They say it takes a village to raise a child. I’m here to tell you it takes a village to pull off a wedding. Whether you realize it now or not, ultimately there will likely be dozens of Pittsburgh wedding vendors who help bring your dream day to life. From your seamstress to your florist to the catering staff, there will be a whole army of people working behind the scenes to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. You are putting the most important day of your life into their hands. Think about how much faith and trust that takes! That’s why it’s so, so important to hire the right people. Do yourself a favor…consider these things before signing any contracts and I guarantee you’ll hire the best local wedding professionals for YOU!
This list is in no particular order but I am starting it with what I think is one of the most important factors – personality. Throughout the wedding planning process, and even on the actual wedding day in most cases, you’ll be working in very close proximity to this person. You better make sure you actually like being around them! Like in the case of your wedding planner, photographer, videographer, makeup artist, and hair stylist, some vendors will be spending a lot of up close and personal time with you the day of the wedding. It will be a long, awkward day if you get a creepy vibe or just find them to be generally annoying. Whether it is via FaceTime, over coffee, or meeting up for a glass of wine, make sure you have a chance to get to know the vendor a little bit before hiring them. If you click, then it’s more likely that you’ll a.) feel comfortable around them on the big day and b.) that they’ll understand your vision and execute it well!
Ok, I know I said this list is in no particular order, but this next one is pretty high on the list of importance too. You guys, finding the right style fit for YOU is HUGE. Just like with someone’s personality, you have to jive with their style of work too. Take photography for example. Yes, there are different styles of wedding photography! And there is nothing worse than the feeling of regret when you get your wedding photos back and hate them. Hiring someone whose style resonates with you is the best way to ensure that never happens. The same can be said for videography, hair, makeup, stationery, and so many other wedding vendors. Base your hiring decision off of who is the best fit style-wise and you can’t go wrong!
I might catch some heat for what I’m about to say but I’m going to put it out there anyway…there is a reason some vendors charge so little. Likewise, there is a reason that others charge so much. It’s because of experience, or a lack thereof. For many wedding vendors, their pricing is based on experience. You aren’t just paying for flowers or photos or an updo. You’re paying for years of knowledge, training, preparedness, and lessons learned from having done this many, many times. Many vendors who are just starting out charge less, and understandably so. But do you really want to trust your once in a lifetime experience to someone who is just getting their feet wet in the industry? Sure, you might save a few bucks. But trust me…you’ll rest easier knowing that you’re working with someone who has been around the block a few times.
I’ll admit it. I have a love/hate relationship with reviews. My husband is the type of person who reads reviews before he buys ANYTHING. We can’t even try out a new restaurant without him visiting Yelp first. Me? Eh, I like to take my chances. Actually, it’s more that I like to form my own opinion. Reviews can be helpful, but I always advise taking them with a grain of salt. Here’s why: I don’t know a single thing about the people who wrote them. How do I know I can trust their opinion? When it comes to negative reviews, keep in mind there are always two sides to every story. Also, sometimes things really are too good to be true. Some businesses will actually PAY for bots or individuals to leave positive reviews. Don’t believe me? Read this story about a fake restaurant that made it’s way to the #1 spot on TripAdvisor. Do I think reviews can be a very useful resource? Of course! Should you read them? Absolutely. BUT please promise you’ll consider ALL the factors and not base your hiring decision off of reviews alone!
How The Expense Fits into Your Overall Budget
Spending your wedding money wisely is about more than just sticking to your budget. You need to remember to look at the bigger picture. For easy math, let’s say the average Pittsburgh wedding budget is $10k (it isn’t). With that kind of money, can you afford to spend $5k on renting a venue? Technically, yes. But does it leave much room for anything else? Not really. Before you think about a big splurge, consider how you are going to pay for all of the other necessary facets of a wedding. You don’t want to run out of money halfway through planning.
Who You’ll Be Working With
Sometimes what (or who) you see isn’t always what (or who) you get. Many vendors have a team of other professionals who work with or for them. This allows them to take on several clients on the same day. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing! It actually could mean their business is doing quite well…so well in fact that they’ve needed to hire more individuals to meet the demand. BUT you should always know who you’ll be working with. Picture this: you meet with and really connect with the owner of the company, so much so that you decide to hire him or her. Over the next few months, you work with them to nail down your vision and iron out all of the details. But your wedding day arrives and someone else (i.e. not the owner) shows up to perform the services. Umm, what? Yep, it happens. Let me reiterate and make myself clear: this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! I am not insinuating that you shouldn’t hire vendors who outsource. (Vendors, if this is you, please don’t send me a nasty email. I mean well here.) I’m just saying you should know what you could be getting yourself into. Before hiring someone, simply ask who you’ll be working with. If you’re cool with whomever, sign on the dotted line, baby. But if you have a preference on who will be present on your big day, make sure to speak up!
If They’ve Worked at Your Venue
Is this a requirement? Certainly not. Does it help? Most definitely. Some venues are quirky. Maybe the room doesn’t have great acoustics. Maybe the freight elevator makes deliveries a nightmare. Maybe the space doesn’t get a ton of natural light. Vendors who have worked there before are aware of these conditions and, more importantly, know how to work around them. If your vendor hasn’t worked at your chosen venue before, ask if he or she will do some research on how to best do so! Most will go out of their way to do their homework and make sure they’re well prepared for any situation your venue will throw at them. But even if your vendor hasn’t worked at your venue before, don’t let this deter you from hiring them. Many vendors will let a new space spark their creativity as they’ll see it in a whole new way!
Listen, things happen. BUT any wedding vendor worth their salt will have a plan B. I don’t mean, “Oh, something came up and I can no longer do your wedding.” Vendors who pull that kind of crap (and yes, there are people like that out there…I hear horror stories all the time) do not deserve to be in this amazing industry. I’m talking about a really unforeseen emergency circumstance that prevents them from following through on the contract. Maybe your photographer learns she’s expecting (yay for her!) and her due date is around your wedding. Maybe your hair stylist breaks her arm the week before your big day. Whatever it is, the BEST wedding vendors figure out a back-up plan in advance so that your day is still executed without a hitch. When you’re interviewing potential wedding vendors, feel free to ask what happens if they run into a situation like this! Quality vendors should have an answer ready to go. It means they’ve already thought through all possible scenarios and that they are PREPARED, which is the type of professional you want.
Did I strategically save this for the very last? Why, yes. Yes, I did. It’s not because I don’t think price is important. It definitely is! It’s just that I don’t think it should be the ONLY thing you consider. Hiring a vendor off of price alone is risky. Think of it like betting your life savings on a very high-stakes game where the odds are not in your favor. Ok, ok, some might say I’m being a bit dramatic. BUT I would respectfully disagree. Your wedding day is once in a lifetime (hopefully). There are no do-overs, no second chances to get it right. What if you hire someone because they’re cheaper but you end up hating your flowers/photos/video/music/WHATEVER?! While it might feel good to save a little money now, think of how terrible it might feel to regret your decision and never get another chance. The risk is not worth the reward here. Of course, price is going to heavily weigh into your decision-making. But please, for the sake of your wedding, do not let it be the only determining factor.
What things are most important to you when researching potential wedding vendors? What factors played a role in determining whether or not you hired someone? Comment below!