From managing photographers, to caterers, to DJs, the business of getting married can sometimes feel almost like becoming the CEO of a small company overnight. As you’re preparing for marriage and ticking items off on your wedding planning checklist, lots of decisions will suddenly rest on your shoulders—and you’ll need to have the right team behind you.
“With so many wedding suppliers out there, it can sometimes feel overwhelming trying to assemble your own team,” says American marriage officiant Stephen Lee.
To help ensure your wedding suppliers will make your day memorable in all the right ways, we’ve made this wedding planning guide to help you get started.
1. Lock-in your date
Before you can even start putting together your “team” of wedding suppliers, you’ll need to have a potential date or dates in mind. There’s no point in negotiating prices and other fine print until you find out if the vendor is actually available for hire.
Starting in this order, talk to your preferred venue to see when they’re available. Then speak to your “A team” including the officiant, musicians and photographer to check their calendar, before moving on to your “B team” of other suppliers.
2. Choose the right suppliers
When it comes to choosing which suppliers you want to work with, our experience is that you’ll instantly pick up a vibe from them. That’s also the advice of Lee. He recommends looking through a supplier’s website to get an idea of their style and approach, reading reviews from previous couples and, if possible, meeting face-to-face.
“The person is just as important, if not, more so, as the service they provide. For example, as officiants, we all do the basic job of marrying you. But the way we do it can be massively different,” says Lee. “Look for people you really connect with and trust.”
3. Build your budget
At this point, you’ll also have a better understanding of what everything will cost. Unfortunately, no one has an unlimited budget, so you’ll have to work out where you want to spend and save money. Make sure your suppliers are well aware of your budget and are able to work within it.
Once your contracts are signed, pay your deposits on time to lock everyone in, and find out what information your suppliers need from you and when, based on your wedding date.
4. Manage your expectations of suppliers
Got a particular vision for your wedding? When you meet with your suppliers, bring in your mood board, clippings, links, pictures—whatever might help the supplier in helping you make it come to life. This can help guide your wedding planning, but you should also come armed with a list of questions. (Bride Magazine has a great wedding planning checklist of what you should be asking each supplier.)
With that in mind, says Southern Highlands wedding photographer Thomas Stewart, trust the expertise of your suppliers. This may be your first wedding, but it’s likely their hundredth.
“Don’t try to micromanage every aspect of what that supplier does for a living,” says Stewart, noting that he finds it problematic when couples approach him with shot lists, or multiple pages of specific posed photo requests. (Likewise, we provide music for your wedding based on both your vision, as well as what we already know works.)
5. Provide a run sheet to all of your suppliers
When it comes to the timeline of wedding planning, it’s better to panic now—months before your wedding—and to do as much organising as possible as early as possible. But despite all the wedding planning guides in the world, last-minute things will always come up.
That’s where a run sheet will be your saviour. Your venue likely have a template of a wedding planning timeline, or how they typically structure a wedding. Using this as your blueprint for the day, make sure everyone involved has a copy. This will help them plan through what they need to do and when. However, be sure to consult with your respective suppliers as you map out your big day.
“One of the biggest mistakes couples make is not listening to my advice regarding important aspects of the day, such as timing, including when the light will be best,” says Stewart.
6. Make sure your star players are playing well together
It may also be helpful to connect your suppliers with one another. “We’re not just working together for ourselves, but also for the couple. We’re all trying to get the same outcome which is a perfect day for the couple involved, so it makes sense for us to be working together to achieve that,” Lauren, the sales manager at Athol Hall Function Centre, told Easy Weddings.
Most of all though, trust that your suppliers have your best interests in mind—and a second-to-none level of expertise to help you as preparing for marriage.
“The relationship between clients and suppliers in the wedding industry is unlike any other,” says Lee. “Often, clients feel more like friends. So often we will go above and beyond for our couples, especially if we feel the love.”