11 Thing to Know BEFORE you talk to any Wedding Vendor

As couples begin planning for their wedding most are in completely new territory. Hiring a venue, photographer, bakery, caterer, florist, and all the other services that make for a wedding isn’t something they do regularly. As a result, most couples have no idea what questions to ask potential vendors. Then, armed with limited and often conflicting answers to what may not have been the right questions in the first place, they then try to compare between several and make the best choice. It’s very stressful.

Let’s make sure you’re armed with the right knowledge so you can make an informed choice that’s right for you.

  1. Know your budget. Create your budget and know where your money is coming from BEFORE you even start talking to vendors. Agree on an amount for each type of service you need. Base that decision on what’s important to you.
  1. Know your priorities. Maybe you care more about the music and dancing than running around town for photos in a lot of locations. In that case, spend more on a top-notch DJ or a live band and cut out the party bus. Be very honest about what’s important to you and what will make your day special and weigh the budget in favor of those things.

  1. Set a definite location and date up front. If you come into a cake shop for a tasting to “just peruse” and you don’t have a place and a time set yet, you’re wasting both your time and the vendor’s time. That cake shop might already have ten weddings booked and can take no more. Photographers and videographers, for example, will usually want to know that information right from the beginning as they may already be booked for your date.
  1. Trust the professionals. Wedding pros have experience gained over countless weddings, so listen to their advice and don’t try to second guess them. If a photographer tells you that ten minutes is just not enough time to take twenty family poses after the ceremony, believe it. In the end, however, vendors want your day to be the best it can be and they may have a plan you haven’t even thought of so you don’t have to give up your wedding dreams.

  1. “What does it cost” should not be your one and only question.It’s important to have a general idea of what price range each vendor serves and if they are within your budget. However, price is not the only important thing to consider and you should make it clear when you first contact them that other things are equally important. Let’s be very honest here, wedding professionals are people that are very passionate about what they do. Many are true artists that put their heart and soul into their products and services. When the only question is “what does it cost” many feel it belittles the care and talent that they put into their profession. Instead of getting off on the wrong foot, a better way to approach a vendor is to have a list of three or four questions, in addition to price, that shows you really care about and value what they offer.
  1. Don’t send one big mass email to every single vendor.Narrow down your list to your top choices and then send them inquiries. Be short and INFORMATIVE. Provide them with your wedding date, your venue, and a little bit about the kind of wedding you’re wanting to have.

  1. Always be honest and upfront when talking with a vendor especially as it relates to your expectations and your budget. Give them a heads-up about any “unique” circumstance so that there are no surprises on your wedding day.
  1. Be realistic. While negotiating with service professionals is acceptable, you need to respect their offerings and be reasonable about what you can afford. A vendor’s pricing often reflects their experience, skill level and the hard and soft costs of doing business. You’ll be wasting your time and the vendor’s time if you seek out luxury wedding professionals when you’re on a DIY wedding budget. In most cases, negotiations will be more successful if you’re willing to make certain sacrifices to your vision to get the pricing down. Instead of requesting a discount, ask if there’s anything that can be removed from the quote to reduce the price. Alternatively, seek out off-season deals. You may have a better chance at negotiating lower rates on various services in a non-demand season.
  1. Know who you can negotiate with. Don’t expect to bargain with an in-demand wedding professional during peak wedding season. Talented vendors who are just starting their business may be more likely to negotiate in order to fill their calendars and build their portfolios. Also keep in mind the type of service being provided. For example, a florist has to order new flowers for each event, making it hard to reduce service expenses.
  1. Watch out for hidden fees!Tax is one of life’s inevitable truths, so you need to be prepared for that up front. However, some vendors have fees that most couples don’t know to look out for. Many venues, for example, have a non-negotiable service fee and a gratuity added on top of the listed price. It doesn’t mean they’re dishonest, it simply means you need to ask about any additional fees up front so that you don’t get hit with any surprises.

  1. Be true to yourself and your desires.As you progress down the path of planning, a lot of people will be giving you opinions! You’ll make a decision, confident in your choice, and then a future sister-in-law or neighbor will suggest something totally different. Trust me when I tell you a lot of people will be giving you “their” advice, and then it makes you question your decisions creating utter chaos. You will never be able to please everybody. It’s your wedding! Once you make a decision – it’s done.

+1 More – Be courteous. Even if you’ve decided to go with someone else, please respond back to all vendors and let them know where they stand. If you are just looking for a price, its best to be open about it. It’s hard to receive an inquiry from a client who raves about your work and says you’re exactly what they’re looking for only to never hear back from them again. It’s good to remember that the person you’re talking to is human and they put a lot of time and effort into their response and their business.

Wedding planning does not have to be so stressful. Learning to ask the right questions will help ensure your wedding comes off without a hitch!

 

5 Tips for Getting Into Your Wedding Dress & A Note About Your Getting Ready Room

 

I love the fun and excitement of getting ready that occurs in the girl’s getting ready room.  There are lots of special moments that unfold that beg to be captured by your photographer.  Perhaps it is your sister’s special hug or gift, or your best friend’s “something old” that she has given you – all these moments are so very special.  

Here is what I hate – bags, shoes, underwear, empty food containers, water bottles and a complete mess all around the room!  Your photographer will do their best to capture the events, but honestly, let’s have your girls pick up as they go – and a firm reminder from you, goes a long way.  The benefit is that your photos will not have the distractions of the messy environment, and those photos will emphasis the event and the emotion.  Remember you will be looking at these photos years from now!

And now for putting on the dress.

 

 

Tip #1:  Always go potty BEFORE you put on your dress.

Tip #2:  Be sure your photographer is there to capture the moment.  Don’t put on the dress before he/she arrives.

Tip #3:  Putting on your wedding dress can be an incredibly beautiful, fun and captivating moment.  Most photographers recommend that you pick one person to assist you, sometimes your mother or your maid of honor.  Having less people will make the moment more relaxed, let you enjoy it, and allow your photographer to capture more of you and your dress, rather than a sea of people.

Tip #4:  To keep your hair and makeup fresh, if you are putting the dress on over your head, raise your arms up and out to protect your hair and makeup.

Tip #5:  Put on your own jewelry.  A sea of people – adjusting your dress, adding your bracelet, one adding a necklace – just way to much going on at one time.  I see people looking like they are dressing a Barbie Doll, and the bride just trying to accommodate everyone!  It’s crazy.   Put on most of your own jewelry, but if you have one piece that’s important to you (or hard to get on) have ONE person help you with this.  Shoes do require help – who can see their feet in those big fluffy or tight dresses.

And one last, little thing.  Why do all girls hold onto their boobs?  Really?  Once the dress is on, let go!    Do you want all your photos to show you holding up your boobs? 

Finally, enjoy this part of the day.  It’s really special and it’s the moment that you have been waiting for, for a long time.  Take a deep breath, perhaps even have a few minutes to yourself, and then step out and have an absolutely amazing day!

Some things to consider before you say “I Do”

 

Before you get married……

 

If you want to live together “happily ever after” there are a few things you should know about each other before you tie the knot.

First – Know Who You Are

Know who you are and what you want from life before getting married.  If you want to focus on a career, have kids, travel a lot….be sure to talk about these things prior to getting married.  You don’t have to agree on everything.  You just need to understand what each of you want and expect in a marriage.

Second – Know that you can’t change him (her)

The truth is what you see is what you get.  People will change, but only if THEY want to.

What’s his financial status?

Sharing space has its own challenges.  Sharing expenses can lead to hurt feelings and bad relationships.   Be sure to discuss together how you plan to handle finances together.   This is where total honesty is important.  Don’t hide your credit problems from each other.  Additionally you will want to have a clear picture of what each person desires – a nice home, a new car, etc.  Are you a saver?  Does he spend like crazy?  Be sure to acknowledge your partner’s goals and bad habits when it comes to making and spending money.

Knowing your partner’s priorities can help eliminate squabbles after you are married and lead to a long term, loving, and caring for each other relationship.  Having someone to cuddle up and knowing there’s someone who loves you no matter what is what marriage is all about.

Third –

A good marriage must be created.

In marriage the “little” things are the big things.

It is never being too old to hold hands.

It is remembering to say, ”I love you” at least once a day.

It is never going to sleep angry.

It is standing together and facing the world.

It is speaking words of appreciation, and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.

It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.

It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.

It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.

It is not only marrying the right person — it is being the right partner

 

Brides – Submit your Most Disliked Cheesy, Pinterest Type Posed Wedding Photos


Over the years I have talked to many wedding professional photographers who hate shooting those “cheesy” Pinterest type photos.  The new trend is more candid and storytelling images, but that doesn’t mean these “posed” shots have disappeared.   Perhaps it’s the bridal party running down a hill, or it’s the bridal party jumping in the air.   What’s your most disliked photo?  Submit your photos to bride@bridestlouis.com and we will share them with you in the next few weeks.  We will take the top ten and allow you to VOTE for your most disliked at our April 23, 2017 BRIDAL SHOW, My Dream Wedding – Illinois, at the Gateway Classic Car Expo Center in O’Fallon, ILLINOIS.

How to Choose A Venue

ChandlerHill - BrideStLouis.com

ChandlerHill – BrideStLouis.com

One of the biggest decisions you’ll make in planning your wedding is where to have it.  Because there are over 350+ Venues, your decision can be difficult.   Here are some basic concepts to consider when deciding on a location.

Budget:

This is the most important factor.  The reception cost is generally about 50% of your entire budget.  If you are on a tight budget and the venue you want is beyond your price range, think about having a brunch or cocktail reception at the venue instead of a plated dinner.

Size:

Consider the number of guests you anticipated inviting.  If you are having a small wedding you might feel dwarfed in a venue that is too large.  Conversely, if you are having a large number of guests, you want to make sure that you don’t feel cramped.

Feel:

Did you always dream of an outdoor wedding?  Do you like the ideal of a grand ballroom?  Be true to you feelings, and make it meaningful for you.  Bear in mind, with an outdoor wedding you might be at the mercy of the elements, so have a Plan B in place.

Finally, be flexible with the day of the week.  Fridays & Sundays are generally less expensive and more available.  Popular places can book up over a year in advance, so start your search for a venue early.

One of the easiest ways to find your venue is to read the Venue Profile Reviews on BrideSTLouis.com under the blog section. (www.BrideStLouis.com/blog)   Just search for “Venue Profile Reviews.”  (Soon we will be updating our web site with a venue review search feature that provides COMPLETE information on all venues by seachable fields.)  Currently, you can also use the Venue Section of the Vendor Guide where venues are listed in one of seven areas:  St. Louis City, St. Louis Midtown, South, North, St. Charles, Missouri Other, Illinois.

Randall Gallery - BrideStLouis.com

Randall Gallery – BrideStLouis.com

All About Save-The-Date Announcements

Image for PaperSource, BrideStLouis.com

 

If the question was popped and now the wedding day is finally locked, let everyone know with save the date cards or magnets.   What’s really great about save-the-dates is that they aren’t you formal wedding invitation, so you can choose to add some whimsy or humor.  There are many local companies that can create them for you like Paper Patch, Creve Coeur Camera Biz Services, or any of the many other invitation companies that can be found on our vendor section of our web site.

 

Save the Date Example, BrideStLouis.comYou can select from simple postcards, to magnets, to trifolds.  What you need to include is the date of the wedding (of course), your names, and if you are planning a destination location – where that will be, and finally let them know that a formal invitation will follow.  You can choose to go further by charting your love story with details as to when you met,  your  first date, and when he proposed.   Some couples choose to introduce their color scheme, and many times they use their engagement photos on their save-the-dates, and sometimes they create a personal monogram.   If you have planned a theme for your wedding, it’s great to include that same theme in your save-the-date announcements to give guests a heads up on what’s coming.

As a general rule, it’s best to send out your save-the-date announcements six months prior to your wedding.  Allow more time if you are doing a destination wedding so wedding guests have plenty of time to book their travel, get off work, and save some cash.  This gives them time as well to make travel arrangement.  Allow more time is your wedding is scheduled around a holiday weekend or other special events that are occurring at the same time.

Save the dates are sent to all guests you intend to invite to your wedding.  While some couples choose to send “digital” save the dates”, many older guests would still prefer to receive the printed version to save as a keepsake.  Save the dates are NOT mandatory, but they are recommended especially if you are planning a sizable wedding.

Image from Lovevsdesign, BrideStLouis.com

One other note, I love it when couples create a wedding website that can keep their guests up to date on any possible changes – such as venue or ceremony site change.  With the web site you can include many additional details such as where you are registered and for out-of-town guests information as to where to stay and what to do while they are in town.  Be sure to include that web site information on your save-the date announcements.

Image from Our Timeline, BrideStLouis.com