“A real decision is measured by the fact that you've taken a new action. If there's no action, you haven't truly decided.”
— Anthony Robbins (author)
Search for the best value.
Get a range of prices from different companies, so you can compare packages.
Don’t take their first offer.
It’s okay to negotiate, especially if your big day is NOT on a Saturday or in the summer. If they can’t meet your budget, then ask for a referral.
Book all vendors at least 6-9 months in advance. The good ones go fast.
Check their performance.
Get a company’s history at your state’s attorney general’s office (scroll to AG Fast Facts) and the Better Business Bureau.
See what their past clients say.
Get references from recent weddings within your budget.
Look for experience.
You only get one shot for everything to be done right, so you want someone who’s been successful at what they do for many years.
Don’t pay more upfront.
Only pay the minimum deposit. It will enhance their motivation if you give them the balance after their service has been performed.
Ask about the precautions they take.
Know what the backup plan is if something happens to their equipment, vehicle or personnel on your wedding day.
Pay attention to their level of familiarity.
Ask if they’ve done a wedding at your location before. It’s not a deal-breaker, but having past experience at your venue could be very valuable.
Know where your money is going and how it’s getting there.
Find out their travel fees (especially if the ceremony and reception are in different locations), and what forms of payment they accept.
Learn who and how much you should tip.
Not every professional your hire needs to be tipped.
- Catering: 18% is typically added on to the final bill
- Limo Driver: 15% is often already added on to the final bill
- Musicians: $25 per musician, up to 15% if you felt the performance was exceptional
- Photographer: Only for extra services
- Videographer: Only for extra services
- Officiant: A tip is not expected, but charitable donations are appreciated
Have a signed agreement with details.
Make sure you sign a contract that has:
- A date and their start/ending times
- The individual(s) scheduled for your wedding and their duties
- All the products/services that are included with the price
- A deposit amount
- Final payment and when it’s due
- Costs for additional time
- A statement stating whether or not the final price includes a tip
- A cancellation policy
- A statement that talks about what happens if they are unable to fulfill their obligation(s)