bride & groom wedding research, wedding planning

Your date is secured, and you’re ready to start meeting with potential vendors!  You will want to make sure you’re prepared for these meetings and know the right questions to ask.

Things to bring:

1. Pictures that inspire you! This is a chance for them to get an idea of your vision.  Check out my recent post to learn how to create your own “Wedding Vision Photo Collage” and always have it with you.

2. Know what your budget is for that particular vendor, and STICK TO IT! It’s easy to get caught up in their presentation and fall in love with their work, but remember that you set a budget for a reason, and you’ll be better off in the long run if you follow it.

3. An idea of your timeline. This can give you a good idea of how long you’ll need to hire some vendors for.  You’ll want to know if you need to book them for extra hours, and whether that is in line with your budget.

4. Support! Ideally it would be your fiance who attends the meeting with you. Otherwise bring your sister, your mom, your maid-of-honor, your future mother-in-law…a second perspective can prove invaluable.

Things you DON’T want to bring:

1. Your checkbook! Most vendors don’t expect you to sign on the spot, and honestly, I don’t think you should. Take a copy of their contract home along with the proposal they give you. Compare them side by side with other contracts you’ve received, then sleep on it! Vendors are more than willing to wait a day or two to let you think it over; if they aren’t, chances are they’re either using a sales tactic on you, or they’re more interested in getting your check than working with you.

2. Contracts or proposals from other vendors. You can compare these at home, but they don’t need to know whom else you’ve met with and what others have quoted you.

Things to ask each vendor:

1. Are you available on my wedding day? This may seem like a silly question, but you’ll want to verify this at the beginning of the meeting.

2. Will you be on site at the wedding, or will you send an assistant/coworker in your place? If they’re sending someone else, my advice would be to try to meet them before you sign the contract.

3. How much do you require to reserve the date, and is it a deposit or a retainer? There is a difference! A deposit is a down payment, and is fully refundable—even if a contract states it isn’t. A retainer, on the other hand, cannot legally be refunded to you upon cancellation of your event. Vendors aren’t trying to play hardball by asking for a retainer; it’s just their way of protecting themselves from cancellations.

4. When is the full balance due, and what forms of payment do you accept? Sometimes putting everything on a credit card that earns points or miles is a great way to earn free tickets for your honeymoon, or at least a 1st class upgrade!

5. What is your cancellation policy? Remember, it’s not unheard of for them to cancel on you either, so ask about that, too.

6. What happens if you’re sick and can’t make it? It is always good to see if they have a back up plan in place or you will have to plan for one.

Bride and Groom, Wedding Couple, Wedding Planning

You need to find the right professional and negotiate for the best price so you can be sure that, when your big day comes, you’ll get exactly what you want.


My advice is to do your research! Also check out some of the great local vendors I have spotlighted on my blog. And if this part of the planning is where you need some assistance, please contact me to connect and see how I can help.

Happy Planning!

Marsha VanArk

Marsha VanArk at Distinctly Yours Wedding & Events