Thursday, July 21, 2016

Choosing Wedding Vendors - Why Going Cheap is a Mistake

Will you do Anything for a Bargain?  Can't remember the last time you paid full price?  It's true....we all love a good deal, but when it comes to your wedding, choosing your vendors based on the cheapest option will often lead to disaster. Super low prices might be ok if you're picking up a fridge on Craigslist, but this is your WEDDING....there's only one chance to get it right, and the stakes are high. Maybe you've heard "don't go cheap",  but maybe no one has ever explained WHY. Short story? Bargain based thinking could cause you stress, or you could choose vendors who tank your wedding, or you could wind up spending even more in the long run. Interested to find out more? Keep reading.....

Last year, one of my blog posts really created a buzz....much more so than any other.  It's been read and shared thousands of times, and I've been asked about it by countless wedding vendors and potential brides over the past several months.  What post caused all that fuss? It's called  "Why Choosing a Cheap Makeup Artist is a Mistake", and it's a pretty long post delving into what it really means when beauty providers offer super cheap prices.  ( ain't good.) Clearly, it's a conversation that isn't in the mainstream and it's a message that brides really need, and want to hear!  From Instagram to YouTube and bridal magazines, brides are barraged with messages of "How to Save on Your Wedding!", "Budget Bride tips!" and on and on.  I've heard seriously crazy tips of ways to save and I can tell you as a wedding vendor, tips like that could truly ruin your wedding.
Just ask anyone who's planned a wedding or been in a wedding, and you'll hear real-life stories of couples who went cheap and regretted it, like:

The couple who chose a photographer who quoted $900 when everyone else quoted $4K,  They never got a single photo.... and it's been two years.
- The couple who hired the cheapest DJ they could find, and he literally showed up with two speakers and his Ipod.
- The bride who had to scramble and hire another makeup artist last minute because the girl she hired at half price rates called her 3 weeks out and said "she forgot she was going to be on vacation", or the bride who hired a random and cheap "friend of a friend" to do makeup and she showed up an hour late...with no makeup!  She actually asked the mother of the bride to run down to CVS and pick up makeup.  (This one gives me heart palpitations!!)

So...let's talk about cold, hard cash!  I want to give you the insider scoop on what cheap means, and 4 tips to avoid making huge mistakes when hiring your wedding vendors....

Quick note about my credentials on this topic? I've been specializing in bridal beauty for over 20 years, have worked with nearly 1000 brides, I sit on the board of a local wedding vendor organization, and I'm a featured speaker at Wedding MBA held annually in Las Vegas, where I speak on pricing, and other industry related topics.  I spend a LOT of time with brides and other wedding vendors, and I live and breathe the world of weddings!  I hear it all...including the horror stories of the non-legit vendors that have infiltrated our industry. (Insert frustrated eye-roll here) on to the tips!

1. HIRE A PLANNER!  An experienced planner not only make the wedding planning process infinitely easier, but more importantly, they can actually save you money.  Planners have extensive lists of local vendors that they trust 100%, people they actually know and have worked with time and time again. They know what appropriate pricing is in your area, and they can help find reputable vendors that are perfect for you. Slick websites and reviews can be fudged....a planner knows actual vendors and who can truly be trusted to show up and knock it out of the park for you.  They can also help you choose elements of your wedding designed to help you stay within your budget and give you advice to get more bang for your buck! They have many options with different levels of assistance...all the way from full service to just assisting the month of your wedding, and it's less expensive than you think.  A great planner will become your new BFF, trust me!  Anytime a wedding day is frenzied and stressed, I guarantee it's because the bride skipped hiring a planner.  Get one, they are 100% worth it.

2. USE ONLY LEGIT VENDORS WHO ACTUALLY DO WEDDINGS.  As tempting as it may be to save money by using Gina's cousin who's "pretty good at makeup" or use your friend's neighbor who does "flowers on the side" or Bob's friend who just graduated college and "has a nice video camera".... this route is almost always a mistake. Regardless of someone's natural talent, weddings are a hard-core, stressful experience that not everyone can handle. There are hundreds of very experienced and capable vendors who still choose not to work on weddings for this very reason! Timelines are tight, anxiety levels are high, and vendors have to be able to consistently produce fabulous results each and every weekend for every single bride as if she's the only one. There are no do-overs!  In addition, there are a million little things that experienced vendors know....things like where and how to load in each venue, how to schedule services efficiently, and how to troubleshoot common to keep your cool no matter what. Watch out for vendors offering the cheapest price around, as they're usually amateurs with little to no experience, hobbyists, or vendors no one has ever heard of....they'll be in over their heads with no clue what to do.  And for Pete's sake, don't let them use your wedding as a practice run! If you don't know where to start looking, refer to your planner, photographer or venue....all will have lists of vendors in your price range who they trust and have worked with previously.  Reputable vendors will be able to deliver the flawless and beautiful services you want and need, and but also know how to manage the high stress and "no room for error" factor unique to weddings as well. #Crucial  

3. REMEMBER THAT CHEAP IS A RED FLAG.  When considering which wedding vendors to hire, good isn't cheap and cheap isn't good. Why?  Let's break it down.....
Think about what you get paid to do what YOU do for a nurse, accountant, customer service rep, whatever.  You're paid that salary based on many factors....your experience, your talent in your field, the time you spend working each week and what your particular profession pays.  Why doesn't your boss just pay you half of that?  (Visualize this...If they cut salaries in half, think of who at your company would stick around and actually agree to that.'s not the most talented and valuable employees.) Companies know that in order to get talented people who are good at what they do, they must pay them fair rates appropriate for the job and that person's particular skill level. Rates set by wedding professionals (who are business owners, by the way) are set based on the same factors....experience, level of talent and expertise, time spend doing what they do, and the current market rate for their particular set of goods or services....but also add the cost of doing business as an owner (materials, insurance, marketing, overhead, etc.).  Just like you wouldn't work for half of what you're worth, a legit vendor who runs their business seriously isn't able to either.  Why would they?
So when vendors quote extra low pricing well below the current industry standards, it often means they have no experience, offer lower quality products or services, don't actually do weddings for a living, or they might really suck at what they do and as a result are desperate for business...any business, at any price. Or another possible reason....they are jerks who are trying to undercut their competitors. (Cheap AND shady, for sure.) None of those scenarios are good for you as the client! People like that will NOT deliver what you need when it counts.  Hire legit, established, professional and caring won't regret it. If you want stunning invitations, the most gorgeous flowers, flawless hair and makeup, a photographer who captures every special moment, and on and on.....if you want expert vendors who will really take care of you....they are going to charge appropriate rates. You get what you pay for!

4. INSTEAD OF PRICE ONLY, CHOOSE BASED ON WHAT MATTERS. Narrow down your choices to 2-3 reputable and appropriately priced options in each category, and then choose based on customer service, portfolio, style/aesthetic, how well you connect and vibe with the vendor, great reviews, personal referrals, and recommendations from other vendors.  Choosing based on these factors will ensure that you love each and every vendor, and you'll be thrilled with all of the services that they provide!
HMU - Lip Service Makeup
Image: Tyler and Lindsey

Being a wedding vendor is really fun, I wouldn't trade it for anything! I honestly LOVE working with brides and their families, and I know my peers do too...there's something really special about being a part of each couple's new life together. Yes, wedding days can be stressful, but legit vendors use our years of experience (having lived through hundreds of wedding days!) to problem solve and ensure that we do everything we can to ensure your day is perfect. We love to help you plan, create, celebrate, laugh and even wipe away a happy tear if needed.  If you're engaged or might be in the future, I hope this insider perspective is enlightening and helpful in approaching your wedding planning....why not avoid mistakes if you can? Choose wisely and assemble a team that you'll love having around you on your big day.

BONUS:   Check out this super helpful calculator, courtesy of Wedding Paper Divas!  Plug in your overall budget and then review the suggested amounts for each category.  It's not a definitive guide, but it can be a great place to start to ensure that you're starting with a realistic budget.

Questions?  Comments?  Post below and join the conversation!

Copyright Jennifer Trotter - Lip Service Makeup - 2016