Deciding on a venue and prioritising suppliers that are most important to you is a good place to start. If you’ve always wanted to get married in your local church and have the reception at a fairytale castle it’s best to start your research there. Churches and venues can get booked up a year or more in advance so confirm your wedding date first and then work your other suppliers around it.
Choosing the best way for you to research your suppliers will probably depend on a few factors. How much detail you want from the outset, whether you’re a words or pictures person and how much time you have to dedicate to your research will almost certainly effect how you prefer to do this.
Wedding directory websites such as hitched.co.uk, theweddingsecret.co.uk and weddingplanner.co.uk are a one stop shop for browsing what’s out there. Their easy filtering makes it quick to find suppliers by distance, price, style and gives you the option to save favourites in to your folder to revisit later. You can also read genuine reviews from previous couples, to get an idea of their experience.
Your venue should have a recommended supplier list, so use this to your advantage. It can save you hours of Google searching and will also mean you get someone reliable who does a professional job and knows the venue well. Companies who know the venue from supplying weddings there before are able to advise and make suggestions that work for you, more so than a supplier who hasn’t.
In a world of wedding marketing, a personal recommendation by a friend or acquaintance can go a long way! If someone you know has experience of hiring a supplier they’ll be the first to offer you an honest and impartial opinion that’s worth SO MUCH more than an advert online. We’re very proud that a large number of weddings at Berwick Lodge are made off the back of recommendations.
Never underestimate the old-fashioned face to face meeting of a wedding supplier! Wedding fairs are a great place to see what products and services are available locally and also great for inspiration. We all know we make a large part of our decision based on the person offering the service, so it’s important you like them, right?
Checking out social media pages is an effective measure of the kind of service you’ll receive. Use their Pinterest boards, Facebook and Instagram to gauge their style, what they offer and how they interact with their followers.
If you don’t have the time to consider these ideas it may be better for you to employ a wedding planner. Wedding planners can usually offer as much or little help as you need, from venue searching to being present on the day, complete with J-Lo style ear piece. OK well maybe not the ear piece..
- Draw up the shortlist
Once you’ve done your initial research it’s worth shortlisting 3 or 4 of each service and getting in touch to enquire. Because of the HUGE range of services, price points and availability I’d suggest giving the supplier as much information as possible from the outset; the date of your wedding (or day of week and season if not yet set), what drew you to them (was it a certain style or shoot you saw on their social media?) and if you know it – how much you want to spend.
Yes, be open about money! It’s obvious you’ll want guide prices at enquiry stage but don’t make assumptions on final cost before a discussion. Good suppliers will want you to have the wedding you want and whilst sometimes their price isn’t up for negotiation, often it can be. You never know, there could be a cancelled date they want to fill, or a less expensive seasonal bloom that offers the same effect as the displays you’re after, or a suggestion for how to bring down catering costs…the list goes on and you won’t know about them until you start talking.
- Meet them
Many brides like to meet the suppliers in person and see or sample their goods before booking them. You’ll get a really good feel for who you want to ask to be part of your big day. Make sure you like them as people and trust your instincts!
When your decision is made, get the date booked, pay your deposit and sit back knowing you’ve made the right decision. Follow them on social media, there will be loads of creative posts in the run up to your big day giving ideas and tips for planning. Mutually arrange when you’re having next contact and pop it in the diary. And finally, get in touch with suppliers from your shortlist who you didn’t choose, just out of courtesy.
6. Enjoy the fun part of planning!
Checklist: Venue, Catering, Photographer, Videographer, Florist, Entertainment, Cake,
Decoration/styling, Wedding cars