Are you stuck at the intersection of Pinterest overload with visions of glistening weddings and making those dreams a reality? Weddings need a whole cast of supporting teams to run smoothly and bring your vision to life.
Some of those vendors may be easy to figure out - florist, cake designer, venue. Others may not jump out at you right away - like a Day of Coordinator.
We’ve got you covered with a list of vendors and their role in serving your wedding day.
1. Venue - we are starting here because venues set you up for many of your later decisions. Your wedding date will be set once you book your venue and you’ll need that information for all the other vendors.
Some venues include certain vendors - think catering or coordinator. That will cross some off your list (but make sure you verify their roles so you know you are fully covered)
Your dream venue may also have a list of Preferred Vendors. This can be handled a couple of ways. They may require you to choose from them - check out these vendors to know if they are a good fit and stick within your budget. Another Preferred Vendor style does not require you to use them but I would highly recommend looking into these vendors. Your venue is letting you know these vendors have consistently done a great job and they enjoy working with them. That smooth working relationship will be valuable on your wedding day.
2. Photographer - photographers typically do one wedding a day. There are exceptions with larger photography studios that employ several photographers and have someone oversee editing style - but this is a minority of what couples choose.
You want to find a photographer whose style you love and whose personality you click with.
Their style encompasses their editing style and what types of photos they take - is it mainly posed, lots of candids, details, etc. Think through all of these as you decide what photos you want to tell your wedding story.
Their personality is extremely important. You need to be relaxed and have fun with them to make you comfortable in front of the camera!
There are a list of other photo sessions you may want to book - engagement session (great for Save the Date announcements and wedding website), Bridal Portrait, Boudoir, Trash the Dress, etc.) Check our what your photographer offers and what you are interested in.
Please, do not go with the cheapest price here! This is the lasting memory of the wedding day and you don’t get a do over.
3. Caterer - your guests will remember the food! This is a key part to ensuring your guests enjoy the day. If your venue includes the catering, that will help streamline the process but you still need to do your homework to make sure everything you need/want is included.
Appetizers - do they include appetizers for cocktail hour? Besides the fact that alcohol with no food is not a great idea, the inclusion of appetizers will help your guests enjoy Cocktail hour. This helps bridge the time between ceremony and dinner. You will be busy with post ceremony photos which could take 30 mins - 1 hour. A few appetizers will help carry guests over to dinner and enjoy the time.
Entrees - what are your choices and how many entrees are provided? Having at least two entree options for guests help ensure the majority can find something they enjoy.
Sides - along with entrees, two - three side options help fill in for your guests. Keep in mind options that meet dietary needs like vegetarian or gluten free.
Services - caterers do much more than just provide the food. They provide the equipment needed to keep it hot or cold, set up food, serve, clean tables, handle trash, cake cutting and more.
Make sure you find out if they are providing plates, cups, napkins. Ask if they are disposable or china and make sure that matches up with your vision.
4. Florist - your florist can handle anything from flower design to additional decor to full wedding design. Talk through the options with your florist and what they include with each to determine what you need. Your florist should handle delivery, setup and breakdown of your flowers. They may also stay to help with a room "flip" if you are doing your ceremony and reception in the same space.
If your venue includes floral, make sure you get the details on what is included in the pricing! It can be anything from bridal bouquet and groom's boutonniere only to table centerpieces and more. You also want to understand what style and types of flowers are included. If you are dreaming of a lush, cascading bouquet filled with peonies - that may cost extra!
5. Cake Designer - tiered wedding cakes take skill to make and ensure they are beautiful and tasty! Your cake designer will do a tasting with you to determine which flavors you prefer, talk through the design and what type of icing may be needed and discuss additional items like incorporating flowers from your florist into the design. Your cake designer will deliver the cake to your venue - this is a critical piece and great vendors know how to construct the cake so it will arrive safely. They will not, however, stay to cut the cake. That's why is critical to talk with your caterer to make sure they cover this. They will need to cut it correctly to make sure there is enough cake for all the guests.
6. DJ - they aren't just here to play some dance music! Your DJ will often cover ceremony music as well. They will cue the songs at the right moments to ensure everything runs smoothly. They often provide wireless mics for the officiant. Your DJ should have all their own sound equipment that they bring with them. This ensures they know how it works and that it will work for your wedding day! Rented equipment and playlists on an ipad do not compare!
Your DJ will get your list of songs for First Dance, Parent Dances, etc. plus your list of Do and Do Not play items to keep the party going. They should have soft background music during cocktail hour and dinner to complement the setting. Dead silence during dinner can make everyone uncomfortable!
They will also work with your Coordinator to make announcements and keep the schedule for the day going.
7. Day of Coordinator - they can also be referred to as Month of Coordinator, Wedding Planner, etc. Terms are used differently depending on the area you are in and you'll want to understand what each one includes. At a minimum, you will want someone to come alongside you about a month before the wedding. They should gather all your vendor information and become the primary point of contact for vendors to make sure your wedding vision comes to life. Your Coordinator will also develop your timeline so everyone knows when to arrive and what should happen in order. They will make sure your vendors have the venue information and show up on time the day of your wedding.
They will become your main point of contact throughout the day for any questions or concerns you may have. Your Coordinator will cue everyone through the ceremony and reception to keep everything running smoothly. They should be there until the end of the night for the send off and then to help pack up the personal items that should go home with you, your parents, etc.
8. Bartender - each state, county or city will have specific requirements for serving alcohol at your wedding. The right bartender will make sure everything meets these requirements. They keep the alcohol service running smoothly throughout the night and make sure everyone has a good time safely! The liability on the couple as a host can be huge, so make sure you dot your i's and cross your t's on this one!
9. Rentals/Decor - these are the touches that help make your day unique, but it can also become overwhelming quickly! If you are renting items or bringing in decor, you need to understand who will be delivering, setting up and removing all the items (and within your venue's time allowance). Most rental companies will deliver and they may do one set up, but they won't stick around to move chairs from ceremony to reception. There may be additional set up fees for rented china, table decor, etc. Typically, it's worth it to pay for this! It takes much longer to set out 150 place settings than you think. Plus these are the experts on where everything should be placed and they will make sure it looks perfect. You may think you can enlist your bridesmaids to knock it out quickly, but remember they are doing hair and makeup and celebrating with you - not trying to remember which side of the plate the fork goes on.
10. Officiant - someone has to make it legal! There are several choices for who will perform your actual ceremony. It may be a minister that you know personally, an officiant that specializes in weddings or perhaps two best friends that introduced you and decide to become ordained to perform your ceremony! Make sure you have time to talk with your officiant so they can get to know you a little, understand what type of ceremony you want and go through your vows.
11. Hair and Makeup Artist - these vendors will bring out your beauty to help you feel your best and shine in photos. You have a range of options from going to a salon to finding professionals who will travel to you. Ask for photos of their work to make sure it matches up with your style. Schedule a trial run a few weeks before your wedding so you both know exactly what you want!
There you have it. By no means an exhaustive list as there are so many options as you develop what is most important to you, but these are some very key vendors you will need. It's a lot to go through, so if you do have a preferred list from your venue or recommendations from others - start there!
Best of luck with the wedding planning!
Hi - I'm Becky Kimmons! My husband, Cale, and I own and run Pleasant Union Farm. You will most often find him on the tractor, and you will find me at the computer, giving venue tours, or chasing our youngest daughter around.