So once you have a wedding venue and date, what inevitably comes next is hiring wedding vendors. Or in other words, the rest of your team.
And this whole process, like finding a venue, can take a while.
It can also be confusing, frustrating or just plain overwhelming.
Because it’s not just one vendor you’re hiring, but many. Five, ten, fifteen or twenty even!
And that’s a lot!
So, here to help you is Stephanie!
In this Part 7 installment of a wedding planner turned bride’s journey, it’s all about hiring your wedding vendors.
And make sure you check out all of the tips and info from Stephanie and Kirk’s wedding planning journey from the beginning:
Engagement ring shopping online (part 2)
How to start planning your wedding (part 3)
How to create your wedding budget (part 4)
Wedding dress shopping (part 5)
Finding the wedding venue (part 6)
So, let’s pick up the story where we left off …
Once Kirk and I had our wedding ceremony and reception venues booked, our planning really picked up speed.
We were excited to have a date and didn’t want to lose any of the momentum we gained after months of waiting the pandemic out.
So we flung ourselves into the search of hiring wedding vendors.
It was very overwhelming at first, but we were able to find vendors we liked and book them quickly!
I’m so grateful that it wasn’t a long process, which it definitely can be.
So, I want to share a few tips on how we approached our search. I want to make it as efficient as possible for you!
In many ways, finding our wedding vendors followed the same steps that we took to find our venues. So check that out if you haven’t yet!
OVERWHELMED BY OPTIONS
Depending on where you live or where your wedding is located, there can be A LOT of wedding vendor options.
Kirk and I live in the Bay Area, and there are dozens if not hundreds of wedding vendors in each category alone!
We were immediately overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice confronting us.
It was even more overwhelming in instances when we didn’t know exactly what we wanted.
*PRO TIP: If you’re feeling unsure or overwhelmed, cast a wide net. Casually peruse the vendor options out there and make note of the ones that immediately speak to you. Then look for keywords that will allow you to find similar options.
So, for us, when we were looking for photographers, we found that the ones who wowed us captured couples laughing and relaxed. The ones that caught people in the moments between poses for the camera.
We noticed the photographers we liked used words like ‘candid’ and ‘documentary style’ to describe their work. So we used those terms to find similar options.
DOING YOUR RESEARCH
So, how do you know if a wedding vendor is any good?
It sounds weird to recommend internet stalking as a course of action, but when it comes to researching wedding vendors, it’s good to do some snooping!
First, start with the obvious, check out their reviews to see if past clients have been happy.
*PRO TIP: Reviews will not only give you an idea if other couples have liked that wedding vendor, but what they liked about them. If what they say resonates with you, then it’s a good fit.
After you check out their reviews, check out social media sites like Instagram for more photos and examples of their work.
Make sure to look at what they’ve been posting, as well as what they’ve been tagged in too.
For me, Instagram was particularly helpful when looking at makeup artists whose websites were lacking in photos or maybe felt a bit dated.
And when you’re doing your stalking (AKA research), here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you like everything that you see?
- Does the style or quality of their work seem consistent?
- Do they work frequently and/or seem to have a lot of experience?
- Do you like their personality and philosophy when it comes to weddings, their process and what’s important? (this you’ll get more from their wording than the image/portfolio itself)
If you’re navigating a lot of vendor options, it’s okay to be quite picky.
You want to narrow down to no more than a few options that you really like and want to reach out to.
*PRO TIP: With lots of options, being picky is actually a good thing because it helps to narrow the field. And less options is good thing, not just for your brain, but your time.
THE WEDDING SURGE
So, of course we’re not just planning a wedding, we’re planning a wedding post-pandemic.
And now that things have reopened, the wedding surge is real.
Because so many couples are now planning their weddings after a year or more of waiting.
And the rush, surge, boom, whatever you want to call it, is real!
I know firsthand how disappointing it is to reach out to a vendor you’re interested in only to find out that they’re unavailable. Or what it’s like to reach out to a vendor and not hear back for weeks and weeks because they’re so busy.
*PRO TIP: Avoid dilly dallying when there are vendors you know you’re interested in. And have a plan B in case your top choice isn’t available. Maybe even a couple of plan B’s.
But just because there is a wedding surge that doesn’t mean you should rush head first into hiring wedding vendors because you’re anxious no one will be left.
You can always ask if they’ll soft hold the date for you while you’re talking. Because it’s important to take the time to talk to them before you book them!
It’s important to see if you have a good rapport with them and if you connect with them.
Because you’ll be working closely with your wedding vendors in the lead up to your wedding. You’ll be exchanging lots of emails and phone calls and they will also be surrounding you and supporting you on the actual day!
So, in addition to liking their work, you want to make sure that you like them as people too.
So make sure to meet them! Talk to them! Don’t be afraid to ask them all your questions!
*PRO TIP: Don’t just ask questions of your wedding vendors, but pay attention to how they answer. Because sometimes it’s not about getting the “right” answer, but how they answer that’s important.
And if you absolutely have to, you can book your wedding vendors without doing a hair & makeup trial or a tasting, but definitely still do one!
Also on the topic of post-pandemic wedding demand, give yourself plenty of time to acquire your marriage license!
In my experience, appointments to apply for a marriage license are in much shorter supply, at least in the Bay Area. Waitlists in many counties are currently a month long, if not longer.
LISTEN TO YOUR GUT
Finally, I think the number one thing that helped our wedding vendor search move along was just listening to our feelings. Both in the beginning of our search and at the end.
At the beginning, when there were too many options, Kirk and I whittled down our choices by only selecting vendors whose work jumped out at us and felt special to us. Of course, budget was a factor and that eliminated some choices too.
Then, if we liked their work and their pricing, we ultimately chose our vendors based on who we liked the most. We chose the wedding vendors who we connected to when we talked to them.
Rather than go back and forth over minute differences between multiple options, we just went with our feelings.
We went with what felt right for us.
As long as you’ve done the research, you don’t need a million options with a huge pros and cons list.
It’s okay to just go with what feels good!
I hope these tips help make finding your wedding vendors easier and more efficient during this post-pandemic wedding craziness.
As for my wedding, I can’t wait to let you know how it all turns out!
Stay tuned for the next installment in Stephanie and Kirk’s wedding planning journey! Till then, if you have any questions, please let us know in a comment below.
And if you’re looking for help planning your wedding, we walk you through hiring all of your wedding vendors in detail in Passport to Joy. To learn more about becoming a Passport to Joy member, click here.