Even though a bride may have dreamed about planning her wedding for years, actually doing the planning can become totally overwhelming. Even small decisions can be difficult and fraught with doubt. Not having much experience in this arena, brides usually have to rely on recommendations from various sources to make the final choices regarding who to hire to make this wedding the absolute best it can be.
But not every recommendation or review should be given equal weight, of course: Here are several categories of referral options and the pros and cons of relying upon them to determine the best vendor selection for your special day.
Friends & Family
We rely upon them for love, support and friendship--therefore we can count on these people to give us their unbiased opinions, right? Well, often that isn't the case. For whatever reason, a personal experience or preference of someone close to you may have actually originated from a circumstance very different than your own. One major factor is budget, which can greatly impact the results of any vendor. The location of a friend's or family member's event may have had unique dynamics that you won't face since your wedding will be entirely different. Therefore, in a case where you rely on family and friends, be very clear about what specifically their comments are in relation to.
Preferred Vendor Lists
Most properties will have preferred vendor lists for their prospective clientele to select from. Typically the listed vendors are familiar with the property and can ensure that your event will run more smoothly as a result. However, venues also put together such a list because they understand that indecision can often lead to missed deadlines which can create unnecessary chaos when planning such a timely event. Therefore, in an effort to reduce confusion, they prefer to limit the vendors to a choice of just three for each category. Often, the three choices will offer either tastings or complimentary meetings to give a bride a chance to meet and greet, as well as review their work. In short, these lists can offer both reliable insight and comfort when making the final decision of whom to hire.
Blogs are so easy to access and the blogger personalities that come through the screen can induce a feeling of friendship as you read along. These sites are often sprinkled with images that spark your imagination and when they mention vendors in almost any category, this can influence brides to hire a professional simply based on the stamp of approval from the blog's author.
This does require caution, however. I have noticed many times that even on the most popular blogs and websites, articles may either be reprinted or refer to an event long-past. Therefore, blogs are not enough when doing your research. Don't hire based on a blog post unless it is a recent reflection of the vendor's work.
If you are planning a destination wedding, relying on a destination professional can relieve you of hidden (and not so hidden) costs and angst regarding local vendors. For example, photographers: If you bring your own you may need him/her to arrive a day or two before to get familiar with the location and light. However, the destination pro will likely have a list of locals who already are totally familiar with these critical issues, saving you time and money.
Public Review Forums
Although for some resources I do find review websites (like Yelp) helpful, for wedding industry-related vendor recommendations I find these sites to be places where past customers rant and seldom rave. There is a heavy ratio of disgruntled patrons that use these forums as a perfect opportunity to blow off steam. When you read a negative testimonial that refers to a specific person in a company or a notable incident, but you still want to give that business a chance, speak to management about your concerns regarding the review and make it clear that you expect your experiences to be handled with kid gloves.