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Some of you might be wondering why we’re even writing a post about whether you need to feed your wedding vendors, because the answer seems so obvious, while others of y’all are eager to hear the answer. And that’s part of the fun (and sometimes frustrating!) thing about wedding planning: you’ve never done it before, so almost every to do is uncharted territory. We’re here to help, with one of our main goals being to give you both the practical and the pretty as you plan your joyful, meaningful wedding day.

Photo by Whitney Neal with styling by Jaclyn Journey from Volume 8

But back to the question at hand! The short answer is yes, you need to feed your wedding vendors. A Southern bride is a gracious hostess to her carefully-chosen vendors as well as her invited guests, and in addition to being the right thing to do, it pays dividends! Here’s what you need to know:

Who should you feed? Any vendor who is “on” during your reception should be fed. You don’t need to worry about feeding a back-of-house vendor like your florist, who is setting up before your reception begins, because she’ll have the flexibility to set her own schedule and breaks. Generally, your planner, photographer, videographer, DJ or band members, and any assistants for any of these folks, will need to be fed.

Why should we be responsible for feeding them? Well, since they’ll typically be on the clock for 5-12 hours, they’ll need to eat to keep body and soul together somehow. A hot meal will give them way more energy to keep doing their best work than something they packed that morning, and you definitely don’t want them driving off-site (and missing important moments!) to find hot food. Most vendors will carry protein bars or something similar for emergencies, but you don’t want them to rely on those alone.

What should we feed them? Check each vendor’s contract, because some will specify what they need to be fed. If they don’t, many caterers offer “vendor meals” at a lower price point than what they’re charging for your guests. Ask what this consists of, because it can range from a boxed sandwich and chips to the exact same menu you’re eating. Again, it’s such a nice treat for your vendors to have a warm, yummy meal, so if at all possible, try to work that out with your caterer. If you’re having a buffet, sending your vendors through the line like everyone else is a great option.

Where should they eat? The best place for them to eat is an unobtrusive place that’s close to the action – maybe a table at the edge of the room, or a table just inside the catering tent, if it’s near the main event. You want them to be close enough so that they can spring into action, should it be required! Impromptu toast that needs to be photographed, anyone? :)

When should they eat? Generally, the best time for your vendors to eat is when you and your guests are eating. No one wants to be photographed while chewing, after all! Be sure to ask your vendors if they have a preference, or show them your proposed timeline and see if your suggested meal time works with how they like to do things. They have worked tons of weddings and will know what works best! See our tips for making a wedding day timeline.

Making sure your beloved vendors are well-fed will not only show your appreciation for their hard work, but will give them the fuel they need to finish out the night strong – a win-win for everyone! And if you have extra cake, a slice of that never hurts, either :)

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Cebu wedding photographer reply

    For me, the vendors should be fed. Its a common sense. It would definitely get the couple an extra mile.

  2. avatar Stephanie reply

    Thank you so much for a well written article As a wedding photographer for several years this time sometimes seems to be a point that brides don’t really understand. Thank you for making it So clear!

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You’ve probably heard us say this before, and we’ll repeat it till the cows come home, because gracious, it can save you so much stress: don’t book any of your vendors till you’ve signed on the dotted line for a venue!

I will be the first to raise my hand when I say this may be easier said than done, though. When I was wedding planning, my now-husband and I knew exactly who we wanted as our photographer and videographer, for example, but when it came to where we were actually going to get married? Noooo clue. Deciding on a city and a venue was one of our hardest wedding planning decisions (you can read about it here), and we ended up choosing a totally different state than we were originally leaning toward! I can’t imagine the headache it could’ve caused if we had put down deposits on other vendors before securing the place where our “I dos” (and the party!) would occur.

Along with setting your date in stone, your venue will likely have more of an influence on your wedding than any other decision–it will determine the style and aesthetic, your guest count, and even the timeline of the day. Below are a few tips for making this important decision!

Start with Google. While venues that market themselves to weddings generally have a lot of information online, unusual or “off the beaten path” options may be harder to find through a simple search. Try searching for phrases like “North Carolina barn wedding” or “Atlanta ballroom wedding”–those terms are likely to bring up posts on wedding blogs (oh hi! :)) and photographers’ blogs, which can be a great way to both find new venues and see how others have used the spaces.

Compare apples to apples. When you’re booking a venue, you’re often booking more than just the space–you may also be booking their in-house staffing, rentals, catering etc. All venues calculate their prices differently, so as you research, try to organize the information in a way that’s easy for you to understand and compare. For example, one venue may seem exorbitantly more expensive than another at first, but when you learn that the first price includes a month-of coordinator, valet parking, and use of their extensive rental inventory, while the second is just use of the space, the first may actually be the more affordable option.

Visit your venue one year in advance. If you can, try to visit venues as close to a year in advance of your wedding date as possible–it will give you the best insight as to what you can expect in terms of landscaping and scenery.

Get it in writing. Especially if you are asking for particular allowances, such as hanging a certain type of decor or arranging the space in a unique way, be sure to get the venue’s agreement in writing. That way, even if there’s staff turnover during your engagement, your provisions should be safe.

Here are a few important questions to ask venues you’re interested in–pin the graphic below so you don’t forget! (P.S. If you have our Joyful Wedding Planner, you’ll also find this list in there to bring to your appointments.)

I’d love to know–what made you say “yes” to your wedding venue? For me, it was the aesthetic and the fact that there was an indoor space for the reception surrounded by beautiful outdoor space for portraits!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar mary reply

    We chose our venue ultimately because my mom really liked it (lol), but we loved that it could accommodate lots of guests, since we had a fairly large list, and that it was a hotel. Lots of guests came in from out of town so it was convenient for them and we had a great after party at the hotel bar after! It also was very close to the church which was a must for us, as well!

  2. avatar GetWedSoon reply

    Very useful piece of advice for all those soon-to-weds who’re confused about choosing their wedding venue. Especially the beautifully arranged questionnaire!
    We would like to quickly throw in a couple of useful tips here:
    1. Avoid having your wedding ceremony on a holiday. Reason being that the wedding venues are far more expensive on those days. Instead, be smart and select a date which is not a holiday, and when most of your guests are free.
    2. Try to choose a naturally beautiful wedding venue. This could save you tons of cash that you otherwise have to spend on wedding decor.

  3. avatar Lydia Royce reply

    It’s also important to think about the season. Some venues have gorgeous greenery and trees that will really make your photos pop, but that foliage is gone during the cold months and it will look completely different.

  4. avatar Nicholle McKenzie reply

    Choosing the right and cost-effective wedding venue takes a ton of research. It’s the foundation that your build your perfect day on. Adding to the tips from Lisa here are some other useful things to keep in mind while choosing your wedding venue .

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Knowing that so many of you are newly (ish!) sporting an engagement ring, we’ve been working our way through wedding planning must-dos here on the blog for the past few weeks. After several rounds of budget advice, it’s time to move on to vendors: finding them, hiring them, and working with them! For all of our best wedding planning advice in one place, be sure to pick up your copy of the Joyful Wedding Planner!

For many of us, planning a wedding is the first time we’ve had to hire someone – maybe ever, and almost certainly for something creative! It can feel like a lot of pressure to get it right, because your wedding vendors are the folks who will transform your big, precious ideas into a celebration that can be enjoyed by the people you love most. We’ve got a whole roster of vendors we love for browsing, but today we’re taking it one step further and really breaking down the question “how do I find vendors for my wedding?”

Use your network. Naturally, some of the best recommendations come from people you trust. Loved the flowers at your best friend’s wedding? Ask her who she used. And remember, negative reviews can be just as helpful as positive ones!

Ask your vendors. Found a vendor you 100% click with? Ask him for other vendor recommendations. Photographers and planners, especially, work with countless vendors every weekend and can have great insight into the best options in your area.

Look to blogs and magazines. Wedding blogs and magazines can be a wealth of vendor leads, in a number of different ways. Search for real wedding or editorials that took place in your area and follow up with anyone whose work you love. Check to see if they have a vendor directory, usually a hand-picked selection of vendors that have been vetted in some way (ours is called the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory). And don’t forget print and online advertisements – if you love a publication, chances are you’ll love the vendors that care enough to advertise with them.

There’s a common belief that vendors and venues charge more for the same services as soon as the word “wedding” is mentioned. Surprise! That’s probably true – but for good reason. A once-in-a-lifetime event like a wedding comes with an entirely different set of expectations, pressure, time spent planning, service, and creativity than your average cocktail or bridal party, and a higher price often reflects that. Though it can be hard to justify the expense on the front end of a wedding, talented vendors are worth every penny in the end!

I’d love to hear: how did you find your vendors? Who are your favorites?

emily Written with love by Emily
3 Comments
  1. avatar Joseph Requerme Photo reply

    Usually your suppliers will recommend someone that they trust, so, ask your supplier. Those points you have mentioned are really helpful.

  2. avatar Christine reply

    Yes to all of the above. Also, Instagram can be a great resource to find vendors. Follow beautiful wedding accounts and check to see who they tag. You can discover many wonderful vendors using that method! I found most of my wedding vendors via wedding magazines and trusted wedding websites and blogs (like this one!). I also turned to my wedding planners and their relationships for additional vendor intros. Honestly, the vendor finding process was so much fun!

  3. avatar Bri A reply

    These are such helpful tips because there are so many options out there! I especially love asking vendors that you have a rapport with, because working with someone brings a unique perspective!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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