If you’ve been to a Bridal Show, you might feel so overwhelmed thinking of wedding planning that you just want to elope in Las Vegas, or worse yet, settle for mediocre service on one of the most important days of your life. More than in any other business or industry, in wedding planning, it is essential to find people to hire that you “know, like, and trust.”

dueling pianos arizona Premier Piano Shows

Amy and Randy Keith are Orlando’s best dueling piano couple!

(Pictured above – 3 different wedding vendors working in an “action shot” at a wedding ceremony – videographer, photographer, and wedding planner)

2015 Weddings are a buyers market. As a shopping bride and groom, you have a plethora of choices. The question is, do you want to do your own research, or let someone else do it for you? Whether its choosing a photographer or officiant, or deciding on different wedding music provided by a DJ or dueling pianos team, there are so many resources (listed below) to evaluate vendors when wedding planning, you are entitled choose to the best.

How many of these 10 factors can you check off and say, “Yes, my [wedding vendor] does that”? (Let’s assume we’re talking about a DJ or choice for Live Music):

    • Consultation – Most professional wedding vendors honor a free in-person consultation (usually 30-60 minutes) in which they will sit with you and/or your wedding planner to discuss details — the timeline of your wedding, the setup times, considerations for other vendors and your guests, as well as specific requests for songs to play and NOT to play.
    • Reviews – Reputable companies have reviews. Exceptional wedding vendors have stellar 5-star reviews. It is true that you get what you pay for, and while you can find a DJ or photographer for $400, you can bet money they will have less than stellar reviews. Ever watched “Shipping Wars?” Think of hiring 4 or 5-star Roy or Mark, not the 1 and 2-star Jarrett and Jennifer.
    • Requests – They should accommodate all of your requests within reason. If youre asking a country band to play rap, it might be better to look for a new band. If you ask a florist for your favorite type of flower and they say “they can’t get it,” look elsewhere.
    • Experience – Is this wedding vendor experienced in wedding a setting and wedding planning? Check out their website and make sure that their testimonials, pictures and clientele match their services. Ask how many weddings they’ve done and how long they’ve been in the industry.
    • Full-Time/Part-Time – Part-time wedding vendors are the ones that are most likely to give you massive discounts. These are usually people (some reputable, some not) who are starting their business on the side and still have a “day job.” Full-time wedding vendors are usually low-maintenance and will be more likely to have all the above criteria filled.
    • Entertaining (Specifically for DJs or Live Music) – You’ve been to those weddings where the DJ just plays a song on the Ipod, and says nothing as an emcee. Your brother could have done that. While something like a live band or dueling pianos will instinctively engage the crowd, get people on the dance floor, and create a party atmosphere, so will a great DJ.
    • Package – Does your videographer come solo or bring a crew of 3 cameramen? Does your live band have 5 members or 10? Keep in mind the full breadth of service that entire team is providing. Is the package you’re getting just for one portion of your day or the whole day? Most vendors offer package deals (“all day” vs. “4 hours for ceremony and reception”) that are a far better VALUE than some that charge lower hourly rates.
    • Accessibility/Timeliness/Professionalism – Is your vendor easy to contact and available? Do they respond to your e-mails and phone calls/text within a reasonable time frame (1 business day) or do they take 2 weeks week to get back to you?
    • Priority – How important is this particular vendor to you? I have written an entire article that is prefaced with this point – “6 Wedding Tips” – And the premise is this: You must figure out what is most important to you on your big day. If an open bar is a priority, then you have to expect that your venue and food/drink may be your biggest expense. If you want to capture your memories with video (I highly recommend it), you might have to sacrifice the open bar in order to afford a quality reputable videographer (I highly recommend that) within your total budget.
    • (LAST and maybe Least) – Price – Everyone wants a deal. The bottom line is that, again, “You get what you pay for.” And if one particular item is important to you, you should be willing to bend a little bit with your budget. A reputable vendor will do their best, within reason of their availability and hard costs (travel, equipment and time) to give you the best value and price within their professional range of experience. Everyone wants to do business with someone that is easy to work with, whether you’re a vendor selling or a couple buying. Recognize their willingness (or lack thereof) to be flexible with you.

How many of the 10 did you check off? Score your list like you would in high school – 10 is a 100% (A+), 9 is an A, 8 is a B, etc. That means if your vendor scored 7 or less, that business is average at best and a failure at worst. In a buyer’s market, you deserve the best wedding vendors for your big day. Dont just settle; choose the people that would get an A+, ones that will keep you talking about how great they were and, more importantly, keep you talking about how perfect your wedding was.

Do your homework, be picky, and don’t settle.

Here are some popular RECOMMENDED sites to search for vendors when wedding planning:

There are some other sites you might want to STAY AWAY FROM, as they are frequented by “economical” vendors and don’t have as many criteria to review: