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Wedding Vendors: Your Guide to Finding Them, Vetting them, and Reviewing the Contract

by Jesse Long
wedding vendors


When it comes to hiring wedding vendors, your budget should be your starting point. You may not be able to afford to have every type of vendor that is out there, so you may want to begin by deciding which types of vendors are most important for your wedding. As always, your main guide should be what’s important to you. Hiring a videographer, for example, may be something very important to you, or you may decide to go without. It’s up to you!


Which Wedding Vendors Do You Want to Have?

Below are some commonly hired wedding vendors:

  • Wedding planner
  • Photographer
  • Caterer
  • DJ
  • Hair stylist
  • Makeup artist
  • Baker
  • Florist
  • Videographer

This list isn’t exhaustive, however. Depending on your wedding needs there may be plenty of other types of vendors you’ll want to look into!

Once you’ve figured out which vendors you want to hire, there are some general guidelines for when you should hire them. If you plan on working with a wedding planner, that should probably be your first hire. Once he or she is on board, you can get help with finding and hiring other vendors. Wedding planners can only work a limited amount of weddings at a time, so hiring well ahead of time gives you more options. Likewise, photographers and officiants probably only work one wedding per day, so it can also be a good idea to hire their services before looking for other vendors.

Hiring vendors is a key part of planning your wedding. They will be part of your wedding team, working with you to make your wedding a great experience for you and your guests.



The traditional way to about finding vendors is by word of mouth, and this is still a good place to start. Ask family and friends about their experiences, especially if they’ve had a wedding recently. If you’ve already gotten started, referrals can also come from other vendors or your wedding venue. Of course nowadays social media is also a great tool for discovering vendors. You can widen the net and get recommendations from friends of friends and acquaintances.

Getting recommendations is a great idea, but don’t rely too heavily on them. After all, what worked for your best friend’s wedding may not necessarily be the best fit for yours. You can also start your vendor search by asking around or looking online. A web search for the type of vendor you are looking for may turn up some good results.

There are also other good ways to find vendors that specifically appeal to you. Look for publications that feature weddings in your area, as they may list information about the vendors of each wedding. You can also check out Joy real weddings and the Joy vendor spotlight.

Another good idea is to look up weddings that occurred at your venue and find out what vendors they used. Hiring a vendor who is familiar with your venue can be a definite plus!


Once you’ve found some vendors that might work, it’s time to vet them. First, take a good look at vendors’ websites. Your first impression can tell you whether it’s worth it to do more research. If everything looks great and the vendor seems to offer what you need, then the next step is to read online reviews. Sites like Yelp can be a great source of information on wedding vendors.

Once you’ve found a vendor that seems right for you and has good reviews, it’s time to really make sure you know what you’ll be getting. Ask the vendor for the names of recent clients, and if at all possible, talk to them about their experience. They may be able to give you an honest assessment of the pros and cons of working with the vendor.

Be sure to meet with the vendor or at least have an extended phone conversation before making the decision to hire. Vendors will be joining your wedding team, so they should be people you think you will enjoy working with. It’s also important to work with someone who understands and accepts your budget, and this conversation can help you make sure of that.

If you properly vet your vendors, you can trust them to do good work and resist the urge to micromanage.


As personal and filled with emotion as your wedding is, don’t lose sight of the fact that your relationship with a vendor is a business relationship. When it is time to review and sign a vendor’s contract, it is important to have everything agreed upon in writing.

When it comes to working with vendors, don’t make assumptions. Make sure everything is clear during the entire process, especially when discussing the terms of the contract.

If a vendor presents you with a contract, you should read over it and try to negotiate any points of concern. The vendor may or may not be willing to make changes, but don’t think that you always have to accept a contract as is. As long as your requests are somewhat reasonable, a vendor will probably at least hear you out. If you attempt to negotiate price, though, remember that wedding vendors are running a small business, and may have very limited flexibility on that point.

The manner and time of payment should be stated in the contract, as well as the time that services or products will be delivered. Check and double-check all dates and times listed to make sure they are correct. You should also check the cancellation policy. You may not be able to get your deposit back, but you also want to avoid having to pay in full if you cancel several months ahead of time.

Be wary of any legal issues that may arise. Don’t sign away rights to seek legal action if the vendor doesn’t deliver what he or she promised! If you exercise caution before signing the contract, you can do less worrying once you’re in the hectic stages of planning.

If your budget is limited…

Of course, you don’t have to hire someone for every spot on your wedding team. Maybe you have a friend who is an amateur photographer or family members who’d love to prepare food for the event. If you’re saving in some areas by accepting the help of family or friends, just be sure that these are people you are very close to and can trust to deliver.

Regardless of whether you’re using traditional vendors, getting help from friends, or a mixture of both, make sure to do your homework. With a little bit of time and planning beforehand, you can put together an excellent wedding team!

Get Started – Research Vendors

Aside from recommendations from people you know, you can find tons of information on wedding vendors online. You can start your search for great wedding vendors right away!

  • Check out some real weddings:
    • Joy Real Weddings shares the real stories of couples who used Joy for their weddings.
    • Check for local websites that feature weddings.
    • Check out weddings at your venue. If the venue doesn’t feature weddings, you can try doing a web search for the name of your venue plus “wedding.”
  • Look online for vendors:
    • Some vendors in your area may be featured in the Joy Vendor Spotlight.
    • To find highly-rated vendors near you, search Yelp.
  • When meeting with vendors, mention that their work will be featured on your Joy site!

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