You’ve Got the Budget. You’ve Got the Vision! It’s Time to Find Your Wedding Vendors!

And if you are here, chances are you’ve never hired anyone in the wedding vendor category. So you may be thinking. . . Well, how do you do it? Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered!  

You’ve got your main players in the wedding vendor game, which include: your wedding planners, photographers, music and entertainment people (ahem – wedding DJs ;), catering, and bar service. And in this episode, we are covering all the need-to-know things for each of these vendors.

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What is a Wedding Planner and How Can They Help?

Your wedding planner is like your own personal wedding assistant. They help you sort through, organize, and plan out all your wedding day ideas and then make it happen for you! 

You can start with a wedding planner from the very beginning! They can help you curate a list of potential venues that fit within your budget, have the right amount of space for the size of your wedding, and have availability during the time of year that you’d like to get married.

They can set up appointments to tour the venues (and go with you!) So while you focus on getting a feel for the space, the wedding planner can be thinking through all the logistics of your wedding day and giving the pros and cons on how well that venue fits your needs. 

Not only can a wedding planner help you find the perfect venue, they can also help you with choosing the rest of your wedding vendors too! (p.s. check out our post on how to choose the perfect wedding venue: 9 Things to Consider Before Choosing a Wedding Venue)Having a professional to help guide you through the entire wedding planning process is really beneficial! Which is why we always recommend that your first vendor hire be a wedding planner, as long as it makes sense with your budget!

You Could Also Work With a Wedding Coordinator

If you’re the kind of bride that enjoys touring venues and searching for wedding vendors, consider working with a wedding coordinator instead! Bringing in a wedding coordinator about 6 weeks before the wedding day will help you make sure that the day runs smoothly. 

They can quite literally act as the master coordinator of the event. They’ll communicate with all of your vendors, do a walk-through of the event, and create a timeline for the day! And then on that day, they will be in charge of making sure that the vendors are set up where they are supposed to be and that everything stays on schedule.


Some venues may offer a wedding coordinator as an additional service. And if that’s something you’re interested in, you’ll just want to make sure that you understand what exactly that will entail. (It’s not always the same as an outside wedding planner who knows all the ins and outs of your plans and is specifically there as an advocate for your day.)

Or (Option #3) You Could Hire a Wedding Advisor

This is a perfect solution if you want the expertise, resources, and guidance from a wedding planning professional but you would prefer to be very involved in the wedding planning process! It’s a great way to get support in executing your wedding dreams without the cost of a full-blown wedding planner or having to recruit and rely on family or friends for help.

How to vet your wedding vendors (part 1) Serena, wedding planner and advisor.

If you are looking for a middle approach with DIY resources and expert wedding consultations, check out our virtual planning services!

(Hi! I’m Serena! A wedding planner and advisor!)

Our virtual planning services are designed to give you the support you need to plan your own wedding! Ask us questions, get advice on your wedding day logistics, get a second set of eyes on your plans, and so much more!

Hire Your Photographer Early!

Good photographers get booked up quick (and pretty far out too!) And just like wedding venues, every wedding photographer has their own unique, signature style. Here is where checking out different portfolios is going to be really helpful in your search for a wedding photographer.

Most photographers will have a gallery of past weddings that you can check out on their website, so that is a great place to start. But we also recommend that you find your favorites on social media and check them out there too! 

Social media is another great way to get a feel for what it would be like to work with that particular photographer. And feeling comfortable with your photographer is really important! Especially if you tend to be a little camera shy. Working with someone who is a good fit with your personality will completely enhance your experience!

Should you hire a DJ or a live band? What’s the difference?

The biggest difference between the two is going to be in the experience and in the services themselves. Live music is absolutely fantastic! And there are wedding bands that can specifically play a variety of music that can cater to everyone’s musical taste. However, they may not provide MC (or master of ceremonies) services.

Meaning that when it’s time to eat, cut the cake, or start the best man and maid of honor speeches, they may not be the ones to make those announcements. Whereas, when you work with a wedding DJ, MC services are included. 

One of the main parts of being a wedding DJ is being the voice of the event. They are very in tune with how the reception should flow and they know exactly how to navigate your guests through the reception. So if you have your heart set on a live band, we highly recommend that you have the MC conversation with them. 

Another thing to consider when it comes to music is how much say you want to have in the selection. So much like your wedding photographer, you really want to vibe with your DJ too! Because it’s their job to bring the entertainment portion of your wedding to life!

How to vet your wedding vendors (part 1) Dominic, wedding DJ and advisor.

And it doesn’t have to be either or, you could have the best of both worlds!

(Hi! I’m Dominic! A wedding DJ and advisor!)

You could have live music for your ceremony and a wedding DJ for the reception! You could go with a live band for the reception and have a wedding DJ there to MC the event and keep the music going when the band takes a break. The possibilities are endless, so don’t settle for what you don’t necessarily want. 

Speaking of what you don’t want. . .

Ever Been to a Wedding Where You Couldn’t Hear the Ceremony?

Kind of awkward. Who’s responsible for the sound system during that part of the wedding anyway? Well it depends on who you hire. But if you choose to hire a wedding DJ, getting the bride and groom set up with mic’s should be part of the job description. 

We personally recommend using lapel mics. They are very discreet and can clip right to the front of the groom’s suit. But regardless of how it is done, this is definitely another question that you’ll want to bring up in a consultation with your wedding DJ.

Should You Hire a Local Restaurant to Cater Your Wedding?

Listen, we are huge fans of local food and supporting those mom and pop shops, but when it comes to your wedding . . . it’s not always the best idea. And here is the biggest reason why: serving a group of 150 – 200+ people, within about an hour, is MUCH different than continuous orders going through a kitchen during a regular business day. 

Catering a wedding is a completely different ball game and if the dinner portion of the evening takes more time than was expected, then it can completely derail anything else that was planned for the night. There are just so many other details to think through and plan for when it comes to the menu, cook time, service, wait staff, bussing tables, etc. that it’s just too far outside the normal means of operation. 

Many times the restaurants don’t even realize how much of an undertaking catering a wedding is until they are in the middle of it. So unless the local restaurant you have in mind specifically advertises for wedding catering, has multiple rave reviews from previous weddings, or you’ve been to a wedding that they’ve catered before, we recommend looking into businesses that specifically specialize in catering weddings.

Now Let’s Talk About Bar Service

The first place to start with your bar service is with your wedding venue. They may either offer an in-house bar service or provide you a list of pre-approved vendors. There’s a lot of red tape and licensing involved when it comes to serving alcohol so it’s definitely important to respect the rules and restrictions of the venue and the alcohol vendors. 

But with that being said, there are a lot of great options out there! The biggest thing that we see when it comes to bar service is that everyone seems to assume that beer and wine is to be the cheapest option. Or it’s just assumed that mixed drinks would be way out of budget. When in reality, it all just depends on the vendor.

You can make significantly more drinks with a handle of tequila than you can out of a bottle of wine. So if you really aren’t a beer or wine drinker anyway, don’t be afraid to talk to your bartender about offering a mixed drink option.

Pro Tip: Some caterers offer bar services too!

What Percentage of Your Wedding Budget Should You Use For Each of These Categories

There are average percentages that you could find out there that break down what the majority of couples typically spend in each vendor category but here’s our take. . . it’s totally up to you. Your wedding day is personal to YOU. 

So if having alcohol at your wedding isn’t super important to you, but the food is . . . then it would make more sense for you to have a higher than maybe “average” budget for catering. It’s all about creating the wedding day experience that YOU want.

And if you feel really stuck on the budgeting part of your wedding, a wedding planner can help you set aside the cost for different vendor categories that makes the most sense for you.

Have more questions about these wedding vendors in particular? Leave us a comment!

Wondering where the mentions are for bakers, florists, officiants, videographers, and other unique vendors? Check out our next post: How to Vet Your Wedding Vendors (Part 2) and Unique Vendor Ideas.

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