feel on our wedding day?
- What kind of weather or location would my dream wedding take place in?
- Who will be with us and how will they be feeling?
- What can we do on our wedding day that will be uniquely us?
Now, move into vendor specific questions.
This is what you want to receive from your vendors, specifically the experience you want to have with them and the results you want them to produce. Ask these questions about the Big 5 - venue, photographer, videographer, DJ and florist. If you are on a roll, move on to other vendors or save that for later. You may find it is easier to visualize what you want in all of your vendors when you have done this exercise for your Big 5. Also, your answers may be the same across all of your dream vendors, or they may be very different. Remember, there is no right or wrong here...this is your unique dream vendor list!
Here are some vendor specific questions to kick it off:
- What kind of style do I want my vendor to have?
- Do I want a team or a single person providing this service?
- What kind of personality should they have?
- How much experience do I want? Does this matter?
- When they communicate with me, how do I want to feel?
- What do I expect from them before my wedding day? On the day? After?
- In what ways will they make me feel like a priority?
Let the conversation flow...you may end up asking completely different questions, which is great! Only you two know what transforms a vendor into your dream vendor!
Once you have your lists, talk through them together one vendor at a time. Start with your Big 5, simply because these are the vendors you will want to book first.
As you talk through each completed list together, you may find that some aspects you thought you wanted, you no longer care about anymore. Simply cross those out and move on. The process allows for you to change your mind! You should be left with a mix of anything-is-possible aspects and practical descriptors.
Congrats! You have crafted an intentional definition of each of your perfect vendors. Now is the fun part, finding real life vendors that fit flawlessly into your mold. As you hear of or research vendors on your own, hold them up to your lists. Research should start with checking out that vendor's website and social media, and if those match with your wants, then fill out their contact form and book a meeting with them. If they don't typically offer a zoom or in person meeting, but you really love what you are seeing so far, ask for one. Seeing their face, how they respond to your questions and how they interact with you and your fiancé will give you priceless information to make your decisions.
Note: if there are vendors that are still in the "hmmm, maybe!" zone after checking out their online presence and they do not offer a meeting, consider putting these directly on a maybe list or just forgetting them all together. When a vendor does not prioritize meeting you and getting to know you, that is a huge red flag in our book. We require a meeting with interested clients, because we want to ensure we can meet (and exceed) their expectations and that our process and style is a perfect fit for their vision. Any vendors who do not take the time to do this may not be consistent with the image they are portraying online... and, furthermore, they may not prioritize communication with their clients leading up to the wedding day. We are busy, but frequent and clear communication is one area we do not sacrifice!
Now fast forward through the vetting process, to finding your dream vendor (yay!)...how do you rectify practical things, like budget, with a dream vendor that doesn't match up in that area?
Here are a few suggestions for snagging your dream vendor that is out of your budget:
- Ask family to contribute towards your vendor rather than giving a gift. Be sure to communicate just how much this specific vendor means to you and how important it is to have them be a part of your wedding day. Most family will be more than happy to give towards something that will make your wedding day dreams come true!
- Ask the vendor if they will work out a payment plan that gives you room to breathe. There can be flexibility on downpayment and payments with many vendors. If they don't offer (most don't), just ask. Propose a plan that would work for you or ask what options are available. Likely, your dream vendor also sees you as a dream client and will gladly accommodate!
- Move the budget around. For example, if you have uncovered your dream venue that checks all the boxes but you can't swing the cost using the above suggestions, look at the other areas in your budget and see what you can shift. Don't be afraid to make changes to the budget as you work through your vendor bookings.
- Ask your vendor if they have any referral bonuses or programs. Spoiler, vendors seriously appreciate referrals ;) If you love to gush about how amazing your vendors are, it never hurts to ask if they will give you money towards your remaining balance or other perks for your friends and family booking with them. Just be sure to tell your people to mention that you specifically sent them so you can rack up those rewards!
Weddings bring out lots of hidden expectations. Expectations from immediate family, from friends, and from yourself. Starting with a clean slate and intentionally defining you and your fiancé's uninfluenced desires gives you both a breathing space to think outside of all those expectations. No matter who expects what, it is the two of you, celebrating joining forces for a lifelong partnership, that is the reason and focus of your wedding day.