1. How many weddings do you do per year? How much experience do you have? This is an extremely important question. Ideally, your wedding professional should have ample experience specifically with weddings. Not only will they be more skilled in their craft, this also makes them a valuable source of information and ensures that your wedding day goes smoothly. Did they actually attend school or the school of hard knocks. When you meet with them are their certificates available for you to see. Are they associated with any associations?
2. How much do you cost? Price is often relative, especially when you factor in experience, reputation and expert skill. Generally, the most talented professionals have a higher price tag because they are worth it. Similarly, the least expensive company or vendor … well, let’s just say, your wedding is totally one of those experiences and days you can’t re-do and you do get what you pay for. The super cost conscious couple, although they may stay in budget, may not be thrilled with the results on or after their wedding day.
3. How much is the deposit? Are there any additional fees? Taxes, service charges and travel fees can add up quickly. Make sure you understand exactly what is included and if there are any other fees you’ll have to pay. This should be clearly defined in your contract.
4. What specifically is included in that cost? When you factor in experience, reputation and expert skill and then factor in the variety of wedding packages offered by different professionals, it’s likely that you won’t be able to compare one vendor exactly to the next without doing a little figuring. The lowest cost isn’t necessarily the best deal; some higher quotes include services that you have to pay extra for in other packages. Make sure you take these points into account when making your decision.
5. What happens if I cancel? What happens if you cancel? Find out if your deposit is refundable under any conditions. Does the wedding professional have a back-up plan if something happens to them or if they have staff trained to take their place if the main professional of the company becomes sick?
6. Do you use a contract? If the answer is No, RUN! Seriously. No contract. No good for you or them. A contract is designed to protect both you and the wedding professional. Don’t settle for a verbal agreement that won’t hold up in court.
7. Do you carry liability insurance? The answer you’re looking for here is Yes. This protects you in case an unfortunate accident should occur on your wedding day. It’s also a sign that this is a reputable business, since most “fly by night” operations don’t invest in insurance.
Listen. Don’t just hear the words the wedding professional says, but really listen. Watch the vendor’s body language. Are they confident and comfortable with their response? Do they look and sound nervous? Do you get a “funny feeling” about them? Take all the sights, sounds and feelings into account along with their responses; if your gut tells you something isn’t right, it probably isn’t. This is the read between the lines listening as well as the actual listening with your ears.
Portfolios are hand-picked to show off the best work, but they may not represent the “average” wedding performance. Videos are edited for the optimum presentation. But real referrals and testimonials from satisfied clients are hard to fake. In addition, when you meet with wedding professionals that work with a wide range of budgets and they actually show you pictures of them, then you can really get a sense of (1) what your budget may include (2) what their work quality is really like and (3) pay attention to not just the testimonials on their website but the testimonials on Google, Yelp and other such sites. Sometimes, vendors work with a clientele that doesn’t leave feed back then calling references is a must.
Call up both client and professional references. Ask questions and use those listening skills. Even if they give a rave review, you’ll often be able to “read between the lines” if there were any issues or problems. Weigh all of this information into your choices.