When you’re looking for your wedding locations and professionals, you know that one of the smartest ways to find the best of the best is asking your recently-married friends and family members who they hired for their own weddings, and what they thought about how they performed.
While reviews on sites are valuable and contain excellent details on how professional a pro really was, how they went above and beyond, or how it was tough to get them on the phone, your friends and family may be able to provide information that’s not on review sites…like how a vendor did on cultural wedding elements, or how long it took them to deliver links to a photo gallery or print photo albums.
Happy wedding couples tend to post glowing reviews right after their wedding, and perhaps those wait-for-it tasks haven’t happened yet. And we all know that when someone is frustrated with their wedding vendor, they may be more likely to post an angry review. When emotions run high, people can sometimes lose sight of all the good that a wedding pro has done for them, and just laser-focus on the one thing they didn’t like, like a slow phone call response time. And when someone has really lost ground to wedding stress, they may decide that a two-hour wait before a call back is ridiculously long.
With online reviews being a part of your research, asking people you know for their input can give you even more priceless information to help you choose and hire the perfect professionals for your big day.
Here’s who to ask:
- Couples who got married within the past month. Their experiences are still fresh, and any wedding season tensions have melted away. They can give you objective opinions about who they hired, and the pros they didn’t end up hiring. This is where some really important information lies. Maybe they didn’t hire a dream of a cake baker because the baker was maxed out on cake orders for that weekend. Your friend loved their studio, their samples, their portfolio, their prices, and it was a heartbreak that they couldn’t hire them. You then get the advantage of checking them out early.
- Couples who got married within the past year. Their wedding pros are likely still in business, and they have even greater perspective on their big day. If they’re still raving about their caterer a year later, you know that caterer is good. Now what about couples married more than a year ago? Well, their wedding venues might have had a complete overhaul within the past five years, their management changed, their chefs are different, maybe quality took a nosedive in the economy. You never know. If your longtime marrieds have suggestions for you, always check their mentions out well and interview who those pros are now. Bands often change members, and ballrooms might change color palettes [which, can be a GOOD thing. If your friend says the carpet in the ballroom was completely outdated, don’t count out that venue immediately. Go see if that carpet is still from the 1980s, and you may find that the perfect ballroom with the dramatic chandeliers and the lovely outdoor garden for the cocktail party has had a redesign last year – no more dated carpet!]
- People who hosted anniversary parties recently. These are being planned very much like weddings: big, formal, elegant, in the finest venues, with bands and photo booths. These hosts have done their homework and can fill you in on the good, the bad, and the very, very must-do.
- People who hosted important kids’ celebrations. We’re talking sweet sixteens, quinceneras, bar and bat mitzvahs, Communion celebrations, graduation parties. And even little kids’ parties like an elaborate first birthday party at a chic hotel or with a tent on their massive lawn. Parents planning kids’ parties really get into researching invitation designers, favor creators, dessert companies and other party pros who can be amazing for your wedding.
- Corporate party planners. If your aunt is in charge of planning company parties and galas for the corporation where she works, she likely has a lot of inside scoop on the best venues and professionals. The pressure is on for her to plan events that really knock socks off, and impress the shareholders and bosses. So with standards that high, this is a good person to add to your ask list.
- Your other wedding pros. They know who’s great, and who to avoid for unprofessionalism – and they know who’s burned out right now. They also know their referral reflects on them, so they’re going to point you toward the wedding industry pros they know are on the top of their game.
- And of course, the industry experts at New Jersey Bride. You also have access to our 2014 Love It Awards, to see the sites and vendors we’ve named as among the best of the best.
Remember, everyone has an opinion. So when you’re asking friends and family for referrals, you’re just getting topics to hone in on when you research vendors and sites on your own. A friend may say, “Avoid this one like the plague!” and when your ask why, you find out that the pro didn’t give her an unrealistic, massive freebie that she asked for. The pro has to spend money on that food, after all, so once you look further into the quality of their work, you may understand better that this is a top-notch pro who doesn’t work for free.
Plan on plenty of time to research all of your pros and vendors well, and you’ll find the best ones for you.
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