Welcome back! You’ve already read in PART 1 how to go about doing the initial research to finding the perfect vendors for you! Now today we will delve into the best way to approach a meeting!
As a recap, by now you should have compiled a short list of vendors who’s work, website and blog you love. And hopefully you’ve cross checked their online reviews on Project Wedding and/or Wedding Wire! You probably found these vendors through referrals from friends, family and acquaintances, a trusted inspiration blog, one of your favorite vendors that you’ve already hired or your wedding planner, or maybe an online message board or bridal community you are a part of!
Now it’s best to email your short-list vendors. Start with your top 3-5 in each category!! This is important, don’t just email everyone who’s work seems like they might work for you or you can become overwhelmed! Do try to think about your favorites and only meet with those few faves. When emailing a vendor it’s good to give them AS MUCH INFO AS POSSIBLE, don’t just ask for prices. I try to reply to every email regardless, but there are some vendors I know who delete and don’t reply to generic inquiries that just say “Hi, What is your pricing info? Thanks,”. So if you really like a vendor, you don’t want to end up on their “delete” list. You don’t need to tell vendors your life’s story in an email, but we love to know a bit about you + your fiance, your likes, your plans for the wedding, maybe even the range of your budget for this particular service. I personally also like to know what you are looking for in a photographer, and if you have any other key vendors on board. The more I know about you and your wedding the more of a response I can give, and the more I can tell if we are a good match for each other.
In the reply, a vendor will often give you a rough estimate of what to expect price wise, and ask if you would like to set up a consultation. Personally, I do require a consultation with all potential clients before giving out my detailed pricing guide. The reason? I want to make sure we are a good fit, I want you to see my work in person, and I want to give you some info about what I can do for you that no other photographer can! Of course, I do give you a rough estimate of my prices in an email, so you know if I’m within range of your budget and if it’s even worth meeting. If you find a vendor is in your price point and you love their work you should make the time to meet with them. Preferably, you and your future spouse should attend the meeting.
(finding a perfect vendor = BIG WEDDING DAY SMILES! I’m always so happy to work with couples who love my work, my personality, and trust me)
Tips for vendor meetings:
- DO: Be personable! While this is a business meeting, it shouldn’t ALL be about getting down to the nitty-gritty, asking questions and going over prices. Weddings are personal events, and therefore it can really help your day go smoothly and be extra fun if you surround yourself with vendors who care about you on a personal level. Give yourself 5 minutes to just relax and get to know the vendor you are meeting with! Is this someone you like and can see entrusting a huge part of your wedding to? Or is this person just not your cup of tea? You can tell a lot from just a general, quick chat about life than you will if you are just going through a check list of questions.
- DO: Let them know about your plans for the big day! This is how a vendor can tell what they can do for you and what your needs are.
- DO: Look through examples of their work!
- DO: Let them know your must-haves and priorities and find out if this is something they can deliver for you. If they can’t deliver, what is the reason? Is it a matter of style, or are your requests challenging? Example of a challenging request: a bride needing a flower that will be out of season for their day and is extremely hard to find out of season. If the vendors style doesn’t match your style, you two might as well move on. But if they can’t deliver because what you are looking for is a challenge, then you might want to rethink things a bit too.
- DO: Be honest about your budget. Letting a vendor know your limitations can save time when it comes to going over pricing.
- DO: Compare qualities and values of what a vendor is offering! Perhaps you just met with a photographer offering a package for much less…Don’t be afraid to ask why the price is where it’s at? Perhaps the more expensive photographer is offering a better album (album companies do vary drastically in price/quality) or perhaps they are more experienced or offer more personal attention. There are reasons behind price points… DON’T just assume you are comparing apples to apples when looking over a quote or package. The quality is just as important as the bottom line price, so do ask and…
- DO: Be willing to be a little flexible on your budget if you LOVE a vendor. Often times as a bride, we have a budget and we FEAR going over it by any amount. I know, I’ve been there. When we’ve decided we only have $2000 to spend on a florist, it can be sad and disheartening when a quote comes back from your #1 florist choice for $2400. $400 over the budget can be A LOT. I’m not saying that you should always go over budget or that it’s easy to come up with a little more money for something. However, if some one is clearly YOUR FAVORITE vendor, you shouldn’t just cross them off the list because of a mere few hundred dollars. See if there is a way for them to work with your budget? Perhaps a florist could give you a smaller bouquet, or you can get a smaller package with less products or hours from your photographer. If you make it clear to them how much you love them, they may be willing to work with you on price. If they can’t come down on price, and you still feel they are truly “the one” do consider being a little flexible on your budget. It may mean cutting down the alcohol budget or not having a get away car, but working with someone who is truly going to be there for you and deliver you an amazing product/service is often worth the sacrifice.
- DON’T: Be afraid to ask questions! You are there to find out all about this vendor, so feel free to ask! There is no question too stupid, right? 😉 Just try not to only be about a check-list of questions you found online, because that’s when I think clients stop paying attention to the person and get stuck in the world of checklists!
- DON’T: Be afraid to be honest about where your at in your decision. Letting vendors know potential concerns, or what the deciding factor comes down to for you is helpful for them. Same goes for after the meeting, if you decide not to go with a vendor, though it can be awkward, it is really helpful to write them and let them know you are going with someone else. And if there was a specific reason it really helps the vendor to know that too… not saying it isn’t a tad awkward, but it lets the vendor know if they need to improve something.
Hopefully this info helps you in knowing what to expect when you meet with a vendor, what to do and what to look for. Try to have fun as you meet people who might just be the right fit to help you create the best wedding ever! If you can have fun with someone at the meeting, you will likely have fun with them throughout the planning process and on your big day! The final decision should also have to do with about loving the work the vendor consistently does and TRUSTING that they will come through for you. If a vendor seems flaky, or inconsistent, like you can’t trust them, then do not hire them!! Trust is so key! And when you trust your vendor you can relax knowing they have your back and will do their magic on your big day.
(here’s a photo of me having fun with one of my beloved 2010 brides, Christine)
So now…make your decisions and book that favorite vendor!! Hope these two posts have been helpful!