If you are in the middle of planning a wedding the initial excitement of being engaged may have dulled a little when you realise just how much there is to do and plan.

Once you have decided on a date, a theme, a venue and the number of guests you’ll need to choose a wedding supplier such as the florist, catering, photographer and entertainment to name a few. The top question from brides we meet is ‘how do I choose a good wedding supplier’?

It’s a good question and a very important one because a bad supplier can make or break your special day or worse not turn up at all!

Sadly in our photo booth business we’ve had to come to the rescue too many times when couples have been let down by suppliers who are more interested in taking deposits than managing the finer details of delivering the event.

Use our 10 point question guide below to help you choose a wedding supplier before booking them for your big day.

10 Questions you should ask to help you choose a wedding supplier

1. How long has their business been running?

Do you really want someone learning on the job at one of the most important occasions in your life? I wouldn’t and you shouldn’t either.

You deserve a seasoned professional who has demonstrated an ability to consistently deliver excellence no matter what curve ball is thrown at them.

2. How many events do they do each year?

If they can answer the first question to your satisfaction, but they’re only doing a handful of events a year this should set alarm bells ringing. Low numbers of events either means they’re not serious or there’s something in their business model that’s not delivering.

It could be that they just haven’t nailed their marketing, but the more events a supplier does or has done the better equipped they are at understanding how to deliver excellence for your celebrations.

3. Can I have your last 10 testimonials?

10 is a good number. Check the dates of these and also the source. You want a supplier that is providing you with recent testimonials and doing it in a transparent way.

Facebook is fantastic at collecting testimonials for business pages and Trust Pilot is also worth looking at. Also do a search online by typing the business name followed by the word “review”. It’s surprising what comes up.

Finding a less than positive review doesn’t need to stop you in your tracks as sometimes the unavoidable happens, but check on the details of what happened and how the business looked after the less than satisfied customer.

4.How many people work in your business?

We’ve heard many stories of how an unexpected situation has prevented a supplier from delivering their service. This resulting in them passing the event to another business (who you may have not wanted to use).

In the wedding and event industry we often accept the whole business delivery being down to one person.  It could be a DJ, a caterer, a venue decorator or any number of others. It’s inevitable that occassional life will get in the way.  Whether it be failings in administration, illness or an equipment breakdown.  When your supplier has more people and resources or is part of a wider network this is less likely this is to happen.

5. What happens to your booking when if an issue occurs?

Make sure you’re looking for an established supplier so that if things go wrong you’re not left high and dry and the business can get on with delivering you the service you’ve paid for.

It isn’t just about the number of team members as described in point 4 but what systems and processes does the business have for the unexpected. Ask your potential supplier what happens in a worst case scenario, you want someone that has tried and tested contingency plans.

6. What are their regular prices and the industry standard for that service. 

Everyone wants a deal, but you should expect transparency with pricing from your supplier. If they’re asking for further information before giving a quote then that’s normal, but be cautious if their pricing strategy is wildly erratic or well below the industry norm.

In the events industry deposits prior to the event to secure the booking is common place. The challenge is in determining whether you are actually getting a deal or are you just being suckered in by a sales pitch in order to get your deposit.

Established business with a strong track record are very unlikely to do this, but there are a lot of people out there that just want the cash as quickly as possible. They’ll tell you a great offer, achieve the booking and deposit and then drop your event a few weeks or even days before with some excuse about theft or damage to equipment. In the meantime what they’ve actually done is traded your booking for another one that was willing to pay a far higher price. 

This happens surprisingly often so don’t be fooled by low prices. It either means they don’t know what they’re doing, have a sub standard product or that they’re up to no good. This isn’t retail where you buy in volume to get a low price and can sell it cheaply. This is a service business model and once they are hired on a date that date is then gone from their diary.

7. What insurances and safety certificates do you hold?

If they’re not insured and their equipment isn’t tested then it’s unlikely your venue will even allow them on the premises. Venue requirements on suppliers have increased significantly in recent years with many requiring the supplier to have public liability insurance cover of a minimum of £5m.

8. Can you show me images and/or videos of your work?

Ask your potetntial supplier to send you visual examples of their work and scrutinise this in the same way you did when you walked round the venue that you chose. How does it stand up? Is it well presented? Does it demonstrate attention to detail? Is it a true reflection of the service that they’ve described?

Many small business websites are months if not years old in the content they produce ask for the most up to date view as to what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.

9. What do their social media pages look like?

If they’re busy and producing great work then you’ll see it here. They’ll proudly be displaying content to an engaged group of followers. It’ll also often give you a behind the scenes glimpse into the business where you can see if this is in keeping with the communications you’ve had so far.

If there is little content or just unrelated random content then be warned there’s a part of the story you’re not seeing and should be.

10. Do you like them?

This last point may sound a little trite but genuinely liking your wedding supplier is important. While some suppliers will spend more time with you than others they should all be taking the time to build a rapport and understand your wants and needs.

Every wedding is unique and should be treated as such by the supplier. This is particularly important of suppliers such as wedding planners, photographers, toastmasters and videographers who will spend a large part of your day with you. 

How to choose a wedding supplier FAQ

Q.  How do I choose a wedding supplier?

  1. Look for established suppliers
  2. Look through examples of their work
  3. Check their social pages
  4. Ask what contingency plans they have in place
  5. Check their reviews and testimonials
  6. Don’t book the cheapest. A really good deal is usually too good to be true
  7. Do you like them? Do you trust them? Can you build a genuine rapport with this person.

Q. When should I book my wedding suppliers?

A. This depends on the service in question as some will book sooner than other. As a general rule book everything as soon as you can once you have a date and a venue. Most suppliers will request a deposit to hold your date but will not request the full balance. Good suppliers book up fast sometimes 18 months – 2 years ahead so when you find a supplier you like book them quick!

Q. Should I hire a wedding planner?

A. This largely depends on your personality and your budget. A wedding planner will certainly make life a lot easier for you both in the run up to your wedding day and on the day itself. Wedding planners can be costly and many couples enjoy planning out their wedding themselves. Hiring a venue with a wedding co-ordinator can be the best of both worlds allowing you to concentrate on the small details and enjoy your wedding day while they deal with the co-ordination.

Q. What is a wedding supplier?

A wedding supplier refers to an individual or company that provide event services for a wedding. These include but are not limited to the following categories:

  • Catering
  • Photography
  • Videography
  • Transport
  • Cake decoration
  • Stationary
  • Entertainment
  • Venue dressing
  • Florists
  • Wedding Attire
  • Hair and Beauty

Q Where can I find a wedding supplier?

A. There are many online wedding supplier directories and you can search for your category via google as well. You can also find suppliers listed in wedding magazines and you may also wish to visit a wedding show that is local to your venue which is a good way to meet your supplier in person.