Vendor Advice

By Kristen Castillo

October 29, 2010 5 min read

Even if you just got engaged, chances are you've been planning your wedding for a long time. You know what you want to wear, the menu for the reception and your first dance song.

Still, you might not even think about some of the planning tips wedding professionals want to share.

*Look for Quality

Don't just hire the first wedding vendor you meet. Be choosy to get the best options for your event.

"Find quality vendors who know what they are doing," says Beth Outman, operations coordinator at RiverMill Event Centre. "Take the time to research them and ask for references. Once you have quality vendors, it will make planning the party a piece of cake!"

*Set a Budget

Outman also recommends "creative planning" through Web resources to help figure out your budget.

"There are many great tools out on the Web right now, at The Knot, WeddingWire, etc.," she says. "Experiment with these tools to get an idea of how best to allot the money available. Take these budgets and the estimates provided by the vendors you're speaking to and see how they are comparing."

*Get a Sneak Peak

Check out entertainment professionals before you hire them.

"See how they act and how they carry themselves," says Peter Merry, the Wedding Entertainment Director and author of the new book "The Best Wedding Reception ... Ever!"

"Get a taste of the people, their skills and capabilities," says Merry, who recommends watching unedited video of the entertainers in action.

"The biggest thing to know is you're hiring entertainment, not just music," Merry says. "You need to think about the person on the mic, the master of ceremonies."

*Prioritize Your Day

"Don't sweat the small stuff," says Laura Parker of Laura Parker Photography. "I tell them they need to prioritize what the three most important things are to them," says Parker, who finds that most couples already know what they want.

*Be a Good Communicator

You need to feel comfortable with your wedding vendors and be able to communicate with them.

Ask your vendors how they prefer to communicate with you. Outman says she prefers e-mail. "It allows both the bride and vendor to have written documentation of discussions for future reference. (It) also allows both the flexibility of sending at any time of day or night."

Let your vendors know how frequently you want to be in touch, and find out how soon they'll get back to you.

*Take Charge

Parker suggests brides and grooms check out vendor reviews from recent newlyweds. "Reviews are the biggest new virtual marketing hiring tool for brides and grooms," she says.

Don't wait a long time to make a decision. The longer you wait the smaller your chances are of getting the vendor you want.

*Deal With Stress

Wedding stress is inevitable for most brides and grooms. Whether you exercise, take power naps or get a massage, find a way to work through your stress.

Outman recommends delegating planning tasks to your parents and taking a break from wedding planning for a date night.

*Avoid Sparkles

Parker advises brides to stay away from shiny, glittery makeup.

"I'm not a fan of glittery makeup because it sparkles in photos and needs to be Photoshopped," Parker says.

Parker, who recently shot the wedding of former "Bachelorette" Melissa Rycroft to Tye Strickland, also suggests professional makeup.

"I'm a big fan of eyelash extensions. They're spectacular." Parker says. "Professional makeup is exceptional."

*Be Prepared

"Fun doesn't just happen," says Merry, who reminds brides and grooms to focus on the wedding they want to have. "It requires planning and preparation."

"Most couples want to make the wedding unique to them," Merry says. "They want to make sure what they're delivering feels like them."

*Maximize Photo Opportunities

"Shooting engagement photos is a getting-to-know-you session," says Parker, who uses these sessions to teach grooms how to dip the bride.

She also suggests couples enjoy their first kiss. Holding the kiss for a moment should result in great kiss photos, but Parker says there's more to it: "This kiss sets the tone for the rest of your marriage."

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