How to Pick the Best Vendor Team for Your Wedding or Special Event

As the Events Manager at The Cactus Hotel, I receive numerous requests for vendor referrals. Every wedding and special event is different, with unique personalities involved. There are few vendors that I confidently feel are a good fit for a wide variety of clients. One of the services I am able to provide is a referral connection that goes deeper than just “budget”. Since you will be working closely with this team for several months to plan the BIGGEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE, I think it is important to shop around and interview potential vendors. During this process, you are able to see if working with them will be a pleasurable or painful experience.

During vendor referral consultations, I always start by asking a few questions:

  • Do you want a vendor who can take charge or would you prefer to handle most of the planning and execution?
  • Is budget or the value of service provided more important?
  • Then I say, “When you close your eyes, what do you see? What do you hear?”
  • Using these questions, it gives me an idea of what kind of client they are, what is most important to them, and the direction of vendor referral that I can offer.
    Some wedding couples are very hands-on and do not want a vendor that will try to insert their opinion the whole time. I had a bride mention to me that vendors like this make her feel like they are just trying to “up-sell” her and make more money off of her wedding. However, some couples are very grateful for the expertise that some experienced vendors can offer. By getting an idea of what works for you and what doesn’t in the personality department, I can guide you in the right direction for the right vendor. The last thing I want is your lasting impression of your big day, is to feel annoyed by a super involved vendor or feeling neglected by a more relaxed vendor.

    I ask the question, “is budget or the value of service provided more important?” because this tells me what are some of your must-haves and where I can suggest you scale back. For example, you might mention that your most important detail is the food. You might mention you have a sophisticated palate and you want your wedding guests to experience your dream food….but your budget might be better suited for a BBQ dinner. This is where this exercise comes into play. Will you be happy at the end of the day, in 5, 10, 20 + years when you look back and think about your wedding? Will you regret that you spent $2,000 on a simple wedding dress that you wore one day and got red wine spilled on it, but didn’t get to have that amazing sit down dinner menu you have been dreaming about your whole life? Or will you just settle going to your favorite restaurant for rehearsal dinner instead? Maybe this is a time to not do the giveaway gifts and use that money in an area where you really will feel like you had the wedding of your dreams, such as having your favorite foods as passed appetizers after the ceremony. Just by asking this question, you can start to make confident decisions on who you will hire for your vendor team.

    Lastly, I am a big fan of visualization. When I help anyone plan their wedding, I always say, “Close your eyes and tell me what you see. What do you hear?” This can help me make simple suggestions, such as, where to put your dance floor to the florist that I recommend. It is hard in today’s society with Pinterest and other social media platforms where we feel we need to have all of the bells and whistles in fantasy world. But in reality, when we close our eyes, you might just imagine simple details like your favorite song playing as you dance with your new husband or wife and the color of the linens. The funny thing is, that is exactly what you will remember many years down the road, not the fantasy details.

    This exercise just tells me you need vendor recommendations for a) DJ that can follow a timeline and requested play list is important, also is familiar with that specific genre that was mentioned, b) Decorator with a beautiful selection of quality linens and possibly chair coverings, c) you might not need the most elaborate florist in town, d) I may also suggest a guitarist or saxophonist to play your favorite song for the first dance, e) Lastly, I may suggest a day of coordinator who can make sure you can effortlessly float through the day without worrying about details. At least, that is where we will start!

    Especially for weddings, I feel that a huge leap of faith is taken not just with your new spouse but with who you spend your savings with. Your vendor team should make you feel confident and supported in this celebration of your new marital life. My goal is to supply you with specialized referrals so your day is everything you have ever dreamed, and MORE!