Picking your vendors is definitively one of the more challenging parts of planning your event. Some vendors may be more obvious to you- like picking that barn venue you have had your eye on for years- but others can be a little more complex when it seems they are all offering the same thing, or when you just aren’t quite sure what you want yet.
I will be the first to admit that this isn’t a comprehensive list of all the things you should do before you hire your vendors-there are about a million questions you should be asking each and every one of them before you sign any papers (blog post to come 😉). However, if you are looking for a starting point of how to narrow down the sea of vendors available to you, this list should help.
This is probably obvious, but find out pricing of vendors before falling in love with their work when you can. If you love the vendor and they are on or below budget, continue on with the rest of these considerations, but also keep in mind that your budget allocations should be somewhat flexible. This doesn’t mean your overall budget needs to go up, but if you have your heart set on a venue that is more than you allocated to that expense, as long as you are okay with cutting back in another area, you don’t have to completely rule the dream venue out.
The ease of which you can hire vendors near your event location depends a lot on where you decide to host the event. Just keep in mind that if a vendor does not typically service events in your area, there may be costs associated with them travelling to the event location. This is not always the case, but when possible it is usually best to hire vendors within the area. This will also help things run more smoothly on the day of, as they will likely be familiar with the venue or the area you are hosting the event in.
This is a pretty important one. You may not be overly concerned with the personality of your vendors, but when you are trying to enjoy a special day, there is nothing you want less than nitpicky vendors, or people that just don’t jive with your vision or personality. Make sure that you meet with your vendors in person (or at the very least over the phone) before you hire them so you can be sure they are someone you know you will communicate and get along well with.
Most vendors have a specific style of the services that they offer. For example, venues can vary in style from a rustic barn venue to a sleek modern hotel venue and pretty much anywhere in between. This is the same for every type of vendor- photographers can have edgy or airy styles, caterers may serve formal plated dinners or barbeque style truck food, and so on. Hiring vendors that specialize in the style you want captured on your event date is key to ensuring your day looks the way you envisioned. Though it is sometimes possible to transform an event space or ask a vendor to do something in a specific style, it tends to be best to choose vendors that are experts in the style you are looking for, so that you know they get your vision and are able to capture it.
Reviews and references can be super helpful for ease of mind, and to get to know a bit of behind the scenes of how a vendor works and communicates throughout the planning process. If you can get a phone number of a previous client from a vendor, that is perfect so you can ask them any questions you have about their side of working with the vendor. Another good reference is to look at the vendor’s social media profiles to see if they fit your vision (tagged photos are great to see the unstaged photos of real events). Sometimes vendors are just starting out and don’t have much experience to share with you. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you will just want to be sure that you align with the vendor’s personality and the services they are offering you.
Please, Get Contracts
Get everything in writing, read the fine print, and make sure that you ask questions if you aren’t sure about something. You will be paying these vendors for their services and you want to make sure that you are getting all the services you need, and that you know what it will be costing you.
It can be overwhelming seeing how many vendors are available to you. This list should help you narrow your choices down so that you can meet with vendors and begin putting together your dream day.