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Booking Wedding Vendors

Bakers, caterers, DJs, photographers, florists…planning the wedding of your dreams requires an entire army of vendors and trying to figure out where to begin can be a daunting task. Follow these five easy steps for stress-free vendor selection…

Step One: Book your venue!

Selecting a venue for the wedding ceremony and reception should be your first priority. It’s crucial to find and book a locale before hiring any other vendors as the wedding location will determine the wedding date and time. Once you’ve found the perfect place to exchange “I Do’s,” you can begin booking the men and women that will make your big day possible.

Step Two: Bring in a Pro

If you’re planning to retain the services of a wedding planner, they should be your next hire. Not only will an event coordinator help you make all of your decisions, he or she can often offer specific recommendations or help you secure discounted rates with vendors.

Step Three: Prioritize

Once you’ve secured a venue and regardless of whether or not you’ve hired a planner, there’s no absolute rule about what vendor should be hired next. The best way to decide is by determining where your priorities are. Sit down with your fiancé and discuss which aspects of the wedding are most important to you. If you’re diehard foodies, focus your early energies on selecting a caterer. If you have your heart set on a specific photographer, nail him/her down. That way, you can be sure to secure the vendors you really want and disperse the bulk of your budget to the areas that matter most.

Step Four: Nab the Hard-to-Get Guys

Certain vendors, such as photographers, DJs, and videographers, are limited to only working one wedding per day. As a result, the good ones book up fast. Begin researching and setting up appointments as early as possible to guarantee a spot with your top choice in these hard-to-book categories. Vendors such as florists, stylists, and bakers are often able to work several weddings a day, so put these on the back burner until the rest of your vendors are secure.

Step Five: Follow a Timeline

Most wedding planning binders or smart phone apps offer a general timeline of what tasks should be completed at each stage of the wedding process. Stick to the timeline to ensure that you’re giving yourself ample time for all the extra responsibilities such as hiring a designer/calligrapher for invitations, making preparations for hair and makeup, choosing a wedding cake baker, and consulting with a florist. And remember the earlier you get started, the better! The best vendors are in high demand so their calendars fill up quickly. The sooner you begin contacting and hiring vendors, the better shape you’ll be in when your wedding approaches.

DJ or Band

Having the right music at your reception is essential to setting the mood, and making sure people have fun. But how do you know whether to hire a wedding band or DJ? Here are the pros and cons of each.

Wedding Band Pros

  • There truly is nothing like live music, which can energize the crowd, and get people more excited for dancing
  • Odds are, the sound quality will be better than with a DJ
  • A specific type of band can truly complete a wedding theme. (For example, a 1930s-themed wedding and a swing band, an Irish wedding and a Celtic band, or fairytale wedding with an orchestra)

Wedding Band Cons

  • For many, the cost of hiring a wedding band is prohibitive. At a cost of between $3000 and $20,000 (and up!), you’ll want to know that you’ve found the most ideal group for your wedding ever
  • Some wedding bands can really only play one sound, and have a hard time switching genres or styles. You might find yourself with one that is either too classical, too jazzy, or just plain too wedding-band-like. And, if you’ve got a favorite song, they may not be able to play it well
  • Some bands have only one volume: loud. If you’ve got a small reception venue, a wedding band might overpower it
  • Those musicians are going to need to take breaks; when the music stops, most will turn on a CD for you, and it usually lacks the same type of energy.

DJ Pros

  • The price is right. The average price for a DJ in Chicago is $1250.
  • Your first dance song can be sung by the artist that made you fall in love, rather than a pale imitation
  • Most DJs have libraries of thousands of songs. That means they’ll have music that your friends will like, as well as songs for every generation
  • Songs can quickly segue from great dance numbers to the perfect “cutting the cake song” or background music as someone makes a toast
  • DJs do not take breaks

DJ Cons

  • Beware of the bored/cheesy DJ or worse, the one on autopilot. Because many wedding DJs have their routines down pat, they can get bored. You do not want a cookie cutter wedding. No terrible jokes or try to ham it up between songs. I’ve seen an autopilot DJ play songs from the “do not play list”, ask for the bride’s father to make a toast even though he wasn’t there, and announce a couple as Mr. and Mrs. Hisfirstname Hislastname even though the bride didn’t change her name and they specifically asked to be announced in a different way! Make sure you meet with the person who will actually be performing your wedding. See if you’ve got a vibe that meshes, and if he/she makes you feel comfortable.

Above all, do your homework. Your DJ or band will make or break your event.

source: Nina Callaway