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.