Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Everything you need to know about vendors before you book! part 2

Hi Faithful Readers,

If you were able to make it through the last, very looong post, I hope you found it helpful and informative. I promise to make this second and conclusive part (a little) shorter.

I mentioned previously that not all venues on-site coordinators are created equal, some provide full day of service, while others are there to ensure the food is served on time, leaving the responsibilities of coordinating to whoever you hire/assign. Whilst the latter option does mean you have more work to do in terms of coordinating the day of the wedding, these on-site coordinators will still have a list of vendors they work with frequently. This would always be my recommendation of where to start. For a venue to be happy enough with a vendors service to endorse them, they will have had to have performed exceptionally well on multiple occasions.

There are some exceptions to this rule, so make sure you ask the venue if they recommend these vendors due to their service or if these vendors have paid to be on the list. Some venues will accept kickbacks to recommend someone, some vendors will offer discounts to a venues clients to be recommended. While receiving a discount on a service for your wedding  is a great thing, I would be wary of vendors who have to do this just to be on the list.  My advice is, if they are offering discounts, read reviews and ask for testimonials.

Vendor kickbacks and paid lists are rare though,  so I strongly recommend using vendors recommended by your venue. Not only will this save you time but the chances are, these will be the best vendors available. Making a recommendation of another service/vendor is a refection of the venue, they are unlikely to suggest someone who would make them look bad.

Once you have your venues recommendations and have read the online reviews. you should have a short list of people to call. I would suggest having 3-4 photographers to call, 2-3 DJ's, 2-3 officiants, 2-3 florists. You don't want to call too many as that will get overwhelming.

First thing you should ask, are they available on your date?  Second, do they offer the services/style you are looking for? Third, I would ask, what sets you apart? You should never lead with "How much do you charge?", however tempting it may be. This can set a tone for the rest of the conversation which can make vendors feel that their value is in question. You are interested in getting the best vendor for your budget, not the cheapest possible vendor out there.

Personality can be very important when selecting wedding vendors. You will have to work with these people, not only on your big day but for up to 18 months before too.  If you have two vendors to choose between, both offering the same services  for a similar price, go with the one who makes you feel most comfortable.

Something to keep in mind when working out the costs for the vendors, most vendors who are present throughout the majority of the wedding reception will require a meal. Most will have this written into their contract but even if they don't, you should consider providing this. A hungry DJ isn't going to spin great beats.  A good rule of thumb is any vendor providing a service for 4 hours of the reception or more. This should not include catering staff, usually just DJ, photographer, videographer and possibly photo booth attendant. Always be sure to check with these vendors if they have assistants attending, it is unusual for a photographer to shoot by themselves. Some venues/caterers will just have sandwiches for the other vendors, however it might be worth considering providing the same meal as your guests. Adding an additional $50  to the photographers fees most likely won't make a huge difference to your budget but eating salmon or Filet Mignon could encourage your photographer to stick around for the extra 15 minutes that your reception has run late.
Also,  ask your caterer if they can serve the vendors at the same time as you. This is really the only time you are not going to want pictures (who wants to see themselves with spinach in their teeth).

Always ask if there are travel costs passed on to you by the vendor, have them include all fees, taxes and service charges in any estimate they provide.

As with all parts of  wedding planning, take a deep breath, have fun and remember this is a celebration of the start of your marriage, what you have afterwards is the important part.

Thanks for reading. If you found this helpful or there are any other tips you would like to see here, feel free to comment below.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Everything you NEED to know about vendors, before you book! (Part 1)

So, I am starting to find that this is a controversial subject but one I feel needs to be addressed as so many of my clients and friends that I speak to seem a little lost over it all.

The first thing I will say is, there are a lot of "wedding vendors" out there. With the invention of the Interwebby, (wait, does anyone these days even remember life without it, is it even relevant to talk about the invention of it, as if we know what life was like pre-web?.. I digress) it is all too easy for one to create a (free) website, buy some semi expensive equipment they learned how to use online and whoosh - they are a wedding vendor!!! However, in my humble opinion and speaking from personal and professional experience, it takes so much more to be a great wedding vendor.

Let me make one thing clear, I am not saying all vendors who are just starting out are bad, everyone has to start somewhere. I am sure when I first started in this career I was terrible at it (sorry early clients) whereas many people I know hit the ground running and were amazing at what they do from the get go. So don't let me put you off hiring that newer wedding planner who is giving you a great deal while they are launching their business. If they went to school to learn all of the in and outs, have done at least 5 weddings for friends/family and you know they have done an amazing job, there is no reason they can't be the perfect vendor for you. You just have to do your research.

Research can be a boring and time-consuming task but it is absolutely essential to making your wedding run smoothly and achieving the end product you really want. And I am not just talking about reading yelp reviews. While I love yelp for many reasons, they cannot be the extent of your knowledge on a vendor. People rarely take the time to go online and write a review about a service they were "OK" with. Mostly, I find reviews online are either angry rants or really really excited, happy clients who got everything they dreamed of. But neither tell the complete story.

I use the example of one of my best friends who got married last year. While she did not have a terrible experience, she was not entirely happy with the photographer she chose once she finally received the wedding pictures. She had painstakingly compiled a list of photos she really wanted to have taken and most of these were not captured. (Which was strange because most of the bridal party have said they remember posing for said photos) My friend had booked this photographer after her friend had used them for her wedding the previous year. That was the extent of her research. She loved the photographs of her friends wedding and based her decision solely on that. She did not go online and tell other clients to be aware of the issues she had, although it made her unhappy, it was not enough to tell others about.

My point (that I am taking a long time to make... stick with me people) is that you need a complete picture and the only way to achieve that is to do your research, lots of research.

Before you begin with research, you have to do more research. Haha - sorry not sorry. What I mean by this is, you have to have a good idea of what you want/expect from your vendor. For instance, do you want a DJ who will play exactly the songs you hand select regardless of his advice that your mostly 60+year old guests will not enjoy hip hop music during dinner or do you want a DJ that will play to the crowd, MC the event in just the right way to keep guests informed but not spend the whole night pretending he is a radio DJ and not shutting up for a minute? You might want to research the different wedding photography styles available, do you want classic style, dramatic, documentary?

Once you have an idea of what you want your wedding to be, you still can't start your research. I know, right? I am telling you research is the most important thing but not letting you get started!!! Patience, grasshopper, I promise all will be revealed.

Something even more important than research in choosing your vendors is budget. To me, budget is the number one most important part of wedding planning (with the exception of having fun throughout the process of course). You will need to sit down with your fiance and discuss what budget you will set for the wedding. It is important to be realistic, we would all love to only spend $500 on our weddings but what are we really going to get for that. Once you have set a reasonable budget and know what you are willing to spend on each item for your wedding, then the fun (research) can begin.

But where to begin? The first thing I would suggest is deciding if you have the budget for a wedding planner or if you really even need a wedding planner. 99% of the time I think it is the best thing you can do for your wedding. Finding the right planner should save you money, as they will be much more experienced at negotiating costs with other vendors. Not only does it save money but it can also save you all the time I suggested you spend on other research. Your wedding planer should have a list of trusted vendors that they have worked with countless times, so your research is done for you.

To find the right wedding planner, start online. Reviews are a good starting tool, then ask friends for referrals. Once you have narrowed down your choices to a few to call, ask the prospects if they have past clients who will give testimonials. Also, ask if the planner has vendors they have worked with recently - especially venues and call those vendors. Ask if they would recommend them. (If you want to be really vigilant, check reviews on these vendors too. You don't want to take someone's opinion if they don't know what they are doing either). The same research can be done for all of the other vendors if you are not hiring a planner.

I say 99% of the time. If you have a strong idea of what you want for your wedding and are not only willing to put in the time to research every detail but actually excited by the prospect, then by all means jump right in. Many wedding venues come with a "day of" coordinator who can help with many parts of the wedding, including coordinating the entire wedding day. If this is the case, a wedding planner may not be something you need or want. I would highly recommend discussing this with the venue you are considering, and having a clear outline of the duties performed by the on site coordinator, Not all of them are going to provide full service, so definitely have this discussion before you book your venue.

In the next part of this post, which I will post next week, I will give you research tips for the other vendors you might need, as well as additional costs that you might incur but not know about in advance...












Sunday, May 15, 2016

It's been sooo long!!!

Hi faithful readers... If there's any of you left! I feel so bad for leaving you waiting for so long. It has been a crazy few months with wedding after wedding... No time for blogging but the good news is lots of pictures of beautiful weddings! So here is a plethora of pictures to feast your eyes on... I will be back later in the week with some advice regarding vendors, very important, don't miss it! 

Beautiful sweetheart table. 



Cute favors, watch love grow. 

Look at the detail in this Lego cake from Cake Expressions! Wow! 


Famous couples for table numbers! 





Another sensational cake by the talented cake expressions! That's huge! 








Congratulations to all of our couples so far this year! We love you all, you are what makes this job so amazing! 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Baby It's Gold Outside

Well, it's December and our weddings are still in full swing. We are loving seeing how brides work with our Christmas decorations to enhance their beautiful wedding decor. 


Gold is such a perfect color for this season, Christmassy without being too "much". 



And this candy and donut station is just gorgeous!!!

Yes, those are gold dusted Krispy Kreme's!!! I know, right?!?!?

Congrats MandD #madlove

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Beauty and the Beast

What an amazing wedding! Love this couple and love the theme. Here is how to take your favorite Disney movie and turn it into a classy, elegant theme. 

Such a great color scheme, it really pops! 

All of the little details come together to make a huge impact. 


So sweet!




Congratulations Brittany and Josh! 

How do you plan bring your favorite things into your wedding?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Popcorn and lace...

This past Saturday's wedding was a nice spin on the vintage look, leaning more towards Victorian. Just a little lace and khaki really made the succulent centerpieces and details pop.



And this sweet and salty treat for the guests was a hit. Mix your own flavor a and add a scoop of candy to create a bag of gourmet popcorn.




If you are having trouble picking a favor for your guests, go with an edible one. I guarantee your guests will enjoy it. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Life's a beach

We don't get many beach themed weddings here at Cinnabar Hills, so I was super excited for this one...


The bride picked out each unique part of every centerpiece, making every table slightly different.



The place cards were a great bonding moment for the groom and his new mother in law, they made them together. 

And the mother of the bride also made the handmade cookie favors... So sweet. 

Congrats Emily and Carlos!