(Show Notes: Season 2, Episode 3)
Vendors are what make your event! They are the building blocks that will help you bring your vision to life and ensure that your guests have an unforgettable experience. For this reason, it is important to properly vet your vendors to ensure you are working with the right team.
The vendors you may choose to work with may vary depending on the type of event you are planning, however there is one vendor that is almost always needed across all event types – and that is catering! For some, the venue that is booked comes with catering as an included service because the venue has its own kitchen and banquet staff. In other situations, the venue may have basic kitchen equipment/setup, but allows you to hire your own caterer off a list of preferred caterers. In either of those scenarios, it will definitely be important to do the research and ensure that the in-house catering, or recommended caterers, fit the bill for the type of food you are aiming to serve. There are also plenty of venues where you are on your own to hire a caterer that can provide the style and quality of cuisine you are looking for with little guidance.
Another frequently-used vendor is a photographer. In the world of wedding planning, selecting a photographer is a very particular business. I always remind my couples that whatever photographer they book will be with them for the majority (if not the entire) wedding day – and even potentially at auxiliary events like Rehearsal Dinners and Wedding Brunches depending on budget and preferences. For this reason, it is really important that you like your photographer and can stand to be in a room with them – and directed by them – for several hours on your special day. It is also important for you to like the photographers overall style. Some photographers have a more realist approach, while others may be more artsy. I absolutely recommend perusing the websites of as many photographers in your proximity as possible so that you can get a feel for the style of photography that you like, and then can target 2-3 photographers that you would like to interview. I strongly suggest interviewing them (in person if you can) to make sure that you jive together! You want to feel comfortable taking direction from them, posing, and being somewhat vulnerable in front of them, so feeling out the vibes in person is definitely helpful in making your choice.
An event host may also choose to hire a photographer for a corporate function. In this case, the focus may be someone who can handle more volume and who is less artsy. For a lot of corporate events, the company wants to have photos to share with or print for attendees or to utilize for internal purposes. If this is the type of photography you are looking for, it will be to your benefit to hire someone who is used to that style of photography and who has a quick turnaround time for any editing of final images.
For special events and weddings especially, the aspect of design and decor is extremely important to enhance your event. Whether it is a color palette or an overall feel/theme, how you choose to carry your design aspects throughout your event requires special attention. How does this translate to choosing vendors? Well, there are several types of vendors that may contribute to the overall design of your event. Florists, rental companies and production companies are some of the big ticket vendors that can help bring a design vision to life.
Entertainment is yet another pivotal piece of the planning puzzle. When you are choosing a music vendor, style is, once again, an important aspect to consider. Are you looking for a band or DJ that will encourage your group to dance? Or are you looking for background music to compliment the rest of the goings-on of your event? These details will be important to share with whatever music vendors you are considering booking. Another factor to be aware of is your audience. At a wedding, are you hosting a majority young crowd? Or is it an even split between younger and older guests? This may contribute to the type of music you’d like to have. Often, younger generations want more dance music like hip-hop or house music, whereas the older crowds might appreciate more classic genres like jazzy Frank Sinatra style tunes or classic oldies. Finding a music vendor that is able to find a comfortable balance between genres based on the demographic of your attendees is the key to success! For any live music you are considering, I highly recommend listening to live clips or demos of the band’s music – or, better yet, to hear them live before booking! Some bands do concerts specifically for prospective clients to attend and hear their sound first-hand, so if you have that opportunity – take it!
One topic that is important to be aware of is that of “friendors”. A friendor is a vendor who is also your personal friend or acquaintance. We have all heard of, or have been, those event hosts who want to save a dollar and hire their cousin to take photos, or their brother’s friend to DJ – but I offer you a word of warning! Just because you can hire a friend, doesn’t mean you should. Why? Because hiring friends can muddy the waters quickly. For some folks, it can be difficult to ask for exactly what you want when it is coming from someone you are friendly with for fear of “asking too much” or “taking advantage,” especially if the services are being offered at a discounted rate or waived altogether. This means, you sacrifice what you really want, to preserve your relationship with that friend or just so you don’t come off as “needy” even though it is simply your preference. In other situations, the friendor may feel less serious or committed to your event because of your personal connection which may cause them to slack off or not provide their services to the standard expected. Then when things don’t go well … you are put in a position where you may compromise a friendship – and/or a seamless event.
You may have a friend who is a professional – DJ, photographer, florist, etc. That’s great! If they have a track record and a legit business, then go for it. But beware of the friendor that can ruin your event in one fell swoop.
Overall the most important thing you can do when selecting a vendor is to do your research! Look at websites, listen to sound clips, read lots of reviews, ask your venue. Whatever you can do to gather as much information as possible so you can make an educated decision – it will pay off.
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Season 2, Episode 4 will debut on August 13th, 2020! This season we are focusing on Event Basics and each week I will review a new foundational event topic to help you get started with your planning process.