Summer-inspired tabletop setting. Scroll down for details and description.

There is so much to say on the subject of picking vendors and honestly, here’s the REAL, 100% unofficial guide to it in one sentence: go with your gut. But beyond that, the best thing you can do is hook yourself up with an established planner. I know, I know… biased opinion. But, you don’t plan a wedding every day… they do. It’s just that simple. Of COURSE they know great florists. They know lots! Of COURSE they know a reliable DJ, a rockin’ band, a breath-taking venue that works for your budget… and again, of COURSE you don’t! So, I’m stepping down from my soap box now.

In terms of going about things the D-I-Y route with picking your vendors, here are some hot tips for you:

1. Meet with at least 2 options- weather you know it’s a “high/low” option [meaning top of your budget versus more reasonable for you] or it’s just two options you’ve heard great things about, being able to compare, on multiple levels, will be a huge asset to your big day. This way you can measure your comfort with this vendor, the way your vision is coming across, how much they’re getting you as a couple, and the different aspects of what each of them offer. Do NOT just email these vendors and decide from there. Although very, infinitely convenient in this day and age, a true connection with a vendor [especially a coordinator- hint, hint] cannot be known unless you meet them in person, I feel!

2. Be prepared! For a floral consultation, I suggest being armed with pictures. Gather a LOT of inspiration — cut out and collage images from magazines, save pictures from blogs and websites. Print them out, and pit them against one another. Then, from there, find the common thread. This will be instrumental to your vendor understanding your vision. “Garden-y” for a bouquet can be vastly different to every florist. For a photography consultation, know the questions you’d like to ask [seeing one complete wedding shoot, album options, engagement session price, guestbook creation?]. Compare what you like and what you don’t, and bring it to the table [literally] when discussing with your potential wedding day dream team. Do the same with venue, linens, cake and lighting. Really research and detect what it is that you like ABOUT each picture. And don’t be afraid to like pictures with different color schemes depicted- just because they’re different than what you’re using, you still love them for a reason- consider that and figure out what’s drawing you to it!

3. Be “Up Front”. Do NOT shy away from mentioning your budget. Each vendor, of course and totally understandably, thinks that their service is the “make or break” for a wedding- and considers it the utmost important. Of course, to you, you have an opinion. You may just not care about the flowers. You may care a LOT more than the average bride about the cake. There are plenty of great “budget breakdown calculators” out there on the web, but you’ll need to tailor yours to meet YOUR personal needs. Know this prior to meeting with your vendors. They need to know how much of a priority you’re making their service, and they’ll also need to know what you desire spending. Sure, you may be on a tight $20,000 budget but still want to spend $5,000 of that on your photos- you take them with you, after all! There is no “wrong” or “right” way to prioritize your wedding. Just ensure that you can feasibly tweak your budget to meet your needs [meaning don’t go SO overboard on your important elements that your catering budget is now unrealistic for ANY caterer to meet]. You definitely don’t want to be left in a stressful lurch!

4. Make a decision. I know this seems obvious, but it needs to be done. Not only do you need to plan your meetings with potential vendors [in the same service] as back to back as possible, but you need to sign a contract fairly quickly once it’s been sent. Weigh the pros and cons of each meeting you’ve had, and bite the bullet. You’d be amazed at how long some commit-a-phobe brides [and who wouldn’t be, with the price tag attached to some of these services!] wait to sign contracts, and then find out that their amazing, heart-stopping vendor has been snatched up already. Vendors don’t HAVE to tell you they’ve got another inquiry for your date. Maybe they should, but realistically, us in the industry meet with a LOT of potential clients that we never hear from again. If we held all these dates, we’d never work! It’s ever-so-important to truly make it a priority to sign and send that contract as soon as you’ve made your decision to lock in your vendor. The last thing you want is to start the whole process over again! And ultimately, you’ll have the best attitude after you cross another BIG ticket item off your list.

Again, I’ll say it- above all else, go with your GUT. You will know who you click with. You’ll know who gets you, and you’ll know who can be an asset to creating a perfect part of your dream team for the big day.

And now, for some luscious details from the orange and yellow setting I previewed above:

Pre and post ceremony drinks were sparkling orangeade, complete with straw attached. Simple, cute, and delightfully refreshing!

Escort cards doubled as a mini-favor. We printed square stickers to affix to the top [each guest’s name] and the bottom read what table they were seated at. But what REALLY made us squeal was the delicious color scheme and the huge “Rejoice!” on the bar itself!

Funky yellow place mats took residence underneath basic white square plates. Orange salad plates with a yellow napkin tucked under created the perfect pop of color. Our favors were a trio of classic french macaroons: lemon, orange blossom, and peach. All on top of a tangerine pin tuck taffeta linen. Swoon!

Close up!

Our centerpieces were incredible! A big fluffy ball of daisies accented with yellow “billy balls”. Paired with the unique footed yellow vase, it really conveys the message of a relaxed summertime soiree!

Special thanks to ALL the vendors that came through for this:

Jonilyn Photography

The Treasured Petal

Dress My Chair

Signature Party Rentals

Hope you enjoyed!


A. Auer