Friday, March 26, 2010

What You Should Know Before Choosing Your Wedding Vendors

Today's personal wedding entry is focused on searching for your ideal vendor, comparing one vendor's pricing and products to another's, and making your final selection. The pressure to find your best vendor can be very intimidating, I know I spent countless hours researching a location that was cute but within our little budget. It took way more time than I imagined, but in the end I was happy to know I had truly found the best location at a very reasonable price.

Isn't it so cute?!

Before I get lay out this process I have to say something very important. Choosing a vendor is so much more than who offers the best price and who has the the flashiest website. You're choosing someone who will not only supply a product that sets a tone for your wedding, you're choosing someone who you can rely on to be professional, timely, relaxed friendly, and courteous to you and your family. As a photographer I insist that a bride and groom schedule a free wedding consultation to meet me in person and be able to discuss my pricing, products, and style. This is very important that they get to know me as a person and I get to know them, which allows me to know what products and services to direct them to. When you leave the consultation you should see they have shown all the traits you find essential.

The last thing you need is to deal with a stressed unorganized vendor with bad people skills the day of your wedding. I can't say enough how important it is to sit down and talk face to face with vendors before making your final selection. It's easy these days with technology and social media to conduct all your communications through email, but anyone can sound friendly through in type. : ) You have to take the time to meet them in person and see if you like them not just because they have a good price and offer a nice product, but because you feel comfortable with them as a person.

Based on my experience, there are four stages to finding your wedding vendors.

1. First you begin your search for vendors, but how? Start by asking friends and family for recommendations, and see if there are any wedding professional in your circle of friends. You'll be amazed at how willing people are to offer their advice. There's almost nothing better than a good or bad referral to direct you to the right vendor, or away from the wrong one. Search online from Google Maps, search google with keywords such as wedding florist, Salem OR, look to wedding websites like and Portland Style Unveiled, and visit bridal shows. Gather a list of a few vendors in each category of need by bookmarking their websites, saving clippings from magazines, etc. I personally created folders for each vendor; florist, invitation, ect, for easy reference.

2. Your Second step is to begin contacting businesses to check their availability and learn about their pricing, packages, and products. In my opinion this is the hardest part as it involves a lot of back and forth through email or phone, and a bazillion pricing sheets and contracts to decipher. As you start getting responses you'll be able to weed out those that simply aren't available and those that either aren't in your price range or don't offer products you are interested in. Or you may even get a bad vibe or not seen the level of customer service you expect through your initial communication. I've always had a high expectation for customer service and wouldn't settle for anyone that fell below that. After you've done your research and narrowed down your options to a few in each category, you're ready for step three.

3. The Third part is fun because you get to meet the wedding vendors and interview them. Yes, you should talk with your vendors face to face, and come prepared with good questions. Do a little research beforehand to be educated in good questions to ask. Bring a pad and paper. Here you really get to know the personality and professionalism of your vendors. Better to find out their personality at a coffee shop 6 months before than the day of your wedding when there's no turning back!

4. In most cases after meeting your potential vendors you will have a solid list of favorites to choose from. All that's left to do is make your final selection and make things official by contacting them and making your deposits and signing contracts. One last tip is to read through all the contracts and make sure you understand what you're signing!

Here is a list of my top recommendations for wedding vendors as a bride and a wedding professional myself:

Wedding Planner
Luxe Event Productions : ) Owner Misty is the sweetest gal you'll meet full of incredible ideas and practical advise.

Locations (close to Salem, Oregon)
Historic Deepwood Estates Very reasonably priced and simply stunning
Settlemier House Also very affordable and full of character
Green Villa Barn Unsurpassed setting. This was my top choice for location, it's just a little pricey for me.

Ashley Sturm Photography It may be silly to recommend myself but I really believe in the product and experience I provide.

Red Pearl Designs I can't recommend enough that you order your invitations through owner of RPD, Megan. With exceptional products and outstanding customer service you're to love RPD!

Bella Fleur Floral Design

Now that I've shared my recommendations, I want to know what YOURS are! Have you chosen any vendors you're particularly excited about? Do you have experiences you'd like to share, websites we simply HAVE TO go to, vendors we can't live without?

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Luxe Event Productions Preferred Vendor

Luxe Event Productions Preferred Vendor
Luxe Event Productions Preferred Vendor

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