Choosing your wedding suppliers is a potential minefield.
Which suppliers will you actually need? What sort of budget can you allocate to each one? How do you choose between suppliers of the same (or similar) articles? How do you know they will be reliable?
Only you can decide which suppliers you are going to engage. Among others, you may need a venue, an officiant, a photographer, florist, DJ or musicians, entertainment, caterers, make-up artist, hairdresser, wedding planner – and the list goes on!
Once you’ve decided what you’re going to need, discuss your budget. This may be ‘chicken and egg’ – how do you know how much to allocate to each supplier?
You may have to ask around, before you can fix your budget, but how do you choose between suppliers?
A few answers.
Choosing between suppliers
Personal experience of a supplier (or knowing somebody who has used one) can help you select between two suppliers with similar offerings.
Otherwise, go to their website, and see if that helps you. The “reviews” or “testimonials” page may be useful. You can get a flavour of what the supplier might offer and how they would deliver it.
Make contact with the likeliest suppliers in each category. A personal chat (either in person, by Zoom, say, or even on the phone) may inspire you sufficiently. But be prepared with a list of questions.
You’ll need to cover: availability, cost, Ts & Cs (what exactly is included?), cancellation policy and (where appropriate) how they see your vision working.
Of course, there are no concrete guarantees out there, but gut instinct may help you decide on your supplier. You’d also be advised to see what experience they have. What makes them confident they can offer great service to you?
Hopefully, you easily find suppliers who are pleasant and professional. You need to feel confidence in them, and, if not, look elsewhere.
Once you’ve paid your deposit, keep in touch with your supplier.- but don’t nag! By all means check up that they are going in the right direction, but don’t turn them against you.
Do your due diligence, and you’ll have peace of mind on – and leading up to – your big day. It’s worth hunting out the best professionals.
If you need a top celebrant, I do know one you could have a chat with!
Of course, everybody wants a happy and successful wedding. But such a result does not come without careful planning.
That applies whatever your budget.
You will probably be using caterers, flower-arrangers, photographers, a DJ and possibly a wedding-planner and – hopefully! – a civil celebrant like myself.
It makes sense to get quotes from two or three of each before committing. Cost will matter, but should not be the critical factor (see the next paragraph). If you don’t have any first-hand referrals, look at testimonials, but definitely don’t neglect some kind of personal contact. This allows you to get to know the supplier as well as to ask questions before committing. Allow time for all this.
Depending on your budget, you should ensure you do not stint on what really matters to you. The venue, wedding dress or the catering could be the most essential component to you both. To ensure you get exactly what you want may mean reducing costs elsewhere – eg the guest-list, venue size, the flowers, etc. Just make sure you and your partner are in agreement and are not inadvertently preparing a rude shock for the other!
Sometimes, using a less common venue (park, zoo, beach, field) can reduce your fees, but still fit the bill completely.
If you go for a wedding lunch, rather than dinner, this may reduce costs. Moreover, the season will have an effect. Summer, Christmas and Valentine’s Day can be more expensive times, for example.
Do ensure any wedding-planner, celebrant or venue knows exactly what your desires are (in good time). Make a list, and bear in mind you may want to arrange accommodation at the venue (possibly for guests from further afield as well as for you). (You might be able to negotiate a special price too!)
So, plan, plan and plan. Make notes, ask questions, take advice and build a perfect day for yourselves and your guests. Ensure you know what you really want. This will be the day when your every desire must be fulfilled!
For further help, speak to Michael!
Once the engagement is announced, sharks start circling round the couple, becoming frenzied at the scent of money. Is the wedding planner likely to be one of these?
Wedding planners may well charge thousands of pounds for what appears to be about 4 hours’ work, so do they give value?
Money for old rope?
But, if we dig a bit deeper, they may actually not be ripping you off at all.
In reality, the wedding planner spends many hours before the wedding day, planning, communicating, organising rehearsals, meeting suppliers, travelling and dealing with paperwork.
Similarly, photographers, florists, DJs, Civil Celebrants and other professionals appear on the day, but don’t assume that that is the only time that they are working on the wedding!
Far from it.
Choosing your Wedding Planner
Ideally, you will know someone who has worked with the wedding planner and can recommend her. Failing that, their website will help, but an exploratory phone call – have a list of questions ready – will give you an idea whether you would even want to work with this particular person.
This is an event where you really don’t want things getting forgotten or going wrong. So employing someone you have doubts about – or an amateur – could be a huge risk.
You can expect professionals to have experience, training and passion – and those qualities rightly don’t come cheap. Skill and specialisation are keys in this business, and you have to pay for these.
Wedding professionals are not like many solicitors, invoicing you per e-mail and itemising each expense. You pay the full fee and this may encompass many planning meetings, calls and consultations, not to mention countless e-mails with the client over the course of what may be a year or more.
Each wedding planner values her reputation. She can’t afford to mess up, so the professional goes the extra mile to ensure things don’t go wrong. Actually, something probably will go wrong at some point in the day – that’s the way it is. But the wedding planner can reduce and minimise any negative impact.
The professional wedding planner will offer advice – not for her own convenience, but for your benefit. Her experience and knowledge can be invaluable.
You may actually save money by employing a wedding planner. If you are taking on hiring a venue or marquee, arranging the food, drink and catering, crockery, silverware, rentals, flowers, centerpieces and the rest, all by yourself, not only will that set you back more than you might expect, but you won’t have peace of mind (especially if you are a perfectionist).
So weigh up the pros and cons, inform yourself, and do what makes most sense to you.
Weddings can cost as much as £25,000, depending on what you have in mind.
A good wedding planner will let you know from the start what you will be getting for your money; you pay for the service, but you should get peace of mind. It’s often cheaper to do it yourself piecemeal, but then it’s rather harder to keep tabs.
Whatever you choose, it pays to keep your wits about you, and avoid rip-offs.
Because, by its nature, a wedding is usually planned over months, deposits may have to be paid up front. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, do your homework on the supplier before parting with your cash. Do you have any evidence that they are trustworthy? It’s not unknown for companies to take the money and run. Testimonials, while not foolproof, may give you a pointer. Also, how long has the company been trading? If it’s well-established, it probably won’t drop you and run.
It does pay to read anything through before you sign (but how many of us do?!) If you’re dealing with a reputable trader, you probably won’t get ripped off. However, it’s no good claiming that you were “unaware” of deadlines, cancellation penalties etc. You must feel happy about the Ts & Cs BEFORE you sign. (If you really can’t handle it, get someone with some legal knowledge to help you understand what you’re agreeing to.)
The wedding car
Nothing new here, really. You must look for a reputable company that deals with weddings as a matter of course. If you can get personal recommendations, then follow these. If not, it may pay to visit the limousine company before you make up your mind. At least, that way you’ll know they do exist and are unlikely to leave you waiting at the kerb!
There are myriad sites on the internet which cater for brides-to-be (and their retinue). Will you be getting quality? Is that discounted dress actually going to look so good on the day? Again, you need to try and be sure that the company is reliable and bona fide. It may be worth dealing with known retailers (even though that peace of mind could work out quite expensive).
Please be aware that you are taking a risk if you get your best friend to take the photos – for such a big event, you want a professional. You want a good one, so, before deciding, visit two or three and look at examples of their work and try and get testimonials for them.
Other ‘vital’ expenses
There are a host of other items that you might decide are worth paying for. Flowers, invitations, cake, decorations, entertainment, civil celebrant etc. are all quite normal. Prices for some of these can be inflated, so it is often good to shop around and compare quotes.
Sometimes, a ‘wedding’ cake will cost much more than a grand alternative that would do every bit as well. Flowers may be cheaper if they are in season at the time. Arrange a wedding in winter. Catering a morning wedding may work out considerably cheaper too. Be creative!
Naturally, to do all this research that I am suggesting is time-consuming, though necessary. Start in very good time. Your hard work will prove invaluable. Not only could you save money, but, more importantly, you could ensure a perfect day.
Maybe 2015 is the year that you are planning to marry? You want to make it a great year. You have so much excitement ahead of you. Choices, decisions and expenses are things you’ll have to wrestle with. You’re planning the biggest day of your lives – and that’s really pleasurable – but be aware that this often comes with pressure in its wake.
- Your parents may be putting financial or psychological pressure (or both!) on you to have the ceremony that THEY want.
- You may underestimate the timings involved or the things that need to be considered and put in place – the stress can increase as the big day approaches.
- Your suppliers may be a disappointment.
- You may have serious problems selecting your guests without causing offence.
There’s no easy answer to point four. All I can suggest is that you carefully calculate your budget and then, in consultation with your intended (it’s essential that you work as a team throughout), decide who needs to be there, as well as whom you want to be there!
In order to reduce stress, start planning early. Do read my blog called “Wedding Countdown”, which has some useful advice (see http://wp.me/p5qOOT-s6).
If your parents are bankrolling the operation (or even if they’re not, but they’re putting their oar in regularly), don’t let them bulldoze you into doing what you don’t want to do or disapprove of. But you must be the best judge of how to handle them. However, it is your big day and your input should be respected. If they won’t see that, maybe you can offer a compromise (eg “We don’t want a religious ceremony, but we’d be OK with a blessing, if that makes you happy.”).
Finally, you want to be sure of your suppliers.
Referrals are best (though other people’s tastes may not always be the same as yours!). Do have a look at suppliers’ websites and don’t be afraid actually to speak to them before deciding. This applies to most suppliers, such as photographers, florists, civil celebrants, etc.
For the venue, go along and also meet the events organiser. Bring a list of questions, and be sure that you see and love the room where you want to be married or blessed.
Arrange to sample some of your caterers’ output before committing yourself.
Unless you’re planning a full religious service (officiated by your priest), try and get to know your civil celebrant beforehand. You need to feel at ease with and confident in him/her.
Some stress is inevitable, I think, but there are ways of minimising its effects and I hope this advice will help you to have that great year. And that’s my wish for all my readers.