Choosing your wedding suppliers during lockdown
Are you spending time researching suppliers whilst you have more time at home?
Finding suppliers who really understand your vision for your day is key.
You want to work with people who will be excited by your ideas and help you build on them – not run steamrollers over your dreams and tell you what ‘their norm’ is.
Research & Recommendations
Luckily there are lots of different wedding suppliers to choose from, but it can seem a bit overwhelming trawling through and trying to compare like with like.
Keeping in mind your overall vision and aim to come up with a shortlist of no more than 3 or 4 of any particular supplier type whose work you love and who are at the right sort of price point for you.
Check out websites, magazines, professional blogs and wedding directories and ask for recommendations.
If you have booked your venue they will be able to recommend suppliers which fit their style and the clients who book them.
If you’re struggling to find a supplier, speak with your venue or other suppliers about who they like working with and why.
If you are very keen on someone’s work but don’t know of anyone who’s used them, don’t hesitate to ask for a couple of their recent wedding clients whom you can call or email for a reference.
Really hitting it off with certain Suppliers
It is clearly important that you not only fall in love with the work of the suppliers you hire, but also that you get on with them as people.
You will likely have lots of questions and discussions, especially with some of them, and you want to feel comfortable that they understand you and your wedding ideas.
That said, there are some suppliers I believe it’s really essential you truly ‘click’ with, more than others, for a couple of reasons.
Your wedding photographer or photographers will be with you for many hours on your special day. In many cases brides choose to have their photographer come to wherever they are getting ready which can be pretty intimate, and may involve lots of emotional moments.
Depending upon the style of photography you choose, you will probably spend a lot of time with this person asking you to walk or stand in a certain way, plus speaking with your closest friends and family.
You can see how key it is that you feel comfortable with your photographer and able to open up about any worries you may have, such as one of you being camera shy or some of your family members not wanting to have their photo taken together.
Those involved in planning and styling
Anyone involved in the intricate styling of your day, including stylist, planner, and florist, really need to understand you and your vision and indeed your private worries about any particular set up or theme.
You may be leaving some of these people with very personal items such as favours, gifts for bridal party members, etc and trusting them, often in your absence, to set everything up exactly as you have envisioned.
Of course getting on with all suppliers is key, but at the end of the day your cake designer, for example, won’t actually be following you around all day, therefore if you adore his or her cakes but cannot see yourself becoming their new best friend it’s less of a problem.
Once you’ve decided which suppliers you wish to ‘meet’ with, I suggest you make some specific notes in advance of what you want to ask them, particularly if your initial communication is via Zoom or similar at this time.
I have made some high level suggestions below but your wedding is specific to you and you will undoubtedly have more detailed questions too.
How long have they been in the wedding business?
Being new is not a bad thing, and indeed can mean a supplier works especially hard for you, but it’s worth knowing. If they’re very new what is their background? Often they will have been in a different sector of the wedding industry, or have skills which transfer well from previous jobs.
Examples of work
In more usual time you would often have already seen some of their work wherever you found them, but ‘touching and feeling’ things like linens and stationery, or browsing through a whole wedding album is very different, and important.
Whilst you cannot ‘touch and feel’, ask suppliers for as many images as possible and ask lots of questions.
Terms & Conditions
Make sure you understand what you are signing up for and don’t hesitate to ask questions if you are concerned or don’t understand something.
Make sure you are aware, for example, of the number of hours included in packages (photographer, film-maker, band, DJ) and whether you will be expected to pay for mileage, provide a hot meal, etc.
Understand, should you hire them, whether any further meetings and phone calls are included in the price and make sure that reasonable email communication is available – you are bound to have questions.
Think carefully how well the supplier communicates with you in the run up to, and immediately following, your first ‘meeting’. or email etc. If they are tardy, evasive or lacking on detail before you have booked them, how might they be afterwards and in the run up to the wedding? However, please remember at this difficult time that suppliers are facing many troubles and are likely to take longer than normal to respond. Many are dealing with current wedding clients on a wedding by wedding (date by date) basis.
You are new to wedding planning but they are not, so ask suppliers whether they think there’s anything you might have forgotten, or not thought of.
Suppliers who offer helpful information are likely to work well with you and instil confidence.
Double check you have understood their pricing and what it covers and ask whether there are any extras.
For example, when ‘meeting’ caterers, ask whether the per head price includes service, linen, water, cutlery, flatware etc. You want to be certain you know the full price and can compare like with like between suppliers.
Ask to speak to recent wedding clients if you don’t have recommendations.
Ideally you want to speak, or email, with the actual clients: anyone can write a testimonial on a website.
Do make notes during your consultations, or, if the supplier is happy, record them. With lots of Zoom, Skype etc meetings happening currently this is easier than ever. If you are having lots of supplier ‘meetings’ in one session, or over one weekend, it can become difficult to remember which said what without notes or recordings.
Write out what you want to ask your suppliers so you don’t forget.
Key Supplier Pairings
It is clear that certain suppliers will need to work closely together, therefore make this as easy as possible for them.
It may be that you actually find key pairings via one another, in which case great, as they will know how to work together and be used to each others’ personalities and norms.
If not, however, make sure you introduce them and keep ‘in the loop’ as long as you feel you need to.
- Photographer and Film Maker
- Band & DJ
- Cake Designer & Florist if you’re having fresh flowers on your cake
Involving Suppliers in your Scheduling
Once you have a good solid draft of your schedule for the wedding make sure you share it with your suppliers.
You may want to have a couple of different drafts, perhaps a Master and a Supplier version.
During your consultations and any subsequent meetings, calls and emails, you will hopefully have a good idea of everyone’s arrival, set up and departure times, along with a running order.
Sending this to your suppliers and asking them to confirm their parts of the schedule and raise any concerns or questions they may have does a number of things, including:
- showing that you are organised and determined for your wedding to run smoothly;
- allowing them to see all that is going on, not just their part: this can result in useful questions being raised;
- inviting their help and experienced advice should they feel insufficient time, or perhaps too much time, has been allocated.
Involving people generally gains more ‘buy in’ to them wanting to play their part in delivering your perfect day.
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