Shannon and Ben Part 5: Vendors Vendors & More Vendors

Today our Couple of the Year Shannon and Ben are talking about the biggest part of planning your wedding… choosing your vendors! Your wedding day is literally made by vendors and choosing the right people to help bring your vision to life is crucial to a smooth stress-free wedding day. Learn how Shannon and Ben choose their vendors and get their list of must-ask questions below!

Once you book your venue, that’s when things really start to heat up. Congrats, you have a space (& sometimes that space comes with food & booze if the venue offers it) BUT you’re not even remotely done. You still need vendors… like a photographer, videographer, florist, DJ/band, hotel, shuttles, and potentially a few others. Today we’ll bring you through the vendors that we booked earlier on in the wedding planning process.

Since we got engaged in November 2017 and our wedding isn’t until June 2019, we had plenty of time to search for vendors. However, not everyone has the luxury of being able to pick their vendors 12-16 months ahead of their wedding. If you don’t have this much of a head start, then you might need to speed up your timeline. The further out you contact people, the more options you’ll have. For us, the majority of the people we contacted weren’t booked on our day yet. That said, we were definitely competing with other brides & grooms for the same night or same weekend (FYI some vendors only book 1 wedding a weekend!). It’s important to make decisions in a timely fashion, otherwise, you could potentially lose out on a vendor. Some will give you a “courtesy” block for a few days, but you shouldn’t leave people on the hook too long. Keep in mind, this is their job!

The entire vendor hunting, vetting, and interview process was easily my least favorite thing about wedding planning. It is extremely time-consuming; it felt like a second job. I would get home from work and then have anywhere from 2 to 4 calls lasting 30-45 minutes each with different vendors every night during any given week. In order to try and make the process more manageable, I would only focus on one search at a time during a 1-3 week period. This way I could fully concentrate on one vendor category and not have to juggle too many things at once.

Ironically enough, even though the vendor hunt was my least favorite part of wedding planning, it was probably the part that I was best at. As long as you’re organized (or can get organized) and ask smart questions, then you’ll be fine. If you’re not familiar with excel or google docs, try and get familiar reallll quick because it will make your life SIGNIFICANTLY easier. I would save the responses from all the vendors I had reached out to per category in one excel tab, then compare and contrast their answers. See the example below of my spreadsheet I would set up for each category; this one happens to be for florists.  

Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 10.29.36 PM

How to find vendors? Literally, use everything and anything available to you. I would search endlessly on Instagram, joined Facebook groups dedicated to weddings in New England, leveraged all recommendations given by friends/family, and looked on wedding websites (Wedding Wire & The Knot). For each vendor category, I would contact 20-30 vendors asking for their pricing to start. Afterwards, I would compare their portfolios (if applicable), their pricing, and services to see which vendors fit our wants, needs, and budget. From there, I would narrow it down to 10-15 different vendors to then have phone calls with, with the end goal of picking the vendor by Sunday of the week concluding our search.  

We can’t wait to share more with you all on the vendors we selected for each category, but more to come on that in future weeks! In the meantime, we figured we’d quickly elaborate on why the vendors in the following categories were so important to us:

  • Photographer – I take a LOT of photos and love to look back on the pictures from events. We wanted someone who was experienced, took “light and airy” pictures, and appeared to be good at directing couples into taking nice photos together (since sometimes the posing can be awkward).
  • Videographer – For awhile we weren’t sure if we would book a videographer, but I’m so happy we did. While pictures are fantastic, videos have the ability to capture the day in a way that still photography can’t. They can capture the movement, emotion, and sound of your big day which you can then relive at the click of a button for years to come.
  • DJ – We would have loved to hire a live band, but they’re expensive. By going with a DJ, we were also able to afford a videographer. Being a UMass Amherst alumni it was really important to me that we have great music to accompany the most expensive “party” we’ll probably ever throw. In my opinion, it’s not a party unless people are out there dancing. For this category, we relied heavily on family/friend recommendations and customer reviews.
  • Florist – Probably the most frustrating vendor category, since it’s never the “main thing” everyone notices. That being said, it can really kick your reception up a notch and help tie together the room/space. The biggest problem for us was that most vendors were trying to convince us that we had to spend $5k+ on flowers. With flowers only lasting a day, we were focused on finding a vendor who could give us a good product but have the costs come under $2.5k.

I listed all the questions I asked each vendor in the different categories below. Hopefully, you find it helpful when conducting searches of your own!! I put the ones that were particularly important to Ben and I in purple. In one of our future blogs, we’ll also give some insight on coordinating other vendor categories, like shuttles, hotels, churches, make-up artists, hairdressers… the list goes on!

– The Future Holts



 

Questions we asked every single vendor:

  • Have you worked at the venue before?
  • Payment timeline & logistics?
  • Veteran’s discount (if applicable)?
  • Do you have an insurance policy in place?
  • Travel fees?
  • If the wedding date needs to be changed due to military reasons, are there cancellation fees involved? Or could we switch service dates to another year (pending your availability on the new date)?

 


 

Questions for Photographers:

  • Do you offer wedding packages? If so, can you share a breakdown of the services & costs for each?
  • How many photographers are included? If only 1 photographer is included, then what would the additional costs be for a second photographer?
  • How many hours of coverage are included?
  • How are the photos delivered?
  • Do I get full rights to all photos delivered?
  • Do I have unlimited downloads/access to the photos?
  • How much editing do you typically do to photos? Do you adjust white balance, etc.?
  • If an engagement session isn’t included in the package, how much would it cost for the session? How long would the session go for? How many photos would we get back from the engagement session?
  • If a boudoir session isn’t included in the package, how much would it cost for the session? How long would the session go for? How many photos would I get back from the session?
  • On average, how many photos do you deliver during a standard 7-9 hour wedding day?
  • Can you provide sample wedding and engagement session albums for review?
  • Do you have add ons available? If so, what are they and what are the costs associated with each?

 


 

Questions for Videographer:

  • Do you offer wedding packages? If so, can you share a breakdown of the services & costs for each?
  • How many videographers are included? If only 1 videographer is included, then what would the additional costs be for a second videographer?
  • How long is each video deliverable?
  • How many hours of coverage are included?
  • How are the video(s) delivered?
  • Do I have unlimited downloads/access to the videos?
  • Do I get full rights to all videos delivered?
  • How much would it cost to get a copy of the raw footage?
  • Do you offer a teaser video? If so, how much would it cost?
  • Aerial drone coverage included? If not, how much would it cost?
  • Do you have add ons available? If so, what are they and what are the costs associated with each?
  • Can you provide sample wedding videos & other wedding day deliverables for review?

 


 

Questions for DJ:

  • How long will you provide the service for?
  • Do you have an online system for tracking song choices, wedding party names for introduction, etc.?
  • Do you charge additional for ceremony music (if offsite)?
  • Do you charge additional for cocktail hour music (if in different room/space than reception)?
  • Sample videos and/or reviews of services?
  • Do you offer up lighting? If so, how much does it cost?
  • Do you offer photo booths?
    • If so, how much does it cost?
    • What does it come with prop wise?
    • What does the deliverable look like?

 


 

Questions for florists:

  • Costs for all individual items:
    • Bridal bouquet
    • Bridesmaid bouquets
    • Corsages
    • Boutonnieres
    • Ceremony arrangements
    • Cocktail tables
    • Centerpieces
    • Floral wands
    • Cake flowers
    • Service fee/delivery & set up
    • Total estimate
  • When would we need to make a final decision on the flowers by?
  • Do you offer sample bouquets/centerpieces? If so, how much would that cost?
  • Do you have a portfolio we can reference?

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