The main thing to keep in mind — when starting your search for wedding vendors — is that you are first and foremost looking for a reliable, trustworthy, and honest wedding vendor. No shady crooks here, please!
If you’re going to sign a contract with anyone and fork over a 50% deposit check — months before the wedding — you really want to make sure all your vendors show up on your big day, and act with the utmost professionalism.
So with that in mind, it’s a good idea to start looking for ways to find great wedding vendors soon after your engagement day. Some vendors have to be booked months — sometimes a full year or more — in advance. Think mostly of the venue, caterer, photographer, DJ, wedding band, etc. If they are in popular demand or have a busy schedule, you should definitely book them early to avoid disappointment.
How to Find a Wedding Vendor (With A Great Reputation)
First would be to check with family, friends and co-workers. Ask them if they have any wedding vendors to recommend. Maybe one of your cousins just got married; or your boss knows a great caterer.
If you’re working with a wedding planner, they usually have a list of vendors they work with frequently. They should recommend great vendors; as it would reflect poorly on them if they suggested unscrupulous wedding vendors to their clients.
If you’re having your wedding at a hotel, banquet hall or restaurant, you can always check with them for a list of their preferred wedding vendors. Usually an on-site wedding coordinator, event/catering manager, or concierge could be able to provide trusted referrals. Lastly, you can always do an online search for wedding vendors in your area or browse online wedding vendor directories. If you find a vendor by yourself — without any recommendations or referrals — please pay close attention to the next step.
Do Your Homework Beforehand
Before contacting any wedding vendors, you should do some quick research on each one of them. It’s a good way to get more information, and maybe help narrow your list of contenders.
First, you should visit their website and browse their portfolio thoroughly. You should also look to see if their style and their work are what you envision for your wedding. While you’re there, read the testimonials section on their website. Second step in your research should be to look at each vendor’s reviews on sites like yelp.com, citysearch.com or Google reviews. Doing an online search and reading reviews before contacting any vendors would give you a general idea about their level of customer satisfaction. You can also do a search with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints filed against your potential wedding vendors.
Contact The Vendors
They came highly recommended or the online reviews were outstanding. Great! Now, you’re going to get in touch with them. You should call them, and ask simple questions about availability on your wedding day, price range, what you have in mind; but most importantly, ask them for references — at least three recent clients. Once you called all the clients and are satisfied with their answers, call the wedding vendor back and set up an appointment to meet with them in person.
For that appointment, you will need to prepare a list of questions to go over with them. If you’re not sure what to ask your potential wedding vendors, we found a great website with printable pre-made questions for different type of vendors. Just check the last link of the Online Resources at the end of this post.
You really need to meet with the potential wedding vendors in person to see if they’re a good fit for you. Are they listening to you, your needs and your vision? Do they seem excited with the prospect of working with you? Are they attentive and caring; or dismissive and impatient? You will have a better idea once you interview each vendor personally. And also, trust your instinct; if the vendor seems shady, he probably is.
Always Sign A Contract
And last, but not least, you must sign a contract with each vendor. Period. Not just a verbal agreement or a handshake will do. Any vendor that refuses to sign a contract with you is a shady vendor. Signing a contract is an important — and legal — way to protect yourself in case anything goes wrong.
Be sure that each point discussed, and agreed upon, is included in the contract in as much details as possible to avoid confusion or misunderstanding in the future from any of the parties. And remember to read the contract carefully, including cancellation clause, refund policy and all the small prints, before signing anything.