Selecting the right vendors is one of the most important parts of the planning process and having the right or wrong people in place can be a game changer. Finding the proverbial dream team is a big undertaking, but staying organized, being equipped with the right questions, and doing your homework can make the process a breeze.

Here are some helpful tips to help navigate the process.

Before hiring any vendor, or booking a venue for that matter, having a firm budget, and sticking to it, is key. This will not only help keep you on track, but it will also enable you to focus on hiring vendors that are within your means and will allow those vendors to manage your expectations. Knowing how much you allocate to things like music, for example, could mean the difference between looking for a band or D.J. There is nothing worse than falling in love with something only to find out it doesn’t fit into the budget.

Pro Tip: If your budget is a concern, prioritize what is most important to you. If having gorgeous florals at the ceremony means spending a bit more money there, perhaps you don’t splurge on that five-piece band and go with the D.J. instead. 

Armed with a budget, the next step is figuring out who to hire and when to do it. While everyone works on a different timeline, hiring vendors early on is always a good idea. Not only does having your vendors locked in early help reduce last minute stress, but it also helps ensure you are getting the best and the best tend to book up quickly.

Pro Tip:  If there is a vendor you’re pretty sure you want but aren’t ready to commit to, ask them to hold your wedding date for you. This way you can do more research and not risk them giving your date to another couple.

Next, it’s time to figure out who to book. The abundance of options can certainly be overwhelming and knowing where to start can be intimidating. Most venues have a preferred vendor list and as a rule of thumb, this is a great place to begin. Presumably, the vendors on their list have been thoroughly vetted by the venue, have worked with the property and are familiar with the “ins and outs” of the facility. Reputable websites such as Style Me Pretty and Wedding Wire can also be excellent resources.

Imported Image
Pro Tip: Look out for red flags such as no reviews, slow response time, no galleries of their work online and poor communication.

Choosing a vendor is a bit like dating. In addition to ensuring the vendor works with your budget, it is just as important that they match your style, personality, and overall vibe. You want to make sure they “get you” and the vision you have. You will be working closely with these vendors, sometimes for several months, so it’s important their personality jives with yours or else all those pre-planning phone calls and meetings can be pretty brutal.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list to just a few vendors, the next step is to interview them. A face-to-face meeting is ideal whenever possible because it gives you the opportunity to get a feel for the person, which is just as important as the questions you ask them. Trust is key in hiring the right vendors.

Pro Tip: Don’t overthink it. If you like a vendor, they work within your budget, and it feels right, book them.

Make sure to ask questions. A lot of them. It’s important to be as open and honest with them as possible in that initial meeting when it comes to your budget. Everyone should be on the same page regarding cost and expectations, leaving no room for miscommunication.

Once you’ve found a vendor you love, make sure you get a contract and make sure you read the contract. Thoroughly. Don’t be intimidated by any legal language and if you’re unsure of anything, ask the vendor to explain. The contract should cover the basic points beginning with the date, time and location of the wedding. It should clearly list the vendor’s fee, services being contracted and terms of payment. A cancellation clause is crucial, especially in today’s world. Make sure you understand how you are protected against a no-show situation or cancellation on the vendor’s behalf. You will also want to understand the ramifications should you have to cancel for any reason.

Pro Tip: Wedding insurance is a “thing” and something everyone should understand. Weddings are magical affairs, and no one wants to think of anything going wrong, but things do happen. Different policies cover different things and depending on the type of coverage you want could cost $200 to more than $1,000. Wedsure is a 5-star rated wedding insurance company and a good place to start.

Learn more about Destinations Weddings by ALHI and subscribe to our newsletter.