Brides and grooms will spend a majority of their initial wedding planning securing wedding vendor quotes.
A vendor quotation is really just an educated guess of the final bill based upon the number of guests, couple's preferences, and other considerations. To have a good selection of quotes, couples should interview two to four vendors, depending on their wedding planning timeline.
Before scheduling an interview, see if the vendors have a website that features their work or offers an idea of their prices. This can help couples decide if they even want a quote, helping them avoid consulting with ten vendors before finding the right one.
Organizing Vendor Quotes
To stay organized while interviewing vendors, bring a binder that has loose-leaf pages, tabs, and folders. Take notes, keep pamphlets in the folders, and tabulate different vendor categories (photographers, caterers, florists). Some wedding planning guides have designated pages for recording vendor quotes.
Keep information in the binders, moving the pages around so that the favorites are on top. At home, enter the most important information into a spreadsheet for easy comparison.
Wedding Planners and Quotes
Couples who hire a wedding planner will find that their planner can do most of the consultations and organization herself. The planner can suggest reputable vendors and may even do the initial interview. The planner will then meet with the couple to discuss two or three vendors to visit together. From there, the couple and planner will determine which vendor will fit their needs best.
In addition to doing a lot of the legwork involved in obtaining quotes, a coordinator may be able to secure discounts and special privileges for a couple. Established planners often have relationships with particular vendors, like banquet hall managers or cake decorators, enabling them to pull strings to get additional wait staff or a special rate on cake slices.
Vendor Quote Value
To couples who are on a tight budget, the best value may simply be the lowest quote. However, those with a little more budget room should evaluate each vendor based upon whatever factors are most important to them. Working with someone who shares the same vision and offers a higher quality product is a better value than the lowest quoted vendor who offers few options. Look at:
- Total cost
- Included services
- Personality of the contact person
- Shared vision
- Option variety
To properly evaluate the value of the wedding vendor quotes, couples need to have all the pertinent information from vendors. Asking the right questions during the interview is essential.
Wedding Vendor Quotes: Tips
Couples who are planning unique ceremonies or receptions may need to speak with additional vendors beyond the typical caterer or professional photographer. For example, couples may want a gospel choir to sing at their ceremony or have a cigar roller available at the reception. Remember to add these vendors to the list. Have an idea of the guest count and budget allotted for each vendor.
Couples who want to get the best vendor quotations should get information regarding the following from each vendor:
- Options: Learn how many options are available from that vendor. How many cake flavors are there at each bakery; what is included in package A, B, and C from the photographer; does the florist do centerpieces and setup? Having plenty of options can make working with a vendor easier.
- Experience: Ask how the vendor got started in the business and how long they have been in their current location. View wedding cake photos, examples of wedding decorations at receptions, listen to the wedding reception band play a few songs. Look for a wedding caterer with testimonials from satisfied customers or who offers samples of the most popular dishes.
- Cost: Ask how much the deposit will be to hold the wedding date and the refund policy guidelines. Get an outline of what is included in various packages. Does package A from the photographer include a CD of all the poses? Is the price-per-plate from the caterer factoring in cleanup? Find out if vendors charge a mileage fee if the wedding location is far away from their business.
Wedding Quotes Versus Party Quotes
A tip often heralded is to obtain quotes from wedding vendors under the guise of another party-from a birthday party to retirement party-in order to get a lower rate. However, this can backfire on couples for several reasons:
- Vendors will not like being deceived about the purpose of the party and may quit.
- The amount of preparation and labor in a wedding is often much more elaborate, which is why vendors may charge more for a wedding.
- Vendors may include additional services in their wedding quotations that will be sorely missed if a false party is being planned. For example, a wedding DJ may not bring love songs, disco ball, fog machine and spotlights if he thinks he is playing for a retirement party dance.
It is fine, however, to inquire about regular and wedding rates. Ask the vendor to list their reasons why the rates may differ. It may surprise couples to learn how much more they get for the higher rate.
Quotes Are Estimates
A final tip couples should remember is that vendor quotations are not set in stone-they are only estimates. The quotation is usually for a package offered by the vendor. When couples change the venue, the number of guests, or completely overhaul their entire color scheme, it can drive up the initial quotation.
Obtaining wedding vendor quotes is a long process for couples who are planning their wedding. By taking the time to properly interview and evaluate all aspects of vendor quotes, couples will get the most value for their money. Brides and grooms who hire the right vendor will be thankful they took the time to cross "get vendor quotes" off their wedding planning checklist.