Wedding Tips from Muyly Series: Choosing Vendors

Last Spring, I produced the first ever Salt Lake Valley Wedding Workshop at Red Butte Garden.


It was a 2 hour classroom of Brides, and information coming from handpicked professionals, presenting to Brides. we had 8 different professionals from Fitness to Entertainment talk about each of their experiences with working in weddings and what to ask and look for when interviewing potential event professionals for your Wedding.

You will have to come to the next one in January to hear them speak again, but right now I will give some general tips on some of the most common vendors in the Wedding planning process.

Location: This might sound obvious when choosing a venue for your ceremony,reception or both, but keep in mind that not all venues have a list of catering companies to choose from , florists, bakers ,etc.

When choosing a venue that is a stand alone, meaning all you are renting is the space and that you will need to coordinate everything else, understand that delivery fees may be a part of your budgeting. The florist may charge a litte more in delivery  or in set up if it’s outside of a certain area, same with a bakery and event rental companies.

Courtesy Brown Brothers Catering

Catering: Some caterers have a set of menus they have prepared in advance for Brides to choose from. In their past experiences, it is usually a compilation of the most popular food items to help make it easy for you to choose the foods you want to serve. Don’t feel pressured into choosing only from those menus. A good caterer will listen to your needs, wishes and make adjustments to those pre planned menus to fit your Reception. Also, if you are unsure of what to choose because you aren’t familiar with the food, tastings are an option, but come at a price, make sure you understand that if you can’t afford to do a tasting then you need to trust the caterer with with quality of food. Research well and ask  a lot of questions. Some caterers will actually host tasting events for a big group of people,look for those events or ask.

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Cake by Granite Bakery, Flowers Native Flower Company, Photograpy by Amanda Hendrickson

Bakeries: We all love a good tasty cake at a wedding. When choosing a baker, try to research the company and see if they are a one/two person show or a big shop that hires many bakers. A smaller shop may not be able to make your cake on your date if it is a popular date, you may want to reserve that piece of your wedding planning early if your heart is set on a certain bakery. Ask about tastings- do they only offer a tasting after you have reserved them, do they offer tastings on a scheduled basis? Cake prices start out with a base price based on flavor, frosting and amount of servings. Additional costs usually start happening  with fillings, decorations, special detail piping and, of course, size. I’ve had cakes cost $250 all they way up to $800 with an average serving of 130 guests. So look at your base price and adjust your cake options according to your budget. Inquire about delivery fees, set up fees and even slicing fees if your caterer or venue cannot do that for you.

Native Flower Company, Photography by Amanda Hendrickson, Granite Bakery

Florists: Flowers are a quintessential piece in weddings. Some brides go for simple and elegant and some go for the more elaborate. Do not decide on your style of floral pieces until you have seen what is available from the florists in your area. Each florist has a different take on ‘simple and elegant’ so with the power of the internet and Pinterest, this is where you need to find out what you really want and communicate clearly with the florist you choose. Choosing a florist should consist of finding the location of their shop, knowing how long they have been in business, their reputation, and making sure they have a way to show you their past work. Some florists have a big book of photos to show Brides, some refer you to a website. Get a sense of their work and see if it fits with you. More reputable florists are able to gain trust from clients to design beautiful bouquets and other items by way of word of mouth advertising . Always ask about delivery and service fees, and let them know what the strike times are per the venue so they can be there to take away centerpieces and other decoration before the rental companies come to take away linens and tables.

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High Star Ranch, Jacque Lynn Photography

Photographers and Videographers: I could write an entire blog post related to this topic, but I won’t. I will leave that to those, themselves, who do that for a living.I highly advise you, especially if you are the type enamored with glorious pictures from Pinterest, that you hire a true professional. Know your investment. I typically tell Brides to set aside about $3000 for photography.  First step into finding a photographer, start your research as soon as you are engaged. Top photographers will be booked up by the end of engagement season,  that ‘season’ typically runs from November to February. if you have friends whose wedding pictures you liked, get the info on that photographer. Secondly, get a local bridal magazine, or hop online and start viewing some listed photographers. You are looking for 3 things when deciding 1) Price 2) Their shooting style (some are more soft and romantic, some are more modern) and 3) Availability.

Also, when you are looking on their websites or other sites that reference their work, make sure you see a wide array of images from the entire wedding featured so that you can get a sense of consistency. Remember, you are hiring the photographer for their style of shooting, their work in editing and the number of quality high resolution photos they can deliver. Ask for 50-75  delivered edited engagement shots (45 minutes to 1 hour of photo taking), and about 400-475 ( about 5 hours of shooting) delivered wedding day photos, edited. You’re not going to get a whole disc of every snap they took that day. and you don’t want it. Some photos may have taken 2-3 takes to get perfect so you just want the perfect ones. If someone tells you they will give you a disc of all the photos, ‘clicks’ they took that day, it means they are probably not edited and won’t be what you were expecting from a finished product. Other factors to consider are print costs and albums.

Silen6 Graphic Design, Photography by Amanda Hendrickson

Invitations: Calculate your budget to include all of your stationery such as Save The Dates, Wedding Invitations, Inserts, Menus, Programs, and Thank you Cards. then make sure you budget out postage for everything you are mailing out.

Invitations are very personal to everyone, so I don’t do a lot of handholding in this arena. Most couples just want me to direct them to the most cost effective resources. So I say, decide on your guest list, decide what you you will need in your entire stationery bundle, then call me. If you are more into handmade and hand styled stationary, factor in the calligraphy and paper costs.

Understand how to word your invitations based on who is hosting, and extra touches like programs that thank people who have passed on are always sweet and a great way to show respect to loved ones.

M. Felt Photography, Kelli Miller Beauty, Janay Marie Designs

Hair and Makeup: This is one of the best places to spend your money. Why? because your best look will be captured forever and you want the best team to help you! Invest in a good team to come to you and prep you for the day. Professional Makeup artists will stay til after the ceremony to touch you up and get you camera ready again if you’ve somehow managed to moisten your bottom lashes. Same with your Hairdresser, they will stay to readjust your pins or veil. The hair and makeup artist could be one in the same.

If you are paying for your bridal party to get prepped, ask how many pros will be coming, how much the travel fees are and if there is a group discount. I would say if your Hair and MUA stay to touch you up after the ceremony, a tip would not be out of the question as a thank you to for making sure no bats were found in the cave, no black streaks staining your face and no crazy bobby pins are poking out.

Just like Bakeries, understand how it is set up, if it’s just a one person show or a team of freelancers. depending on your date, you may not be able to book the person you are wanting.

Make sure you get a run through and a bridals package with your hair and makeup artist as well.

Understand the timing of the day and communicate with your glam squad so they know when to be there and let them know about any times where pictures need to be taken pre-wedding ceremony.

Those are a just a handful of topics with general tips. Other vendors to keep in mind are officiants, event rental companies, DJ’s or Bands, health and fitness coaches, photo booths, transportation, tuxedo rentals and wedding dress shops, jewelers, and styled writers for addressing envelopes.

Everything mentioned above is all based from my own experiences with planning couples, as well as wedding and event professionals. Not all my tips and advice are that of the same opinion of other wedding planning sites and wedding planners.