If you're just beginning your wedding vendor search, you might think to start with your venue's preferred vendor list. This list appears to take all the guesswork out of wedding planning. You've been handed a collection of local service providers that frequently work weddings at your venue -- why not make it easy and choose them for your big day?
A company on a preferred vendor list may very well be a good fit for your wedding. But these lists are far from comprehensive or exhaustive; by only considering the preferred list from your venue, you're looking at a small fraction of your potential options.
For instance, most event venues only list four or five preferred vendors per category (DJ, florist, photographer, salon, bakery, etc.). A search on sites like The Knot or Wedding Wire for wedding photographers serving the Red Bank, New Jersey area yields upwards of 700 results -- and some of them don't appear on any preferred vendor lists at all.
If you look beyond the providers recommended by your venue, you just might find another company that better suits your needs and budget.
What is a preferred vendor list, anyway?
Most banquet halls have a small directory of vendors that are regularly hired by clients to work events there. But let's clear one thing up: Companies on a preferred vendor list are not necessarily preferred by couples. They're preferred by the venues because they have existing professional relationships. That's not to say these vendors aren't reputable or that they won't do a great job on your wedding. However, it's important to understand why venues have preferred vendor lists in the first place.
Generally, a venue's list of preferred vendors has to do with their own internal policies. For instance, some places impose strict quality control requirements on any third-party that works there. In this case, the vendor list helps couples choose a provider that meets those requirements. Other times, venues will recommend vendors as a mutually beneficial business arrangement. Preferred vendors may pay a fee to be listed by a venue, or give the venue commission when couples book them off the preferred list.
Depending on your venue's contract, you may have to use a certain vendor, such as a caterer or cake baker, if you wish to have your wedding there. If you are not required to use providers from that list, though, you can and should expand your search to include other vendors in your local area.
How to vet a wedding vendor
Whether the vendor you're considering came from a preferred list or not, you should approach the process the same way. Check out their website and social media channels. Look up reviews and, if possible, talk to past clients about their experience. Most importantly, take time to interview each potential vendor and ask detailed questions about their work.
Some things you may want to ask include:
- Have you worked weddings at our venue before? If they're not on the preferred list, they may not have worked your venue before. This isn't necessarily a deal breaker, but it's certainly an advantage if they're already familiar with your space.
- How do you work with couples throughout the planning process? You want a vendor who will collaborate with you, listen to your needs, and tailor their services to your wedding day vision. Bonus points if they offer a convenient online planning tool!
- Can you share examples of your work? For photographers, videographers, bakers, florists, stylists, and other people involved in "visual" aspects of your day, you should get a clear idea of their style and quality of work to ensure it matches your expectations.
- Can any past clients provide a reference? Most vendors are happy to connect you with satisfied clients or a testimonials page so you can get a first-hand account of what it's like to work with them.
- What are your contract terms and payment options? When you're trying to keep track of payments for multiple vendors, it's critical to understand what you owe and when. You'll want to ask about any fees, payment plan options, cancellation policies, and other important contract terms.
Why you won't find us on many 'preferred' lists
For more than 15 years, Hurricane Productions has been helping people in the tri-state area throw amazing parties and capture memories from their special occasions. We take pride in what we do and work with each client to ensure all their needs are met. Being "preferred" by a particular venue doesn't matter to us nearly as much as being preferred by our clients. We don't want to be someone's default choice because they found us on a venue's list. We'd rather someone contact us because we were recommended by a friend, or because they researched us and truly believed we were the best choice for their wedding day.
So, no, you won't find Hurricane on many preferred vendor lists. While we may end up on some in the future, our top priority will always be serving our clients.
Remember, your wedding a big investment. You and your fiance owe it to yourselves to do your research and find the ideal vendors for your wedding day. Don't be afraid to look beyond a preferred vendor list and make an informed decision for the most important day of your life.
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