The question was popped - a resounding ‘yes’ echoes from the rooftops - so much excitement. Then the world shuts down - literally. First venues close, cancelling a month or 2 worth of weddings. Then we are forced into a stay at home situation. How the heck are you supposed to plan a wedding?
Right now we are in the midst of wedding booking season without the ability to meet face to face. While it is important to get to know your vendors, especially the ones who will be with you all day, you can do most of the beginning planning from your at home battle station or your couch.
Step 1: Research
You have to find the vendors and narrow them down, but how - there are so many? Bridal shows and private showcases are great ways to get to know a lot of vendors in a short amount of time. But since we can't do that right now - here are some other ways to learn about vendors. WeddingWire and The Knot are great resources to jump off. There may even be a local wedding blogger who has a compiled list of established amazing vendors. In Pittsburgh we are lucky to have a wonderful wedding resource in BurghBrides, if you don’t follow them you are missing out big time. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are great tools as well and let you learn about your vendor in a more personal atmosphere.
Look at portfolios - most vendors have photos and or videos of their venues, services and products on their website or on WeddingWire and The Knot where you can view past work or other weddings in the space. Read reviews. If you already have a vendor booked that you love, ask their recommendations. Ask your friends who they used. Using vendors that have add ons to cover more than you need saves you the headache of contacting and dealing with yet another vendor. For instance there are photobooth companies that only do photobooths, but many DJs and even some photographers offer photobooths too.
Step 2: Contact
Once you have a list of 4-8 (maybe it’s 1 or 2 or 15) then you should start reaching out. Many vendors don’t put their pricing on their websites so you’ll have to contact them for pricing / packaging information as well as availability for your date. Call, email or fill out a form on their website to start the process. Many vendors like us are eagerly waiting for any sort of communication, these are trying times for us too - so reach out today, many vendors are working remotely and would be happy to answer your call and any questions you may have.
Take special notes of how people talk to you on the phone. How willing they are to have a video conversation? How much do they want to know about your day? Their willingness to listen to your ideas and help you along vs putting you into a package.
Step 3: Comparing
You’ll need to pick only 1 vendor from each category. So now comes the hard part of narrowing down who that will be. It may be time for a list of pros and cons to find the one you jive with the best. Remember your photographer/ videographer will be with you for about 12 hours and possibly an engagement session, your DJ is around you for 6 hours, your venue coordinator is around all day as well and throughout the whole process, so you want to pick people that compliment your personality. If you are bossy, but don’t want to be bossy on your wedding day (who needs that stress) then the people you hire should feel comfortable being bossy for you.
Now when it comes to tastings and all that jazz, this gets pretty tricky - how are you supposed to pick something you can’t taste? Well at that point it’s all about reviews - but you can always ask your trusted wedding professionals their opinion. We eat a lot of cake - steaks and buffets. Pick the venue for the way it will look in your photos. Pick the cake based on who will make what you want and how pretty it will be. Plus most tastings come in later in the planning process anyway. Don’t be afraid to contact prospective vendors multiple times if you need clarification.
When comparing vendors what should you be looking for? First they need to fit into your budget. Which vendor gives you the most bang for your buck. Not all flash comes in stuff - a talented experienced vendor will be more costly baseline then someone starting out - you pay for experience and knowledge. Sometimes you will pick your vendor based on their personality - this is why you need to talk to your vendors - certain people will make you feel more comfortable and confidant than others, trust your instincts.
Step 4: Picking your vendor and locking in your date
Once you and your partner figure out who the best professionals are for you. It’s time to lock down that date. Late winter / early spring is considered early booking for the following year; late summer / fall is usual booking time and a month before your date is late and your hopeful talent may already be booked. May and October are always the busiest months for weddings - so if you want a Saturday you need to book early. If you have a specific date in mind and are unwilling to budge on the date - you need to book early. To lock in your date you will need to put down a deposit. The amount is different for each vendor but this allows us to reserve the space, products and talent needed for your date. Friday and Sunday weddings tend to give a bit of a price break, so don't be afraid to take an off day to save some dough.
Step 5: Start the real planning
Yay you picked your vendors, got the deposits in - what's next? Once you're booked your vendors will then send you additional forms and questionnaires to best help them prepare for your day. Getting your planning forms filled out is time consuming but needed. You also have a guest list to compile, seating chart to work on, any DIY projects you would like to complete, etc.
Step 6: When it all blows over
When we are allowed to meet face to face again, set up a meeting with your vendors and say hi - they will love it. Until then - stay healthy and contact your perspective vendors.
At 2nd II None we’ve been planning weddings for over 20 years and 1/3 of our weddings are from out-of-state couples who we may not meet face to face until the final meeting or even day of the wedding. We provide 5 major services including DJ, Photography, Videography, Photobooths and Lighting helping our couples with a one stop shop for most wedding necessities. Going through an established company that provides multiple services helps cut down on the number of vendors you need to contact and gives you the peace of mind that your day is in great hands and will go off without a hitch.