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What is a Quality Wedding Vendor and How Much Do They Charge
Being a new bride or groom, new to the wedding industry, it’s difficult to know what characteristics you should truly be looking for in each of your wedding vendors, and what a reasonable price would be. I mean you know about your mechanic, your hairdresser, your dentist, and your tax assistant, but you’ve had many years to work with each of them, compare their prices and services to others, and choose the right ones for you.
However, you are likely not going to need wedding vendors again any time soon, and you won’t have the option of years to work with them, to compare your experience with them to that of others in the field. It doesn’t seem very difficult, but even the most intelligent and perceptive couples have fallen susceptible to the wiles of dishonest wedding vendors and their rehearsed lines. And unfortunately there are tons of them, and they HAVE had many years to perfect their marketing speeches, sales techniques, and advertising materials, to bring in business just like yours.
In this article, I don’t intend to go into major detail on any one wedding vendor, but simply to give you an overview of all of them, what you should be looking for, and what they should each be charging you for their services. To get more details on any one vendor, feel free to check out my articles at vvanness.hubpages.com for information on a range of wedding services, products, and prices. Let’s begin with characteristics you should see in all of your vendors.
What do you think is the most important quality in a wedding vendor?
Characteristics of Great Vendors
During the process of your wedding planning, and on the day of your wedding, you will be working with a wide variety of wedding professionals. Some of these may include a wedding planner, a bridal shop, a photographer, a videographer, a wedding venue (location), a baker, a florist, a musician, and a caterer.
Yes, there are many more vendors that you may work with, and the extent of those depends on the couple getting married and the wedding they are planning. Regardless of who you work with though, each and every one of them should hold a few of the same qualities.
The first of these important qualities is a compatible personality with yours. When meeting with any of these vendors for the first, the second, or the thirtieth time, you should leave smiling and feeling good about your decision to work with them. They should be friendly, respectful, patient, understanding, and willing to give you the wedding services you desire from them at all times.
If you ever feel uncomfortable, offended, angry, unsure of your decision to meet with this person, or feel like they are not listening to you, these should all be red flags.
Another quality you should be looking for is flexibility. Brides tend to change their minds A LOT, and that’s okay. This is their big moment and one of the most important days of their lives. It’s natural and understandable that they would want everything to be perfect, and you should have wedding vendors that understand that.
Many vendors are also very strict with their time. I understand that their time is valuable and they cannot charge the same price for two hours as they do for eight, but when it comes to your wedding day, every second is important.
Great vendors will give freely of another five minutes, or another ten without thinking twice. They should want your wedding day to be the best day of your life, and want to do everything they can to make it special for you, even if that means they need to stick around another few minutes to make sure they get your grand exit. Most vendors will charge for every extra minute, so the great ones will be easy to spot.
One final quality that each of your wedding vendors should have is reasonable pricing. In each area of professional services there is always a price that’s obviously too low, a really good reasonable price, and a price or prices that are way too high.
Of course, you could interview dozens of vendors in each category, call references, visit real weddings, read online reviews, and compile all of your months of research to find the very best vendors for your wedding. It’s possible. However, this would take tons of your time, lots of work, and a good deal of gas from driving around to see them all.
The majority of the vendors you find in each area will be those that charge an exorbitant fee for their services that is way more than reasonable. In my experience in the industry, and with vendors such as these, these people are just in the business to take advantage of you and make money doing it.
I realize that I am generalizing, and this may not apply to EVERY single one of them, but you can guarantee that at least 95% of those charging unreasonable prices are not in the business to take care of couples, but only to make a hefty profit.
If you feel like their prices are a lot to pay for photography, a cake, a venue, etc., they are. There’s only one reason anyone would purposely over-charge a customer. And unfortunately, a higher price doesn’t always mean better services. In fact, in weddings, it’s just the opposite. Ever heard of over-compensating? And you’ll never be back to know any different.
By simply looking at subpar websites, talking to people on the phone that don’t know how to answer your questions, and knowing that something’s fishy about their services from the beginning, it will be easy to pick out the vendors whose prices are extremely low but seem too good to be true (because they always are).
These vendors are typically just new to the business (or students) who know that they don’t have a quality product to offer right now, or they simply don’t offer a good enough product to be able to charge more. Steer clear of these people. You never want to be anyone’s practice wedding.
For those vendors that are actually offering couples reasonable pricing, they are few and far between. However, the likelihood that these vendors will be friendly, respectful, professional, understanding and flexible goes up a hundred-fold if you’re willing to search for them. In fact, the presence of these qualities is usually the reasoning for the pricing offered.
These vendors typically care a great deal for the couples they are serving and want to offer them the best. And you want to pay the lowest price for the best services that are offered, right? Everyone does. This is where, and with who, you will find it!
Knowing Each Vendor Individually
By knowing what to look out for, what you should be hunting for, and what each of these vendors should be charging ahead of time, you’ll be in a better place to look at more important qualities and not have to worry so much about pricing. This leads us to looking at the qualities of each vendor individually and what kind of pricing you should see from each.
This is the first vendor on the list because this will likely be the very first person you hire when starting to plan your wedding. There are so many wedding planners available which makes it truly difficult to pick out which ones are the good ones and which ones you should run away from.
The first thing to look for is their policy on communication. Are they limiting you from talking to them and asking questions? You want a planner that doesn’t limit the times you can call, email, or meet with them. This is the person walking you through your entire wedding. You are going to have dozens of questions, you are going to change your mind a bunch, and you are going to want reassurance from your planner.
You’ll then want to check out their cancellation policy. Are you forced to continue working with them even if you decide you no longer want to? Do you still have to pay the entire amount if you decide to cancel or have a cancellation fee? You want to find a planner that will let you walk away without any further payments or consequences.
What about the money for your wedding budget? Do they ask you to hand that over to them at the beginning? If so, run away fast. You should always be in charge of your own wedding budget money, you should be signing any contracts with other vendors, and you should be paying other vendors yourself, not the planner.
Keep in mind those first few qualities you should be looking for in any vendor as you read through each of these other vendors. Friendliness and an understanding of your vision are going to be the MOST important qualities to look for here.
Look for about $800-$1,500 for Day of planning, and $3,000 to $5,000 for full-service planning.
Other than wedding venues and caterers, bridal shops are well-known for their sleazy ways of getting your money away from you. Fees, taxes, extra charges, oh my! I know you simply want to pick the right dress, and get it ordered, so that it will come in time to get it altered before your wedding, but bridal shops typically make it much more difficult than that.
In order to keep from getting taken by a bridal shop, either choose a gown that you can buy and take home that day (off the rack), or find your dress, write down the designer, dress name, size and style number, and go find it online for cheaper. This way you will get exactly the dress you want for less, you won’t have to worry about all the extra charges they will tack on, and an independent seamstress can alter it for you at a much better price. I truly don’t believe that there are any good bridal shops, unless they happen to simply stock tons of dresses that brides can buy on the spot.
There’s no reason to be paying more than $0- $1,000 for your wedding dress. Yes, $0 is possible!
All around photographers are pretty nice. It’s going to be a little bit more difficult to distinguish good ones from not-so-good ones. I would really start by looking at their prices. Find ones that are within your price range, and then begin looking for one that you truly mess well with. Some of the best photographers I’ve ever worked with have been the ones willing to laugh with me, chat with me, and share horror stories of some of the worst things that have happened at weddings.
The trick with photographers is finding one that loves you as much as you love them, because it will most certainly show in the work that they do for you. Unlike many other vendors, their feelings show in their pictures. You want to find a photographer that will make photo shoots fun and can capture the two of you at your best truly having fun rather than being posed to look like it. They will not charge extra for editing services or giving you a final DVD of your photos. Some will even include their favorites printed out in smaller versions with your DVD as a bonus.
These photographers will not push the purchase of a photo album, but will offer you alternatives, as well as working hard to save you money in any way they can. Find a best friend and you can guarantee some great photos, assuming the photos were great in the first place.
Look for prices ranging from $1,200-$1,800 for your full day photography package.
In addition to all of the good qualities I talked about at the beginning, videographers should be able to offer you a product that draws out your emotions. All of the best videographers I’ve ever met and worked with have been husband and wife teams.
No matter what state I’ve had a wedding in, these couples have always been the friendliest, most talented, best priced, and had the best products. Each of these professional couples has gotten into the businesses because they received such poor service themselves, or they have seen what poor service so many other videographers offer their clients.
They work hard for brides and grooms to provide a service that is above and beyond anything they can get anywhere else, and will create a product that will make you cry, make your laugh, and make you want one yourself. They have rave reviews from past clients and other wedding industry professionals, and they have a history of producing amazing results that couples can cherish for years to come.
These videographers will bring you into their homes, show you sample videos from past weddings they have produced, and treat you like family from the moment you walk in the door.
Your full day videography package should range from about $500 to $1,000, including the videos.
$800 to $1,500 for day of, $3K to $5K for full-service
offers you tons of gowns off the rack
$0 to $1,000 for dress
loves you, throws in editing and DVD
$1,200 to $1,800
videos draw out emotions
$500 to $1,000
offers reasonable cost
$0 to $1,800
makes own fondant
$1.50 to $2.00 a slice
friendly, offers you options
$100 to $800 for everything
truly listens to you
$500 to $800 for DJ or single musician, $800 to $1,500 for band
offers money saving options
$10 to $25 a plate
With so many wedding venues available to you at a few hundred dollars to absolutely no cost at all, this is usually where most brides waste the most money. Yes, I said waste. Most “wedding venues” (as they are listed on the Internet) charge anything from $5,000 to $80,000 to brides and grooms for the simple use of their facilities for their wedding day.
They tell their couples that “This is what everyone is charging,” “You’re not going to find a better deal anywhere else,” “You get what you pay for,” and so many other lines to make you think that it’s reasonable. However, they are offering nothing more than you could get just about anywhere else for much less. Do you think it really costs them $5,000, $10,000, $40,000 to pay for the electric, gas, rent and waitstaff for the meager 4 to 8 hours you will be there? It doesn’t.
There’s no reason you should be paying more than $0- $1,800 for your wedding venue. Yes, $0 is possible and anything higher is outrageous.
It’s obvious that great bakers make a quality product, and that should be the very first thing you judge after determining that this is someone you could actually work with over the course of your wedding planning. It doesn’t matter how wonderful they are if their cakes are dry, ugly, and terrible tasting.
Another thing to look for is whether or not they make their own fondant. Most wedding bakers will purchase pre-made fondant from the store, and it typically tastes awful. However, if they make it themselves, it will be amazingly delightful.
Although many bakers will tell you that they cost more because they use quality ingredients, and even celebrities purchase cakes from them, the real reason is that have successfully convinced brides and grooms for years to spend thousands of dollars on their cakes unnecessarily. The best of wedding cakes will taste amazing, look amazing, be made from the best ingredients right there in the store, and will still fall within the reasonable price range.
Your dream wedding cake should range from $300-$600 total, or cost about $1.00-$2.00 a slice.
Florists are not known to be the nicest of people. Many florists will impatiently walk you through choosing your flowers and arrangements, getting frustrated if you didn’t come to the meeting already knowing exactly what you wanted down to the last detail. They will expect you to have the same knowledge of flowers and arrangement names as they do, and are likely to be very unfriendly if you don’t.
They will also expect that you are obviously working with them if you are meeting with them. However, you may not be able to get prices or information if you don’t go through the whole meeting. I think you will know pretty quickly if they meet the first few requirements we discussed.
Great florists (also called floral designers) will make you feel comfortable from the very first phone call. They will congratulate you on your upcoming nuptials and will want to know how they can help you get exactly what you are looking for. These florists will obviously love their jobs and will love working with brides.
You’ll know you’re with the right person when they pull out pictures of previous arrangements they’ve done, a box of color cards for all of the different flowers available so that they can show you what your color choices would look like together, and when they make thoughtful experienced suggestions for color combinations or color accents that would pull everything together for you.
These florists will make an effort to understand your vision, will most likely offer to make you a toss bouquet for free, and will be coming to your wedding location on the day of the wedding to deliver and decorate. I’ve worked for some truly amazing florists!
They bring extra flowers on your wedding day to make adjustments and possibly decorate areas that really need it, even without you asking, they make extra bouquets/boutonnieres/corsages on the spot upon request for forgotten individuals, and they help pin boutonnieres and corsages to moms and dads.
When it comes down to it, these florists are so wonderful you’ll wonder why you ever considered working with anyone else!
Your wedding flowers should run no more than $100 to $800 for everything. As they charge separately for each item, $40 for your bridal bouquet is a good starting point.
The trick with finding a good musician is to find one(s) with experience, but that will still treat you with the respect a client deserves. Many musicians like to act as if they know better than the couple, in regards to what they want for their wedding. The couple will make specific requests that will be scoffed at by the musician, while he or she tells them what they are going to get for the high amount charged.
But you already know better. You will want to find someone that will listen to you, make sure that they understand your vision, and give you the best options and ideas they can recommend to get exactly that.
The best ones will take requests for music on the day of the wedding, and will be happy to play any music you’d like, as long as they get in in plenty of time to find it/learn it/rehearse it in time for the wedding. Good musicians will suggest songs if you ask, offer you resources to create a wedding day playlist, and make the process as easy as possible for you.
$500-$800 for a DJ is just perfect, $500-$800 for a single musician is about right, and $800-$1,500 for your wedding band is a good price point. Don’t listen to articles saying that $5,000 is normal. It isn’t.
Along with all of the qualities we discussed in the beginning, being the most important, a really great caterer will have a variety of options available for couples to choose from, in every price range. So many caterers price their dishes and package options so high that couples fear that they will have to spend a great deal of money to get their wedding catered. But a great caterer will take a bride’s budget and guest count, and will find a way to make it work for her.
Too many caterers are requiring an expenditure minimum (like $5,000, $10,000, and higher), which is usually way more than any couple was prepared to pay for their wedding catering. And there’s no real reason that your catering shouldn’t be able to stay within your desired wedding budget.
As catering prices get ever higher, even though most are already unreasonable, and wedding budgets are getting lower, brides are finding tons of great alternatives for having their weddings professionally catered.
Restaurants and food trucks are really stepping up to fill in this gap and provide couples with five-star quality catering for a much lower price. And if you need extra staff, call a staffing company and pay no more than $10-$20/hour for extra waitstaff, security, busboys, dishwashers, etc.
Your wedding catering should never cost more than $10 to $25 a plate, or $500 to $1,200 for everything.
Unfortunately the majority of wedding industry professionals, in every area, have taken the stance that brides and grooms should pay whatever the vendor tells them is appropriate. Then if they question the price in any way, they are met with sneers, told that they don’t know what they are talking about, and are eventually asked to leave. I have been there, seen it, and received too many calls from crying brides.
However, there are many great wedding industry professionals out there, but they take some research, some effort, and some digging to find. If you truly want the best for your wedding, you want to feel good about the vendors you’ve chosen, and you want to stay within, or come in under your budget, you’ll make the effort to find them.
You will then be rewarded with a photographer, baker, florist, etc. that treat you kindly and with respect, are flexible and patient with you, understand your vision and are will to help you achieve it, and will offer you cost saving options to help you save as much money as possible while still getting want you want. Vendors like those I describe in this article are usually in business only because they want to provide great services to couples getting married for reasonable prices, and that’s it.
Don’t despair if you are in the middle of choosing your vendors and you are encountering only those vendors charging an arm and a leg, and telling you that you won’t find better prices anywhere else. Try searching for them along with the price you want to pay for services. Ask those vendors you are talking to who they would recommend in your price range, and be patient knowing that with a little bit of time, you’ll find them, and it will all be worth it. Don’t settle for less.
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© 2013 Victoria Van Ness