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Finding reputable wedding suppliers – the definitive guide to hiring trusted vendors

Images by Chloe Ely Photography, from the English Wedding archive (full feature here)


I’ve known Bernadette Chapman from the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners since before the English Wedding Blog even began. I know she’s an absolute professional, a true expert in her field and someone who is extremely dedicated to her work. If I had an important question about planning a wedding she is the first person I would ask.

Quality is a huge thing for Bernadette and the UKAWP, as is reputation and customer service. Every wedding planner trained by the UKAWP has integrity, honesty and creativity. And with a wealth of experience and information at her fingertips, who better than Bernadette to give us the low down on finding wedding suppliers who we can absolutely trust!

 

“The majority of wedding suppliers are in this industry because they want you to have your most perfect day. They truly understand how special a wedding is and know they are playing a small part in creating ever-lasting memories.

Finding reputable wedding suppliers: where to start

Don’t just stick to one method when researching for suppliers. The days of booking all your suppliers by visiting a wedding fair are long gone. You might book some, but don’t feel you have to book them all!

The top 7 places to find trusted suppliers for your wedding

  • Your wedding venue’s recommended supplier list. (Do check it is a genuine recommended list though and not one that suppliers needed to pay to be included on)
  • Visit the UKAWP website for suppliers that have been vetted before being approved
  • National and local wedding fairs. National fairs are great for inspiration and especially niche suppliers, while smaller local fairs can be great to meet more locally based suppliers, especially if you’re looking for those who’ve worked at your venue before. And with suppliers like cake makers you get to taste the cake as well!
  • Read wedding blogs within real wedding features or their directories
  • Ask for recommendations from friends, family or other suppliers who can vouch for a particular person
  • Social media – although please check the work being shown is a supplier’s own. So many accounts on Instagram are regramming so sometimes they’re not showing you what they are capable of, only what they find inspirational.
  • Hire a wedding planner as they will have vetted all suppliers before working with them. In essence they’ve done the legwork already. Members of the UKAWP have been vetted and none of them will take commission ensuring their honesty can be trusted.

Questions to ask wedding suppliers

There are certain questions you should be asking wedding vendors. Don’t always assume a gorgeous website means experience – it’s not necessarily the case.

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. Are the images on your website and social media your own work?
  3. Can you provide references for me to check?
  4. Are you insured?
  5. Do you belong to any industry body? (not a deal breaker but can show they are serious about their business)
  6. What are your terms? (do they have a contract for you to sign)
  7. Have you worked at x venue before OR have you worked in marquees before?

Confirming a trusted wedding supplier

When you are ready to confirm a supplier do not hand money over until everything is confirmed in writing. You need written confirmation of the following:

  • Exactly what they are providing for you (vague 7 x table arrangements isn’t enough, should detail what flowers and ideally an inspiration photo it’s based on, otherwise it’s your word vs theirs)
  • Cost of the service and payment breakdown
  • Time of arrival & collection if applicable

Depending on the type of supplier you should have a contract to sign and once that has been done you can pay the deposit. Pay special attention to detail on cancellation policies and complaint procedure.

Expectation vs Reality

I wouldn’t be doing you any justice with my advice if I didn’t cover having realistic expectations. The world of Pinterest has brought with it images of elaborate displays, with expectations they can be recreated for £50 whereas in reality probably cost £350

I have seen many situations where couples do not understand how the service industry price their services.

Wedding Planners – you are not paying for the time to “plan” a wedding but more their experience, knowledge and logistical know how. See this blog post for further understanding www.ukawp.com/how-much-do-wedding-planners-cost/

Photographers – you are not paying for them to snap some photos throughout the day, you’re paying for the editing, retouching and their experience at capturing fabulous photos regardless of the venue or lighting

Cake Makers – you are not paying for them to bake a cake, but more the time it has taken them to hone their skill, the hours and hours it takes them to create sugar craft flowers. And to deliver and set up with it in one piece!

Stationery – you are not paying for them to print some words on the invites but more to create a beautiful design to suit your personality. And I don’t know about you but that isn’t something I could do!

Musicians – you are paying for them to sound fabulous but that fee is being split amongst the band members, roadie, sound engineer and agent. Then there is the cost of the instruments. All of a sudden what seemed expensive now seems reasonable – or it should!

Of course there are lots of categories within the wedding industry and I can’t cover them all but next time receiving quotes think about:

  • The years of experience, not the hours working for you
  • The insurance they need to pay for
  • Actual cost of the product and time learning a skill / making it
  • Number of people involved in the service and how that money is split
  • Cost of any equipment whether instruments, cameras, tripods etc
  • 25% of all bookings has to be set aside for the running costs of a business, national insurance, taxi. Yes we can’t spend every penny of what we receive as otherwise we have no business left!
  • When receiving quotes it should become clear what the industry average is. If you receive a quote that is considerably cheaper, instead of think what a great deal, instead think about why? Are they going to fully delivery? Or will they over promise and under deliver?

And a last word –

If something seems too good to be true – it normally is

With thanks to Bernadette Chapman, founder of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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