Happy Beginnings & Engagements.
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How to book a wedding vendor during Covid-19
In a world that is ever changing, brides have another curve ball. As if planning a wedding wasn't difficult enough. It is harder for couples to find and choose professional wedding vendors. Going to a bridal expo and gaining a first impression would be a couple’s first smart move. This is my immediate recommendation. Today, that is not happening. So, what are couples to do?
Your answer is one that is simple, and one you DON’T WANT to hear but NEED to hear; book phone calls and video meetings. Technology is always in our hands, pocket, or purse. The new human habit is to avoid meeting someone in person and book them online. Almost as if it were a clothing purchase. Bad idea. That is unless you want to gamble a few hundred or thousands of dollars and the quality of your wedding.
Hiring a wedding vendor online is not like buying a pair of jeans. You could send the jeans back if they are the wrong fit. But a wedding vendor usually has a non-refundable retainer/contract. Sorry. You won’t get your money back if that person is not the right fit.
NOTE: A contract is a legal binding agreement. It should be there to protect you and protect the company you are hiring. Many unprofessional vendors sneak in limitations and curve balls. You overlook them because of big legal jargon and long sentences. Or, you don't care because of an amazing, yet distracting, sale.
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover when hunting online. Unfortunately, everyone online can have almost identical websites. - Great written text boxes.
- Beautiful photos
- Similar delicious sounding sales pitch.
- Pretty colors and themes.
The difference is how the vendors treats you before you hire them. And how they treat you after the wedding day.
When you hire a pro, you are not hiring them to play music, or serve food, or have a clean venue, or take pretty pictures. You are hiring them for how they will treat you, how they treat your family, how they react in a bad situation. That is the difference between someone who is $200 versus someone who is $1000. Isn’t your experience worth the little extra time and money? Don't you deserve to be happy? Then ask the right questions! You could waste your money. Paying someone who treats your wedding like another paycheck.
So again, I ask; how do you make sure you don’t get one of those low quality vendors? How do you resist the mouth watering temptation? How do you know if someone has a good deal, or is a cheap scam? How can you be sure the vendors won't do half-ass work?
Simple. Book phone calls and video conferences. If big corporations can do it, why can’t you?
Steps to simplify the process. Let’s simplify the process that I am going to share with you here. If you follow these steps and tips, you should not regret who you hire online, or over the phone.
Begin Your Hunt Online.
Skim a few good and bad reviews.
Make a hot sheet of good first impressions.
Take a break. Don’t do any more research.
The following week, hunt online again.
Reevaluate the names you originally liked.
Hit the contact button.
Send Hard Questions BUT Don’t ask for price? (I will explain why).
If you like this first impression, set up a phone call. (or send one more email then the phone call.)
You might be thinking that is too simple. But it is that simple. Human nature is to make things seem harder than what it is. So, let’s touch base on a few of those points because you might still be wondering why I said, Don’t ask for price.
Hunting online is simple. The only safe place for health right now is the internet. Don’t only use social media. Look all over. Check places like Google, Maps, LinkedIn, or Yahoo. Start gathering your vendor names from there. Anyone can make a facebook account or an Instagram feed. That doesn’t make them good or professional or business savy. They could be the bottom of the barrel waiting to steal your money. They might take your money and run. You not have that vendor on your wedding day. (yes it happens every year! I’ve seen it first hand.)
TIP: keep in mind when visiting websites and profiles. Photos can be bought online and people can be paid to write catchy website texts. Sad to say, but even a photographer could buy a photo and use it on their website. Yes, I have seen this firsthand also.
TIP: Also, vendors control what goes on their website. They will only put the best photos and the best written jargon to attract anyone and everyone. Kind of like fishing. The delicious, beefy, lure always gets more bites then a simple hook on a string.
Check reviews. After you found a few names you like, check their reviews. Read good and bad. Never only trust the good ones. Vendors can always “bribe” a couple to leave an amazing review. But don’t only trust the bad ones either. Some couples can’t be pleased. Depending on the vendor, the couple might have buyer’s remorse. They can't get out of a legal binding contract after they jumped the gun and picked someone.
These review will help you get a feel for who you like. Someone who responds to their couple’s comments is always a good pick. Someone who tries to help the unhappy couple shows they are making an effort. They want to keep their business integrity and a happy future couple.
But these reviews will also tell you if the business wanted to get paid and do the least amount of work.
TIP: the vendor doesn't have reviews. RUN!!! Run far away and never return. I don't care how good a deal it is, or how wonderful they sound. No reviews, means they are hiding something.
Make a hot sheet. You will know how Alice felt when she spiraled down the rabbit hole. There are so many “wedding vendors”, and always new ones every year. Don't risk mixing name, packages, and availability with all the vendors. It looks bad on your part. Vendors can deny you, like you can deny them.
TIP: Make notes if you liked how someone made you feel. Did they have a good deal? A special add on? Jot that in a note section.
TIP: Star the companies/names that you felt an immediate attraction. Did they have an amazing first impression? Anyone missing The Bachelor/ette on ABC?
Take a break. If you don’t do this, you will get exhausted. You will get irritated and make a bad decision because you “just want to pick someone.” Take a break. Turn off your computer. Make final notes and then walk away. Clear your mind.
A week later, start again. Why a week? I don't want to wait a week? It gives you time to turn your mind off completely. You might stumble upon a verbal recommendation that you would have otherwise missed.
What if you skip and only rest a day or two? You might forfeit a good quality vendor for a cheap price. Worse, you might miss a great deal, for a stuck-up rude professional.
Reevaluate the names you starred. Remember the names that you gave a first impression rose to? Go back to their website and look again. Did you miss a piece of information you actually don’t like? Did you overlook a fee that would otherwise be included with your second choice? Did your first choice vendor get new gear, or update their website and if looks even better? Did they get a new review? Did they add a new wedding experience? Does it actually look terrible and you don’t know what you were thinking?
Contact Button. This does not mean you are hiring them. Many gree professionals think getting an email means, you will hire them, but don’t worry, it doesn’t. You need to contact them so that you can weed out how professional they are. Sometimes they are rude. Uncommunicative or disrespectful. Distracted or too busy to respond to you. Either way, YOU need to contact them. They can’t read your mind and contact you. Besides, you are only knocking at the door and saying hi. You are not booking them. You are only going to ask them hard questions…oh and look I have next.
Ask Questions. Don’t ask for price. Biggest number one mistake every couple can make! YES. This is one of the most important questions to you. But because someone says they are $5k, doesn’t mean that is the package you want. They might have a $1K package that you can modify. If they say they are only $1K doesn’t mean you will get what you want. You might have to add the extra bells and whistles. You wedding funds could disappear fast.
Your next question should be; “What kind of questions should I ask?“ Copy and paste the following:
Good Day Vendor!
I hope you are doing well today. I came across your website, and I wanted to ask a few initial questions if you have a moment. I’m not looking at booking anyone at this exact moment and would like to not be pressured. I am sending this email to several other professionals as well. If you meet our first criteria, we will be setting up phone calls, video conferences, or in person chats. So here are my few quick questions:
- Are you available on this, or any of these dates:
- How long have you been a registered business?
- Approximately how many weddings have you worked professionally?
- How many weddings do you book per year?
- Do you have several teams?
- What is your retainer amount or percent?
- When do you need payment in full?
- What is your price range? (Low-High)
- Would you be willing to let us see your contract before we discuss package options?
I know these questions might be on your website, but I just wanted to make a contact email and hear it straight from you.
The other reason that this is great is because you will get to see how quickly they respond. Second, you will see if they send you a link back to their website. If they are willing to take the 5 minuets and write out an email respond to your inquiry, they are worth it.
TIP: If they don’t respect you as a potential client, why would they hold the respect while you are an active client?
Set up a phone call. Or video chat. Or in person meeting. This is such an important step. Many couples think they don’t need it. It can be the make or break for if a vendor will treat you right or not. Things like:
- Did they want to know about us and our wedding?
- Did they only want to throw us a number and finish?
- Were they willing to work with our budget or what special needs we have?
- Were they willing to ask us our concerns? (without you telling them.)
- Did they ask us good questions or basic filler questions?
- Did they keep asking us if we have questions? (pros should know popular questions and share answers with you.)
- Did they only talk about themselves? (we have two ears and one mouth for a reason!)
These will be immediate ques to if you like someone or not. If the phone call didn’t go well, don’t hire them. Even if they are a great price, or have a good quality, if you did not like the person on the other side, don’t do it. DON'T. If you don't trust me, trust your gut. Send an immediate thank you email, and look else where.
TIP: Sending a No Thank You email is great because it prevent vendors from spamming you. If you didn’t like them at all, don’t sit on it, don’t wait, tell them straight forward, no thank you. You can’t hurt their feelings. And if you do, they are not in the right industry.
Don’t forget the truth. No matter how good a price, how beautiful a photo, how good of a sales talker, this is your wedding. You need to do a little bit of research and work. Like anything in life, nothing is easy. Anything that is too good to be true, probably is. (Most of the time). Don’t forget this either; sometimes things happen for a reason. You might get what you deserve all with one vendor.
Happy Hunting, and Have a beautiful memorable wedding!
Have you book one of your vendors yet? What did you do? What did you ask? What did you avoid? So many couples listen to other couples and experience. Please share it here. Let other couples know of great questions, or red flags to watch out for when booking a vendor.
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