It is no secret that planning a wedding can become overwhelming, especially with the numerous factors, decisions, and details required throughout the planning process. So the number one question I get as a wedding planning, is how do I personally help cope with the stress, and make the planning process easier to handle, and more enjoyable?

The answer is simple, I guide couples towards qualified and professional vendors to ensure they have the right team in place for their wedding weekend. For all the stressed out brides and grooms, here a few tips to make the vendor selection process easy and efficient.

Begin with the most important part of the planning process, the budget! This will determine your needs verses your wants. Also, make sure you have a realistic budget for the vision and guest count you want. On average you are looking at spending a minimum of $250 – $300 per person, depending on how many days and events you will be hosting. Once you have locked down the budget, chat with a variety of different vendors, confirm their availability for your wedding date, vet the different packages they offer specific to your wedding, and prioritize the wish list. If you are obsess with a specific Photographer, then maybe you cut back on Cinematography, DJ, or someone else lower on the list. Keep in mind that your venue selection will also eat up a great deal of your budget, so make sure to include all your basic needs and requirements towards your venue budget (in house linens, china, glassware, silverware, staff, etc).

Make sure you do your research. Your family and friends may have used a vendor 10 years ago, that doesn’t mean that their work has been consistent. And if they are consistent, keep in mind it won’t be for the same price they paid 10 years ago. Use Social Media, Wedding Wire, the Knot, and other avenues to get recent reviews and rating from couples on the vendors you are considering. Feel free to ask the vendor if there are any previous couples you can reach out to via email or phone to get feedback from as well. Also, make sure you ask each vendor for samples of their portfolio and most notably their recent work. Even stationary companies provide samples of their work that can be seen in person or ordered online, this way you known exactly what to expect.

With all the prep work out of the way, the last thing left to do is meet with your top 2 or 3 choices in person. Getting an in person meeting or phone consultation with each specific vendor is crucial. This way you are able to see if you mesh well, if they truly understand your expectations, and genuinely want to be a part of your wedding day. The atmosphere, the conversation, and the professionalism of your initial meeting will say a lot about how you both will work together. Your goal is to ask yourself: “Does this vendor care about your wedding as much as you do?” “Is this vendor going to bring your vision to life?” “How is their response time and communication?” and most importantly “Will the vendor be a great team player?” If you feel confident enough that he or she will be able to orchestrate your wedding, then it’s a great fit for you.

Finally before you sign the dotted line and place down your deposit to lock in and reserve your wedding dates, make sure you properly review each and every contract. Make sure you keep and eye out for hidden fees, A La Carte items, and the costs for overtime if things are delayed. Make sure to ask vendors what are common additional charges that are added on so you can budget accordingly. Key items to review in every contact are, pricing, list of details included in the package, your wedding date(s), location(s), timing(s), and cancelation policy. Also, make sure any and all incentives at the time of signing are properly noted in your contract, any verbal communication will not hold up 6 months to a year later when you are finalized layouts, floor places, and logistics. Especially if you have a Day of Planner not involved in the pre planning, this is key to making sure everything is properly recorded in written proof, so both parties have a record to follow.

With this system in place, you are the right path to creating an All Star team. A team that truly understands how to efficiently communicate with you during the planning process, is able to create an inspiration board tailored to your vision, and is compatible to understand that your wedding is a once in a lifetime opportunity. So take a breath, and hopefully these simple tips will guide you to choosing the appropriate vendors to create your fairytale wedding!