Dealing with wedding suppliers is often a new experience for couples. How do you know whether the service you’re asking about is a necessity or a luxury? What questions should you be asking? How much should you expect to be paying? How do you know that the suppliers are going to be reliable?
If you know somebody who has used a particular supplier, then pick their brains. (The fact that they may have liked the supplier does not necessarily mean that they would fit the bill for you, of course. However, it’s a good stepping stone.)
A website may be helpful. It should answer some of your questions and give a feel for the supplier and what they offer. Testimonials may suggest how the supplier works and you can match these assets to your vision for the day.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, phone or meet with the supplier. The questions you ask will depend, according to the product or service you are seeking, and according to your personal inclinations.
As a minimum, ask the supplier:
- About availability
- Costs (possibly, expect only an estimate at this stage)
- What is included and what is not. This may well vary between suppliers of the same service. As a celebrant, I quote a final, all-in figure, but mention in my Ts & Cs exceptional add-ons.
- Terms and Conditions (including payment terms) – these need to state what you can expect from the supplier, as well as what they can expect from you.
- Cancellation policy
Meeting the Supplier
When you speak to (or, preferably, meet) your supplier, there are things you will need to clarify. (These will depend on the particular supplier’s field, of course.)
You may well need to know what happens if a hired wedding dress is returned dirty. Does the caterer offer gluten-free alternatives? Can the florist supply out-of-season flowers? Does the celebrant offer a rehearsal? Does the planner attend in person, or send a (possibly inexperienced) substitute? What type of photographs does the photographer plan to take? Does the venue provide exclusive use?
It’s important that the supplier buys in to your vision. Of course, they may – should – offer advice, but they need to listen to what you want and accommodate your wishes, if at all possible.
Hopefully, you easily find suppliers who are pleasant and professional. You need to feel confidence in them, and, if not, look elsewhere.
If the supplier you want is a little expensive, maybe you can haggle a bit. (For example, shift from a peak-time date or time.) If that doesn’t work, perhaps you can balance your budget, by finding a supplier for another service for a lower price. Finally, if you really like the supplier, perhaps you can stretch your budget just a bit?
Don’t rush into your decision-making. It’s such an important call. So, if in doubt, go back to the supplier and query the issue.
Of course, you should reconfirm with your suppliers nearer the date of your ceremony, but otherwise, if you have chosen well, they should be able to get on with their job effectively.
You should have such a lot less on your mind, come the big day, if you’ve done your due diligence.
If one of the potential suppliers you’re looking for is a civil celebrant, don’t forget that I am available for a chat.