By Dee Gaubert | Owner, No Worries
Every year as the holidays roll around, the wedding industry clamors about “engagement season”- and yeah, this is the time, from December through January, where we get super busy taking incoming inquiries and generally book up to 60% of our dates for the coming year. It’s appropos then to share some insight about booking wedding vendors.
Remember, there is no real barrier to entry for most wedding vendors.
A DJ has to have specific technical skills, sure, but has he or she practiced mc’g in front of large crowds? A florist doesn’t necessarily need to be formally trained to start his or her own business. And wedding planners and coordinators need really NO technical training, nor does there seem to be any formal qualifications and standards set by a leading organization to follow. (Corporate planners can get their certified meeting planner designation, which is respected as definitive by the industry, but in the wedding world there are a variety of certification programs by competing organizations for weddings and none of them are considered “the” one to get.)
So when you interview a prospective vendor, it’s good to see how they are viewed in the industry. Do numerous venues sing their praises? Is their Yelp page full of 100s of reviews? (Remember, Yelp isn’t the end-all be-all of legitimacy, but it is a good indicator that a business has been around for a bit.) They don’t need to have graduated from “DJ School,” but they should have a solid level of experience and savvy in what they do.
Benchmark prices carefully.
I know weddings aren’t cheap these days, and it’s a struggle couples go through. But if you go cheap on a vendor, you’ll pay a price. I’ve had weddings where, to the person, the vendors that were charging below-market price were the ones with which we had significant issues – including a florist that was sloppy and left damage at a venue that would have cost the client hundreds to thousands in their security deposit. (The florist came back later and managed to fix the damage.)
First, put together a solid, cohesive budget. Then, carefully compare prices from competitors in a variety of categories. If there is a vendor that is significantly less expensive, there are a few reasons why: 1. They may have another job, which isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s important to make sure they will uphold reasonable work ethic and response times, which is easy to check by calling a few references; 2. They may be just starting out – so it’s important to see what prior experience they have, since anyone can pretty much get a business license for performing work in the wedding industry; and/or 3. They do a very high volume of work for very low prices. I speak from experience when I say this means you will get a longer response time and less of a personal touch from these vendors, nearly every single time. For a wedding cake, maybe (maybe) this is no problem. For a photographer or DJ, you will want a more intensive flow of communication.
A good wedding vendor sets boundaries.
My life changed a few years ago, when I added office hours to my contract. A good vendor has good boundaries, and ultimately they help the client. It’s important to know when wedding vendors are usually available (this blog post is helpful as to what is typical in the industry), and to understand that if a vendor can compartmentalize when and how they work for you, they can manage your event better because they are focused on pre-set, efficient work hours and deadlines and can be super productive in the times they devote to your project.
Does that mean I haven’t squealed with delight and texted right back to a client who shot me a photo of her dream dress at 7pm on a Monday night? Or that I haven’t suggested a Skype at 8pm with an out-of-state client that works 60 hour weeks, or a weekend walkthrough of a venue? Of course, I am flexible and meet clients halfway whenever possible with my time. But be aware, and respectful, of wedding vendors, and ask ahead about when they usually take appointments and correspond with clients.
For more solid, realistic advice, my guide the Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths will steer you well; and hang around our Facebook page to learn when we’ve posted a new article on the blog. Happy Planning!