A half truth is a whole lie. ~Yiddish ProverbHonesty, which most agree is the best policy, is a character trait valued far above many others. In the wedding world, having a reputation as an honest and trustworthy vendor can skyrocket a company leaps and bounds above other less savory companies. If you are “in the business” it does not take long to know which vendors can be trusted; however, as a bride, it can be difficult to see past the flashy wedding magazine ads, free promotional gifts and the smooth persuasion of a professional shyster. As a wedding planner I have heard countless stories of lost deposits, less-than-desired service quality, and magically disappearing caterers. Nothing distresses me more than a bride in distress and clearly a missing deposit is not the way to begin a happy planning experience! When planning a wedding for someone I tend to stick to a group of vendors (florists, rental companies, caterers, DJs, etc) that I have come to not only know but also respect. This trusted pool of people has been built on years of observance, teamwork and word of mouth; all characters which a bride simply does not have time to gather. Leaning on the knowledge accumulated by both myself and other trusted vendors, I have compiled a short list of tips to help insure your wedding is one filled with promises that come true…
· Seek the help of family and friends…When it comes to choosing vendors do not be afraid to ask around. Just because a photographer has a lovely website or a bakery’s cupcakes are to-die-for does not mean they are the right fit for you. Ask previous clients about the prospective vendor’s timeliness. Did the wedding cake arrive on time? Was the photographer able to engage the wedding party in some unforgettable poses? Check not only with other people that have recently gotten married, but as their family and friends as well. A vendor may be all smiles to a wedding couple but then show a different side to the “lesser” people. Keep in mind that one bad opinion cannot truly represent someone’s reputation, but take everyone’s comments to heart and make then a part of the ultimate equation.
· Ask for references…Never be ashamed to ask a prospective vendor for references. A good vendor will ask you upfront if you would like any additional information on them or the company. Any that act offended by the request to speak to others that have worked with them in the past is probably not someone worth working with any way. I actually enjoy providing references to prospective clients as it ultimately ups my credibility in their eyes a assures them this it not my first rodeo so to speak. Letters of reference along with phone calls or emails are a quick and easy way to find out more about a vendor and what impression they have left with others.
· Take them for a test spin… You may be surprised to find out how many vendors will let you sample their wares. For example, a transportation company may allow you to not only view their available vehicles, but may also agree to a short ride around the block so you can get the feel of what they have to offer. Most all caterers and bakeries offer samples and of course you want to hear a band or singer before the Big Day. Even if a company has not blatantly offered a “sample” of some sort, they are more than likely willing to arrange anything they feel may help them seal the sale. Wedding planners such as myself, as well as floral designers and photographers often carry photo books of past projects and may even invite you to see an upcoming event. Take advantage of offers from prospective vendors; getting to know their work on a different level will only make you more confident about your decision in the end.
· Remember who you are…As most women would agree Carrie’s dress in Sex and the City the Movie was stunning…feather and all. However, if I myself had tried to pull off that look for my own wedding, I would have not only been the laughing stock of the event, but would have also been immensely uncomfortable the entire time. When sitting down to choose your vendors never forget who you and your fiancé are and what you want to accomplish during your wedding. For some, a wedding is a sacred event accompanied by a six course meal and a jazz trio. For others, a lovely garden and violinist are all they need to achieve wedding bliss. Remember who you and your fiancé are, the life you have already created together and what you want your guests to remember before you launch into signing contracts. Just because a particular vendor worked well for a friend does not mean they are the best fit for your day. Do your homework by not loosing yourself in over-the-top ideas and you will remember your day with fondness for years to come.
In truth there are many more steps to weeding through the sea of vendors available to you for your Big Day; however, the most important thing to remember is to trust your instincts and of course do not forget to share your thoughts with your partner. Ladies, you may be surprised at how perceptive a man can be when he knows how much money is being spent! Work together to find the vendors that not only can produce a beautiful product, but can also make you feel like the most important couple they have ever worked with. Do not be timid about putting them to the test. Vendors are there to work for you and should be prepared to prove their worth.