Elise's Wedding | Strategies for Choosing Your Wedding Vendors

SAVE THE DATE ... our Social Media Coordinator, Elise Crawford, is marrying Hunter, her college sweetheart, on August 12, 2017. We're overjoyed for her and are thrilled to share with you a peek into one bride's real-life wedding planning. Over the next year, we'll feature monthly pieces from Elise on marriage prep, choosing wedding details, and her spirituality as a bride-to-be. Join us in praying for Elise and Hunter during this sacred time of anticipation!

Photographers, planners, caterers. Oh my! When Hunter and I started the wedding planning process, I was lucky enough to know a handful of wedding vendors as business acquaintances. They were able to offer me their own services or direct me to other wedding vendors. However, we have wanted to choose our vendors carefully and intentionally, so the search has been fun but also a challenge. I want to share with you my thoughts on how we've gone about hiring our vendors so far and what tips have been helpful to us. I'm also including questions for you to ask potential vendors to help you discern the individuals who will help your big day come together. 

Wedding Planner:

Truly, our biggest win so far in wedding planning has been hiring a partial-planner. We knew we couldn't afford a full-time planner--someone who can hire vendors for you and help come up with your wedding vision--but I know I'd appreciate assistance with logistics and day-of-coordination. It's been extremely important to me that I don't feel rushed on my wedding day. I don't want to be responsible for making the trains run on time or making sure that everything is set; I want to be prayerfully focused on entering into the sacrament of marriage and being surrounded by the people I love. Look into the wedding planners in your area and inquire about partial planning packages. I promise you, it will be money well spent! 

Questions to Ask: How many weddings have you planned? What will your level of involvement be? How often can I expect to interact with you during the wedding process? Do the weddings you plan usually have a certain style? 


There are so many ways to approach florals for your wedding. You can arrange them yourself, buying the flowers from a wholesalers (friends have raved about Costco!). You can hire a farm-to-vase florist who sources only local and organically grown flowers. I have found it helpful to interview and get a quote from florists in each category. I spoke to one vendor who only used naturally grown flowers; I talked with wholesalers about the logistics of designing and assembling my own florals; then I talked with several florists in our area. We ended up going with a wonderful woman who owns her own small floral business, is just starting out and had more than reasonable prices. It was important to me to support local businesses owned by women through my wedding, so hiring her was the best decision for us. 

Questions to Ask: What can I expect from you on the day of the wedding? Will you deliver and set up the florals? Where do you get your flowers from? What type of weddings have you styled for in the past? Do you handle take-down, and where do the florals go after the wedding day? Do you donate them? Can you create a sample piece for me before we sign a contract?


We have consistently heard the advice to not skimp on our photographer. Our wedding day is so exciting and will happen so quickly. We might not be able to remember every single moment of the day, but we will be able to look back on the day through photos. When it comes to wedding photography, simply put: you generally get what you pay for. Yet that doesn't mean your wedding photography has to push you above your budget! The key to finding a good fit is finding a photographer who has been in the business 2-3 years, has a portfolio that shows their skill and suits your style, and, if possible, offers competitive pricing. (Join your local Rising Tide Society Facebook group, even if you aren't a creative entrepreneur. In the group, you can post a call for photographers in your area and price range). 

Questions to Ask: Can I see some examples of past weddings you've shot? What equipment do you use? When is the last time you've updated your equipment? Could you give me an outline of the day and what you'll be shooting when? How far in advance do I need to book you? Can I give you a list of specific shots that I'd like? How do you deliver the photos post-wedding day?

Hair & Makeup: 

Some women want to do their own hair and makeup on the day of their wedding and that's totally fine! For brides who prefer professional services, there are several options. You can go to a salon the day of or you can have hair and makeup artists come to the place where you're getting ready. There are plenty of wedding-specific stylists and makeup artists, just make sure to check out their online reviews to make sure you're hiring someone who is experienced. 

Questions to Ask: Will you do a trial run with me before my wedding? Can you work off of photos that I like? Are you familiar with my particular hair and skin types? Do you use your own makeup and hair products? Are there any day-of expenses I should be aware of?

DJ or Band:

Music sets the tone for your wedding Mass and reception. Consider: will you have your Church's music minster provide mass music? Who will be your cantors? Hunter and I are lucky to have wonderful, musically gifted friends who will be providing our Mass music. For our reception, we opted for a D.J. over live music. We valued hiring someone who will set a fun tone at the reception while keeping things classy and respectful. 

Questions to Ask: How many D.J.s are in your company? How do you cater to both younger and older generations at the reception? Will you play a list of songs if we give them to you? Do you use your own equipment? Will you coordinate with the planner or bride and groom at the reception if any questions arise? How do you arrange announcements for key points at the reception (first dance, cake cutting, etc.)?


Yummy! Our reception venue provides food and drink in-house, but I know the caterer is a big vendor for most people. Make sure you are hiring a caterer who not only provides great food, but also awesome service to your guests. Take your preferences into account as you seek out a vendor. For instance, are you leaning towards a buffet or sit down dinner? Want to get creative? Consider asking family members to pitch in with creating a dessert table or baking your wedding cake.

Questions to Ask:  How many weddings do you do per year? Have you done events at my location? Will I need any permits for my events? What about bar permits? How many servers will be provided at my reception? How will the servers be dressed? Can you show me pictures of food you've created in the past? What kind of alcohol will be served?

I'd love to chat with you about your own planning. Tell me; what vendors have you hired so far in your wedding planning? What has your experience been like? If you were already married, what advice do you have to share about hiring vendors?

About the Author: Elise Crawford is Spoken Bride's Social Media Coordinator. She is the owner of Ringlet Studio marketing. Read more