You’ve hopefully now found the perfect destination and your dream venue and you’re excited to get started on planning all the details to create your dream wedding day. You’ve made a huge start, so give yourself a pat on the back. This next stage is both exciting and incredibly important and will make the difference between a good and an amazing wedding day.
Making your dream day a reality
You now need to find a team of wedding professionals who understand your desires, who can fulfil your requests and who will ensure your vision comes to life. Working with the right team of suppliers will make planning your wedding much more enjoyable and less stressful.
Let’s get to it
It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed and nervous at this stage. This is a huge and important step and could mean the difference between an OK wedding day and an amazing wedding day.
If you are planning your wedding by yourself, you need to take extra care to not rush into any pressured decisions. These five easy steps will help you qualify a new supplier before adding them to your preferred list.
- Check your venue’s terms and conditions and make sure you read the small print. Some venues are strict about what they do/don’t allow, especially historic houses or listed buildings. For example, some don’t allow high heels due to potential floor damage, some have restrictions about the type of decorations you can have, and some don’t allow naked flames or anything to be hung from walls!
- Find out what’s allowed and what isn’t. You need to be completely clear about their terms and conditions before you book any suppliers. If you book a supplier and find out you can’t use them at your venue, you are not guaranteed to get your money back. For example, if you book and pay for a fireworks display only to find out later your venue doesn’t allow them or you hire a live band and realise no amplified music is allowed.
- Make a list of the types of services you want the most, and then research and book in order of priority. That way, if you have to save up deposits you know you have the most important suppliers secured early on.
- Not every supplier will request a deposit, but you should be suspicious if a supplier doesn’t at least offer a contract – otherwise, how do you prove they are contractually obliged to you?
Expert advice from Ben Wyatt Photography on choosing a photographer
Choosing a photographer is probably one of the most important decisions regarding the wedding. It is the photos that will create lasting memories. These photos should bring back all the feelings and emotions experienced and the little moments that brought so much joy. The style of photography should resonate with the couple’s personality, and they should identify with the one that they feel compliments them.
First print and download our General Supplier Checklist this will give guidance as to what order to start your research.
n.b.for individual checklists see download links below
There are so many places where you can check verified suppliers these days, so there’s no excuse for not doing your homework. It takes time, yes, but it’s worth it. You never know, you may even enjoy this, becoming completely absorbed in the wonderful world of wedding loveliness! There is a variety of ways in which you can check a supplier’s reputation before booking them.
Facebook: How often do they post? A good supplier will be busy, but there is no excuse for out of date information on a website or ignoring their social media platforms. Not all suppliers will use every social media platform, but they should be active on either Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter. A post a week is considered good and means they are in constant contact with their audience and interested in what they do. Any less and you need to consider if they are too busy or disinterested. Lots of wedding businesses are hobby businesses that people have turned into businesses so passion should be evident in what they post.
If they don’t have any social media, take this as a warning. It’s standard these days to have a social media presence.
Make sure you scroll through their history. You’ll be able to see if they’re new to the industry or not. Note that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing if they are new (we all need to start somewhere), but they should be honest about how many weddings they have done.
Testimonials: Facebook reviews can’t be tampered with but an account holder can disable them, so if someone has their reviews turned off, you need to ask why! Don’t panic about the odd bad review, no one can pleases everyone all the time, and a bad review is not necessarily due to bad service – it could be due to a bad mix of personalities or unrealistic expectations. However, take note of how the supplier replies to a bad review – that’s what counts.
If someone leaves a bad review rating without a comment, ignore it. I have these on my Facebook page from when I first started and some of them are American, people I’ve never heard from as I am based in the UK. However, we’ve all heard of trolls. Yes, unbelievably some people do like putting bad reviews on random Facebook pages. It’s not worth expending the energy to get them removed!
Website testimonials: These can easily be edited and made up, so beware. This also applies to images – we’ve had to protect the images on our website due to people copying them.
Social proof of the work they do: We have couples who don’t want us to share their images and that’s fine, but they’re a minority. Usually, our couples are more than happy for us to share their weddings. Make sure the work is recent and not from over three or four years ago!
Forums: Ask for recommendations from other couplesThe best way to do this is via forums of which there are hundreds. However, beware – some people pose as clients to boost their status and some suppliers get people to post on their behalf. If you’re speaking to a bride or groom who’s blowing the trumpet of a photographer/videographer, this is a great sign, but still do your checks and make sure they are a good fit for you.
Expert advice from Phosart Photography on finding a photographer for your wedding
There are plenty of steps that a couple can take to ensure that a photographer is legitimate: the first is communicating with the photographer, requesting information on which photography club or organisation they belong to. Another is to visit the photographer’s website and double-check their work in detail. Also, going through the reviews of previous clients on the website and/or social media is important as well. Finally, it is crucial to arrange a Skype call with the photographer long before the wedding to get to know each other better and build a relationship of trust.
Shortlist: Once you have your shortlist of suppliers, you need to start emailing for availability and prices. Some popular photographers book up eighteen months in advance as they may only take a limited number of weddings a year, so you need to check they are free when asking for prices.
Read their terms and conditions: For example, look out for clauses that mean you must agree to them using your images in their promotional material and social media. We’ve worked with people in identity sensitive jobs who for legitimate reasons don’t their images shared. The photographer may charge more if they can’t use your images to promote their work. It’s reasonable to want to share your wedding as proof of their work, but if you don’t want to share photographs from your wedding, you need to state this before you pay your deposit.
Check prices and query if you are unsure about anything.
Download all of our supplier checklists to make sure you don’t miss a detail. (16 in total and will download as one large document or you can find the individual supplier checklist links in your checklist)
Expert advice from Andreas Markovic on choosing a Videographer
When choosing a videographer, the most important thing is that you love their style. Each wedding is different, despite having a similar schedule. Every couple has their story, so choose the one whose style matches your own.
Communication: How do they communicate? Are they slow to reply? During high season, a short delay is understandable, but in the quiet months you shouldn’t wait more than a few days for a reply. If you do, you need to consider if this is something that is going to irritate you later down the line when details need confirming closer to the big day.
Do they seem passionate about your wedding? Are they sharing creative ideas with you?
When do you get to meet them? Not until the wedding day? Or will they meet you a few days before the wedding or can you Skype beforehand?
Once you’ve chosen your supplier, pay the deposit and return the contract, file the receipt safely and note any key dates (for example, final payment dates or meetings).
Expert advice from Ben Wyatt Photography on choosing a photographer
A photographer’s job is to take great photos. But there is a process behind this that isn’t just about composing a good shot. For shots with emotion or spontaneity, a connection with the photographer is of upmost importance. We understand couples choose us because they relate to our style, which is a reflection of our personalities. Therefore, we usually find we have a lot in common with our couples and generally have fun together. Before the big day, we advise a pre-wedding meeting where we introduce ourselves, get to know the couple and run through the proceedings of the day, making sure that everything runs smoothly. By doing this, we try to make our couples feel relaxed and to achieve those great shots.
I’ve heard and witnessed scary stories about how some people have booked suppliers and paid deposits without any recommendations or testimonials and no contract! With the information available to you at the end of your fingertips, there is no excuse for not doing your research. Trust your instincts. If something seems too good to be true or feels off, walk away.
TIP: If you find one supplier you are very happy with (such as a photographer), ask them for recommendations for other suppliers. A photographer and videographer who work well alongside each other is a real bonus, as they will respect each other’s space and not get in each other’s way.
Booking Suppliers: Price Increases and Payments
With weddings abroad more popular than ever before, there is also an increased demand for quality, reliable wedding suppliers.
This means that the best suppliers are in high demand and can get booked up years in advance, especially with weddings abroad on average being booked eighteen months to two years in advance.
If you’re using a wedding planner, take guidance from them on when to book your suppliers. If you’re planning your own wedding, book key suppliers as soon as you have your date confirmed.
A note on quoting for a wedding abroad:
Booking a supplier a year or two in advance doesn’t mean you will receive the current prices quoted unless your contract actually says so. Even then, it will usually be subject to change if taxes or VAT increase. I recommend asking for a price guarantee to be written into your contract if possible.
How will your supplier accept payment?
The most common ways to pay are either by debit or credit card, bank transfer, Paypal or via a foreign exchange company. Check what the charges are per transaction. Some can be expensive, and if you’re making multiple payments this can soon add up.
Exchange rates have been all over the place during the last few years and at the time of writing this book the Euro and the dollar are strong against sterling – not great for those of us planning a wedding abroad and I can’t see this changing anytime in the near future.
Try not to be caught out by exchange rates. Consider opening a currency account and changing money over now and then. Otherwise, you’ll need to allow for changes in the exchange rate. If you are spending over €10,000 on your wedding, a small fluctuation in the exchange rate can have quite an impact on your outstanding balance. However, remember it could also work in your favour.
When dealing with foreign currencies, your supplier will charge you in their local currency. It’s not a concern of theirs what’s happening with sterling, but to you a major fluctuation could play havoc with your budget. You could suddenly have to find ten to fifteen per cent more than you originally planned. This is more of a worry with weddings booked far in advance; no one can predict what’s going to happen in two years’ time.
Photo Credit Phosart
Individual Supplier Checklists