One of the key ingredients to planning a wedding is taking the time to thoroughly research, shortlist and enquire with potential wedding suppliers.
Well, if you rush the process and book the first suppliers you see/who are recommended to you, without doing any research or asking the right questions, not only do you run the risk of booking suppliers without knowing the full facts, you also risk booking suppliers who aren’t necessarily the right fit for you, your budget or your style of wedding.
This in turn can lead to more work, unnecessary worry and further consequences later down the line.
So, if you have the luxury of time on your side, then I’d thoroughly recommend using it to do the following…
Firstly, refresh your memory with this previous feature (a step-by-step guide to choosing your wedding suppliers), from the Wedding Planning Tips archive, paying particular attention to STEPS # 2 and # 6.
And secondly, combine this knowledge with today’s feature…
Pulling together your dream team of wedding suppliers takes time.
Firstly, there’s the endless hours of internet research, followed by the even longer process of checking out potential supplier websites, social media accounts, features, reviews and testimonials.
And after all of that you’re still only half-way there as although you may have a better understanding of a supplier’s style, portfolio and suitability, the information you find online will only tell you half of what you actually need to know.
Thankfully, and to make things as easy as possible for you, the other half is covered in today’s feature… Questions to Ask Potential Wedding Suppliers!
Of course, the following questions are just a guide and whether you choose to ask them all, or just a couple, will depend entirely on the supplier, product or service you’re researching, how much information you’ve already managed to find out AND how much time you have at your disposal!
Think of it as a Pick ‘n’ Mix menu to finding, fully understanding and booking your dream team of suppliers!
- Do you have availability on our wedding date? A bit of a no-brainer BUT you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget to ask this question! This should be your first question; after all you don’t want to waste anyone’s time, especially your own, if they’re not free.
- Are you able to send us a copy of your brochure and/or price list? If you’ve started researching suppliers then you’ll already know that a lot of suppliers only provide an overview of their services on their websites, with prices either being guideline costs or absent entirely. This makes requesting brochures, price lists, lists of services or bespoke quotations essential. Once you receive these, they should provide you with a more detailed picture of what’s entailed, helping you in turn with the decision of whether or not the products or services are exactly what you’re looking for, are within budget and whether or not the supplier is the right fit for you. Obviously, the feasibility of this and how much information can be provided varies between suppliers and services. For example, a florist can only provide guideline costs as the specifics are entirely dependent on a whole host of factors and questions, answers of which you may not yet know i.e. types of flowers, style of arrangements, number of tables, size of wedding party etc.
- Are your prices plus or inclusive of VAT? Some venues and suppliers are VAT registered whilst others aren’t, some make these costs clear in initial quotations and invoices and others only add them on at a later stage of the planning process. As VAT can make a HUGE difference to the total cost, the safest option is to ask this question from the outset and check / double check contracts before signing on the dotted line.
- What are your deposit and payment terms? Payment terms are always useful to know as they allow you to forward plan and manage your budget and outgoing expenses. If you’re currently saving for your wedding, then a supplier that requests a large deposit payment or even full / upfront payment may not be the right supplier for your budget and cash flow. Alternatively, if a supplier doesn’t require a deposit payment then this also needs to be taken into consideration, after all PAYING A DEPOSIT = SECURITY & PEACE OF MIND. You can read more about this very subject here on the Coco blog.
- Do you travel and if so, do you charge extra for travel and accommodation? I for one love to travel and, as a result, plan weddings throughout the UK. The same applies to a whole host of different wedding suppliers so if you love a suppliers work but know they’re not local to you or your wedding then you’ll need to ask this question, including how far they’re willing to travel, in order to understand total costs.
- Are there any other additional fees or costs we need to be aware of? Travel and accommodation are just one example of additional costs that need to be taken into consideration when researching and comparing suppliers. Other examples include on-the-day subsistence and damages and hire deposits, all of which will have an impact on your budget. If you ask the question from the outset, you’re much more likely to be able to compare like-for-like and there’s also less risk of surprises later down the line.
- Do you have insurance? It’s ESSENTIAL that you check that potential suppliers have their own insurance (public and employer’s liability) to cover the work they do for you and any errors they make or accidents they or their staff may cause. Any reputable supplier should have their own insurance and it’s OK to ask to see a copy of it. You can read more about the importance of supplier insurance here.
- What happens if you’re unable to provide the product / service we’ve booked you for? Think about the importance of key suppliers such as photographers and videographers and carry out due diligence by asking them what would happen if they were unable to provide the product or service you’ve booked them for i.e. due to illness. If they have a plan in place to cover all eventualities, then at least you know. If they don’t, do you really want to run the risk of booking that supplier?
- How long have you worked in the wedding industry? If you want to work with a trusted and experienced team, then wedding specific experience is a must! You can normally gauge the level of experience from a supplier’s website and portfolio but if you can’t then it’s 100% worth asking the question and whilst you’re at it you might also want to ask to see some examples of recent, real weddings and corresponding testimonials.
- Have you planned any other weddings at our venue/site? This question isn’t necessarily essential as most professional suppliers can easily adapt to any venue, site or environment! BUT, where a venue requires you to work with one of their recommended suppliers this is a must! And where wedding set-up / turn-around timings are tight, experience is preferable as it means that the supplier in question is much more familiar with layout and logistics, which in turn can help things go more smoothly and ensure that everything runs according to plan.
- Will we be working directly with you, including the day itself? When working with any supplier, it’s important to know upfront who your main point of contact will be in the lead up to your wedding and especially on the day itself.
- Are you full time? Personally I think this is a crucial question to know the answer to. It might not necessarily sway your decision but if, for example, you’re booking a wedding planner and you’d prefer to have daytime consultation meetings, then a planner that has another job and can only meet up in the evenings or at weekends might not be the right fit for you.
- Can we meet/arrange a Skype call before we decide whether we want to book you? For the key suppliers, especially those that are a large investment and / or will working with you very closely throughout the planning process, it’s always nice to put a face to a name! Additionally, arranging a meeting or Skype call will give you the opportunity to ask more questions and further gauge suitability.
- Will ours be the only wedding that day? Some suppliers such as caterers will work on multiple weddings on the same day, whilst others SHOULD be focused solely on you and your wedding. Depending on the response you receive, you can always dig a little a deeper and ask further questions i.e. if a cake designer has more than one booking on the day of your wedding, do they have a delivery time slot that works with your schedule or separate delivery teams to manage multiple deliveries.
With a little bit of tweaking and careful selection, this Pick ‘n’ Mix menu of questions should cover the majority of your suppliers, with the answers allowing you to make more informed decisions.
Obviously some suppliers will require slightly more in-depth and specific questions, especially when it comes to researching, visiting and choosing your perfect venue. Thankfully Coco has this one covered with a comprehensive and essential page of Wedding Venue Search Tips.
If you’re struggling to find a specific supplier or team of suppliers, or have any other wedding planning related question then please do get in touch and hopefully I can offer you some further reassurance, guidance and planning assistance.
Venue Wimbourne House
Photography Rebecca Goddard Photography
Hair & Makeup The Hair & Makeup Atelier
Florals Hiding in the City & Friend of Faux
Balloons Bubblegum Balloons
Props Hey Style