Serving the Washington DC metro area

You’re Engaged! Part 2: Top (5) Wedding Pros to Hire First!

In our previous blog, we highlighted (9) fabulous tips to organizing yourself to get you on the path to planning your wedding day.  Now that you have taken the first steps to planning, we are now going to provide you with advice on the first (5) wedding professionals you should hire first for your wedding day and why.

(1) WEDDING PLANNER

A Wedding Planner should be your first stop in the research for wedding professionals.  Professional Planners have the experience, plethora of connections/relationships with other wedding professionals you need, valued time and dedication, and knowledge to navigate through the planning process with ease.  A qualified professional planner will be able to make recommendations on reputable wedding professionals essential to creating a unique experience for your wedding day that reflect your personality and budget.  Their professional time and experience provides you a balanced lifestyle – so you do not have to juggle between personal life, being in love, professional life, and wedding planning.  The countless hours of research you may have spent on the computer analyzing various wedding vendors, your Planner will already have the database of resources in their little black book and you gain back invaluable time of your life.  If you are looking to hire a “Full-Service Planner”, you should engage them at the beginning of the planning stage.  They are usually booked for events 9-12 months in advance.  If you are looking for a “Coordinator”, they are usually booked 3-6 months in advance.

Some suggested criteria to look for in a Professional Planner:

  • Experience! Number of years in business and their ability to handle all situations.
  • Validation! Their company is a legally registered business
  • Customer Reviews/References (a great resource for reviews are WeddingWire and the Knot)
  • Knowledge/Education. How they continue to stay educated within their profession; i.e., networking, educational seminars, conferences to be in the know of the industry.
  • Staffing; number and tenure of persons that will be working your event – a Professional Planner never works alone!
  • Response Time!  Did they respond back to you in an adequate amount of time?
  • Are they Covered?  Make sure your Planner has liability insurance; all wedding professionals you hire should have business liability insurance.
  • Personality!  Your Planner becomes a part of your family and will the person you select be able to bond with you and your fiancé.
Perfect Planning Events team at Black Bride Brunch 2014
Real Weddings by Perfect Planning Events • Evelyn Alas Photography • Carnegie Library

(2) CEREMONY & RECEPTION VENUE

Looking for the perfect venue is synonymous to finding the perfect home.  As a Couple, you want the space to reflect your unique sense of style and personality.  And just like a home, when you walk into the space you will know that this is it!!!  This is the place where it is all going to happen with family and friends witnessing and celebrating the love you share with each other.  Venues are booked 12 to 18 months in advance with Saturday dates being the first to be contracted.  When searching for the perfect location, be flexible with your dates if you are trying to host your wedding at a specific venue.  If you are not able to have a Saturday wedding, consider hosting on a Friday, Sunday, or sometimes a week-day.  Other flexible options, consider the time of day – possibly hosting an early morning wedding versus the traditional evening wedding.  Ask your venue about non-peak seasons which varies by each location; this provides the opportunity of open dates and sometimes a better value.

Other aspects to consider about venues besides décor and character is its location.  Do you want to be in the center of a major metropolitan city, suburbs, or rural areas – such as farms, wineries, or mountain areas? The investment and experiences surrounding each of these locations vary and depend upon your expectations of your special day.

Here are a few things to consider when looking for your wedding venue:

  • Will you host your ceremony & reception at the same venue?
  • Is your venue centrally located to the city or in a rural location?
  • Will your venue location be able to provide all your needs such as catering, linens, chairs, etc. or do you have to have a separate vendor for these essentials?
  • If you are going to be outdoors, does the venue offer an alternative to host your event with inclimate weather conditions.
  • Be aware of rules and regulations when it comes to the venue.
  • Will they require you and your vendors to have liability insurance?
  • Are there fees for using vendors that are not on their preferred list, etc.
  • Number of weddings they host in a day.
  • Will your space be used by another Client before or after your wedding?
  • Number of hours to setup and breakdown, and your actual event hours.

Note:  If you select a venue that requires you to find your own catering services, then a Caterer would be your next vendor on your list.

DC Wedding at Carnegie Institute of Science
Real Weddings by Perfect Planning Events • Procopio Photography • Carnegie Institute of Science

(3) PHOTOGRAPHER

Your photographer is one of the most important vendors that you will have with you on your wedding day!!  They are there to document the details, love, and romance that you will treasure for a lifetime.  Engage a photographer in the wedding planning process as soon as you secure your venue.  Skilled & talented photographers are booked sometimes 12 months in advance.  The investment you make in a photographer is key and you want to always be thinking quality over monetary value when making your decision.  Your photographer should be one that is creative and can capture each unique moment with ease through a combination of candid, documentary and portraiture style.  A photographer’s work should be as unique as your personality.  When searching for the perfect photographer be sure to ask the following questions:

  • Experience; Number of years in Business
  • Customer Reviews/References
  • How do they backup their work?
  • Number of Photographers that will be at your wedding.
  • Who will be the lead photographer?
  • Be sure to view their style of work.
  • Expected post-production time to view your photographs.
Salamander Resort Wedding, Bride and Groom, Perfect Planning Events
Real Weddings by Perfect Planning Events • Moshe Zusman Photography • Salamander Resort

(4) OFFICIANT

The person that seals the deal of the words, “I Do”!  The officiant can be a man/woman of the clergy (Priest, Rabbi, Minister), a close friend ordained by the Courts, a Judge, or Licensed Alternative Officiant (an individual that is not of the clergy).  Whomever you choose, be sure they are someone that you are comfortable with to carry out such an intimate and personal moment of your day, can accommodate in performing traditions related to your culture or faith, flexible in making your ceremony personable rather than scripted, and most importantly licensed to carry out the sacraments of marriage.  Officiants are usually secured 9 months prior to the actual wedding date and usually perform more than one wedding a day depending on the geographical location.  In addition to some of the things we mentioned above, here are some key points to consider when hiring an officiant:

  • Experience; Number of years in Business
  • Customer Reviews/References
  • If they are Licensed to perform a wedding in your State/County
  • Will they attend the rehearsal and if there is an extra cost?
  • Will they provide a written outline of the ceremony for you to review?
  • Post Ceremony, will they be the one’s responsible sending your marriage certificate to the courts
  • Are they familiar with the customs/traditions you want to infuse into your ceremony?
Real Weddings by Perfect Planning Events • Love & Adventure Photography • Belmont Country Club

(5) FLORAL DESIGNER

Now comes the fun stuff – the décor!!  This can be one of those vendors that you will be in awe that you will not know where to begin or can be a fun but overwhelming experience.  First, you need to know if you are looking to hire a Florist or a Floral Designer.  A Florist is usually more traditional in style and can produce only within the scope of primarily designing floral arrangements.  A Floral Designer is usually an all-inclusive design firm that has an extensive scope of work to include their endless creativity in floral design to having the ability to custom build anything that you desire, to include an inventory of rental event furnishings.  Whether you choose a traditional Florist or Floral Designer, make sure they can create your unique style for your wedding day.  When engaging either of these two creative professionals, have a vision of what you want your day to look like, color scheme, and if you have specific flowers that are a must to be incorporated in the design.  This is an excellent opportunity to bring your Pinterest Board to showcase at a meeting.  In addition, let them know about your venue and why you chose the venue – this helps them to provide a visual insight into your day.  Based on your desires, they will be able to outline to you a myriad of design choices to include alternative flower choices based on season to work with your estimated budget. A Florist or Floral Designer is usually contracted within 9 or 6 months prior to your event date.  Here are some things to consider when finding your ideal Florist/Floral Designer:

  • Experience; Number of years in Business
  • Customer Reviews/References
  • What other décor items they can provide?
  • Will they provide an actual representation of the table centerpiece for your wedding prior to the wedding date (floral demo)?
  • Have they worked at your venue before?
  • How much time will they need for setup?
  • View photos of their work.
  • Ask about what flowers are in season during your wedding.
Pink Outdoor Wedding Ceremony by Perfect Planning Events
Real Weddings by Perfect Planning Events • Susie & Becky Photography

With all the Wedding Professionals listed above, be sure they are all licensed professionals, have liability insurance, you can interview them face-to-face, and read their reviews or referrals of previous Clients, so you can make a sound decision.  Our recommended resources to locate your wedding professional team include, Washingtonian Bride & Groom, WeddingWire, The Knot, Munaluchi Bride, Carats and Cake, United with Love, just to name a few.

 

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