Now that you have an idea on what kind of wedding you want, where you want to have it and how much you are able to spend, you have the task of securing vendors for your wedding. When booking vendors, be sure to ask a lot of questions. The more you know about a potential vendor, the better equipped you are to make the right decisions for you and your wedding day needs.
The task of organizing and keeping track of vendors, contracts, deadlines, deposits and participants should be done with the utmost attention to detail. Whether you hire a professional, enlist a trusted friend, or coordinate your entire wedding yourself, you’ll need a wedding planner (also known as a wedding binder) to organize all the information. Most planners include a detailed timeline to help you stay on task and a contact sheet to list all participants and vendors with their contact information. Below you’ll find a list of common questions to ask and some important things to consider when interviewing prospective vendors.
Before we move on to specific vendor information, it is imperative that you remember this: make sure you get everything in writing! I can’t stress this point enough. And don’t sign anything until everything is spelled out in black and white. Brides have been burned by either not reading the fine print or neglecting to get a signed copy of the revised contract when a change is made. Without a proper contract, signed and dated by both parties, you have nothing to fall back on in the event that your vendor fails to deliver the “goods”, if you will. Now that’s not to say that all vendors are out to get you. There are, more often than not, wonderful professionals that have your best interest in mind, providing the highest quality product and customer service.
- Can you choose what kind of ceremony you want?
- What are his/her credentials? What kind of experience does the officiant have?
- How often will you meet?
- Do you offer per-marital counseling? If so, how many sessions are there and what is the cost?
- Will the officiant be joining the reception?
- Does the venue have a facility director or on-site coordinator available on the wedding day?
- Can I use my own vendors or do I have to use the venue recommended vendors?
- What is the policy regarding alcohol? Will there be a hosted bar, a cash bar, or a combination of the two? Is there a corking fee?
- Who is responsible for set up and tear down? Any associated fees?
- Will there be parking attendants? Are shuttles available for the elderly or disabled?
- Are there any additional costs-cleaning fees, insurance-fee waivers, etc.?
- Are there any other weddings booked on my day?
- What kind of meal will you have? Buffet? Seated?
- Will there be a cocktail hour before the reception? Will hors d’oeuvres be served? If so, what kind?
- How many courses will there be served?
- What kinds of beverages will be served?
- What size and style of dishes and glassware are available? Is that rented separately?
- Is the wedding cake is included in the price?
- How many serving staff will be needed? Are there overtime charges? Are taxes, and gratuities included?
- Can you accommodate dietary restrictions? Gluten-free? Vegetarian or Vegan options?
- Can you see recent examples of wedding cakes? Can you have a cake tasting?
- Do they do custom cake creations? Cupcake displays? Dessert bars?
- How long before the wedding is the cake made?
- How will the cake be displayed? Is there an extra charge for platter, cake server, utensils?
- What is the per-slice cost breakdown?
- Is there a discount for ordering a groom cake in addition to the wedding cake?
- Can you save the top of the wedding cake?
- If you want fresh flowers on your cake, how will you coordinate getting those flowers from the florist to the baker?
- When will the cake be delivered?
- Can you receive a discount if you order all of your printed materials at one time? (ie: save the dates, invitations, programs, menus, table cards, guest seating chart, etc.)
- What will it cost to mail the invitations?
- What is the turnaround time?
- Will you receive a proof before before it goes to press?
- Are calligraphy services offered? If so, what is the cost?
- Who will handle the assembly and stuffing of invitations?
- How many bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, and corsages will need to be ordered for the entire wedding party?
- Can the florist deliver, arrange and set up decorations for the ceremony and reception locations?
- Do they offer aisle runner, ribbons, and vases? If so, how much?
- Any suggestions for comparable substitutions for flowers if my first choice is unavailable or out of season?
- How long will the photographer or videographer will spend covering the event?
- What will they wear to the wedding? preference for black-and-white, color, or both; and
- Be specific when requesting your choice of formal portraits, candid shots, or a combination.
- Be sure to ask what is included in the total fee. What kinds of albums choices are available? How many prints per album? Can family members purchase their own albums?
- If they offer video services, how many videos are included in that package? Is there an editing cost? What about the cost of materials, hotel stays, and any other extras? Are those included? When you can expect to receive the finished product?
- Do you want transport for just the bride and groom? The wedding party or other guests?
- Does the rental fee include items such as tolls and parking fees?
- How long will the driver be available?
- Does the rental include transport from the reception to your hotel after the wedding?
- Do you have the option of choosing the make and color of the car?
- What amenities are provided inside the vehicle?
- Can you specify the attire of the driver?
The Musicians and/or DJ
- When will the musicians and/or DJ be scheduled to arrive and depart from the reception?
- Who has the authority to let the music go into overtime in the event the party lingers long after the bride and groom make their grand exit?
- For live bands, can you specify specific songs, the duration of sets, and what prerecorded music will be played during the breaks?
- Get in writing the names of the musicians you want performing at your wedding. Also, be sure to specify who you want to replace them in the event of an emergency.
Although the task of finding and securing vendors that can see your wedding vision may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be an entirely stressful process. Being organized is half the battle. At the end of the day, you are going to enjoy your wedding because you are marrying the man you love and celebrating with people who love you.