Working with the Pros
Plan and plan, cross your “t's” and dot your “i's,” but on the wedding day, your plans are in the hands of your vendors. The relationship you establish with your wedding vendors plays a major role in the success of the wedding day. If chosen wisely, vendors will be great allies. Research their qualifications and make sure you and the vendor have a good rapport and see eye to eye personality- and style-wise.
Finding the One
The ads in bridal magazines and on the web are so confusing. Everyone says they are “the best.” How do I really know if a vendor is reliable and trustworthy? These ads are placed by the vendors themselves, so of course they are going to be glowing endorsements. Search the Internet for reviews about the vendor. Unhappy brides tend to find a way to make themselves heard. Also ask each vendor for references, but keep in mind that vendors are not going to give you the phone numbers of people who are unhappy with their services. Finally, ask your wedding planner or your location manager for recommendations.
The DJ we have selected is part of a large company that employs many different entertainers. How do I know who will be at my wedding? You have to ask what the company's policy is, and you have to get a particular DJ's name on your contract to ensure that is who will be there on your wedding day. If the company is not willing to accommodate this request, decide if this variable is something you can live with. When you interview this company, always ask to meet with the person you would like to hire and see or hear samples of his work if applicable. If a vendor will be working closely with you on the wedding day, consider his personality too; you should actually like him if he is going to be with you all day. Entertainers and some photography studios, wedding planners, and videographers work this way.
A vendor came highly recommended to me, but thus far I am not happy with his customer service. I want to hire him, but should I be concerned? You should be concerned. She may be very busy, which is understandable, but she should be courting you for your business. If this is a service or product you feel you cannot live without, you will have to make the decision about whether or not to try and work with her. If she is handling her business with you like this now when she presumably doesn't even have a contract or a deposit yet, do you really think it will get better once she gets paid?
Once you have found the perfect vendor, it doesn't matter how friendly you are; this is still business! You must get a written contract that states the facts: dates, times, names, locations, cancellation policies, and payment schedules. Remember, it has to be signed by both parties.
We interviewed a number of photographers and have finally made a decision. Do I need to tell the ones we didn't choose that we will not be using them? You have no obligation to tell a vendor you will not be using him. However, a quick e-mail, note, or phone call to let that vendor know you have chosen another is a courtesy. The vendor can then open up his schedule and cross you off his list. Some vendors are bold and may ask why you didn't select them or who you did select. You do not have to answer these questions if you do not feel comfortable doing so.
I really love this photographer, but I know she is way out of my budget. My friend told me to meet with her anyway, because all vendors negotiate their prices. Is this true? If you really like her work, call and talk to her first about your wedding date. Be truthful about your budget; otherwise you will be wasting the vendor's time as well as your own. Some vendors tweak their pricing for off-season weddings or for short notice bookings, but not all vendors negotiate their prices. It may be an option to have this photographer take engagement pictures or other photos that may not be included in a typical wedding photography package.
To officially book a vendor for your wedding date, you need a contract. With the contract, expect to pay a nonrefundable deposit (usually 50 percent) at the time you book the vendor; the remaining balance will usually be due two weeks prior to the wedding date. Do not consider a vendor “yours” until you have a signed contract.
My florist and I are not seeing eye to eye. Can a bride fire a vendor? Before you fire anyone, suggest to the florist you both sit down and figure out what is going on. There was a reason you hired her in the first place; let's see if you can get back to that point and start fresh. If there is no hope for this, then parting ways may be the best thing for both of you. But you must take a couple of things into account: First, when is your wedding? Is it far enough out that you will have time to find and work with another florist? Secondly, you may not get your deposit back, so you could end up being out some money. Additionally, depending on when the wedding date is, you may actually owe the florist some money if she has already ordered flowers or supplies that she cannot return. If this is still what you want, let the florist know with a phone call and then follow up with a written confirmation.
Do we need to feed the vendors at the wedding? Many of the vendors will be with you all day and you want them to be on top of their game. A short break to have a meal and a beverage really is not too much to ask. Some vendors even have this written into their contracts. Make arrangements with the caterer for vendor meals, and provide the vendors with a table (far from the guest tables) or a nearby room to eat their meal.