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My husband and I are coming up on our 5 year anniversary and I've talked to a few friends who are currently planning their wedding or helping their kids with planning their wedding. I always know that when it comes to the need to find vendors for your wedding, it can be daunting and a pain in the butt! My biggest piece of advice is always:

“Don't sweat the small stuff! Everything will work out, but the more you iron out the details and expectations immediately, the easier the wedding will be on the day of!”

We were lucky that we knew a lot of event planning professionals. A friend of mine just ventured into the professional photography business, my husband worked at an award-winning bakery and my mom was a pretty awesome floral arrangement designer. My aunt knew an awesome seamstress that was able to let my dress out a little bit because I was extremely bloated the last 2 weeks before the wedding due to stress and a couple of my girls were from out of town and needed their dresses hemmed a few days before the wedding.

As you will soon discover, there is really no shortage of wedding vendors in any given category. The goal is finding the professional that is right for you, not only with product, service, and price but with personality as well. The search for wedding day vendors can begin in a number of places. Knowing where to look and what to look for will assist you in your search.

The 6 Best Places to Find Vendors for your Wedding or Special Event

Bridal Shows

The greatest value in bridal shows is the opportunity to meet with a large number of wedding vendors and view many products at one time, in one location. There are many categories of vendors represented at the shows, making it an invaluable tool for doing research and for gathering wedding-related information. When you find vendors you particularly interested in, make a note of it and call soon after the show to book a personal one on one appointment. If you're in the Cleveland, Ohio area… there is a HUGE event in January/February every year that's at the IX-Center that is a MUST attend. Today’s Bride I-X Center Cleveland Wedding Show is the “IT” bridal show in Cleveland every year and you will definitely find vendors there!

Ceremony and Reception Location

The locations you select for your wedding day are quite familiar with particular vendors and usually have a preferred vendor list. The vendors on this list have worked at that site many times before and are familiar with the logistics and rules of the location.

Friends and Family

You will usually get honest no-nonsense answers and opinions regarding products and services when you ask married friends and family members (even co-workers) about their own weddings. Ask them about their vendors, the services they used, what they liked and didn’t like, would they hire them again, etc.? People tend to stay with a photographer for everything from birthdays, milestones, senior photos, graduations, weddings, retirements, and more.

The Internet

The Internet is an easy access, easy to use, anytime resource. You can find a wealth of vendors on the web. Checking out a vendor's website can give you a good idea of pricing, packages, and type of work they do before making a personal appointment. The Knot is my FAVORITE place to look for recommendations for event vendors. Even if you're not getting married, many of the vendors specialize in events from weddings to birthdays, bar/bat mitzvahs, and more.

Local Bridal Magazines

Using local wedding magazines and directories can at first seem overwhelming, as there are a large number of advertisements in these publications. You can, however, find excellent vendors in the magazines, but it will take some calling around to acquaint yourself with these vendors.

Wedding Planners/Consultants

Wedding consultants have several pre-established relationships with local vendors. If you are working with a consultant, she should be able to provide you with preferred vendor list. However, if you are not working with a consultant, you can still benefit from this knowledge, as most consultants will share their preferred vendor list with you for a fee.

It's important to know that the person you're working with is a professional IN that field. Take photography for example. Some photographers don't do events. For instance, Ismail Sirdah specializes in special events and professional head-shots. I know some photographers who are only still life, or nature photographers and refuse to photograph people.

Once you have made your final decisions, get a written contract that is signed by you, your future spouse & the vendor.

When you find vendors, make sure you call to confirm the details and ask for a contract to be sent to you. A contract is the best way of ensuring you and the vendor understand what is expected, as it should outline specifics such as dates, times, names, and types of services/products provided. It will also spell out payment plans, refund, and cancellation policies. Make sure you read and understand the contract, it will help you out in the case where something isn't done the way it was supposed to be. Do not assume you have secured a vendor for your wedding day until you have a contract that is signed by you and the vendor. And finally remember, part of getting the most from a vendor’s service is also being a good client and providing the vendors with the payments and other requested information in a timely manner. So make sure you do that research and ask for portfolios and recommendations from people have used the vendor in the past.

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