If you’re planning a wedding, you’ll probably need to hire some vendors. If you’re planning a typical wedding (7-8 hours including a ceremony, dinner, dancing, and pics or it never happened), you’ll probably need to hire a lot of them.
If you care about your wedding—which, by the way, you should, or you shouldn’t have one—you should also care about the people responsible for creating it.
In each vendor category (photographer, DJ/band, florist, cake, caterer…day of planner to name a few) there are what seems like an infinite amount of talented wedding vendors to choose from. It’s literally a job interview for us, and you’re the boss! While Day of Pittsburgh is always happy to name drop our A Team vendors, it’s important you also know how to sniff them out. Here’s how to find and hire vendors worthy of your wedding.
1. Do your research!
Would you hire someone at your job without researching them online? No lol. While it may take some time, doing your research can save you many future headaches. Things to look out for:
On their website
A vendor’s website is their storefront to the world, and it’s trying to attract you. So ask yourself: Does it? Does their site answer your questions, or leave you with more? Do they have a portfolio that you can identify with? Did their bio make you trust them? After a quick glance, do you want to learn more? Has their blog been updated in the past 3 months, or was their last post from 2016?
My website deal breakers: No e-mail listed anywhere, auto playing music (WTF!), any text that says: Welcome to my site!!!!, no photos of the vendor/owner, non-inclusive language (AKA assuming each couple is a bride and a groom), and a lack of diversity in general.
On their social media
This one is a biggie. I’d say about half of my couples that book Day of Pgh discover me on Instagram first. That’s a LOT of business. Just like you wouldn’t go on a date without a quick creep, you should also check out what vendors are up to online.
My social media deal breakers: No posts from the past month, excessive political/religious rants (you know what I mean), lack of diversity, strictly styled shoots/no real weddings, zero personality, and if I can’t even FIND your social media? I’m out.
In their reviews
Listen, I won’t even buy a $12 sundress from Amazon without scouring the reviews. These can be found on Google, The Knot, Wedding Wire, Facebook, local Facebook groups or any friends who have recently gotten hitched.
My review deal-breakers: Less than one review per year they’ve been in business, Lack of variety (they should have notes from grooms, other vendors, and parents…not just from brides), reviews only on The Knot and nowhere else. Oh don’t you worry, imma get into The Knot in a blog post soon.
2. Ask questions!
Once you’ve found a vendor you vibe with, don’t be afraid to ask them questions! Here are some great questions to get to know more about a potential wedding vendor.
What’s your turnaround time?
Time. Is. Money. If they can’t get back to your inquiry within what YOU deem an appropriate time, they aren’t worthy. For reference, my turnaround time for inquires is 24-48 hours unless my vacation responder is on. Others may need a few days! For some wedding vendors, this may be their side hustle—I did that for a year—so learning more about their average turnaround time sets the right expectations at the beginning of your relationship.
What is your background?
Basically: How and why did you get into the wedding biz? If you’re a wedding vendor, you should probably enjoy weddings. I’ve met many that spend wedding days annoyed, and if they can’t answer the question without an eye roll, you don’t want that energy around your day. Move on.
What was the most challenging wedding for you and why?
For me, the challenging weddings were in my first season, because I was learning what was and was not realistic to get done in the amount of time I had. Now? I am preventative, know what questions to ask, and have an army of assistants at the ready to help me direct your day. Every challenge a vendor faces is a learning opportunity, and asking this question will show how they handle conflict, which they should be able to do!
What wedding are you most excited about for 2020?
When I think about my 2020 couples, I get SO pumped! I have a kickass Leap Day wedding at a venue I’ve been dying to work in, I’m chatting with a couple getting married on New Year’s friggan’ Eve (bucket list of mine!), I’m finally getting into the Energy Innovation Center, and I’m also really excited to be back at the Omni. Ahhh I can’t forget MORA AND IAN!!! Is it May yet?! Ugh. I’m so excited. ANYWAY, if your potential vendor doesn’t have an answer for this, they aren’t worthy.
3. Don’t overlook the newbies!
Good vendors have to start somewhere, so if you’re budget is tighter, don’t overlook the newbies! Three years ago, I was a brand new planner with no reviews, no wedding portfolio and like…no social media presence. I am so grateful for those first couples who were willing to give me a shot. When Day of Pgh is booked, I try to recommend newer planners I’ve met to pay it forward. The best way to discover a newbie before they blow up is to ask them the questions above, plus a few extras:
How many weddings do you have booked before us?
Chances are they have some booked, but haven’t actually done one yet! When I booked a May 2018 couple in May 2017, I had 3 weddings before them on my calendar. By the time theirs happened, I did 9!
Where do you see your business in a year from now?
If someone asked me this, I would have said: I see it being so successful, I can leave my full time job!
Why should we give you a chance?
I got this a lot when I first started, and it was always hard for me to answer. I typically emphasized my previous experience as at events manager, and instead of pitching them with my words, I would show my worth in my service. What I do with an inquiry is a mini experience of what I can do on your wedding day:
Answer you as soon as I can, with my full attention
Recommend solutions to wedding day pain points based on my experience
Admit when I don’t know the answer, and ask someone who might
Connect you will vendors you haven’t already booked
Follow up with any information I promised you
Follow that advice, and your vendor soulmates will make themselves known. If you need a gut check, ask your day of planner ;)
Have a great weekend!