Top 10 Wedding Vendors: A Checklist and Cheat Sheet To Hiring For Your Wedding

Top 10 Wedding Vendors: A Checklist and Cheat Sheet To Hiring For Your Wedding

This is our wedding feature created by Robert Ashmore Videography!

If you’re reading this post, you must be getting married! YAY! What an exciting, and albeit stressful time in your life you’re about to enter. I enjoyed planning my own wedding, and since I was planning it on my own, with guidance and assistance from Pinterest and my mom, I came up with a bulletproof checklist for my vendors, and things that would make or break my contract with them. Trust me, this process can easily become overwhelming. Start early, and if you have a specific vendor in mind, you’d better ask them about their availability even before setting a date, not that you have to book with them, or let them determine your special date.

I advise you to print and file this handy dandy post with you to your various meetings so you can save everything in one place!

Let us begin!

** One moreeee thing, most photos in this post are from The Boone Wedding, 10.21.2017 and were captured by Laura Danielle Photography of Bakersfield, CA and the insanely talented Laura Moronnolte. Allllll the heart emojis for this girl!

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Ceremony Site

  1. Name and Location:

  2. Contact Person and Phone Number:

  3. Tour and book ASAP. Availability may be limited if you’re on a time crunch, so be sure to be open minded with your date. It’s best to go into these meetings with a month preference rather than a specific date.

  4. Questions to ask:

    1. What dates and times currently available/is my preferred date and time available?

    2. Is there a weather backup plan (if site is outdoors)?

    3. Do you book multiple events a day? If so, will they interfere at all with our event?

    4. How long is the rental period? Is there a fee if we stay over?

    5. How many guests can be accomodated?

    6. Is there space for a reception? If so, is the fee waived for ceremony if we book our reception with you?

    7. How many restrooms are there?

    8. What is the religious affiliation of the facility (if any)? Are there any restrictions on religious or cultural activities?

    9. Do we need a permit or insurance certificate?

    10. If an officiant available for use? If so, what is their fee? Are outside officiants allowed?

    11. Any music, photography, or videography restrictions?

    12. Any decorating restrictions or guidelines? (Real flame candles, rice, confetti, fake petals, etc?)

    13. What are set up and clean up fees or requirements?

    14. Is there a sound system with speakers included?

    15. Is there a bridal suite or area where bride and bridesmaids can get ready?

    16. Is seating included or does it need to be rented?

    17. What time and where can vendors begin set up?

    18. Are items such as additional tables, arches, canopies, benches, etc available for use?

    19. Is there a wedding coordinator included? Contact info?

    20. Parking available and included?

    21. Can we schedule a rehearsal the day before the wedding? Is this included?

    22. What is the site fee? What is required to book? When must it be paid in full? What kinds of payments do you take? What is your cancellation policy?

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Reception Venue

  1. Name and Location:

  2. Contact Person and Phone Number:

  3. Tour and book ASAP. Availability may be limited if you’re on a time crunch, so be sure to be open minded with your date. It’s best to go into these meetings with a month preference rather than a specific date.

  4. Questions to ask:

    1. What dates and times currently available/is my preferred date and time available?

    2. Is there a weather backup plan (if site is outdoors)?

    3. Do you book multiple events a day? If so, will they interfere at all with our event?

    4. How long is the rental period? Is there a fee if we stay over?

    5. How many guests can be accomodated?

    6. Is there space for a ceremony? If so, is the fee waived for ceremony if we book our reception with you?

    7. How many restrooms are there?

    8. Does the venue have liability insurance? Do we need a permit or insurance certificate?

    9. Any music, photography, or videography restrictions?

    10. Any decorating restrictions or guidelines? (Real flame candles, rice, confetti, fake petals, etc?)

    11. What are set up and clean up fees or requirements?

    12. Is there a sound system with speakers included?

    13. What spaces at the venue are included in my rental? (some have mingling space before you sit down at tables, etc.)

    14. Do I have to use a specific or preferred caterer? Can I hire my own outside caterer? If I hire an outside caterer, are kitchen facilities available to them for use? Can I use an outside cake bakery? Can I use an outside bar? Can we bring in or provide alcohol whether on our own or through a bar caterer? Is there an additional fee for using outside vendors?

    15. Are there restrictions on music selection, or what time music must end? Can I bring in a DJ or live band?

    16. Are tables, chairs, linens, silverware, glassware, etc included, or need they be rented?

    17. What time and where can vendors begin set up?

    18. Are items such as additional tables, arches, canopies, benches, etc available for use?

    19. Is there a wedding coordinator included? Contact info?

    20. What security services are available?

    21. Any signage available to direct guests?

    22. Parking available and included?

    23. What is the site fee? What is required to book? When must it be paid in full? What kinds of payments do you take? What is your cancellation policy?

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Photographer

  1. Name and Location:

  2. Contact Person and Phone Number:

  3. Interview and book ASAP. These guys book up fast, so at least a wedding season (6 months+) in advance is preferred. Look up their previous work before you meet with them so you know you like their style. No sense in wasting your or their time!

  4. Questions to ask:

    1. Is our date available?

    2. Will you alone be shooting my wedding, or will there be multiple photographers?

    3. How many weddings do you shoot in one day?

    4. Can we see recent galleries of your work (even if you Facebook creeped, it’s good to ask for recent work as they are artists, and styles will evolve. Make sure you still like it!)?

    5. Bride and groom: Explain what you want! Candid, posed, specifics. Try to meet in person to make sure the photographer is a good fit for your mood. Ask if they feel comfortable with what you want.

    6. Do you shoot digitally or with film?

    7. Do you have priced out packages? Can I customize this to fit my needs with additional hours or services?

    8. Do you include engagement or boudoir packages in your package? Pre-wedding events like rehearsal dinners?

    9. How many hours are in X package? How much is each additional hour?

    10. Can we give you a list of photos we specifically want?

    11. Do you also do retouching, color adjustment, enhancing, or other corrective services?

    12. Do you have a travel fee?

    13. How are photos delivered after the wedding? How long should we expect to wait for sneak peeks and social media pictures to post? How long until the full album is completed?

    14. Can we order prints through you? Will we have the rights to all images?

    15. Do you have a backup photography plan in case you are ill or otherwise?

    16. Do you bring backup equipment (chargers, SD cards, etc)?

    17. Do you have a contract? What is your deposit? When is the full amount payable and due? What is your cancellation policy?

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Hair and Makeup

  1. Name and Location:

  2. Contact Person and Phone Number:

  3. Interview and book within 3-6+ months of your wedding. Hair and makeup artists vary in their schedules, but it’s best to play it safe and book 3-6 months out. Even 3 months could be cutting it close, so again, the sooner, the better. Look up their work and make sure you like it before you schedule a trial.

  4. Questions to ask:

    1. Is my date available?

    2. Can we schedule a trial run prior to the wedding?

    3. Will you work/travel to our location? Is there a fee?

    4. Do you want to see photos of what hair and makeup look I prefer? Photos of my dress, decor, venue, general inspo?

    5. If I want to schedule an additional trial, is there another fee?

    6. Should I bring my accessories (veil, hair pieces, etc) to the trial?

    7. What should I do to prep before the trial? Before the wedding?

    8. Can you accommodate my bridal party as well?

    9. Any extra day or charges I should know about?

    10. Back up plan in case you are ill or otherwise unable to attend my wedding?

    11. How many weddings do you book each day?

    12. How do we book/reserve my date? Do you have a contract?

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DJs, Bands, Etc.

  1. Name and Location:

  2. Contact Person and Phone Number:

  3. Interview and book within 3-6+ months of your wedding. DJs and bands usually must schedule either for themselves or a rep to be at your event for the duration of your event, meaning they can only take one client at a time. Take some time to ask for references in your community, and see if you can attend an event the DJ or band is working at prior to your event.

  4. Questions to ask:

    1. Is my date available?

    2. How long have you been DJing or performing at weddings (specifically)?

    3. How many weddings will you play in an average weekend?

    4. Will you personally be at our wedding? Who should we expect?

    5. Do you have any additional services available, such as lighting, or photo booth, etc?

    6. Do you have recent wedding references you’ve worked with that I can contact?

    7. Can you assist me in choosing songs for procession, recession, first dance, etc?

    8. How extensive is your music selection? Do you take requests?

    9. Can we request specific songs to be played or not played?

    10. Do you act as the MC and make announcements for us as well? What is your personal MC style?

    11. Can you motivate the crowd if no one is dancing?

    12. Do you have a contract? What is your deposit? When is the full amount payable and due? What is your cancellation policy?

    13. Do you provide all sound services from mics for the ceremony to amps at the reception?

    14. Is there anything I need to make sure the venue has available for you equipment or electricity wise?

    15. What time will you arrive for setup and depart for the evening?

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Florists

  1. Name and Location:

  2. Contact Person and Phone Number:

  3. Interview and book within 3-4+ months of your wedding. Florists typically have helpers and can accomodate a few requests for a particular wedding date, but to be safe, as with everything else, book in advance, especially if you have a specific look in mind.

  4. Questions to ask:

    1. Is my date available?

    2. How long have you been working on weddings?

    3. How many weddings do you typically commit to on the same day?

    4. Will you personally be doing my floral arrangements, or someone else?

    5. Can you accomplish all of my requests within my set budget?

    6. Do you have recent photos or references I can contact?

    7. Can you look at photos I have for inspiration and make recommendations depending on my budget and season?

    8. Do you charge a delivery fee? Is there a charge for setup or breakdown?

    9. Do you have a contract? What is your deposit? When is the full amount payable and due? What is your cancellation policy?

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  1. Bakeries

    1. Name and Location:

    2. Contact Person and Phone Number:

    3. Interview and book within 3+ months of your wedding. Bakeries can usually accommodate multiple requests for specific dates, but to ensure you book a vendor you like, try to do so 3+ months before your wedding

    4. Questions to ask:

      1. Is our date available?

      2. What are our cake, filling, and frosting choices? Do you work with buttercream frostings and fondants?

      3. Can we do a tasting before selecting flavors?

      4. Can you work with fresh flowers? Do I need to source these from my florist? If so, how far in advance?

      5. How far in advance is my cake prepared and how is it stored?

      6. Who will make my cake?

      7. Can you provide cake stands or any additional cake items that may be requested? If so, is there an additional fee?

      8. What are pricing packages? Does that include the top tier?

      9. When will you deliver to my venue? Is there an additional fee for delivery?

      10. Do you have a contract? What is your deposit? When is the full amount payable and due? What is your cancellation policy?

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Bar and Beverage Services

  1. Name and Location:

  2. Contact Person and Phone Number:

  3. Interview and book within 3+ months of your wedding. Bars can be tricky, and you’ll want to check with your venue before hiring any outside bar vendors. This was the toughest part to coordinate with my personal wedding, so I recommend speaking with your venue first for any special requirements for permits or insurance.

  4. Questions to ask:

    1. Is our date available?

    2. Does the bar take cash and credit cards?

    3. What is the tipping protocol?

    4. What can you do with overly intoxicated guests?

    5. Can my guests order shots?

    6. Can we limit to beer and wine only, or signature drinks?

    7. Can we bring our own alcohol? Is there a corkage fee? Is a champagne toast included or at an additional fee? Will staff serve wine with dinner or place bottles on tables?

    8. How long will alcohol be served?

    9. How are we charged for alcohol? Per bottler, person, drink, etc?

    10. Does the bar provide ice, cups, straws, napkins, etc?

    11. Can we request specific liquors/drinks be served or not served?

    12. Is the liquor provided top shelf or well?

    13. Do you have liability insurance?

    14. Do you have a contract? What is your deposit? When is the full amount payable and due? What is your cancellation policy?

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Caterers

  1. Name and Location:

  2. Contact Person and Phone Number:

  3. Interview and book within 3+ months of your wedding. Caterers can also be a touchy subject with your venue. Always check first to make sure you can hire an outside vendor and if there are any additional requirements.

  4. Questions to ask:

    1. Is our date available?

    2. How many weddings do you typically book in a year and per day? How long have you been in business?

    3. Have you worked events at my venue?

    4. Are you licensed in my state for safe food preparation? Can you also serve alcohol?

    5. Are any permits needed for our event? If so, will you obtain them or do we need to?

    6. Will there be an onsite manager for my event while food is being served?

    7. Can you recommend food choices within my set budget and guest count?

    8. Do we have choices off a preset menu or can we customize this for our event?

    9. Can you provide linens, glassware, plates, flatware, etc? Glass or disposable?

    10. Price differences in passed appetizers vs appetizer stations? Buffet style serving vs sit down service? Do you bus tables as well?

    11. What do packages include in pricing (appetizers, meat, starch, veggie, bread, dessert, soft drinks, coffee/teas, etc?)

    12. Will you also cut my wedding cake? Is there an extra fee?

    13. Do you offer food tastings before we book? Is there an additional fee?

    14. What is your policy on cleanup? Will my leftovers be thrown out, stored, or donated? Will tables be cleared and the venue kitchen tidied?

    15. What is the last date I can give you a final guest count?

    16. Is gratuity included in the final pricing?

    17. Do you have a contract? What is your deposit? When is the full amount payable and due? What is your cancellation policy?

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Officiants and Premarital Counselors

  1. Name and Location:

  2. Contact Person and Phone Number:

  3. Interview and book within 3+ months of your wedding. Officiants can sometimes require premarital counseling, so be aware of the time commitment prior to booking with an officiant.

  4. Questions to ask:

    1. Is our date available?

    2. How many weddings do you typically book in a year and per day? How long have you been in business?

    3. Can you help us with personalizing our ceremony?

    4. Are you open to personal ideas for our ceremony such as non-secular wedding vows, readings, songs, etc?

    5. Will you give a sermon or speech?

    6. Do you have recordings of any past ceremonies we can watch?

    7. How long do your ceremonies typically last?

    8. How many meetings will we get with you prior to our wedding?

    9. Can you include specific traditions or rituals in our ceremony?

    10. Can we see a copy of the ceremony script prior to the day of?

    11. Will you be present for our rehearsal?

    12. Do you require premarital counseling? If so, will it be with you or through an organization?

    13. Should we bring our marriage license to the ceremony or will we meet to sign it before or after?

    14. What is your ceremony fee? (Some will only require a “donation” to their company, church, etc.)

    15. Do you have a contract? What is your deposit? When is the full amount payable and due? What is your cancellation policy?

Although these are not all the vendors or questions you may want to ask, I hope they have jogged your memory a bit, and you utilize this list to take some notes! With everything going on, you will feel overwhelmed at times, and remember, that is okay, and all part of the process.

When you’ve hit the part where you just want to elope, you know you’re close to being done (kidding… kind of). The day of the wedding, try to take a moment in the morning to yourself and just find some peace. Take a deep breath and know that something will go wrong. IT may not be major, and you may not even hear about it until a year later, but something will not stick to the plan (i.e. Mr. Boone forgetting to bring the bottled water to the venue… he had one job haha) but it will work out. Focus on the wedding as a very significant time for you and your spouse. Take time to live in each moment, because it goes so very fast. Steal away for a moment alone with your husband, and just look at how many people cleared their schedules to celebrate your love and devotion to each other. That in and of itself is something so special.

Good luck!

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