1. NOT UNTIL YOU’VE DONE YOUR HOMEWORK…
Euhm – say what? You want me to do homework? I’m a grown-up, thank you very much and will not be told what to do. Far be it from me to send you back to school (mum much?), however, a spot of light reading before you meet any supplier will pay off oodles.
Look at it this way: you’re most likely to be dealing with products and services you’ve never had to book before (I don’t know about you but I don’t commission bespoke flowers worth hundreds of pounds or book a band on a regular basis) and it doesn’t hurt to gain a little understanding of what to expect. And I do mean ‘a little understanding’ – don’t try to become an amateur-expert in every single area (it can be more hindrance than help).
I have come across a whole heap of useful guides in terms of questions to ask and what to look out for so if you’re ever in need of advice don’t hesitate to ask, I’d be delighted to help.
2. SEEN IT, WANT IT?
I am part of that generation who grew up having to use a lexicon or go to the library to do research and am in awe of how easy it now is to find pretty much anything you’re looking for at the click of a mouse. Do I sound like my grandmother? But seriously, what did we do before we could ‘just google it’?!
Having said all that, the sheer choice available online can feel overwhelming in no time so before you become lost in the ether, think back to weddings or events you’ve been to. Did the caterers delicious food and efficiently-charming service leave you feeling seriously impressed? Did you just love the photographer’s delightfully humorous way of getting you all lined up for the dreaded group shots?
Don’t hesitate to ask friends and family for recommendations. They’ll be flattered you loved their choices and there is simply no better testimonial than having already experienced excellent service for yourself. And please step away from the whole idea of having to be different just for the sake of it. No one will feel like they’re re-living someone else’s wedding day just because you happen to be working with the same band.
3. A HAPPY GUT
Let’s assume you’ve ticked all the ‘obligatory boxes’ for the suppliers you’re considering, such as making sure they are professional full-time businesses, that are fully insured, you are happy with their T&C’s or contract outlining the scope of their service, that you have spoken to previous clients for first-hand testimonials etc. and you have your shortlist. And you’re still feeling sane? Excellent work!
Now it’s time to go all ‘Activia’ on yourself (as Gok might say) and listen to your gut feeling. Was there someone who stood out, someone you just ‘clicked’ with? And yes, it is a little like blind dating. Was there someone you felt really listened and ‘got’ what you want your wedding day to feel (and look) like?
Most of us wedding industry people are small, often artisanal businesses and we’re very aware that we’re only ever as good as our last job – which means we will strive to get it just right for you every single time. If that’s the feeling you get from a supplier and your gut agrees, you’re usually on the right track.
4. HOW TO PUT A PRICE ON HAPPINESS
And this is it, my very last morsel of wisdom for today. I am the first person to urge you not to spend more of your hard-earned money than you can realistically afford. If you follow my features, you will have heard me say this so often you’ll soon be able to quote me verbatim.
However, there is still the infuriating myth out there that, as soon as you mention the word wedding, everybody quadruples their price. Yes, flowers or a cake for your wedding will be pricier than the equivalent for a 40th Birthday but there are good reasons for that. The time involved to plan for your day, the plethora of meetings and emails exchanged ahead of your day to fine-tune your requirements and the sheer scope of the day itself are far greater than any other event.
There may be the odd rogue trader who perpetuates that misconception but then you’ll get those in any area of life. There is a reason why there is a whole TV series dedicated to that very topic.
Aside from a very few, all the people I’ve worked with over the years have charged nothing other than fair and realistic prices. What you have to remember when considering any supplier’s service/product is that you’re not ‘just’ paying for that particular item or amount of time. To enable any supplier to offer the professional service/product you expect, they have running costs that stretch far beyond the item/service you’re buying. They have to pay for tax, insurance and training, office rental and equipment maintenance, advertising and website domain hosting (how else would you have found them otherwise) and all that other really tedious ‘stuff’ that is part and parcel of running a profitable business.
So next time you find yourself thinking ‘whaaaaat – those flowers would be half the price in Tesco’ or ‘my cousin could bake that cake for wayyyy less than that’, consider that most people aren’t out to take advantage of you – they just have to set realistic prices to enable them to keep that business, whose product/service and attitude you’ve fallen in love with, in business.