When you first get engaged your life is consumed with nothing but warm congratulations, happy feelings, more hugs than you can count and excitement for days. At some point after the initial excitement slows down you’ll make a startling realization: you actually have to plan a wedding now and aside from watching tv shows about weddings and maybe being a guest at a wedding or two, you don’t know anything about weddings. You know you need cake, food, a DJ, (hopefully a coordinator) and a photographer, but where do you find them? It doesn’t take longer than two minutes on a popular website for brides to realize that Kansas City is not lacking in the wedding industry. Like a vendor version of a popular children’s movie song “We’ve got DJ’s and bakers aplenty. We’ve got planners and photogs galore”…… you get the point. With hundreds of options how do you make sure you pick the right one? You’ve read stories about vendors backing out right before the wedding and if you’re in a social media group for brides you know it happens, seemingly all too frequently. Well here’s the thing: professional and quality vendors should not ever back out of a wedding. If they can’t make it they’ll have a replacement for you and it should take a literal emergency for that to even be needed.
So what DO you look for when it comes to hiring a vendor? Here’s a list of things to look for (and what to look out for):
Well for starters they should present themselves as a professional business. They should have a website, have a contract, have business cards, if they need insurance they should have it, and they should dress like a business professional should. They show up wearing sweat pants and t-shirts at a consultation? No.
Pricing that is comparable to other same category businesses. I know weddings are expensive, trust me I get that and I want each of my couples to have their ideal wedding without having to sell a leg on the black market to fund it BUT if you’ve gotten 5 quotes from different vendors who are between $1000 and $1500 and then you get a quote from someone who’s only charging $500 ask them why and get a legitimate answer to that question. “i just love what I do” generally translates to “I’m a hobbyist and not a professional”. We ALL love what we do.
Contracts. I know I already said this but seriously, a verbal agreement, or even a message on the book of faces won’t force a vendor to show up on your big day. A contract is your best friends throughout the planning process. Make sure each vendor, even hair/makeup artists, have them.
Alright I’m saying contract again, but this time it’s with the intent of pointing out a contract should protect the business and the client. If a contract seems only one sided to you bring that up to the vendor. When you read over vendor contracts there should be clauses in there describing services provided, and there should be a clause describing if they’re unable to attend your wedding. A good contract will state the professional is responsible for providing a back up plan with refund issued if no back up can be found.
Response time! We’re all human, and there are times that life happens and we may not get to an email or forgot to check voicemail and it takes a couple of days to reply. And certainly on weekends I wouldn’t expect a response because that’s all vendors prime working time and each couple should have our full attention at their wedding BUT if you message a vendor and you’re having a conversation with them and each time it takes them days to respond I would ask yourself if you’re comfortable with that. There may be times during the wedding planning process where all the sudden a question comes up and you’ll need a decently timed response. And trust me you deserve a decently timed response!
Transparency in all forms. You want a vendor to be honest and up front about how long they’ve been doing what they do. I commonly get asked how many weddings I have done and that’s a question I lost track of the answer for but I always reply with an honest “I’m not sure but I’ve been planning for 6 years and I like to book ____ amount of weddings each year.”
Industry knowledge. You should be able to ask general wedding questions to just about any vendor and they should know the answer to it. Likewise, vendors should know other vendors and if you’re looking for a vendor suggestion they should be able to give one but if you need multiple vendor suggestions hire me (shameless plug).
Last but not least PERSONALITY! If you’re laid back find a vendor who fits both the professional and laid back feel, if you’re more reserved find someone who keeps you in your comfort zone. You’ll book most of your vendors any where from 9-16 months prior to your wedding date and will have several interactions with them. Your comfort and trust in them is everything!
Photo Credit: Ashley Ice Photography