• Gilly Keat - Amore Star Events

How to choose your wedding suppliers


So if you've been reading my series of wedding planning posts, we've covered: where to start, how to choose a wedding venue and also wedding photographer. We've still got a way to go, but man it feels so good to start ticking things off the to do list. I am a massive list person. I couldn't function without them.

This month, we're talking how to choose your wedding suppliers. Note - these are just suggestions, they worked for us, they're my opinions, but as always what works for some may not work for others.

It's all about the money...

Firstly, I made sure I knew what budget I was working too. You might remember that Mr B and I had chatted briefly about it in previous posts, but since I last blogged we have sat down and worked out exactly what we can afford to save each month and also decided the amount we would be prepared to spend. We've set up a separate bank account so that we don't confuse our regular savings pot and both have a standing order set up so we know how much we are depositing each month. Some of you may be paying for this yourselves, and some of you may be lucky enough to be offered contributions from loved ones. No worries either way, but set yourselves a budget and stick to it. Remember that a wedding is just one day, not a competition and is not worth bankrupting yourselves.

BUDGET: If you are hiring a wedding planner to do a full plan (planning from the very beginning), chances are that budgeting will be involved in your package.

However, if not - don't worry. There are hundreds of budget apps, spreadsheets and websites available to help you stick to it and plan accordingly. Spreadsheets are my friend, I use them for everything and strongly suggest you set one up too.

We have a master sheet with each suppliers contact details, what they're providing, when we owe them money and how much we owe.

Couple of options that some of my brides are using:

BRIDEBOOK - Gives personalised cost estimates, available on desktop or mobile app format. I love that it has a template of 'traditional' things but also allows you to add in your own items too.

BRIDE MAGAZINE - All online, free, easy to use and uses an average of costs.

HITCHED - Has loads of wedding planning tools, but I like how you can keep track of deposits, next payments and total spend

One word of advice I've been given by a fellow bride that I'd like to pass on...if you are fortunate enough to be given a financial gift, please remember that this day is YOURS. Money + weddings can do funny things to people. One suggestion I was given was that if a financial gift is given, make it clear what the money will be used for, rather than disappearing into the wedding pot. So for example, 'thanks Mum and Dad, massively appreciate your contribution, we are putting the money towards the wedding flowers.' - Then, if Mum and Dad are asking if you need help, perhaps they can assist in choosing the wedding flowers!

Suppliers

Next, we made a list of all the different suppliers we needed. So for example, florist, videographer, caterer, cake maker, hair and make up artist, decor company etc etc. Under the headings of each of the suppliers, I listed the suppliers I've worked with and admire plus suppliers I aspire to work with. I knew approximate price points for each company but contacted each of them once I had a better idea of what I wanted to request quotes.

If you're brand new to this, and don't know where to start, I've given a few of my top tips below...

Tip: before you contact anyone, do your research and have a rough idea of your budget. Think about the following...

TOP TIPS BEFORE YOU CONTACT:

1) Listen to recommendations from friends/family and from your venue’s preferred suppliers.

2) Preferred suppliers – doesn’t always mean that they’re the best in their field. BUT they’ll know your venue like the back of their hand and will have all the knowledge of what works best.

3) Consider the style of your wedding when choosing your suppliers. So for example if you’re going for a quirky, non-traditional feel – avoid choosing a run of the mill photographer.

4) Think about the location – many suppliers will be prepared to travel, but may well charge extra if they’re not located close to your venue.

5) Make a short list and then look into each of them further. (I usually read the 'about us' page, have a stalk of their social media platforms, look at whether they have a price listed, and then go for a deep dive into their reviews/testimonials.)

6) As much as us brides like to be the 'only bride' - in reality, we're more than likely one of many. If a supplier doesn't respond immediately, don't panic. Give them a couple of days before following up with a phone call/another email.

The above should help whittle down your list...Then you're good to go and start contacting:

TOP TIPS WHEN YOU'RE TALKING:

- make sure they're available on your wedding date.

- Be clear in your requirements and your budget, but remember that the people you are contacting run a business. (It's one of my pet peeves when I get asked to give a discounted rates. So much effort, love and time goes into what I do.)

- I always like to chat to the person behind the business and tend to follow up an email with a phone call to really get an idea of who I'm dealing with.

- If you're offered a meeting, take it. Best to take your partner with you too, so that you and your potential suppliers really can get to know each other. (I like to meet all of my clients before we both sign on the dotted line).

- Don't be afraid to give ideas of your own. Are they responding to your ideas, and can you see yourselves working together for the remainder of the planning process?

- The right supplier should be friendly and willing to help. Having said that, being accommodating and being at a bride's beck and call are very different things!

- Don’t panic book if someone offers a ‘too good to be true’ discount (chances are, it is).

- Check that prices include elements such as VAT, Mileage and set up if applicable.

- If your supplier is new to your venue, they may require particular insurance such as Public Liability - check with your venue if you're unsure.

- Before making any commitments, READ your contracts.

Decisions, decisions...

Hopefully, you now have a feeling of who you want to go for. Make sure you're confident in their ability, they're genuine and have plenty of experience. Don't be fooled by opting for the cheapest, like many things in life, you may end up getting what you pay for. Finding the right suppliers should make all the difference, giving you confidence and making the wedding planning journey that bit easier.

Once you've made your choice together and have let your preferred supplier know, remember to go back to the other people you have contacted to let them know too. I often keep dates available for people I've quoted for and then never hear back which can be very frustrating, particularly in peak wedding season. I like finding out who my potential clients have chosen to go for and the reasons why, as perhaps it may be something I can change, or perhaps it just wasn't meant to be.

Above all, make sure you've got wedding insurance. It may cover you against cancellation, failures, disasters etc.

If you're finding the supplier hunt a little overwhelming, get in touch. I've got a big book of contacts and love chatting weddings! (Not sure if you've noticed?!)

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