What you don’t know (or fail to ask) can hurt you. So don’t be shy and ask! I’m not talking about living in Chicago and calling the ubertalented florist out in California that is well respected, known by everyone in the industry and lives up to their contracts. I’m talking about living in Chicago, not speaking the language and calling the flight by night operation florist in the middle of Los Cabos, Mexico the hotel referred, or the musician in St. Lucia that doesn’t have much to back themselves up in the form of a website, references but is the only vendor allowed to play music at the boutique resort you have set your heart on.
You should be ready to:
Ask for client references… current and past. Talk to a current client, there is nothing like talking to a current bride that is in the thick of the planning stages who can give you a good assesment if this vendor is returning calls, responding to their requests in a timely fashion and living up to their agreement. In addition, don’t forget to give a past client a call and make sure you ask how did the vendor perform before and on the day of the wedding.
Ask for vendor references~ The wedding industry is a small world when it comes to vendors, and I know that a good vendor always has vendor references from someone else they’ve worked with in the past. For example, the local photographer may know that great salsa band, who is easy to work with because they always arrive on time, make the correct announcements and keep the dance floor packed.
Make sure there is a well written contract in place and signed by both parties~ Enough said.
Get wedding insurance ~ If you are planning a wedding out of the country, get wedding insurance before you start planning the wedding. If a vendor goes under, you still have to find a new one (sadly you still have that hurdle to go thru) but the insurance will eventually pay for the cost to get a new one.
And one little tidbit of information for any bride planning a wedding out of the country (and any planner reading that hasn’t planned a wedding outside the US). A lot of the smaller vendors don’t take credit cards, nor checks from the US, so be ready to pay for a lot of your vendors by wiring them money.
Last but not least, hire an experienced planner when planning a wedding overseas. It will save you a lot of headaches, will keep your sanity in one piece and will tell you the rules of the game so you know what to expect.
Tomorrow, lessons learned and the one question I failed to ask the saxophonist at a wedding in Los Cabos, that did end up hurting me.