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Planning A Wedding? Here Are The Must Ask Questions To Use When Finding Vendors!

Updated on June 7, 2014

To plan your wedding day can absolutely be overwhelming. Chances are, you've never done this before! Fortunately, there are tons of resources where you can get help. Consider this one of those sources and the information you read here, should assist you in being better prepared for the journey. In this article, we will address specific questions that you can ask vendors to determine if they are the right fit for you. Keep in mind, the five "screening" characteristics that each vendor should pass, before you consider them...


Screen All Vendors With These Five Characteristics

•Initial Impression - This is the first sense that you will get for a particular vendor. Are they happy to help you? Do they value your business and your vision for a great day?

•Professionalism - I believe this should be the #1 qualification. From their initial impression, to their website and promotional material, are they professional?

•Public/Online Reviews - You'll find a wealth of information through bridal websites such as WeddingWire & The Knot. It's worth a look to read what other couples are saying about any vendor you are considering. If you do not like what former couples are saying, then you can scratch a vendor off your list.

•Responsiveness - Any professional vendor will respond efficiently and promptly to your e-mails & phone calls. You deserve a vendor who is responsive to your needs.

•Willingness To Meet - Once your qualify a potential vendor with the above characteristics, the last step is to meet with them. You shouldn't book any vendor without either an in-person or Skype appointment. This is where you'll see if your personalities mesh and if they share your wedding day vision.

Now, let's get to the specifics of what you should ask. Use these seven questions when meeting with any potential vendor!


Caterer

When is the final guest count due?

Can you accommodate last minute guests?

When can we schedule a tasting to sample our menu?

Do you provide tables, chairs, linens, place settings, etc.?

Will you use fresh or frozen ingredients?

Will the person I work with oversee the day-of details?

Where is the food prepared?


Photographer

Will we have the rights to print all images?

When will proofs be available to view?

What is included? An album, discs, both?

How many locations can we shoot with the hours booked?

How many photographers does your price include?

When will the final images be complete?

May I see your portfolio?


DJ

How much experience do you have with weddings?

Do you have back-up equipment at each event?

Can we meet with our specific DJ prior to the wedding day?

How much input can we have with music?

What happens if you get sick or an emergency occurs?

What time will you arrive to begin set-up?

Will you emcee and make all announcements?


Venue

Is there a minimum guest count to reserve?

Is there a minimum food/beverage revenue to meet?

May I choose my own vendors/Do you have a required list?

Do you have all required licenses? Insurance, alcohol, etc.

Do you offer valet, self parking or both?

Are there any restrictions on decorating?

What is the overtime rate?


Florist

Will my flowers be in season?

What style of florist are you?

May I see your portfolio of work?

How will you choose substitutions if needed?

Do you design and arrange or will someone else?

Can you recommend something for my style & budget?

Will you recreate something if I can provide a photograph?


Wedding Planner

Can you work with my budget?

Will you schedule & attend meetings with me?

Do you offer contract negotiation with my vendors?

Will you draft and finalize a timeline for all vendors?

How many will be on your staff for my wedding?

Will you oversee my day, leaving me stress/worry free?

Are you a full-time or part-time planner?


A Few More Tips...

•Do not bring your checkbook or have plan on closing the deal today. You should take some time, even if it is 24 hours to think over a decision. This isn’t the last florist, venue, DJ or photographer available. Take the time to feel good about your decision and allow time for follow up questions prior to choosing your vendor. Most vendors should offer a 24 hour courtesy hold.

•If you were referred by a friend, do not bring your friend to a meeting with that vendor. Of course, your friend will be thrilled with the vendor. You won’t want another salesperson at the meeting. You’ll want to make the decision based on the feeling you get from the vendor. You already know that your friend is happy with the vendor because they referred you!

•You should leave info & notes from other vendor meetings at home. The goal is not to compare vendors at your appointment. The goal is to find the best vendor for you. This should be done with a clear mind, a glass of wine or cup of coffee, at your dining room table... not under the pressure of a vendor sitting across from you.

•While references can make you feel good about a particular vendor, references are the most deceiving part of vendor research. Would you list a bad reference on your resume’? Likely not! So you must know that any potential vendor would never offer a bad reference for you to check! Instead, look to Wedding Wire & The Knot for reviews. Reviews offered on these sites are from real brides who have actually worked with vendors. They are a bit more trustworthy than a reference offered by a vendor.

•Do not set a hard line budget. Yes, you should work within a budget, but do have some flexibility. Your wedding should be an investment in creating your perfect day. While your budget shouldn’t be “unlimited”, you wouldn’t want to miss out on the perfect vendor if they are just outside of your budget.

•Once you’ve found the perfect vendor, do not hesitate! Request a contract and secure the vendor with a deposit. Great vendors get booked! The reason you fell in love with this vendor will likely be the reason another couple loves them as well. Don’t lose your date! If you found the vendor you want, book them!

•Be very transparent & communicate effectively with your vendors. Set realistic expectations and lay them out. Trust your choice in vendors and trust that they are professionals that you can defer to. While your input is very important, also allow them to act on your behalf, with their best judgement. If this is something you are not comfortable with, you may not have the right vendor.
By using this information as a guide, you will be better prepared for the upcoming task of planning your fabulous wedding day! Best of luck to you and please do contact me with any questions!

Kurtis S. Cross has been a professional wedding DJ since 1986. Having written for “Mobile Beat” magazine and Numark Industries, Kurtis has spent more than 25 years in the wedding industry (since the age of 13) working with thousands of couples, producing wonderful wedding celebrations. The Kurtis Cross Team Of Wedding Professionals won the 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 Bride’s Choice Award from “WeddingWire.” As a preferred vendor on “The Knot” since 1997, The Kurtis Cross Team has performed at more than 2,000 wedding celebrations. A trusted DJ entertainment source in the DC, MD, VA & NC areas, Kurtis Cross and his team have also performed countless weddings in NY, MA, NH, VT, PA, FL, TX & OH. The professional choice in wedding DJ entertainment, Kurtis Cross has been recognized by Martha Stewart Weddings, Washingtonian Magazine, Wedding Channel, GayWeddings.com and many more industry experts for his reputation in the industry. For more info or a copy of any of his additional FREE reports, e-mail kurtis@kurtiscross.com.

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