By: Kristen Castillo
Did you ever buy a blouse that looked worn out after two washes? A shampoo that didn’t leave your hair as shiny as the label promised? A coffee pot that didn’t keep your Joe hot? We all have made bad purchases to save money, to save time or for reasons we’re not even sure about. But your wedding day? That’s not the time to cut any corners. After all, you don’t get any do-overs and money spent on a bad service or product is just money wasted.
Budget challenges are a reality these days, but that doesn’t mean it makes sense to cut important services like professional photography which will last a lot longer than the ceremony or the reception. You need to choose quality when you book a vendor. If you don’t do your research before you hire someone, you may regret your decision. Hiring an amateur would be a huge disappointment and you’re risking quality too. Imagine your frustration and dissatisfaction with a lopsided cake, dark photos or bad alterations. “You get what you pay for,” says Kathy Koenig at Culinary Concepts. “Nothing’s free.” For example, a photographer is worth the investment. They’re taking all your memories,” explains Koening. “You get a bad photographer, you get a bad result.” John Schnack of Schnack Studios agrees: “You can’t charge rock-bottom prices and get the same quality and level of service,” he says. “You can’t spend $1000 to $1500 and expect to get the same results as someone who charges more.” If you’re not happy with your photographer and the resulting images after the wedding, it’s already too late. “It can’t be redone,” says Schnack. “You can’t get those images back. When it comes down to it, it’s pictures and video that’s with you the rest of your life.” The bottom-line? Don’t sacrifice quality. “Shortcuts can be extremely expensive,” says Koenig. Many amateurs or wedding vendors new to the industry may have cheaper prices, but they won’t offer you what you really want and need – a quality product or service. They offer low prices to get you to hire them but they often lack the experience needed to make sure your event shines like it should. “Work with people established in the industry,” says Merrylin Brichmann of Artistic Productions. “Plan it out, hire good people and you never have to second guess your decision.” By hiring a professional, you guarantee your wedding vendor, whether it’s a consultant, a florist, a caterer, a DJ or any other pro has the right skills, experience and credentials to do the job well.
Connect With Your Vendor
“You have to make sure your personalities match,” says Koenig. “Spend time talking to vendors.” You need a wedding pro you like and can trust. While cheaper vendors may be available to work your event, be cautious about finding the right person. You’ll really benefit if you get along with your planner, your photographer and your officiant and every other wedding vendor you work with. Think about it – wouldn’t you rather trust your wedding hair and makeup to a stylist you like and respect? Someone who gets you? If you hire a budget stylist, you might not have that personal connection or a great wedding look. Instead you’ll wish too late that you made the decision to pay a little more money for a quality vendor.
“You can get added value now but you get what you pay for,” says Brichmann. “To me, you want to surround yourself with the best team.” Price matters, but it’s not the only concern. Sure you may save a few hundred dollars with a budget wedding vendor, but you might not be happy with the vendor’s skills or product. Most of the time that means you’ll be out of luck with unsatisfactory wedding services. For many brides the way to have a dream wedding without cutting costs is to have a longer engagement. You can save money to do things the way you want them done. “People are planning farther out and taking more time,” says Koenig. “Your vendors understand working with a budget,” she says. “Whatever you’ve got, do it right.” Koenig says there are ways to save money but not skimp on quality. For example, she says, cuts of meat are changing for weddings. Short ribs are popular comfort food and they’re affordable, especially when compared to the pricier beef tenderloin. “Prioritize and decide what’s important to you,” says Brichmann. “Make sure you get the right connection to feel calm, have a good experience and have fun.” You want to stay on budget and have a wonderful big day. That’s a lot to balance but you can prioritize what matters most to you. You need to do everything the right way from the start so that you can be happy at the finish. Remember your wedding is a once in a lifetime event – you want it to be everything you imagined and there’s no room for do-overs.
Things to Consider
Don’t let price be your only question. Many professional vendors will work with your budget. Get at least three quotes. Ask for price and service quotes from a few vendors you’re considering hiring. You’ll be able to compare packages to see what you’ll get for your money. Don’t be lured by a deal. Be wary of discounts offered by so-called wedding vendors that you find advertising online in the classifieds. They may be offering discounts because they’re not professionals. Ask to see a business license and proof of insurance. These are the basics every professional vendor should have. Check references. You want a wedding pro who has a lot of experience and many satisfied customers. Ask the vendor for names and phone numbers of recent clients (within the past year). If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. This adage is true and your wedding is the wrong time to find out you’re dealing with an amateur.