1/ Know what you're looking for
Image by Sotiris Tsakanikas
Don't dive in underprepared. Before you start your research, be sure that you have your wedding budget in place and that you've settled on which areas will be the main priorities for your wedding. These two work hand in hand, as knowing your priorities will help you allot a rough figure to each part of the wedding – the photography, the flowers, the entertainment, etc.
Ideally, you'll also have an idea of the style you’re looking for. Collect a range of inspiration images on Pinterest to really flesh out and visualise the ideas in your head.
2/ Do your research
Image by Katie Parra Photography
Don't be put off by the enormity of this task. Hiring vendors is best done over the course of a few months, so it doesn't have to be too strenuous or time-consuming. Find out when to book each vendor here!
For research, we can recommend Wellington Weddings as your first port of call. Our Vendor Directory is a great place to start investigating some of the best vendors in the Wellington area!
Of course, it doesn't hurt to gather recommendations from others too. Enquire with your venue manager and any recently-married friends or family with whom you share similar taste. There are many other ways to discover vendors: browse bridal magazines, attend a wedding show, or do a simple Google search with what you're looking for plus the location. (e.g. “videographer Wellington”)
3/ Narrow down the field
Image by Heidi Lau Photography
Professional wedding vendors usually have their own websites, and this should give you everything you need to know to make a decision about shortlisting them. You can often tell a lot from the overall website aesthetic, but your top priority should be visiting their portfolio page and, if applicable, their blog.
The portfolio should present images and examples of vendors' finest work, so browse this to get a clear idea of the vendor's style and capabilities. Consult their blog to check that their most recent output aligns with the best work displayed in their portfolio, and to check it’s regularly updated (meaning the vendor is actively working). If the style resonates with you and there’s evidence of consistently high-quality work, the vendor will likely be an excellent candidate for your wedding!
Note that many vendors won't put their pricing information online. You may need to contact them with details of what you'd like, or even meet in person, to establish whether they can work within your budget.
4/ Do pre-interview preparation
Images by Love & Light Photographs
It's vital to interview vendors, preferably in person, before making your final selection. Speak with several vendors per category to enable you to make a comparison of different services and prices. There's no need to meet with more than three vendors for each service, however - any more and you'll end up wasting precious time (yours and theirs) and may end up confused by too many choices.
Once you've narrowed the shortlist to the ones you’d like to interview, reach out via the vendor’s website to make an enquiry and arrange a meeting. Make the enquiry personal – explain what you love about the vendor from what you’ve seen and mention some relevant details about your wedding. Don’t forget to check they have availability for your wedding date before pursuing a meeting!
Two points to remember for the interview:
- Be yourself - the interview should give you an idea of what it will really be like to work with this person, so be sure to be true to yourself, the way you work and your vision for the wedding.
- Be prepared - in many ways, this is a business meeting, with you taking on the role of the hirer. Be professional in your approach to the interview. Dress smartly, prepare relevant questions, listen carefully to the vendor's answers and take notes. It's also a fantastic idea to bring along some visual inspiration to help convey your vision.
5/ Know what to look for in the interview
Images by Belathee Photography and Bryce Covey
One of the most crucial things to look for is compatibility. You'll have a working relationship with your vendors so choosing people that you genuinely like (and whose personality and style mesh well with yours) will make the work more enjoyable and efficient.
Mainly this comes down to gut instinct, but here are some things to reflect on to help you determine compatibility:
Do they come across as pleasant and professional?
Is there genuine rapport?
Do they listen to you and your ideas?
Do they display an understanding of (and enthusiasm for) your vision? (Asking pertinent questions and making appropriate suggestions?)
Have they done similar work before?
Do you feel that they're on the same page as you?
Do they inspire confidence with their experience and knowledge?
Are they able to work within your budget?
For anyone working with you on the wedding day, it may also be good to know if the vendor has worked with your venue in the past. Familiarity with the setting can mean that they have a relationship with the staff and are experienced in dealing with any location-specific advantages and challenges!
6/ Speak with referees
Image by KT Merry
Even if the vendor seemed like a perfect fit during the interview, it's incredibly important to take references from people who've worked closely with them within the past year or so. Speak to no more than three brides (or couples) they've worked with recently and ask them to share a bit about the experience. Ask questions about what it was like to work with the vendor and whether they delivered on their ideas.
7/ Request an estimate and negotiate
If you've decided you'd like to go ahead with the vendor, request a written estimate or proposal; this should break down the services they will provide.
Once you've received (and understood) the proposal, consider whether there are areas you'd like to negotiate and then offer the vendor specific ideas for perks or concessions to allow you to move forward and come to an agreement. Always remember to keep negotiations polite and respectful!
8/ Check your contract carefully
Image by Kristen Beinke
Always make sure you get your contract in writing. Before you sign, read the entire document and ensure you understand each part. Discuss anything that you’re unsure about or that doesn’t seem quite right with the vendor.
The contract should include:
The logistics (wedding date, time and location)
A payment schedule (including deposit)
Exactly what the vendor will provide and when, with a description for style-specific items, like invitations or cake
Information about liability insurance, deposit and cancellation terms
Remember that the vendor isn't secured until they've received a deposit and the contract has been signed. Up until that point, there's always a risk that they may book another event on your date! Try to be as prompt as possible in your communication to avoid losing out.