Building your list of wedding vendors is essential in planning the best possible wedding experience for you and your partner, and your guests.
Aaaand it’s not something to take lightly.
In this post, I’m walking you through the 8 easy steps you need to take to create the vendor team of your dreams.
But first things first: who needs to be on your vendor team?
VENUE → Where you’re getting married. Selecting a venue is one of the most fun elements of wedding planning, but it’s also one of the biggest decisions you’ll make. Here’s how to make it easier!
PLANNER OR DAY-OF COORDINATOR → The person helping you with all the details of the day (because, let’s be real, you do still want to actually enjoy the day even if you DIY all the planning).
PHOTOGRAPHER → Your go-to person for capturing everything on camera, to preserve your memories of your favorite day.
VIDEOGRAPHER → If budget allows, you’ll def want to have real-life footage of your wedding day for you to relive over and over again.
CATERER → How you’ll feed your guests! You’re throwing a party, baby, you’ll need to keep your people happy with lots of food + drink.
FLORIST → DIYing your flowers is one of the worst moves you can make. It’s so unbelievably labor intensive to set up and break down, let alone to actually create. Plz invest in a florist.
ENTERTAINMENT → Music, band, DJ… whatever you want, as long as it rocks.
BEAUTY → If you, like me, don’t trust yourself with your hair and makeup on the regular, you’ll absolutely want to invest in a hair and/or makeup artist to beautify you and your wedding party!
INVITATIONS / SIGNAGE → Budget-depending, having someone do your day-of signage is so nice. There are so many things you’ll be focusing on as you get close to your wedding, and creating your signage and seating chart takes so much longer than you think. I say let the professionals handle it!
Of course, the above isn’t an exhaustive list — there may be other wedding pros you feel are a *must* for your wedding, but these are my GO-TOs.
Now, let’s talk about how to choose who you’re gonna invest in… 👇
Step #1 — Determine your budget
Figuring out what your budget is = pretty much the first step in every wedding planning choice you make.
If you start researching, getting excited about, and booking vendors before determining your wedding budget, you’ll definitely run into trouble, because you’ll end up hiring vendors you don’t have the money budgeted for.
You also want to make sure you’re not overspending, and that all of the people you’re hiring in / things you’re investing in are a smart use of the money you have allocated for your wedding experience.
Step #2 — Gather inspiration by stalking on socials to figure out your aesthetic
The next step in choosing the best vendor team for your wedding is, of course, by stalking them on social media.
It seems silly to mention, because, like DUH, right? Of course you’re gonna stalk them online before hiring them. But have you thought about the sheer number of people available to help you?!
See for yourself. Go search “Connecticut wedding photographer” or Insta search “#weddingflorist” and you’ll see an overwhelming number of options.
This is why, after a good amount of scrolling, figuring out what the overall vibe / aesthetic of your wedding will be is KEY in narrowing down your search for the best options to make up your vendor team.
You want to make sure your vendors are aligned with your vibe.
You may think that you love a venue, but it doesn’t fit with what you’re actually envisioning for your ceremony or reception to look like.
You may think you really want to work with a certain photographer, but after doing some research, you may realize that their editing style doesn’t reflect how you want your wedding photos to look.
You may think you’re sure about a florist, but might later find out that they don’t specialize in the kind of floral arrangements you’re hoping for.
This is why understanding yourself AND understanding your options is an essential part of the vendor team building process.
Step #3 — Prioritize your vendor list
If you try to book everyone on your vendor team all at once, you might as well just kiss your sanity goodbye. The overwhelm will be WILD.
Prioritizing your vendor team by determining which vendors you want to book first will help so much. And remember: lists are your friend!
Figure out who is most important and go from there.
Which vendors are nonnegotiables for you? Which vendor may not be as important? Which vendors book up more quickly? Is there someone you’ve been stalking for years and absolutely NEED?
Sit down with your partner and chat about what’s a “hell yes” and what’s an “eh, maybe” and go from there.
Step #4 — Research and recon
Whip out that computer and start Googling, baby—this part is the nuts and bolts of building your vendor team.
Visit their websites, stalk their socials, search keywords, read reviews… gather all the info you can about the vendors you’re interested in, in order to help you make the best decision possible.
(Side note: you should be able to find plenty of information about them online. If you can’t: red flag.)
Instagram specifically has amazing features to search by geographic location, hashtags, and tags, so you can see their work not just on their own profiles, but posted by their past clients and collaborators as well. This is great for seeing which types of work they’ve produced, beyond just what they choose to show off / post themselves.
I also recommend stalking The Knot, Wedding Wire, and Google for reviews, because you know the world we live in today—people LOVE to share their opinions, and they don’t hold back.
AND! If people actually take the time out of their busy lives to leave a review, you know that means a lot.
Another thing to keep in mind when you’re researching is your values. You’ll want to make 100% sure your vendor aligns with your values and beliefs, and has the same ethos as you.
(Ex: sustainability, welcoming the LGBTQ+ community, etc).
Step #5 — Ask for recommendations
If you have family or friends who have gotten married recently (and you trust their judgment), ASK THEM for their opinions!
They’re fresh off the wedding planning experience, and even though everyone’s situation is different, they at least have valuable insight they can share with you.
And if you don’t know anyone personally who has been married recently, head to Facebook groups, wedding platforms, and online hubs to ask around — there’s no shortage of opinions on the Internet; use that to your advantage.
Step #6 — Compare and contrast
Once you’ve done the research and asked for recs, it’s time to compare your vendor selections side by side. It’s always good to have some sort of comparison, so you can verify that you’re a) not getting ripped off, b) are really as committed to those “favorites” as you think you are, and c) feel reassured that you’re making the right choice.
I recommend always inquiring with at least 2-3 of each vendor, especially the big ones like photographers, videographers, florists, etc.
Educating yourself about the different packages and price points available to you, as well as the different personalities of your potential vendors, will help you feel great about the choice you make—because, let me tell ya, not all vendors are created equal.
Having a small element of comparison allows you the opportunity to ensure your ‘gut feeling’ is right when booking a specific vendor, and gives you the added peace of mind that you’re not rushing into anything, and have done your due diligence.
Step #7 — Schedule calls
Do not—I repeat: DO NOT—book a vendor without getting on the phone with them. If there’s one thing I want you to get from this post, it’s that.
Once you have a short list of vendors you’re feeling sure about, schedule a call or meeting with them to talk through your wants, needs, and vision, and to ask all of your questions!
There are some vendors that it’s really extra important to connect with prior to booking, because you’re gonna be spending so much time with them / putting so much trust in them to deliver a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you.
Your planner is one of them, for sure. You’re spending at least a year with them to plan your wedding day, and then on the actual day, they’re with you the entire weekend.
(Or, at least, they should be. If not, you’ve got the wrong planner.)
You’re definitely gonna want to make sure you like your wedding planner’s personality, because that’s someone you’ll be connecting with a LOT.
Another important vendor team you’ll want to be positive you love is your photographer and videographer. They’re the two closest vendors to you during the day, so liking their vibe and energy is so important.
(If they’re corny and annoying, they’ll bug the shit out of you on your wedding day.)
Plus, you’ll need to feel confident that they’ll depict you in the best light, and comfortable enough in front of their lenses to be completely yourself. You don’t want to be worried about that on your wedding day, trust.
>> IMPORTANT NOTE: If you need more information after a call or a meeting with a vendor, simply ask them! It’s not at all uncommon to request a portfolio, sample work, or albums from vendors like photographers, videographers, florists, planners, cake designers, etc. They’re used to it; almost expecting it. Don’t be shy to ask—you’re spending a lot of $$$ and you want to be SURE about your people!
Step #8 — Request a contract
As soon as you feel like you know who you want to move forward with, ask them to send you a proposal and a contract.
These things should clearly outline the services, deliverables, pricing, payment schedules, cancellation and refund policies, etc.
Make sure you carefully review these contracts before signing in order to ensure there’s nothing sketchy or confusing hidden in there that may hinder your experience.
Need help figuring out other wedding planning essentials?
I’ve got your back. 😇 Working with a wedding planner makes decisions like these SO seamless and easy—so, if you’d like some help with all the logistics of your big day, consider reaching out.
Hi! I’m Lindsey, Founder, Executive Planner, and Creative Director here at Wildflower Events and Design. Nice to meet you! To learn a little bit more about me and what I do, here are a few ways you can connect with me:
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