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10 Wedding Vendors Every Couple Needs

10 Wedding Vendors Every Couple Needs

Wedding Vendors You Need

Once you have your venue and date secured, it’s time to start thinking about the rest of the team.   So how do you determine what wedding vendors you need?  

Most couples will have the following  10 “core”members in addition to their venue:

1) Wedding Officiant 

A very important vendor, especially if your ceremony is NOT going to be at a religious institution.  Some couples opt to have family or friends take on this role, but it is also a professional position.  

2) Ceremony Venue

Whether it’s a church or your backyard, where you say your vows to each other is typically the first vendor/contract that is signed when it comes to wedding planning!

3) Reception Venue

Just about every wedding ceremony needs to have a celebration!  You might have just a small gathering at a restaurant with immediate friends and family, or a huge blowout at the fanciest of hotels.

4) Caterer/Bar

If your venue does not offer catering, you will need to hire an off-site catering company for food beverage services.  Some venues have strict requirements on who you can hire, others don’t have any restrictions. 

5) Music (ceremony and reception) 

Most couples go right to the question of band vs. DJ when they think about music, but don’t forget the ceremony and cocktail hour!  Many bands and DJs can provide this service, but it’s also a great time to add in a jazz trio or string quartet!

6) Photographer 

This one’s pretty obvious, you’re gonna want a photographer!

7) Florist 

If you are doing your own flowers, please remember these projects can’t be done more than a day or so in advance. This is already a busy time with final appointments and wrapping up other details. Adding in floral arranging can make those few days before the wedding unnecessarily stressful.  

8) Baker 

Similar to your caterer, this might be something that your venue already handles.  If not, make sure to ask if they have any required bakers that you must use, or if they must be a licensed bakery

9) Hair & Makeup 

Most brides choose to have professionals do their hair and makeup for their wedding day.  Before you can secure them, you’ll need to decide on where you will go (in salon vs. house/hotel), and how many in the wedding party will need services. Don’t forget those outside of the wedding party that might want to participate, like moms, grandmas, or siblings.  

10) Stationer (invites and other paper products) 

What’s the point of having a party if you don’t tell anyone about it, right?!?

What Wedding Vendors are “Optional” 

1) Wedding planner 

I’m obviously a bit biased here, but I truly believe that having a professional wedding planner on your team is the best sort of insurance you can have for your wedding.  Having a planner involved from the beginning (before securing any venues or vendors) can ensure that you are looking at the right options for your style and budget.  

Many of our full service clients hire us AFTER booking their venue, and are locked into pricing that may work with their overall budget.  A good planner will save you money in the long run, and will save you from many stressful moments and planning headaches.  If you are thinking of hiring a full service planner, they should be the very first thing that you book! 

1.5) ”Day Of” coordinator

While nothing beats the personal attention that you get from a full service planner, I highly recommend you have at least a “Day Of Coordinator”.   The name is deceiving though, as no professional can simply show up on the wedding day and be able to execute things seemlessly.  

Most planners begin their Day Of services a month or two before the wedding.  They will go through the details and suggest any adjustments or things that you may have overlooked.  They will connect with all of your vendors, and make sure all of the details are taken care of before the wedding day.  On the actual day, they will help to run the event, working with all of your vendors to bring it all together.  

I often refer to us as the “Team Captain” of the wedding vendors.  Our role is to make sure everyone has what they need to make the day absolutely perfect! 

Note on Venue Coordinators-

Many locations have in-house coordinators, some even calling themselves Day Of Coordinators.  Do not mistake this for having an outside planner involved in the wedding day.  The venue coordinator is there as the point person for any venue and catering details for that day.  They will most likely NOT be involved with the other vendors, wedding party, or other specific details that an outside planner would be there to cover for you.  Many times they are covering other events happening at the venue that day, and will be taking other appointments and tours while they are there.

          Generally speaking, their focus will be divided that day, whereas an outside planner will be dedicated to your wedding alone, making sure nothing is missed!  

2) Videographer

I often hear that couples would love to have a videographer, but it’s just not in the budget.  While I totally understand this, there’s nothing like hearing your vows, or relive your first dance on your anniversary.  Hiring a professional videographer is an investment, but please do give it some consideration.

3) Transportation 

This is typically pretty cut and dry, and very dependant on the venues you’ve booked.  If everything is in one location, you’re lucky enough to skip this category!  Many times, however, the ceremony and reception are in different locations, or maybe you want to take photos at on offsite location.  In this case, you will most likely have to arrange for a limo or shuttle for at least the wedding party.  Additionally, if you have a significant number of guests that live out of town, it’s often a nice consideration to arrange for them to get from the hotel to the venue locations, as they are most likely not familiar with the area.  

4) Rentals 

This is another category that is dependant on the venue that you’ve booked with.  Most will have what we refer to as “house” items, meaning the tables, chairs, and linens that come with the space.  If you’re at a more bare bones venue, you might be required to rent all of these items.  Alternatively, some couples simply don’t like the house options, and will choose to rent items that fit their design or look better.  

Outside of the necessary tables, chairs, and linens, so other common items that couples will rent are charger plates, lounge furniture, dance floors, and draping.  These are all optional, but can really change the overall feel of the event.  Many rental companies will offer special rates if things are booked together, or at the very least, you’ll save on delivery/set up costs if you book rental items together.  

5) Lighting 

If you’d really like to transform the look of your space, lighting can make a huge difference.  Dance floor lighting and uplights are the most common,  butchat with your lighting company about additional options.  Bistro lights, pinspotting, truss lighting, and stage lighting are not as common, but can also make a huge impact on the event design.

6) Photo booth 

While the traditional booths are still popular, there are now many other alternatives to consider.  This includes “open” concepts, live streaming, or other fun twists on the initial concept that include posting to social media.  Another fun throwback that’s been trending recently is a “DIY” photo station with poloroid cameras.  This allows your guests to take their own photos anywhere at the event, and they can incorporate these into a keepsake guest book.

Now that we’ve discussed WHAT wedding vendors you need, take a look at this post to learn more about how to hire your wedding vendors!

 

Other Popular Posts

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What. you need to know about Seating Charts

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What Wedding Vendors do I Need

What Wedding Vendors do I Need

Once you have your venue and date secured, it’s time to start thinking about the rest of the team.   So how do you determine what wedding vendors you need?  

Most couples will have the following “core”members in addition to their venue:

Wedding Vendors You Need

 

Wedding Officiant 

A very important vendor, especially if your ceremony is NOT going to be at a religious institution.  Some couples opt to have family or friends take on this role, but it is also a professional position.  

Caterer/Bar

If your venue does not offer catering, you will need to hire an off-site catering company for food beverage services.  Some venues have strict requirements on who you can hire, others don’t have any restrictions. 

Music (ceremony and reception) 

Most couples go right to the question of band vs. DJ when they think about music, but don’t forget the ceremony and cocktail hour!  Many bands and DJs can provide this service, but it’s also a great time to add in a jazz trio or string quartet!

Photographer 

This one’s pretty obvious, you’re gonna want a photographer!

Florist 

If you are doing your own flowers, please remember these projects can’t be done more than a day or so in advance. This is already a busy time with final appointments and wrapping up other details. Adding in floral arranging can make those few days before the wedding unnecessarily stressful.  

Baker 

Similar to your caterer, this might be something that your venue already handles.  If not, make sure to ask if they have any required bakers that you must use, or if they must be a licensed bakery

Hair & Makeup 

Most brides choose to have professionals do their hair and makeup for their wedding day.  Before you can secure them, you’ll need to decide on where you will go (in salon vs. house/hotel), and how many in the wedding party will need services. Don’t forget those outside of the wedding party that might want to participate, like moms, grandmas, or siblings.  

Stationer (invites and other paper products) 

What’s the point of having a party if you don’t tell anyone about it, right?!?

What Wedding Vendors are “Optional” 

Wedding planner 

I’m obviously a bit biased here, but I truly believe that having a professional wedding planner on your team is the best sort of insurance you can have for your wedding.  Having a planner involved from the beginning (before securing any venues or vendors) can ensure that you are looking at the right options for your style and budget.  

Many of our full service clients hire us AFTER booking their venue, and are locked into pricing that may work with their overall budget.  A good planner will save you money in the long run, and will save you from many stressful moments and planning headaches.  If you are thinking of hiring a full service planner, they should be the very first thing that you book! 

”Day Of” coordinator

While nothing beats the personal attention that you get from a full service planner, I highly recommend you have at least a “Day Of Coordinator”.   The name is deceiving though, as no professional can simply show up on the wedding day and be able to execute things seemlessly.  

Most planners begin their Day Of services a month or two before the wedding.  They will go through the details and suggest any adjustments or things that you may have overlooked.  They will connect with all of your vendors, and make sure all of the details are taken care of before the wedding day.  On the actual day, they will help to run the event, working with all of your vendors to bring it all together.  

I often refer to us as the “Team Captain” of the wedding vendors.  Our role is to make sure everyone has what they need to make the day absolutely perfect! 

Note on Venue Coordinators-

Many locations have in-house coordinators, some even calling themselves Day Of Coordinators.  Do not mistake this for having an outside planner involved in the wedding day.  The venue coordinator is there as the point person for any venue and catering details for that day.  They will most likely NOT be involved with the other vendors, wedding party, or other specific details that an outside planner would be there to cover for you.  Many times they are covering other events happening at the venue that day, and will be taking other appointments and tours while they are there.

          Generally speaking, their focus will be divided that day, whereas an outside planner will be dedicated to your wedding alone, making sure nothing is missed!  

Videographer

I often hear that couples would love to have a videographer, but it’s just not in the budget.  While I totally understand this, there’s nothing like hearing your vows, or relive your first dance on your anniversary.  Hiring a professional videographer is an investment, but please do give it some consideration.

Transportation 

This is typically pretty cut and dry, and very dependant on the venues you’ve booked.  If everything is in one location, you’re lucky enough to skip this category!  Many times, however, the ceremony and reception are in different locations, or maybe you want to take photos at on offsite location.  In this case, you will most likely have to arrange for a limo or shuttle for at least the wedding party.  Additionally, if you have a significant number of guests that live out of town, it’s often a nice consideration to arrange for them to get from the hotel to the venue locations, as they are most likely not familiar with the area.  

Rentals 

This is another category that is dependant on the venue that you’ve booked with.  Most will have what we refer to as “house” items, meaning the tables, chairs, and linens that come with the space.  If you’re at a more bare bones venue, you might be required to rent all of these items.  Alternatively, some couples simply don’t like the house options, and will choose to rent items that fit their design or look better.  

Outside of the necessary tables, chairs, and linens, so other common items that couples will rent are charger plates, lounge furniture, dance floors, and draping.  These are all optional, but can really change the overall feel of the event.  Many rental companies will offer special rates if things are booked together, or at the very least, you’ll save on delivery/set up costs if you book rental items together.  

Lighting 

If you’d really like to transform the look of your space, lighting can make a huge difference.  Dance floor lighting and uplights are the most common,  butchat with your lighting company about additional options.  Bistro lights, pinspotting, truss lighting, and stage lighting are not as common, but can also make a huge impact on the event design.

Photo booth 

While the traditional booths are still popular, there are now many other alternatives to consider.  This includes “open” concepts, live streaming, or other fun twists on the initial concept that include posting to social media.  Another fun throwback that’s been trending recently is a “DIY” photo station with poloroid cameras.  This allows your guests to take their own photos anywhere at the event, and they can incorporate these into a keepsake guest book.

Now that we’ve discussed WHAT wedding vendors you need, take a look at this post to learn more about how to hire your wedding vendors!

 

Other Popular Posts

The “First Look Debate

What. you need to know about Seating Charts

Wedding Vendor Tipping – What you need to know

 

 

Wedding Vendor Tipping – What you need to know

Wedding Vendor Tipping – What you need to know

Tipping Your Wedding Vendors

One of the most common questions I get is what wedding vendors should we tip.  There are many different variables that can come into play, but I can share some general advice and suggestions for what to consider when putting together your vendor gratuities.  

There are some vendors that require a gratuity for their staff.  Most often, this is written into your contract and added to the final balance.  These vendors typically include your caterer and/or reception venue, transportation, and beauty team.  So, make sure to check your contracts with these vendors to see if your gratuity has already been included, or if there is a required amount you are responsible for. 

After that, gratuities can be considered for those vendors who have helped make your day special.  The unwritten rule is that if the vendor works for someone else (for example, a photographer shooting for a larger company), it is more common to give them a gratuity.  On the other hand, ff they are the owner of the company, it is less common to give them a gratuity.  My personal opinion, if you’re grateful for that persons role in your big day, it’s never a bad thing to show your appreciation!  If you have had issues or concerns, don’t feel the need to give them a gratuity.

If you’re unsure if you want to give a wedding vendor a tip, you can certainly hold off until after the wedding.  You can always mail a gratuity or thank you card or gift after the wedding 

What Wedding Vendors Expect a Tip?

  • Catering/Bartenders/Wait staff
  • Hair & Makeup
  • Transportation
  • Officiant/Church
  • Ceremony Musician

What Wedding Vendors are Optional? 

  • Photo/Video
  • DJ/Band
  • Planner
  • Baker
  • Florist
  • Photobooth/Entertainers
  • Rental Companies
  • Venue Coordinator  

How much do you tip vendors? 

The only real “protocol” would be the standard 15-20% that you would consider in the rest of the hospitality world.  However, if you paid $4,000 for a photographer, they are definitely not expecting a $600-800 gratuity.  I typically recommend you consider how much this vendor helped you throughout the planning, and anywhere between $50-200 would be appropriate. 

Alternatives to a cash tip?

However, your budget might not allow for you to tip all the vendors you would like.  There are alternative ways you can  show your appreciation.  For instance, if you know your DJ loves a certain kind of beer, or your photographer loves a good glass of wine, pick up a case or bottle for them.

Another way to show your appreciation is to leave them a review on sites like WeddingWire and TheKnot.  You can also make sure to “tag” them in your post-wedding social media pics, and make sure to recommend them to friends and family.  That can go A LOT further than even the most generous tip!

One last tip!

On a similar note, I have a recommendation for handling any final payments that will be due on the wedding day.  While most of your vendors will require final payment in full well before the wedding day, some will will be due  the day of.

 I strongly recommend that you take care of these payments beforehand anyway.  It’s very easy for you, or the designated person for this task, to get distracted and forget.  You don’t want to be in the awkward position of having a limo driver or DJ asking for money in front of your wedding party or guests!  Therefore, it’s much easier to just take care of it beforehand to avoid any inconvenient or embarrassing moments on the wedding day.

 

Hiring your Wedding Vendors

Hiring your Wedding Vendors

How to Hire your Wedding Vendors 

Hiring your wedding vendors is one of the most important things you will do for your wedding.  Here are some tips to hiring your wedding vendors, but make sure to check out this post for a more thorough review! 

Every event is different, but most couples will find that they need: 

  •      Caterer/Venue
  •      Musician
  •      Photographer
  •      Videographer
  •      Florist
  •      Planner
  •      Hair & Makeup
  •      Transportation

Prior to meeting with your vendors, we encourage you to take a look at these tips so you know what to expect during vendor meetings.

1.)   Know, Embrace, and Stick to Your Wedding Budget

Before you hire your wedding vendors, PLEASE make sure you know what is budgeted for that category.  I’d hate for you to meet with and fall in love with a photographer, just to find out they are out of your budget.  Request pricing information via email or a phone call first, and only set up appointments with those in your price range.  

2.)   What is Your Wedding Style?

Do you want a photojournalistic photographer, or someone with a more traditional style?  Are you picturing a rustic chic look, versus something with a bit more bling?

Figuring out what your wedding style is will help you narrow down what vendors might be a good fit for you.  While you don’t need to know every single detail, it’s important to have an idea of your likes and dislikes at this stage.  

The importance of this will vary depending on the vendor, of course.  But start pulling together some inspiration images for each category, Pinterest is an amazing resource for this!  Floral images for florists,  photography shots for photographer meetings, and even wedding song lists for entertainers.  Having an idea of your wedding style before your first meetings with vendors will be very helpful! 

3.)   Do Your Research on wedding professionals

Doing your research about a potential vendor prior to meeting with them is important. This will give you a general idea of what services the vendor provides, and what you can expect from them. Research prior to meeting with your vendor allows you to see the possible package offers that the vendor provides (and the prices!).

I also highly recommend you look at vendors online reviews.  Sites like WeddingWire and The Knot are the most popular, most vendors will have reviews posted there.  

4.)   Come with Questions Ready

You’ve already done your research.  You’re only going to set up meetings with vendors that are in your budget and compliment your style.  The next step in hiring your wedding vendors is the actual meetings!

Most vendors are used to holding consultations in person, over the phone, or with a service like Skype or Zoom.  There is typically not a charge for these first meetings, it’s just a part of the inquiry process.  

Make sure to come to your initial consultation prepared, but don’t feel like it’s a formal job interview.  Think of it more like meeting a new friend for coffee or a cocktail!  

Have a list ready, you can find some great questions to ask wedding vendors here.  Also be ready to take notes, you’ll want to remember the details after you’ve met with several vendors.  

5.)   Listen to your gut

Don’t feel pressured to sign anything at the initial meeting.  It won’t be uncommon for you to want to go home and talk about the options afterwards.  No vendor should make you feel pressured to sign a contract on-sight.  

Don’t be afraid to ask your potential vendor for referrals, especially if they don’t have many reviews online.  

Finally, there is an emotional component involved when choosing your vendors.  Therefore, if you do not seem to click with them, that’s okay!  

On the otherhand, you might feel that strong connection at that first meeting,  and sign the paperwork right then.  Because you’ve already done your research, you know they are already a great fit for you, and the meeting can be just a formality.  

*A quick side note of caution that I would pass along to all of my clients.  Pricing for many wedding services will vary greatly.  Though it can be tempting to be attracted to a good deal, keep in mind that phrase “is it too good to be true”?  Cutting corners by hiring a cheap vendor can often result in a less than desirable end product or service.

Other Popular Posts

The “First Look Debate

What. you need to know about Seating Charts

Wedding Vendor Tipping – What you need to know

Wedding Entertainment – 7 Tips for Hiring your DJ or Band

Wedding Entertainment – 7 Tips for Hiring your DJ or Band

Your wedding entertainment will set the tone for your reception, so it’s a very important decision in your wedding planning journey!  We have all been to a wedding with a horribly cheesy DJ or band, nothing could be worse!  No worries, we’re here to help you avoid some common mistakes couples make prior to even meeting with potential entertainers. 

Derek Rafferty of E3 Detroits Dan Rafferty Band shares some key steps to take before hiring your wedding entertainment! 

7 Tips for Hiring your Wedding DJ or Band

01 | Decide what components your wedding will include

02 | Build a short list of potential providers

03 | Be sure each provider includes everything you want

04 | Think about the “experience” you want

05 | Make sure you know exactly who you’re working with

06 | Go see your band/dj perform live and get to know them

07 | Make sure they work well with your other vendors

Still trying to figure out if you’re more of a DJ or Band couple?  Check out this post here  where we explore the pros and cons for both! 

Hiring your Wedding Vendors

How to Decide on your Wedding Vendors

Choosing the correct vendors is an essential component to ensuring that your big day runs as smooth as possible. Prior to meeting with your vendors, we encourage you to take a look at these tips so you know what to expect during vendor meetings.

What order should we book our vendors?  You’ll want to book based on their availability (or lack there of) to take multiple events.  So start with the vendors that can most likely only do one event a day, and then move on from there.  Here’s a list of the typical booking order: 

Priority– Venue(s), photographer, DJ/Band, planner, videographer (vendors who only have one spot open per day are going to be the first ones to book up!)

Next up – Caterer, Officiant, rentals, florist, hair & makeup

Less  urgent – Transportation, photo booth, lighting, stationer, baker (I put these in the “less urgent” category because these vendors generally have the ability to book multiple events in a day) 

1.) Know, Embrace, and Stick to Your Budget

As we discussed in the Budget Bundle, your budget is a huge factor when determining what services you will need from your vendors. By prioritizing your budget based upon your wants and needs from your vendors can allow you to narrow down which services you may need more of or less of.  If you haven’t done this yet, stop now and go back and complete the Budget Breakdown before doing anything else!

2.) What is Your Style?

Before getting too far into securing your wedding vendors, we encourage  you to begin choosing your color scheme and style for your big day. This component of planning becomes essential when selecting which vendors will help convey your vision of your wedding day. In order to portray the vision you ideally would like to create on your wedding day, it may be helpful for you to bring examples of what you would like your vendor to provide including color scheme, Pinterest links, and any other forms of inspiration.

If you do not have examples of what you specifically want, it is always helpful when portraying your vision to your vendors to know your likes and dislikes. This can help the vendors create exactly what you are looking for.  Most often this refers to the visuals like linens, florals, and design, but don’t forget it’s equally important for your non-design vendors like the musicians and photographers to fit into the personality of the event you are creating.

3.) Do Your Research

When they say that preparation is key, they are not kidding. Doing your research about a potential wedding vendor prior to meeting with them is important. This will give you a general idea of what services the vendor provides, and what you can expect from them. Research prior to meeting with your vendor allows you to see the possible package offers that the vendor provides (and the prices!). Take time to review these services to come up with questions specific to your needs.  

4.) Come with Questions Ready

Thinking about your big day and the services you expect to receive from your vendors comes along with a lot of unanswered questions. Upon initially meeting with your vendors, we encourage you to write these questions down as they come up because your vendors will be more than happy to clear up those questions. Having your questions ready for your vendors and getting these questions answered will give you a clear idea of what exactly to expect from their services. We’ll chat about some common questions to ask different vendors next!

5.)  Listen to your gut

After meeting with your potential wedding vendor for the first time, it is important to remember that you are not set in stone with that vendor. Wait to sign any contracts until you are sure that they are the one. Do not be afraid to ask your potential vendor for other referrals. There is an emotional component involved when choosing your vendors, and if you do not seem to click with them, it is okay to look elsewhere. Your vendors are a huge contributing factor on your wedding day, and we urge you to find the vendor that is the best fit for you.  

 

6.) Personality matters (sometimes)

While it’s great if you can be besties with your baker or stationer, their personalities aren’t going to be make or break on your wedding day.  There are some wedding vendors that can greatly impact your wedding day negatively if you don’t mesh, so make sure that you take this into consideration in the interview process.  These vendors include those that you’ll be interacting with all day, or will be interacting with your guests for a large portion of the event. For example, your photographer and videographer, who will be your own personal paparazzi for the day, and your DJ/Band who will be dictating the energy of the reception.   Your officiant will be the one performing the actual service, so it’s important that they can reflect the energy that you want for your ceremony.

And of course, you’ll be working very closely with your wedding planner/coordinator, whether they are helping you through the entire planning process or just pulling together the final details and there with you on the day of.  If your personalities clash with any of these vendors, it can result in an unnecessarily stressful day.