Having planned weddings for the last fourteen years, I have had the opportunity to work with some incredible suppliers who will move heaven and earth to provide couples with excellent customer service and fabulous value for money.
Whatever your budget or style, there are great people out there waiting to work with you to create your perfect day.
Where to look?
Knowing where to find people is, of course, key. Assuming you have been ‘pinning’, scrapbooking or otherwise pulling together the design you desire, start by looking through bridal magazines and wedding blogs. Many suppliers will have showcase weddings or photo shoots published, giving you an overall idea of who you wish to shortlist.
Wedding fayres or venue showcase events can be great. If you know your venue I would definitely attend any shows they have to meet their preferred suppliers (ie people who know the venue well). If you don’t yet have a venue, attend events at those you like the look and feel of and again you will probably meet likeminded cake designers, photographers etc.
Ask friends, family and any suppliers you have already booked, and trust, for recommendations too. Photographers are a particularly good source of information: it is a rare wedding which doesn’t involve a photographer, but sometimes weddings are held in private gardens, which you’d never find online, and some suppliers don’t even advertise, either because they don’t need to, or because key venues and wedding planners do it for them.
What to ask?
Once you have shortlisted two or three caterers, bands etc. ask for samples of their work and prices.
Do double check people have appropriate public liability, and other industry specific insurances and certification, such as food hygiene. Good suppliers will be happy to show you and should also be comfortable providing you with a couple of recent wedding clients to contact for a reference, once they have checked their clients are happy with this.
Are they interested?
You want to work with individuals who are genuinely interested in working with you, and understanding your specific wishes for your big day. Yes, they may have done hundreds of weddings and this is the first you’ve ever been involved in planning, but that shouldn’t be the point.
For example you want a florist who listens carefully to what you want, looks over any images you share and gets excited with you whilst making helpful suggestions about which blooms are available in October to achieve the look you want. Not someone who appears to want to ‘roll out’ the same arrangements they did for the last wedding at your venue or in your colours.
Much as you may love a supplier’s work, pay attention to how responsive they are to your emails or calls. Now, I am not suggesting you bombard anyone, especially mid season, but when you are at quote stage, or have a specific query, you want to know your communication will be answered within a sensible time frame.
How about price?
I urge you not to make your decisions based purely on price. Of course your budget matters, but if you find the perfect fit and you want to work together, there is often a way to make it happen. I’m not talking about expecting huge discounts: the great suppliers don’t need to discount, but coming to an arrangement whereby perhaps the photographer does a couple fewer hours thereby meeting your budget and keeping everyone happy.
Ladies in particular, trust your intuition, or gut feel, as it’s usually right!
Yes, such and such a supplier’s work may be stunning, but if you’re not entirely sure you’re on the same page, or you feel in any way intimidated by them, that’s really not how you want to feel on your wedding day.
Happy planning all!