Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How To Get the Most Out of Vendor Meetings

Whether you're looking to book a florist, a photographer, or a caterer there are a few steps you can take to make sure you get the most out of your meetings. Think about it - you're getting ready to spend 20-30 minutes on an intro call or an hour+ in a face-to-face consultation with at least one vendor per category. That's a lot of time if you're not properly prepared, so focus on researching Price, Vision, Priorities, and Reviews prior to your meetings.

PRICE RANGE - just like buying a car, you need to do your research about pricing. Yes - it is a bit more difficult to get clear pricing in the wedding industry but with a little google magic and a few simple calls, you can get a good idea of what your vision might cost in your geographical area (the cost of your sister's wedding in Ohio will be much different than your own wedding in DC). Now, why is this important?

1) Budget - allocating your wedding budget based on realistic costs can save you the heartache of going over budget, as well as help make an educated decision about what to spend on each service. Doing this based on some formula you found online can be frustrating, as it doesn't account for your priorities or actual cost of items in your area. Having budget guidelines also is a huge help to vendors, especially those putting together custom proposals (designers, florists, caterers).
2) Vendors - finding vendors in your price range is important. If your photo budget is $4k but you're reaching out to photogs starting at $10k, you might be disappointed when they send you a proposal for $10k. We also highly advise against meeting with three vendors from three different pricing categories (low, medium, high) because you'll be comparing apples to oranges. Pick 3 vendors in your style and within a similar price range to get the most out of your vendor search. And if your planner is sending you on low/medium/high consultations ask them why - your planner should be working for you and not for the vendors they've cut deals with.

VISION - I think this portion scares many of you because someone out there labeled "vision" as "all of the tiniest details of wedding". When we say "vision" we don't mean tell us the details of the menu cards, exact color of your linen, or the tone of uplighting you want to have. What we mean is give us an idea of what kind of event you're looking to have. Will it be a relaxed family-style meal or an all-night rager with one of the top DJs in the country. As wedding vendors, we need some parameters to be able to narrow down and give you the proposal that will encompass both your budget and your needs - which we won't know if we don't get any vision direction. We need to know who we're designing for and what role we will be playing on the big day. This will also help you narrow down your search to vendors that fit your style, which is super important.

PRIORITIES - knowing what's important to you can help vendors put together the best package for you. For some it's food, for some it's photography, and for some it's décor. We are never offended when someone says "hey - we're dropping a lot on our photographer, so we'd like to scale down the flowers". This is actually super helpful - we know that flowers are taking a back seat, which impacts the floral selections and overall design (tall elaborate centerpieces vs. low floral accents).

REVIEWS - this goes without saying but we'll say it anyway. Do your research on vendors you meet PRIOR to the meeting. If you're looking at established vendors, there should be plenty of reviews on WeddingWire, Yelp, Facebook, etc to help you find not only trusted vendors but ones that fit your style. Another thing you can do - pick up the phone and inquire if your vendors have biz licenses and/or liability insurance. This will help you understand who's not only good at their job but is also good at running a legit business (if they're not approaching their business seriously, they'll most likely not approach your wedding seriously - beware "brides turned planners").

Join us next Wednesday for how to make the most of your consultation - what to look for and ask when meeting with vendors.

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