Finding the right wedding supplier can feel like a mini eureka moment. The clouds part, the stars align, and suddenly you can actually SEE what your wedding might be like. There should be a spark, a feeling that you have found a kindred spirit, and (most importantly) a sense that a little of the wedding planning weight has been lifted from your shoulders.
So now the searching is over and you have your supplier-come-new-bestie in place, how do you make sure that you maximise the support they can give you without becoming so reliant on them that they end up on your speed dial and emergency contacts list?
To help navigate the months you will spend with them (yes, many of your wedding suppliers will be your planning compadres for a rather long time), we have put together a list of ideas of ways of working with your wedding suppliers so that you get all the work done AND have great fun together.
1. Make sure you are clear on their deliverables to avoid disappointment
Before you are willing to make a commitment to a wedding supplier, make sure that you are very clear on what they will be providing for you. Some vendors are product-based (think stationery designers) and others are service-based (think venue coordinator), so whilst you may receive a tangible product from some (a cake), others may assist in ways that reduce time / stress / financial outlay (make-up artists or wedding planners, for example).
Nailing those deliverables down will prevent confusion later on.
2. Think of your business transaction like a partnership
Your wedding supplier wants to help you oh-so-very-much. Please let us. Just as it can be hard to recreate a cheese soufflé if half the recipe is missing, so too can it be hard for a wedding supplier to make the ideas in your head surface in reality if you do not share those dreams with them. The more details you can give (and the sooner the better) about your creative thoughts, the better the return will be. We are all on ‘Team YOU’, shaking our pompoms and wanting to make it unique and special for you. Go team!
3. Keep to the email trail
At A+T, we love to send direct messages on Instagram of images that we think will inspire and excite our couples, and it makes us smile when they send us images back, or pins on Pinterest. However, when there are any decisions to be made, it’s good to keep this on an ‘official’ email trail. It allows both parties to check back through the trail for instructions, decisions, and milestones. Even better, it almost acts like a shared to-do list that you can both access. Perfect for people planning weddings and a-type personalities alike (guilty).
4. Know your budget
Whilst wedding vendors will do their best to provide firm quotes for you, certain elements cannot be known until further down the line, and there will often be un-planned costs if you and your partner decide to add in additional ideas as you go (which is your absolute right!). However, if you can portion up your budget ahead of time and set yourself the absolute limit you are willing to spend on each and every element, this will really help with future decision-making.
For example, it may be that you apportion £500 to stationery design, but only end up spending £300. This means, when it comes to your stylist suggesting individual menus for place-settings, you know you have the bandwidth to accommodate this. We are not suggesting that you make the spending limit a target; merely that if you are willing to spend £X on an item, you can go to that limit should you choose, but no more.
5. Be prepared to make decisions
The faster you can make a decision for a supplier, the better. Do you want red? No. Shall we move forward with this part of the agreement? Yes. At the very least, it can save time and panic by providing enough time for a supplier to deliver their product or service to you, but at best it can also save you money. Good vendors will always look to pass savings on to you where possible, perhaps by drawing your attention to a time-limited sale, or because of insider knowledge of other vendors in their network. Take advantage of that and reap the rewards of efficient decision-making.
6. Expect suggestions and advice, but not outside of their remit
Wedding suppliers, on the whole, are a rather helpful tribe. We know how important this day is for you and we want to make it special. And whilst there are some of us who need to have a fairly extensive Little Black Book for the service they provide (us), it is not likely that all suppliers will be able to offer advice for elements of your day that sit far outside their remit.
For example, your hairdresser might struggle to suggest five caterers for you to contact, and your photographer may not know who the best contact is for portable generators. If they have worked with suppliers who are able to provide what you require (and they believe in the service provided), they will usually offer this as a suggestion. However, they may be wary of endorsing the other vendor without ever having worked alongside them. They will also not be able to search for these other vendors on your behalf, unless you have paid specifically for this service, as they need to prioritise their speciality/expertise and their client work.
(If you are struggling to find the suppliers you need, our post How to find wedding suppliers (without spending endless hours online) is written with you in mind).
7. Ask them what their ‘office hours’ are and don’t call them at 2am on a Tuesday morning
If you know that you like to do your wedding planning emails in the evenings / weekends and are worried that this will infringe on your supplier’s personal time, or cause undue panic, do not fear; an experienced wedding supplier will have set their own office hours and will be able to advise when they are likely to respond. Some even have an auto-responses that inform enquirers what these hours are.
At A+T, we make our office hours clear by not being available at all times of the day. Not only does it keep us sane, but we do not want to put pressure on couples to reply to us by emailing them at midnight. It can wait until morning. Nothing is that urgent and we would hate to panic our couples into thinking it was.
If in doubt about anything, ask your supplier. You picked them for a reason, so trust your gut. They have been part of this process before and they want to help you. It’s an exciting time and we love being in your team!