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Inspiration Detail | Knowing What To Ask

Knowing What To Ask

We have all been in situations where we needed to gather information, but didn’t have a clue of what questions to ask. After all, how can we be aware of what we don’t know? One of the challenges you will face during your wedding-planning process is how to best handle gathering and organizing the volumes of information you will compile relating to vendors and their services. How do you know if you’re asking the right questions or if they are providing you all the details you need to make an informed decision? Luckily, Nebraska WeddingDay is here to help you! Below is a list of critical queries we believe will help minimize the possibility of incurring unexpected costs or enduring unpleasant surprises due to a lack of information. Consider this list simply as a foundation, as you likely have a great number of questions rolling about in your head to add during the interview process. 

Come to your appointments prepared. It is wise to review your questions shortly before the meeting. Bring along a notebook or journal to jot down all the information rather than relying solely on your memory for logging all the details. During the planning process, you will have many appointments and dozens of conversations, so taking notes is a great way to stay organized. Once you have completed your research, you will have a comprehensive set of organized notes for reviewing all the options. This information will be a lifesaver as you make decisions regarding your vendors. 

Begin by requesting from each vendor at least three references. This step is an important part of the process. From there, you can use the following questions as a guide. You will find the questions divided into categories by vendor to provide an organized reference guide. Keep in mind this list is not all inclusive. Just remember that your vendors want to ease any concerns you may have about using their services, so ask away!

EVENT PLANNER QUERIES
1. Will you come up with a timeline and communicate it to all vendors? This one is fairly basic, but many brides make the assumption a planner will do this without confirming it. When the big day arrives, the bride may be shocked to learn that her planner didn’t confirm set-up times with the vendors. Do not let this simple expectation be overlooked!

2. Are you willing to do the “dirty work” for me? In other words, if your future mother-in-law is overstepping her bounds or your maid of honor is complaining about helping, will your planner be okay with stepping in and addressing the situation so you don’t have the added stress?

3. Do you have connections with other wedding professionals? Often the added expense of a planner can be justified simply because their relationships with vendors will provide you special discounts. This is a huge plus and definitely a selling point for certain planners.

4. Are you well versed in wedding vendor contracts? You want your planner to be familiar with a wide variety of vendor contracts. He/She should also be familiar with the fine print that may be part of a contract. It may save you significant grief if he/she catches something that would have resulted in substantial additional cost.

5. Will you stay within my budget? You don’t want a planner that tries to pressure you into hiring his/her favorite photographer if that photographer costs more than you budgeted. Your planner should respect your budget limitations and work within them rather than try to push you beyond your means.

PHOTOGRAPHER QUERIES
1. What is your style? One style is classic/traditional with formal shots. Another style is photojournalistic with artistic, editorial and illustrative shots. The only way to get a true read on a photographer’s style is to see their work. It is key to mesh a photographer’s style with your preferences. Caution: Don’t consider someone based solely on pricing, because you most likely will not be happy with the end result. You need to stay within budget, but pricing is only one consideration. Always ask to see a full wedding portfolio rather than just the highlight photos. Consider how many useable photos the photographer captures when shooting 1,000+ images. Think about your style when reviewing the portfolio —do you like what you see?

2. How many photographers will be shooting the wedding? If they have someone else shooting with them, this can be crucial to ensuring all of the special little moments are captured. However, you also want to confirm you will not be charged extra to have another photographer on hand. Make sure you inquire about potential hidden costs, such as for overtime or an additional photographer. 

3. Can you provide me with a list of photos to be taken? When it comes to posed family photos, your photographer should either provide a list of common shots or accept from you a list of the images you wish to capture. Since you cannot recreate the day, it is important to talk beforehand about all the shots that are meaningful to you.

4. How does proofing/printing work? Many photographers provide access to online proofs from which you choose images for printing. Other photographers provide you a disc of all images shot. It is important for you to know (1) exactly when to expect your images to be available, (2) how you will be able to view them and whether others will be able to view them, (3) how to order images and (4) what is included in your selected photo package. Find out what desired add-ons will cost, such as photo booths, digital archiving, wedding albums, etc. These questions apply to your engagement session as well. Be certain to ask whether the engagement session is included in the wedding package.

5. Have you shot weddings at this venue before? It is quite helpful when a photographer is familiar and comfortable with your venue. However, if a photographer has not shot a wedding at the venue you selected, do not count them out. If he/she is willing to schedule a walk-through to check out the property before the wedding, that should be enough to alleviate any concerns. Willingness to take the time for a walk-through provides you reassurance that customer service is a high priority to the photographer and that she/he is motivated to do excellent work.

VENUE QUERIES
1. Is my wedding date available? How many people can the space accommodate? Will there be other events going on during my wedding? Are outside caterers welcome? These are important qualifying questions to ask at the very beginning of the interview. While they seem obvious, it is very important to clarify these details before moving forward with the balance of your questions.

2. What is the inclement-weather contingency plan? If you are having a tented or open-air outdoor ceremony and/or reception, does your location have a back-up space available in case of inclement weather? You may not want to risk an outdoor ceremony/reception if your venue does not have another option.

3. Are tables, chairs, linens and glassware/dishware available? If so, are you going to be charged extra to use them or are these items included in the rental price of the space? If not available, does the venue arrange for rental or will you need to secure these items? Rental companies can provide all the items should you need, but factor in the cost of outside rentals when selecting your venue.

4. What are your accommodations for entertainment? Does the venue have an area for a live band to perform or is there only room for a deejay? How large is the dance floor? How late can the band or deejay perform? Answers to these questions will impact your entertainment options.

5. What are the service charges? Be fully informed about all service charges, including those that may not seem necessary at the time of booking. You never know what may become necessary as the planning unfolds. Don’t forget to inquire about applicable taxes as well. Lastly, clearly understand all deposit and refund policies.

FLORAL DESIGNER QUERIES
1. Will you be handling my floral design personally or will someone else? If you make a strong connection with your floral designer and you love his/her style, you want to be certain that particular designer will be the one creating your designs. If that particular designer does not work on the day of your wedding, that may or may not be a concern. If your floral designer works as part of a team, you will want to confirm that she/he is part of that team.

2. What floral recommendations would you make for my budget? You may have a specific floral design in mind, but your designer should be able to direct you to alternative blooms that will assure you stay within budget while maintaining the design scheme you envisioned. The designer should be knowledgeable about trends and also adept at incorporating desired details into your style.

3. Are you familiar with my ceremony and reception locations? It is important for your floral designer to be knowledgeable about your venue as you will want the floral design to enhance the positive attributes of the site, while accommodating your style. Similar to the photographer, the floral designer should be willing to tour the space if he/she is not familiar with the location.

4. How many weddings do you typically schedule for one day? This is a critical question when considering whether the floral designer or team can provide you the services you require on your special day. Some vendors are smaller operations that can only handle a limited number of events across any given weekend. However, a larger floral operation may be able to comfortably accommodate a multitude of weddings/events due to the large team of professionals involved in the process. Ask the question and listen carefully to how it is handled. If you are uneasy about their ability to make your day a priority, it might be best to consider other floral vendors. 

5. What design styles are you comfortable executing? Every floral designer has a distinct style, so you will want to confirm that your visions align. If the floral designer leans toward modern and cutting edge but you are looking for something traditional, you may end up taken aback on your wedding day. The designer should have a portfolio of real wedding designs that are similar to your vision. Carefully considering the responses you receive when asking questions will help eliminate any surprises on the day of your wedding.

CAKE ARTIST QUERIES
1. How do you price your cakes? Some cake artists price their creations by the slice, with certain styles and flavors costing more than others. In addition, some cake artists have a required minimum per-person cost. With numerous options available, confirm that you are clear on the associated costs before finalizing your cake selection.

2. What flavors do you offer? Nearly every cake artist provides traditional white cake. If you want something outside the norm, confirm that your prospective baker offers the fillings, cake coatings and decorations that you have in mind. Without a doubt, taste tests are an important and delicious element of the interview process!

3. Are additional fees charged for delivery and setup of the cake? Many cake artists will include delivery and setup in the pricing structure. However, don’t assume anything. Ask about these details as some vendors may bill such services as an additional charge. This is especially true if your venue falls outside the normal service area.

4. What happens if the cake is damaged during delivery or setup? While this is unlikely, occasionally it occurs. Ask if someone will be available for last-minute repairs or touch ups. Also, inquire as to whether a refund or adjustment in price will be issued should such an unfortunate event occur.

5. Am I able to create a custom cake or are there specific designs from which I choose? If you have a specific cake design in mind, provide photos to the cake artist. The artist should be able to create the cake based upon the photos and description you provide. However, if you have nothing particular in mind, most cake artists will have examples that may provide you inspiration.

CATERER QUERIES
1. How is your pricing structured? This element of the planning can often be the most expensive. Ask all the questions you deem important to become comfortable with the decisions you need to make about the food and drink that will be served. Since the list of options may be long and varied, it might be helpful to contact the caterer prior to the appointment to have them send you information. Many caterers have a website with their menu options listed. (Be aware that often pricing is omitted from online menu information.) Review any information prior to your appointment to narrow your choices and to minimize the chance of leaving the appointment without all the information you need to make a final decision. At the meeting, a good place to start is by asking about a minimum cost per person. Also, ask if the gratuity is included in the per-person cost or if it will be an additional charge. It is critical that you fully understand the pricing structure and how your caterer will bill you.

2. What do you recommend for my event? Given your guest list and the location of your wedding, your caterer should have suggestions about whether a buffet or plated dinner will work best. As a seasoned professional, the caterer will also have some suggestions for you about the type of food that would work well with the style of your event.

3. How will you present the food? Most caterers will have put some thought into presentation and how the food will be arranged on the buffet table or plated for service to the guests. 

4. How much and what type of catering experience do you have? Find out how long the caterer has been in business. Ask how many weddings they cater per year. The answers to these questions will provide insight into the depth of their experience.

5. Will there be someone to manage things on-site the day of the wedding? It is important for your caterer to have an adequate number of servers on hand and also to have an experienced banquet manager assigned to your event. This will ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible. The banquet manager will coordinate with your wedding planner to make certain food and drink service is executed at the designated time.

6. Do you provide a tasting of the menu items we are considering? If the answers to the previous questions are a good fit for you and your budget, you will want to arrange a time to sample the menu items under consideration for service at your reception. 

As you can see, there is a broad range of questions that are important to ask your vendors. The responses you receive will provide valuable information that will aid in your decision-making process as well as put your mind at ease. This list is by no means all-inclusive, but it should give you a good start as you meet with your prospective vendors. Since these professionals play a critical role in executing your big day, they understand the importance of outlining for you all the procedures, policies and details of their services. Once you become comfortable with all your vendors and the services they offer, your mind will be at ease and you will have greater confidence that your special day will unfold without a hitch! |NWD|