interviewing wedding vendors

I’ve given some tips before on interviewing wedding vendors before and talked about what worked best for us, but here are some additional tips I learned along the way:

  • It is entirely your responsibility to be knowledgeable going into the interview. I realize that some things are complicated, like photography, deejaying, and videography, but you HAVE to know the right questions to ask. Otherwise the vendor you’re interviewing might start rattling off all sorts of information that SOUNDS impressive, but really might not mean a whole lot. Venture on to some industry forums and lurk around. Learn about why it’s crucial that your photographer shoot in RAW and not JPEG. Learn that there’s a difference between high definition and “high quality” video recording equipment.
  • Similarly, vendors know they can tell you all sorts of information that sounds impressive. So don’t be afraid to ask, “Why is that important.” For instance, the deejay you’re interviewing might tell you that they use a 1400 Watt Amplifier. Interrupt them. Ask “why is that important.” Ask them “is that an industry standard” and “is that considered “top of the line, mid-level, etc. equipment” and “what websites can I go to to learn more about your equipment? and “Do other deejays use similar equipment?”  Don’t just nod like a little sheep. Ask questions. It’s your money. Spend it on the right folks.
  • Ask them what the worst complaint is that they’ve ever received. Of course, you can always go and check their reviews on Yelp and Wedding Wire, but I always like to hear it from them. If asking someone in a job interview what their greatest weakness is, then asking someone about their worst complaint is perfectly acceptable. Ask them if they thought the complaint was valid, how they handled it, and what they did in the future to avoid such complaints.
  • Give them some scenarios that you see likely (or at least possible) to happen at your wedding and ask them what they would do. Ask your deejay how they’ll handle it if your non-dancing family won’t get on the dance floor. Ask your caterer and bartender how they’d handle Uncle Joe who likes to drink too much, and ask your photographer how they’d handle a lot of wannabe amateur photographers at your wedding. 

What other wedding vendor interviewing tips do you have?


Last Year on SuperNoVABride

by Melissa on January 31, 2012

Here are some of my favorite posts on SuperNoVABride from January 2011!


Tips for Interviewing Wedding Vendors

by Melissa on January 31, 2011

A few weeks ago, we had our first real interview with a vendor, a potential photographer.  Although we really liked her photos, we didn’t feel she was going to be a good value after we received her pricing sheet.  For instance, while other photographers include engagement sessions in their similarly-priced packages, hers were extra.  She also didn’t include any proof prints until you reached her very high-end packages.

We knew we probably weren’t going to select her as our wedding photographer, but we still decided to interview her on the phone.  The interview was very illuminating and helped us craft other questions that we wanted to ask other photographers too.  We have now interviewed five potential photographers, and we have our interview questions down pat.

I wanted to share with you our insights for interviewing vendors.  Not specific questions per se, because those can be found on any particular number of sites and in wedding reference books, but good vendor interviewing techniques.

The Basics

Although you may have a particular set of questions you want to ask the vendor, we have found that it is useful to ask an open ended question first.  The purpose of the open ended question is two-fold.  1) Some of their discussion may answer the questions you already have, and 2) You can get a good sense of their personality and communication skills.

For instance, instead of asking, “What type of camera equipment do you use?” or “How many pictures do you provide?” upfront, try:

  • Why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself, your business, and your workflow?
  • What is your philosophy on photography (or catering, officiating, etc.)?

Personality Matters

We have found that we have a better opinion of the photographers that we have interviewed that have been chipper and asked us about ourselves than the ones that were just basically there to answer our direct questions.  You’re going to be on regular contact with this person for a good length of time, (depending on the duration of your engagement).  Make sure you have a vendor that meshes well with your personality.

Know What You’re Looking For

Or at least be open about why you don’t know what you’re looking for.  Identify your criteria for the type of vendor you’re interviewing.  For instance, during the interview, I mention several of our wedding photographer criteria from this post.  Outlining your criteria to the vendor shows that you know what you want and that you’re not some flaky bride they’ll have to deal with.  If you’re not sure what you want, the vendor may be able to help guide you in the right direction

Ask For Specifics

If you’re not familiar with the more technical aspects required of your vendor, take some time to inform yourself.  My fiance and I are photo geeks, and so we ask the photographers what format they shoot in (the correct answer for any professional is RAW).  We have eliminated two photographers because of technical-related issues.  One photographer who said that he shoots in JPEG and not RAW and another that said she didn’t know how to export photos from Lightroom as a .TIFF, only as a .JPEG.  These are major red flags, but only because we recognize them as red flags because we familiarized ourselves with the topic.

Phone vs. In-Person

We have done four phone interviews and one in-person interview.  Personally, I feel like the in-person interview was a waste, because that was the one that said he shoots JPEGs.  I’d recommend having a brief phone interview first, then decide if it’s worth it to meet with them in person.  I think having phone interviews first would be valuable for any vendor, even caterers.

I’d be interested to hear what other brides and grooms have learned when they interview their wedding vendors!

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Weekly Roundup January 14

by Melissa on January 14, 2011


Links I’m loving

I think that postcard invites or save-the-dates are an excellent way to save money on paper and postage. 

I too have long hair and am always frustrated by stylists that try to convince me to cut it.  (And no, I don’t want to donate it either).  I think that having long hair will give me many more options when deciding on what hairstyle to wear on our wedding day

Thank you for the primer on wedding themes and then reminding us that they really aren’t necessary

Living in the DC area, I must say that I LOVE these escort cards ideas

I am torn about wedding cake options.  I think would just like to ask my fiancé’s Aunt to make her amazing cupcakes.    But what do you think, do we still need a regular old cake?  Nothing fancy like the layers shown here.  Just plain old chocolate or vanilla cake 

Matrimony Monday?  I haven’t heard that one before, but based on the number of folks on my facebook feed that announced engagements over the holidays, I’m not surprised!  Love this quote from the $2000 Bride

The Wedding Industrial Complex is a dangerous cultural entity that has the power to distract us from the significance and importance of planning a major life event. In my mind, it’s a zero-sum game: The more time we spend thinking about the calligraphy and the custom monogram and the metallic color palette, the less time we have to think about how to strengthen our partnerships, to reflect on the enormity of the commitment we are about to make, and to maintain all the aspects of our lives that are totally unrelated to our weddings.

Also, Tips for the newly engaged.


Wedding Fitness Goal Progress

I lost 2.8 pounds this week, for a total of, well, 2.8 pounds.  Cumulative weight loss calculations to start next week!   I worked out most days this past week.

  • Thursday January 6: Jillian Michaels Banish Fat Boost Metabolism
  • Friday January 7: Yoga for Weight Loss.  Seriously, I suck at yoga.  I may revisit my workout plan. 
  • Saturday January 8: 30 Day Shred (Level 2).  Was running late for an appointment and didn’t have time for whole BFBM
  • Sunday January 9: Rest
  • Monday January 10: Jillian Michaels Banish Fat Boost Metabolism
  • Tuesday January 11: Jillian Michaels Banish Fat Boost Metabolism
  • Wednesday January 12: More Yoga.  Once again, it barely felt like a workout
  • Thursday January 13: Jillian Michaels Banish Fat Boost Metabolism


January Wedding Planning Goal Progress

  • Interview Wedding Photographers – (e-mailed several more photogs, We had a phone interview with one, and I have to follow up with the others that have e-mailed me back)
  • Make Wedding Photographer Decision – Currently Interviewing
  • Compile Addresses for Invitations – Not Started
  • Firm up budget calculations – Not Started
  • Develop wedding planning timeline – Not Started


Shit I’m not going to worry about for my wedding

There are some things that I come across in the wedding blogosphere that just make me go “hmmm, no wonder why brides stress themselves out so much over their wedding.”  In other words, things that seem to take too much time compared to the benefit. 

I do not believe that a bride needs two dresses for her wedding day, regardless of how grand her budget is! 

No, you do not need a $40 notebook to keep as a bridal diary

OMG.  A bridesmaid online newsletter?  WTF.  And whereTF do people get time to do this? 


Finances and Administrative

Wedding Related Expenses This Week: $0.00
Total Wedding Related Expenses (all time): $106.50 on magazine subscriptions and planning books
Total Budgeted Difference (we have a $15,000 budget): $14893.50

Estimated Hours Spent on Wedding Planning (not including blogging) This Week: 10 hours (mostly researching photographers and more information about our new venue)