Today’s informative guest post comes to us from Sam Ketterer of Absolute Perfection, based in London, England. Enjoy!

So you’ve just got engaged? Congratulations, the ring is on your finger and you now have a wedding to plan! Here is our useful guide to help you source the best suppliers for the Big Day.

See more after the cut!

Prioritize

Once you’ve set a budget and have an idea about guest numbers, decide what elements of the wedding are the most important to you as a couple. For many couples, the venue is of utmost importance, closely followed by the catering, dress, and guests having fun. Then having prioritized 3 or 4 elements you can then spend less on the things that are less important to you and more on those that are.

Research is Key

Word of mouth is a valuable tool but not everyone has family or friends who were recently married. And even if you have, it’s likely that you don’t want the same photographer or bridal car as your best friend.

Aside from Google search results, online directories, magazines, fairs and trade shows there are a variety of reputable trade associations and guilds. These independent bodies, such as the Wedding Photojournalist Association, often assess and vet their members at regular stages to ensure they provide a reliable and dependable service.

But before you decide to draw up a shortlist of those you want to interview, you need to carry out some quick, additional checks of your own to ensure the supplier is indeed all they appear to be.

  • Website & Social Media Presence: First up, examine their website thoroughly. Do they have a blog and a Facebook page? Are they well written and presented? Are they well managed and kept up-to-date? Regular blogging and social media activity are a good sign, especially if they are posting good quality content.
  • Contact Details: Check their website for contact details. Do they have a street address listed? If not be cautious. If they do, is it a home address or do they have a separate office? And can you meet with them there? You can view the address via Google maps. Do they have a land-line telephone number or just a mobile number? If no land-line is listed, again be cautious. It’s often a sign that it’s a very small business operating from home. Call any numbers you find.

However, it is important to be aware that lots of wedding businesses are small, independent ‘one-man-bands’. That’s not to say they cannot deliver the level of service you require. But it could mean that they might be operating their business from a back bedroom. And if you have found them online, it’s likely plenty of other couples have too. They may, therefore, struggle to meet demands during peak wedding season.

Recommendations

The wedding industry is relatively small and reputable venues and suppliers often recommend other like-minded, reputable suppliers. Is the supplier recommended by any companies you are already familiar with?

Some suppliers feature in or have their work published in the wedding media. It’s a sign that they are experienced, knowledgeable and a specialist in their particular field. If they do, they are likely to promote this fact on their website.

  • Reviews & References: Lots of businesses publish positive reviews on their website. Others can be found elsewhere online. However do take care when reading them, as some may not be genuine. If they sound contrived or scripted, it’s possible they are. Make a note of a couple of comments and follow up with the business owner to see if you can get in contact with the people who left the reviews. If they are genuine, it shouldn’t be a problem to get their names, telephone numbers, addresses, and emails. Then follow them up, by email and phone if possible. Speaking to a previously satisfied client is always reassuring and is often the last mountain for a supplier to climb before being booked.

Meeting

  • Compatible Personalities: You will be working closely with your suppliers for several months on one of the biggest and most important projects of your life. Therefore it’s essential that you have compatible personalities. Your individual characters should naturally ‘click’ and feel comfortable together. There needs to be a certain ‘chemistry’ between you.
  • Face-To-Face Communication: It may be that the supplier is a leading industry figure and perfect on paper, but has an awkward or temperamental character that you might find difficult to deal with at the best of times. The best way to find out if the chemistry is there is by meeting face-to-face. Sometimes you can tell the moment you walk through the door. At other times it might take a 30-minute chat over a glass of wine to develop a good rapport.

Look for signs that the supplier is focussed on you and your wedding. You want to be sure that they understand you and your vision for the Big Day. They should be attentive and listen patiently to what you have to say without interrupting and respond with questions to any points that need further clarification.

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Professional Advice

Suppliers should be passionate and enthusiastic about weddings and especially your wedding! So when responding to you it’s essential that they provide you with plenty of practical and professional advice. They are experts in their field and should have lots of ideas and tips to give you that you might not have otherwise considered.

Contracts & Booking Forms

If the meeting has gone well before you decide to book you are going to want to see a copy of their contract or booking form. As with such documents, check the small print thoroughly. Ask about payment terms, deposits, due dates, and any potential, unforeseen or additional charges that might be incurred along the way.

Ready To Book

Congratulations, your search for the perfect planner/cinematographer/florist… is nearly over. Ask for a contract or booking form. When you receive it, again check it thoroughly and raise any issues if you see any.

Once you sign and return it and pay the deposit that’s another wedding task completed. You can then look forward to planning the rest of the wedding, confident in the knowledge that you have the support and guidance of a wedding specialist to call upon.

Sam Ketterer is the Director of Absolute Perfection. Established in 2003, AP is one of the longest established wedding planning companies in London. When Sam is not planning weddings he tutors aspiring wedding planners through the AP Wedding Academy. He also writes a wedding planning blog to help DIY brides plan their own weddings. For more information about Absolute Perfection, please visit their WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile.

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