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Vendor Vetting 101 – How to Start Choosing Your Dream Team!

Jan 19, 2021

They are your lifeline when planning the biggest event of your life and they can make or break it.   They are the most important relationship you will need to maintain throughout the wedding planning process (aside from your fiancé of course!).  We are talking about your wedding vendors!

Today, we are launching our mini-series all about Vetting Your Wedding Vendors and Hiring Your Wedding Dream Team!

We will be giving you all the details about what you can do to ensure a smooth and amicable process and keep it drama free!

Photo by John Branch IV Photography

The perfect place to start is with the search! How do you find vendors that fit your personality and budget? How can you accurately judge who is trustworthy and can bring your vision to life? Let’s dive in!

Set Yourself Up For Success From the Start

The start of your relationship with your wedding vendor is at the initial inquiry. Not only are you vetting the vendor for cost, style, ability, capacity, etc – BUT they are also vetting YOU in your ability to be a human being and not a nightmare.  Basically making sure you’re somebody they can spend the next year working with quite closely, even developing some camaraderie.

A few tips for the initial inquiry…

  • Kindness and patience go a long way with event industry professionals. Weddings are full of very emotional people and situations. Every vendor has their fair share of stories of clients/families/bridal party members who were rude or disrespectful (or even worse!) Set the tone right from the beginning by respecting the vendors’ time and skill set. Be open about your needs and expectations, but also be kind and appreciative. You won’t be sorry!
  • Don’t bring up your budget right away. As much as you might be on a tight budget, don’t mention that in your first attempt at communication! Imagine reading this sentence:  “We’re on an incredibly tight budget and looking to keep costs down as much as possible”.  As a vendor, that can automatically make us wary of moving forward with the consultation process. Keep that info in your back pocket and save it for negotiations after you’ve already won them over with your sparkling personality.
  • Know what you want.  Be prepared, clear and concise.  For instance, if you’re contacting a florist, know what color palette you are imagining and maybe even what blooms you’re looking for. Know how many boutonnières, bouquets, centerpieces you need and have a BUDGET! As a vendor, it can be nearly impossible to provide an accurate service estimate when potential clients cannot provide any specific details.

You’ve Got Your Wedding Vendor Finalists, Here Kicks in The Negotiation Process

Compromise is the core of negotiation.  There will undoubtedly be compromise on both sides of the contract.  Be sure you know going in what your absolute “must haves” are and the items that you can do without or which can wait to see what the final guest count is and how it will affect your budget.  We all have million dollar dreams on a dollar menu budget – let’s just be realistic and make the most of what we can spend. 

And again, we have to mention it’s always better to kill ’em with kindness! These wedding vendors more than likely pour their heart and soul into their profession and view their work as art.  Try not to put them on the defense by dismissing the value of their work during negotiations.  

Asking for Discounts Delicately!

Start your initial attempt with detailing why you’ve contacted them and what you like about what you’ve seen/heard about their product. Butter ’em up, so when you ask them to lower their quote, they feel like you value their work regardless of what you’re asking. Ultimately, this approach can help you to get to where you need to be.  Remember, they’re artists.  They’re sensitive.  

When making the ask for a discount, try using something to the effect of…” My budget is ‘xyz’ but I’d really love to work with someone of your caliber and talent – is there anything that can be done to get to my budget?”… as opposed to…”I think ‘xyz’ is ridiculous for that amount of flowers when I can go to whole foods for a 3rd of the price”.

Ok you’ve booked them.  What’s next?

In our next post, Vendor Vetting 102, we’ll be talking about everything you need to know when forming your relationships with your vendor team and how to keep the process organized and simple!

Don’t miss out!

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