From Simple to extravagant
Planning a wedding isn't easy for any couple. It's exciting, and it should be fun, but it's almost impossible to do without outside help.
Wedding suppliers are passionate about giving you the most perfect wedding day for YOU. They are experts in what they do, and they've done it LOTS of times, so the know what can go wrong, and they are prepared for it. It's not only worth hiring people to create some parts of your day, it's sensible, because it reduces stress.
Sure, you might be perfectly capable of creating a gorgeous three tier wedding cake, but how about transporting it ON THE DAY, what if the friend who takes it to your reception venue accidentally damages it, will they have the equipment to fix it on the spot??
It's not hard to make your own simple bouquets, but what if you want flowers in a particular colour, or out of season?? If you are getting married in summer do you know what fresh flowers won't wilt before lunchtime??
If you just wanted photos, you could easily grab a friend with a good camera, but do they understand flattering light, or will you have huge dark circles under your eyes while your new spouse is squinting in most of the photos?? Will they know how to gently prompt REAL emotion from you instead of just 'go on, act all lovey dovey' while they photography your squished up together noses from an angle that shows you at your worst. Do they understand that you only have half an hour for photos in the gardens and went out there a few days before to scout the best places for you, or will they wander around wasting time looking for a spot that they think will work??
The following advice is in no particular order of importance, just how it jumped from my head to the keyboard. I really and truly hope that it helps take the stress out of planning y our wedding day, leaving you with excitement and joy, as it should be
So, HOW do you you choose??
There are several things to consider, and not all of them will apply to the two of you or to your wedding, so read the list and when something really jumps out at you, write that down for when you meet with your vendors.
There's the first step - MEET with them where possible, if not in person, talk to them on the phone, get a feel for how excited they are by YOUR wedding, how much advice they can offer before you book, so that you are confident with them, and how willing they are to discuss pricing and flexibility, because this is YOUR wedding, and not a cookie cutter affair.
If their PERSONALITY matches what you are looking for, that really is the very first hurdle overcome. If you aren't comfortable asking a vendor for changes because you don't particularly LIKE the way they talk to you, then your wedding planning will be filled with stress, and that's not on.
Personality is MOST important with two of your vendors, the celebrant and the photographer/videographer.
If you don't really REALLY get along with your celebrant, you may not 'feel' married at the end of your ceremony, ouch! I've seen weddings where the celebrant agreed to everything the couple wanted, then changed it to 'what they always do' on the day, picture one VERY disappointed couple who held a private vow renewal as soon as possible with another celebrant, at extra expense.
Your photographer/videographer is the one vendor who is with you for the majority, if not all of your day. They run the show sometimes, because that's their job, they know that the family and friends photos are difficult to organise, so they step in and use an 'outside voice' to get people into position, they run interference for people trying to grab you for a quick selfie during your alone time, they make sure that the memories you get are perfect, no stray elbows of great aunt Mavis during the cake cutting photos, no Uncle Tony holding an Ipad out into the aisle as you dance back up after your ceremony. SO make sure you LIKE them, that you are happy to listen to their experience and to let them guide you into creating perfect memories. In ten years, all that will be left of your wedding day is your rings, your spouse and your photos, don't risk it with someone who is more interested in getting 'their hero shot' than in capturing YOUR special moments.
where do you find vendors
Family and friends first, always. You would be amazed at how many people you know have hired someone to help with part of a wedding, or remember something FANTASTIC about a wedding they attended.
Social Media. Nearly every type of social media has groups or pages for people organising weddings, there are local pages for most areas, so you can have a look at vendors close to your venue, if that's not close to home. These groups are great places to ask questions of other couples, local vendors and people who have an interest in the wedding industry. Many already married couples stay in there to offer advice from their own day.
Wedding Expos. Imagine a whole building of experts all gathered in one place, ready to not only listen to your plans and help your dream wedding come true, but also to offer advice for the parts that you just aren't sure about. After all, if you haven't been married before, how on earth can you be expected to understand the paperwork involved in just getting the legal ceremony performed??
Expos are awesome because you don't have to travel back and forth over different suburbs, the information is all there for you, AND there are prizes galore that will help cut your costs or get you extra trimmings you hadn't budgeted for, plus as a bonus, most vendors will have great offers available if you decide they are the right fit for you.
Wedding magazines. These are glossy, filled with advertisements for different vendors, divided by category, to make it easy to find what you are looking for, and they have articles that help with planning and information for things that you may not have thought of. BONUS, there are magazines for each major city and area, so you can check out LOCAL vendors and not be inundated by advertisements for suppliers on the other side of the country.
Other Vendors. Your reception venue will know who works well with them, they will often have a list of preferred vendors. Your cake maker knows a photographer, your dressmaker knows a great florist. The wedding industry networks within itself to find people of similar values and styles to recommend, this service costs NOTHING and you should absolutely take advantage of it.
are they trustworthy?
A LOT of the wedding industry isn't regulated, as an example photography requires no formal qualification to call yourself a wedding photographer. With the advent of digital technology, photography has become a LOT easier, and an entry level camera is reasonably affordable. How can you tell if the photographer you like has the experience you need to ensure that your memories are perfect??
With EVERY vendor, ask to see previous work, they should be able to offer you different styles that suit what you are looking for. Cake makers will have several cakes in the sizes that you want, or maybe in the colours that you want, as they make dummy cakes to practice with. Dressmakers will have pictures of outfits they have made on people YOUR size, not just size 4 models, Florists will have photos of real and artificial bouquets so that you can see the difference, if they don't have samples in store. a professional Photographer should have a WHOLE wedding gallery to show you, not just some highlights, as these may have been taken at a wedding where they weren't the actual photographer, just a guest who got some lucky shots, or possibly at a workshop where someone set the shot up for them and hired professional models who didn't need to be given direction.
Ask about business registration, get their ABN and ASIC registration if you have any doubts at all. Are they insured, for business and public liability AND equipment?? If they are preparing food, do they have a certified kitchen. Is their equipment professional?? Do they offer any extras that you may like to explore. All of these things are surety that these vendors are professional and serious about their business, that they are prepared to go over and above for you, their client. Do they have a plan B if weather is a factor?? Will it cost extra???
It's ok to choose a beginner or start up venture to save money, it absolutely is a great way to keep the costs down, but make sure that they can meet your expectations and requirements. If in any doubt, look around some more before you sign anything. Remember, there's a reason some people charge VERY little, (I did when I first started), and that's very fair of them to do so, but is this what is most important about your day??
As an example, an experienced professional DJ will often offer an MC package as well, and this can take a LOAD of stress off your reception, because 'that friend who offers' may just have a bit too much to drink, may not pay great attention to your timeline, or may just let the speeches ramble on and on and on and become embarrassing. I've seen it happen, and I've had to take over the microphone (with grateful thanks from Uncle Kevin) because he was simply out of his depth. Don't spoil your reception like that, just don't.
how to do it right on your budget
Budgets are IMPORTANT, blowing them out causes stress. I am ALL about reducing stress on your wedding day, this is why there are blog posts that have nothing to do with photography, and why my packages are customised TO YOU.
Set your budget, then look at the different aspects of your wedding day and decide where you want the money to go. Remember, 10 years, all you will have is your rings and spouse and photos. Do I say that to make you spend more on photography, NO! I say that so that you can think about what memories are IMPORTANT to you, your photographer will capture those details and those photos become your memories.
Is a fully styled ceremony location with huge topiary balls of fresh flowers every 4ft down the aisle, ivory chiffon that perfectly matches your dress draped over all of the guests, gold tiffany style chairs for everyone and a huge styled archway with chandeliers and lanterns how you want to remember your ceremony?? Then spend the money there!
Is perhaps the most important thing to you the celebration party afterwards, with dry ice fog for your first dance, fireworks for your entrance, a four tier cake to cut, and large centrepieces for your guest to delight in the most important part of your memories, then spend your money there!
Perhaps it's the small moments that will become the most important memories, your great grandmother pinning her favourite brooch on your outfit, your father tucking a hankie into your suit pocket, because he knows you will be emotional, the way you KNOW your mother will cry as the rings are slipped on, the cones of eco confetti that you spent over 100 hours creating by hand, a good photographer will anticipate and capture this, so spend your money there!
Remember, there is no wrong or right way to hold a wedding, as long as you end up legally married, so do it YOUR way and enjoy celebrating!