Wedding Planning Tips: Choosing the Right Vendors

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We hope you’ve enjoyed the first two parts in our four part wedding planning series.

If you haven’t seen the first two posts, I want you to take a minute, stop reading here, and go back to the two. In those posts we discussed some of the important decisions that you need to factor in when you’re searching for the perfect date and the perfect venue for your wedding day. There are some incredibly useful pieces of information that you probably haven’t thought about when you’re making up your mind on two of the decisions that will be central in giving you the best chance at making your wedding day one that you’ll wish you could relive over and over again.

And that’s why we’re doing this series. We have so many clients that have many of the same questions. At the end of the day they all want the same thing. They want an amazing wedding that they can enjoy to the fullest. How do you do it? You put a plan in place and make sure all the right people are where they are supposed to be. It can be done, and YOU can do it. We’re here to help you figure out how.

Weddings are made up of more than just the guests and the bridal party. The single most important decision you make in the planning process is going to be the vendors that you select to take your pictures, make your food, bake your cake, play your music, alter your dress, officiate your ceremony… see what I mean? The cast of supporting characters will spend as much time with you, if not more, than all of the people that have come to be a part of your celebration. So you have to choose them wisely!

In this post we’re going to give you some things to think about, other than cost, in making your decision about your vendors.

wedding planning classImagine a beautiful June day in Nashville. The sun is shining, the birds are singing. All is right in the world. We had a day like this a few years ago. Everything was running perfectly and according to plan. Brian and Amanda couldn’t have been more excited about the day that they had planned. These were two of our best friends and we, for once, had been invited to be a guest instead of having to plan the event. The ceremony was scheduled to begin on a beautiful farm at 4pm. Thankfully there was a wooded area where the ceremony was, and they had a tent in place for the reception (and this was also their backup plan should it rain… remember how important a plan is!?)

For once in our lives we were actually early for a social occasion. We arrived at 3:45 and as we approached the ceremony site we were instructed to stay in a holding area until the photographs were finished at the ceremony site. A bit odd we thought. We are planners, and we always make sure photos before the ceremony are done an hour in advance… but, we weren’t working this day, so we just rolled with it. An hour later, at 4:45 the bride rushed past us, soaked from the heat of the day, almost in tears as she ran to a waiting car to get cooled off and recollect herself before the wedding started… at 5:23.

After the wedding it was time for the guests to head to the cocktail hour and wait for more pictures to be taken with the family. The cocktail hour turned into an hour and twenty minutes and finally at 7pm, a full hour and a half after the reception should have started, we sat down to our tables.

The bridal party was introduced… to say they were less than elated is the understatement of this decade. The buffet line began, and the guests sat down to overcooked and cold food. We calculated that 70% of the guests departed before they even got to their first dance.

So what went wrong?

Their plan had fallen apart for one simple reason. If you don’t have the right people in place to execute your plan, it will fail every time.

Their photographer didn’t get their schedule. He showed up 45 minutes late and then realized that he didn’t have all of the lenses that he needed.

So when photographs ran that far over it caused the food to go bad. The DJ had signed a contract with them that was only good for 8 hours. By the time they got through all of the dances, he had 30 minutes left before his time was up. Luckily he was a pro, and recognizing the fact that everyone else had let them down on this day, extended his time to make sure at least his part was done right.

This is just one example of how having the wrong people in the wrong place at the right time can make for a disastrous outcome.

We’ve seen and heard so many horror stories. People in the kitchen trying to whip up a meal for 250 people because they forgot to book the caterer. A band not bringing speakers because they thought they could plug into the venue system… in a field. An officiant who arrived too inebriated to read the ceremony.

Think it couldn’t happen to you? My gut tells me that none of the people that this happened to thought it could happen to them either.

So what do you look for?

The first thing we always tell people is to ask their friends. Chances are you trust your friends more than just about anyone else. If they are married, and they had a wonderful experience, ask them for referrals.

Next, check out their reviews. We say this with one caveat. It is human nature to read the bad reviews. You want to know, instinctively, why someone felt the need to leave a bad one. Anyone that owns a small business knows the ups and downs of reviews. We live and die by them. So, when looking at reviews make sure you’re looking at the body of work that a particular vendor has done. There are two things you can never know by looking at reviews along; The true intent of the person leaving it and the circumstances surrounding it.

Next, start the interview process. This is incredibly important for your coordinator, your officiant and your photographer. These are three people that will be close to you all day long. If they do good work but they annoy you in the 30 minutes that you spent with them to talk about their service, just imagine how you’ll feel 12 hours into your wedding day! There is someone in your town, that offers the service that you need, that you can get along with.

If a vendor you like does good work, but they annoy you in the 30 minutes that you spend with them, just imagine how you’ll feel 12 hours into your wedding day!

Make sure their style matches your style. You’d be amazed how often we sit in meetings with clients who are dead set on this photographer or that one. Then they show us photos that they love and we can tell them immediately that they’ve chosen the wrong person. Some photographers will only shoot outdoors. Some want an artistic feel and will only shoot the way they want to shoot. Some of them will shoot any angle and in any light that you want… and the photos turn out horrible. The bottom line is that you’re the only one that knows exactly what you want, so do your homework and make sure you’re getting it.

Do you want your food prepared in a certain way? Some caterers will accommodate that, and some won’t.

Do you want someone to sing a song at your reception with their guitar? Make sure that your DJ is equipped to handle all of the inputs that are required for a vocal mic and a guitar pickup.

Thinking of having your mom be the coordinator? Why don’t you make sure and ask her if she’d rather be on the phone all day with lost vendors, lost relatives, lost limo drivers, or if she’d rather enjoy being present with you on the most important day of your life… and the second most important of hers.

From the moment we wake up, and sometimes before, until the lights have been turned off, our phones don’t stop ringing. You don’t want to put someone you love in that position rather than allowing them to enjoy the day with you.

There are a lot of fears that people have when it comes to hiring vendors for their wedding day.

Our favorite is, “You attach the word ‘wedding’ to something and it immediately increases in price 20%.

I can tell you that 90% of the vendors that we work with charge more for their corporate work than they do for weddings. Those that don’t, however, charge more for weddings because of all of the variables that a wedding brings.

Is it going to rain? The photographer has to bring inside and outside equipment. The caterer has the rent a tent to cover the load in and load out.

Do you need them there from 11am until 1am the next morning? That’s a bit different than most corporate gigs.

The bottom line is this, if they charge more for a wedding it’s because the work is more. Not because they perceive you to be a gullible bride.

Think hiring a pro is too expensive? Think back to Brian and Amanda. Their ceremony was ruined, their food was ruined, their reception was ruined. If they had put an extra $500 into their budget for a good photographer none of this would have happened. We say it tongue in cheek, but it really is so true; If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, just wait until you hire an amateur.

And for all of you type A’s by far our favorite is, “I’ll take care of it all myself on my wedding day.”

I don’t just say this because I am a planner. I say this because I truly care about your wedding day. I had the perfect wedding and that’s my desire for everyone I meet. So I’m going to give you this advice and pray that you take it. No matter what else you do, if you don’t hear anything else that we say, please don’t attempt to run your wedding day yourself.

Delegate. Delegate to a planner, delegate to friends. Delegate every detail that you possibly can. It’s ok for others to view your wedding as an event. To you, though, this should be the most special, wonderful and magical day that you’ve ever experience. You shouldn’t have to lift a finger to do anything other than have a ring put on it.

If money is an issue for you, turn every person that you know into a gopher. If money isn’t an issue but control is, have two glasses of wine and delegate from a throne. But under no circumstances should you tie yourself down to the details of a day that you should enjoy with every breath you take.

Trust me. I’ve taken you this far, but if you ignore that one piece of information all bets are off.

So we’ve taken you through the when, the where, and the who. What could possibly be left? In the next post we’re going to discuss how. How does a wedding planner make everything run so smoothly? I’m going to share that secret with you. It’s not earth shattering by any means, but it’s something that we do for every single wedding that we manage and if we didn’t do it the wheels would fall off every… single… time.

Project Wed: A Wedding Planning Academy

Need help planning your wedding? Come and join us for Project Wed: A Wedding Planning Academy!

This eight hour, information-packed course that is going to help you plan your wedding in a single day. Hosted by Sarah Goude, owner of Regalo Design, we’re going to give you the tools you need to take your wedding from DIY to planned by a pro. We’ll cover topics like:

  • Selecting the right date for you
  • The pitfalls of choosing the wrong venue
  • Selecting the right vendors
  • Getting the best deals
  • Choosing the right ceremony
  • Your final timeline
  • And so much more

Event Details

March 7, 2015
8:30am – 4:30pm

The Peacock Ballroom in Lenox Village
6900 Lenox Village Dr, 6th Floor
Nashville, 37211

Reserve Your Seats Today!

Drop Us a Note!

Interested in setting up a free consultation? We’d love to talk to you! Just send us a note using this form and we’ll be in touch right away. We can’t wait to learn more about your wedding and how we can serve you.

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Regalo Design is a Nashville Wedding Planner, Florist & Event Decorator

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