For the most part we all shop on line. Amazon, Fresh Direct, Bloomingdale's and even places like Target allow you the consumer to research and shop for the best deals. It's quick, easy and for the most part you don't have to deal with a cashier who doesn't smile or say "thank you". It all can be done from the comfort of your home (with a glass of wine), office or even your train ride home. It offers consumers a way to shop without the hassle of dealing with other people.
But should the same hold true when planning your wedding?
Let me put it this way. When "shopping" for a dog, would you just order one on line and then hope it works out, fits in with your family. NO most likely you wouldn't. Every dog has a different personality, quirky behaviors and mannerisms. How would you really know if that dog is going to be the right fit for you or your family over the course of the next 10 to 12+ years? Plus, owning a dog is a huge investment, both in time and money. Most likely you would meet the dog and see if it was the right fit. Then you would decide if owning that dog was the right choice.
So my question is this; why would shopping for a wedding planner, band, venue, caterer or DJ be any different than shopping for a dog? Sure, there are a LOT of differences, but the point is the same. Like shopping for a dog, your wedding is a huge investment and time commitment and, if you're like most brides, you want to be sure you've picked the right vendors to make your special day perfect. Can you really choose your wedding vendors by shopping on line? Can you truly know what you're getting if you don't meet with and discuss the details of your wedding in person or at the very least on a phone call? In my opinion no...
You see wedding vendors (or at least the ones I work with) want to meet with the client. They want to get to know the client. For them it's not just about money, but it's about making sure they are the right fit. The vendor client relationship is a two way street. It has to work for both parties in order for the client to be happy and the vendor to deliver. The personalities have to click. If they don't, it can spell disaster down the road.
So as a bride how do you shop for a wedding planner or vendors?
It's easy, first, don't email asking “what's your price ?” or “cost of services?” Sure some vendors have a set price or packages they offer that they can send you. Some, like myself, customize their services to meet the specific needs of each client. Plus, if you only ask what the price is, how is the vendor truly going to be able to sell themselves "the product" to you? I often receive inquiries that only give the first name, the month of the wedding and the question of how much are your services. Unfortunately for myself, and most in the wedding industry, this isn't enough for us to give you the information you truly want, which can lead to frustration and disappointment in the wedding planning process. Help us help you...
This leads me to my second point. The more information you can provide in your inquiry to your potential wedding planner or vendor the better. If you want concise information to make an educated choice then I highly recommend you give information to get information. Your inquiry should always have the following: your full name, date of the wedding, potential guest count, time of your wedding, location of your wedding and specifically what services you're looking for. And if you're not sure what you're looking for, let us know that too. Wedding vendors love to educate consumers, that's what makes planning weddings so fun. We love to guide brides so they get the best experience. Which leads me to my next point, pick up the phone and have a conversation.
Picking up the phone and having a conversation with a live person is time consuming; however, it's also part of planning a wedding. Talking on the phone can be a great indicator for both you and the vendor if you want to take it to the next level, an in person meeting. Conversations are great, you can tell a persons’ energy, if they are articulate and if they are knowledgeable in their field or craft. I always request to speak via the phone before I offer any information so I can truly get a sense of what the client is thinking and if it will be a good fit. Going a step further, in person meetings are even better and often the best way to tell if this is the person or company you want to work with. It's also a great opportunity to discuss pricing and budget.
I often find brides become a little shell shocked when it comes to pricing and their budgets. I'll be posting another blog soon on pricing in the wedding industry; but I can't stress enough if you don't know your budget or you aren't sure what things cost let the potential planners and vendors know that up front. It will avoid wasting your time and theirs if they are out of your range, but I must also stress, cheaper doesn't mean better. You often do get what you pay for. I've had brides come to me because they hired an inexpensive planner that they've had to fire because the cheaper was just that, it was cheap, unprofessional and the person didn't know what they were doing. Hiring good vendors does cost money, but it also give you peace of mind knowing that you are getting what you pay for.
The last thing I'll say is to manage vendor expectations. Some vendors or planners only take a certain amount of jobs a week, month or year. And if you've received a proposal, pricing and information that doesn't work for you, let us know. Often times we're happy to make adjustments so that we can work with you. But if you've moved on in a different direction, let us know that as well so that we don't potentially lose other jobs. And the best thing a bride can do is to let us know why. Was it personality, pricing? Whatever you say will be fine because it only helps us become better at what we do.. The worst thing a bride can do is to not let us know anything and move on in a different direction.
All wedding professionals want to see your wedding dreams come true, helping us help you will make planning your wedding a little easier and bit more stress free.
Until next time...Cheers!