This post has been on my mind for a few weeks now – and I’m so excited to write about this subject! It’s really so important!
I was driving home from a really fun, beautiful wedding this summer reflecting on how the day was so creatively put together. I realized (again!) how important it is for my clients to hire vendors who are right for them, vendors who will infuse their creativity and craft and take care of my clients like a friend would.
As a photographer, I have been blessed to work with SO many fabulous wedding vendors in the Hudson Valley and the greater New York area. Vendors who put their clients’ needs first. Vendors who are passionate, creative, talented. Vendors who create something unique for their brides and grooms, and tailor their story differently. I want every one of my brides and grooms to feel great about the decisions they make in selecting wedding vendors!
The best I can give for selecting quality wedding vendors is to sense that a quality relationship will develop. I’m a big one on vibe, and I feel like meetings with potential clients are a little like first dates. When you “hit it off” with someone, you just know! You feel if your personalities jive, and you get a sense if the vendor will take care of you. Relationship is always, always #1!
Most wedding venues and vendors will give you a list of other professionals who they love to work with. This can be extremely helpful guidance, as there are SO many of us out there to find on the internet – it can be overwhelming! However, it’s important to note that not every relationship that’s important to a vendor may not be right for you. You need to make sure you “hit it off” with this person yourself! Make sure to do your own online research and find other people you’d like to meet with!
It’s incredibly important that your vendors are professional, and experienced in weddings. Weddings are not just “big parties,” they’re a very unique type of event that carries its own timeline and traditions. It’s important that vendors know how the day flows, they understand how their role fits into the larger picture and in relation to working with other wedding professionals.
Also, it’s important that your vendor understands you and your vision for your wedding day. In order to create a quality product for you, it’s important they know what you want your day to feel like, and look like. You should strive to communicate clearly, and stay on the same page from the first meeting, so that they will know how to serve you best in the process.
I wanted to give you advice for choosing each type of vendor! Since I am a photographer, and not a DJ or florist or cinematographer, I thought it would be helpful to interview several wedding professionals to help you choose a quality person in their field!
(Please note: I chose not to interview every florist and DJ I know, but just one in each category. There are tons of wonderful professionals out there, and I hope these professionals’ advice are helpful for you to find the perfect one for you! Also, note that the photographs do not necessarily correspond with the professional interviewed!)
I’m posting half of the interviews this week, and half next week, so it’s not information overload!! Enjoy!
Interview with Jimmy Lutz
KL: What advice would you give to a bride/groom looking for a wedding DJ? (What questions should they ask, and what values should they share with you?)
JL: Not all DJs are created equal and be weary of those who say they can be all to everyone. There are various styles of DJs out there and the best way to find a match is by reading their reviews carefully to see what resounds with you and then meeting with them to determine if they truly share your vision and are a good fit. The DJ can most definitely make or break your day. Music can lend an incredible vibe to your wedding but you want someone with experience in playing for a group of people with diverse ages, such as you find at a wedding. What works in a club does not usually work well in a wedding, since the age dynamic is so different. If you want all of your guests to enjoy in the fun on the dance floor then you want various genres to be played.
KL: Any advice about acoustic guitar – why should clients consider live music versus only DJ services? And how would you advise couples who are deciding between a DJ and a band?
JL: Live music comes with a certain energy unlike a DJ. However, in order to be a hit, you would need seasoned musicians that sound great. Not all wedding bands can do justice to the songs they play, and the ones that can will cost considerably more than a DJ. Also, with a band you are limited to the repertoire of songs they actually do. The great advantage to having a DJ is the ability to have any songs you want played at your wedding. I offer my couples the best of both worlds by offering acoustic guitar and doing popular songs for their cocktail hour.
Interview with Bobbi Randazzo
KL: What advice would you give to a bride looking for a wedding florist? (What questions should they ask, and what values should they share with you?)
BR: First, talk to your friends that you trust. Ask who they saw and why they liked/disliked them. Check out a few on line, and see if you like their designs, remembering that for weddings, florists design according to what the bride requests. When you visit a florist, make an appointment, bring swatches and pictures with you, talk to them, and give them a budget so they can prepare samples for you. Don’t be afraid to do some preliminary math, remembering to incorporate centerpieces, bridal bouquets, bridesmaid bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres and ceremony décor.
BR: Brides today are bombarded with Pinterest pictures that are quite beautiful, but very extravagant. Show a florist the colors and styles you like, but be flexible and allow the floral designer to do what she/he does best. Trust is key. If you are comfortable with the designs you see, ask for a small bouquet for color, or even a mock up of the centerpiece.
BR: Most times, the venue will help decide the tone of the wedding floral designs. (No mason jars at the New York Hotel, and candelabras of orchids might be a bit over the top for the garden wedding in the back yard.) With the right florist, your dreams will be created in harmony with all aspects of the day!
KL: What is one thing that makes your service so valuable on the wedding day to the bride, groom and their guests?
BR: A good florist will take the time to care for every aspect of the day ordering the correct shades of flowers – from bouquets to the reception. Don’t your guests deserve to sit at a table decorated with care? Consider this the first party of your married life – with all your friends and family gladly attending. These guests traveled a distance, dressed for the occasion and are most likely giving you a generous gift as you start a new life. A beautiful floral design on the table will certainly say “Thank you for coming!”
Interview with Annaliese Tuttuli
KL: What advice would you give to a bride looking for a hair stylist?
AT: When you are looking for a stylist for your big day, you want to make sure their style of work suits your style & the vision that you have in mind for your overall wedding look. What is almost just as important than that, is making sure you have a phone conversation or meeting to validate that your personality meshes with your stylists personality. You want someone who really takes the time to get to know you and what your goals are for your hair & makeup look. You also want someone fun and upbeat since they will be spending most of your morning with you and your girls the morning of the wedding! And third, doing some research and checking reviews for your stylist will be super helpful in making sure they have a quality reputation.
KL: Any opinions about the value of hiring a hair/makeup team?
AT: When you hire a hair & makeup team you tend to get a lot more organization and order to your morning. We personally create a schedule for our bride based on our personal timing and they also like that we are a family traveling together to be with their family on their special day. You also get to do your hair and makeup trial at the same time together so you can really see your look come together before the big day!
Interview with Yuling Tan
KL: What advice would you give to a bride/groom looking for a wedding invitation / paper suite design? (What questions should they ask, and what values should they share with you?)
YT: I always advise my couples that when they start to plan for their weddings, they should make a list of 3 things they each want to prioritize. If having a very personalized or customized wedding is one of your top priorities, then you should look into pursuing a custom wedding designer. If not, then there are a lot of websites with really beautiful wedding collection pieces at great price points. I find it to be the most helpful to speak to brides and grooms after they have settled on a date and a venue. These BIG decisions (ie. what season the wedding will be in, and where it will be) often drive the look and feel of the wedding, which really plays into the stationery suite!
YT: Having an idea of what you as a couple do and do not like, and being able to vocalize this to your stationer, is really helpful! I always tell my brides to send me photos (or share their Pinterest boards) of their flowers, dress, decor ideas, and even other stationery or graphics they like, etc. All of this is helps me as a designer to begin to figure out the style of your wedding, and to make sure that everything goes together! When going with a custom designer, showing examples of what you like, but also leaving room for the designer to explore and play with the designs, makes for the SWEETEST collaborations!
YT: Lastly, I LOVE it when my brides and grooms share and incorporate those special little quirks about their relationship into their designs. That is what really and truly makes custom design so special!
A huge thank you to all of the vendors who took the time to give their advice!!
Jimmy Lutz, Lutz Entertainment
Bobbi Randazzo, Plants and Things Floral Design Center
Annaliese Tutulli, Wedding Hair by Annaliese
Yuling Tan, Yuling Designs
And the vendors whose work is represented in the above photographs (not in order):
DJs: Lutz Entertainment, A Perfect Blend Entertainment; Florals: Elderberry Flowers, Plants and Things Floral Design Center, Cheshire Tree Floral Design Center, True Florette, Earthy Elegance Florals, Annis Floral Shop, Pedestals Florist, La Bella Rosa, Urban Chic, Arcadia Floral Co. Seed to Fruit; Hair Stylists: Dana Bartone & Co., Eclectic Hair Studio; Invitations Designers: K & K Weddings, Christi Marie Creative
I realize I included lots of flower pictures – got a little carried away because they’re so pretty!
And of course, I couldn’t include ALL the fabulous vendors I’ve worked with in one post – so brides and grooms, don’t be shy asking for recommendations!
Stay tuned for the second and last post, coming next week! I’ll end with some personal advice about how to choose your photographer!