When you think about it, planning a wedding is really just pulling together a killer team of wedding vendors, which unless you’ve ever done it before, is probably easier said than done. Your wedding day is a pretty big deal, so no doubt you’ll be keen to snag the best suppliers in the business. So before you sign on those dotted lines, we’ve put together the ULTIMATE wedding vendors guide to help you book those suppliers like a boss!

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TOP 10 TIPS TO HELP YOU FIND AN EPIC WEDDING VENUE

It all begins with the wedding venue! Tackle this first and that’s the biggest element of your day sorted. Here’s how to do it like a pro…

Discover your ‘type’

When you envision your wedding day, what type of venue is it? Grand castles, stately homes, marquees and hotels are the top choices in Northern Ireland. If you’re a bride with a penchant for the unexpected, don’t forget to check out some of Northern Ireland’s alternative venues. From boats to bars, gardens or restaurants, open your eyes to a world of wedding day possibilities.

Consider the setting

Is your heart set on a countryside setting? Do you long to get married by the sea? Or is a city scene more your thing? Narrowing down your wedding day backdrop will help pin-point a location.

Check out packages

Wedding venues should offer package options. Not all weddings (or couples) are the same after all. Make sure your budget matches the cost of the venue or move on.

Meet the team

The majority of venues have a dedicated events coordinator or wedding planner who will be your point of contact during the planning stages and on the day itself. Meeting with them is key to ensuring your personalities mesh. Good vibes only!

Taste the food

Tasting sessions are usually only offered when the venue has been booked but that doesn’t mean you can’t try their wares beforehand. Book a cosy table for two some evening, order a meal and soak up the atmosphere.

Ask about the rules

Some venues impose limits so get these out in the open straight away. Things like what time the band can play to, when the bar stops serving and whether they charge corkage if you bring your own wine are all factors to consider.

Décor agreements

Some venues offer décor as part of their packages, while others are a blank canvas. Make sure you’re happy with whatever the arrangement on this is.

See the sights

Suss out every aspect of the venue. View the ceremony and reception rooms, accommodation, gardens, bridal suite and even the toilets too.

Give it some thought

Don’t jump right in and book straight away. Give your mind some time to process the venue and see a few others so that you can compare them. If your thoughts keep going back to one in particular, it’s a winner.

Read reviews, and then some more

These are vital! Don’t just check out reviews of the venue; check out wedding reviews. What are couples saying on wedding forums, on Facebook and TripAdvisor? If you see a pattern of negative reviews, it may be worth investigating a little further.

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THINGS YOU DEFINITELY NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BOOKING A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

Don’t leave it too late to secure your wedding photographer. The best in the business book up fast! Here’s our advice on finding the right one for you…

Decide on a style

While you don’t have to have a carefully curated Pinterest account of photography ideas for your wedding, you should get a vibe for what you like. Do you veer towards more dark and moody styles of photos, or do you prefer photography which utilises an abundance of natural light? When you find your favourite style, focus on this and use it to narrow down your search for a photographer.

Is your photographer familiar with your venue?

While this isn’t essential, it’s definitely a bonus if your photographer has shot at your venue before. They’ll know the best spots for photo ops and will have a good rapport with the wedding team.

Know your budget

Before you get invested in the work of a photographer you love, make sure your budget allows it. This will save heartache in the long run.

Meet with them

Most couples hire a photographer to be there from the preparations in the morning, right through to the first dance. That’s more than 12 hours of someone following you around and capturing your every move. So you’ve guessed it… it’s vital that you get on. If you can, book an engagement shoot. This is a great way to tell if you actually like this person. Plus, if you get excited about the photos, this is a sound indicator that their style of photography is for you.

Questions, questions and more questions

Throughout this whole wedding planning process, be prepared to ask tons of questions. Being satisfied with the answers you’re given is an easy way to gain confidence in a wedding supplier. So when deciding on your photographer, put these questions to them…

  • How would you describe your style of photography?
  • Are there any restrictions on what you photograph?
  • What package options do you offer?
  • Do you have a wet weather plan?
  • We’d like photos on the beach / in a dark room / at sunset. Is this okay with you?
  • Can we view an entire edited wedding album?
  • When will we receive the photos?
  • Can we decide which photos make it into our album?
  • Do you have a second shooter?
  • What rights do we have to the photos?

Reviews

And again, reviews are key! Find out what brides in cyberspace are saying about the photographer in question.

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ENSURE YOU FIND YOUR DREAM DRESS SUPPLIER

Wedding dress shopping should be an amazing time with your #bridesquad. If you decide to go down the traditional bridal shop route, make sure you get the most out of each appointment by putting these questions to your consultant…

Pre-consultation

When you call to book your appointment, make sure the boutique is the one for you by sussing out the following:

  • Do you have dresses within my price range?
  • What designers do you stock?
  • Do you have samples in my size?
  • Do you sell sample dresses if I’m short on time?
  • How many people can I bring with me?

During the appointment

Get the most out of the session by asking the right questions to help you find the dress of your dreams:

  • What dress shapes / styles would work best for me?
  • What are my colour options? Which is best for my skin tone?
  • If you could choose a dress for me, which one would it be and why?
  • Do you have a veil I can try on with this?
  • Can the dress be altered? Is there the option to add or take away sleeves?
  • Is it possible to change the neckline?
  • Do you have an in-house seamstress or is there someone you would recommend?
  • What is the timeframe for ordering?

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SOURCE A KILLER #BEAUTYSQUAD & MAKE SURE YOUR WEDDING MORNING IS AMAZING

They’re responsible for ensuring you look and feel fab, so finding the right hairdresser and make-up artist can take some time. Here’s how to nail it!

Go with your gut

Like many, many aspects of wedding planning, kick things off with some research. If you already go to a hairdresser and makeup artist who you like, why break the habit of a lifetime? If you know they’ll do a good job, book them!

Alternatively, if you don’t have the foggiest clue about who to go with or even where to start, ask friends for some leads. Check out their work online (hello Instagram) and read those rave reviews.

Get in touch

When you’ve narrowed it down to a few, get in touch by email or phone. Wedding suppliers tend to be busy folk so don’t be too miffed if you don’t get a reply straight away. Find out if they’re available on your date, tell them what you have in mind for your hair and make-up, let them know about any hair pieces or other details, i.e. red lipstick is a must; I don’t usually wear make-up so I’m a bit apprehensive; I usually wear my hair down but I’m thinking of having it put up etc. You should also let them know of any other bridal party members who need sorted. Finally, get a quote, which factors in travel cost (if they’re coming to you).

Meet them!

Your hairdresser and make-up artist will be the first people you will see on your wedding day so you must get on with them. Plus, they need to work well with other people. The duo will be working around each other so they should be able to work flawlessly as part of a team, even if they’ve never met before. If they’re fun, have a sense of humour and you click with them, chances are they’ll get on with anyone.

Have a trial

You wouldn’t choose a wedding dress without trying it on first, so the same goes for your hairdresser and makeup artist. Book trials (even better if you can attend both appointments on the same day) so that you can let them work their magic. Bring along photos of your dress so that they can see the neckline, back details etc and your headpiece (if you have it). Ask both of them for some advice for ensuring your skin and hair are in tip top condition ahead of the big day.

Snap them up

If they tick all the right boxes, book them! Make sure you tell them timings so they can allow plenty of time to work their magic on the morning of the wedding.

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WHAT MATTERS THE MOST WHEN BOOKING WEDDING MUSIC?

Music matters to so many couples these days so finding the right people is vital. Here’s what you should consider when choosing music for your wedding day.

Poll your peers

Ask family and friends for their recommendations on ceremony music, DJs and bands. Ask them to recall musicians from weddings they’ve recently attended. Wedding guests love giving their opinion so no doubt you’ll get a few good suggestions (as well as a few to avoid).

Analyse the acoustics

The setting of your wedding will lend itself to different styles of music. For instance, if you’re saying your “I dos” on golden sands, a string quarter will probably be drowned out by the crashing waves in the background. Or, if you’re opting for a traditional formal event, a big band may lend itself well to your venue. Try to choose musicians that complement the style of your day.

Music to your ears

Seeing and hearing your musicians live is key! Listening to a recording just isn’t the same as a live performance. Plus, you need to see how they interact with guests and how guests are reacting to them.

Cover all aspects

Music comes into the wedding day more than you might realise. As well as the usual ceremony music and first dance, there’s also entrance music to enter the reception room to and some couples will have music playing while dinner is being served and while they cut the cake so don’t forget to cover all aspects.

The please-don’t-play-list

Many DJs will be happy to play your pre-approved play list, but what about those songs that your definitely don’t want to hear? Ask your DJ if you can supply him/her with a list of songs not to play, no matter how many times aunt Joan requests it!

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ARRIVE IN TIME & ON STYLE BY PUTTING THESE QUESTIONS TO YOUR WEDDING TRANSPORT PROVIDER

Being chauffeured around in a fancy car is definitely a perk of getting married. Find the right company for the job by asking these questions…

Can I read reviews from other couples?

Again, we can’t stress the importance of reading reviews.

Can I see the cars in real life?

Find out from the supplier if you can visit the showroom and view all of their cars.

Is the car I want available on my wedding date?

And if not, is there a close alternative that you’d recommend?

How many people fit in each car?

You’ll need to know whether there’s room for the bridal party and mums or if you need to book more cars.

What if the chauffeur is late or the car breaks down?

Don’t feel bad about asking this! You’re perfectly entitled to. Plus, a good company will ensure there is a stand-by car available should any issues arise.

Can the car take me from the ceremony to the reception?

Usually this isn’t an issue but double check that the driver can take you to the reception too. Your photographer may have plans to stop off on the way to the venue to take some photos so there may be a pit-stop along the way.

Will the car be decorated?

Many companies decorate the car in a ribbon of your wedding’s colour scheme, and some even offer a personalised number plate such as ‘Mr and Mrs’ or ‘Just Married’ or even your new surname!

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PICKING THE PERFECT FLORIST FOR YOUR WEDDING DAY

Ensure your wedding day is bloomin’ marvellous thanks to our top tips for picking the perfect florist.

Be aware of timings

The time of year you choose to get married may have an impact on your florist’s availability. Remember, florists are super busy around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day so if your wedding falls on these dates, source your florist ASAP!

Book a consultation

If you find a florist whose work catches your eye, check they are available on your wedding day and if so, book a consultation. Bring along photos of flowers you like, as well as swatches of both your dress and your bridesmaids’ dresses (if you have these handy). As well as discussing your budget, your florist will be able to give you an idea of what flowers are in season when you wed.

Questions to ask

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You name it, your florist will have been asked it a hundred times before. Here’s some that we recommend:

  • How many weddings are you doing on the same day as mine?
  • Will you deliver to the ceremony and can the flowers be moved to the reception?
  • Will the bouquets be delivered to my home?
  • Can you offer advice on what flowers will be in season?
  • How can we save some money on our wedding flowers?
  • Can I see photographs from other weddings?
  • Can I read testimonials from other brides?
  • When do I need to pay the deposit and final balance?

A good florist…

Will be happy to work with your budget and will be able to suggest ideas that will work with your style of wedding.

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TOP TIPS TO SNAP UP THE BEST WEDDING CAKE BAKERS

Your wedding day calls for tiers of joy only! Find the right person for the job thanks to these tried and tested techniques.

Do your research

While the cake may not be as important as say, finding your venue, one of the wedding traditions is cutting it and given that it’s a prime photo op, it definitely deserves some attention. Cue the wedding planning saviour that is social media. A good cake designer will have tons of photos online so get looking at their galleries.

Ask some questions

There’s a trend here! Again, email a few cake bakers whose work has caught your eye and put the following questions to them…

  • Are you available on my date?
  • How do you price your cakes?
  • Can I see more images of cakes you have created?
  • Do you have testimonials I can read form other brides?
  • How is the cake delivered?
  • Can you custom make a cake I have in mind?

Meet your baker

Arrange a consultation to meet with your baker. If you haven’t had the above questions answered by now, make sure you are clear on all of these by the time you leave the appointment. Bring along photos of cakes you like, as well as swatches of your bridesmaids’ dresses so that colours can be determined if you want this brought into the cake. Discuss tiers, height, potential flavours and finishing touches.

Cake tasting

Many a couple will tell you that this was their favourite part of wedding planning! If this isn’t carried out during the initial consultation, make sure you book an appointment to try out different flavours. Factors such as the number of tiers and whether you’d prefer classic or modern flavours will help you decide on the final outcome.

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HOW TO FIND A STATIONERY SUPPLIER WHO’S RIGHT FOR THE JOB

Make sure your wedding stationery is on point by putting these 8 questions to your supplier before you book…

Can I see some real wedding samples?

By this, we don’t just mean samples that they have created for show, but real invites for a real wedding. This is the best way to see their craftsmanship.

What type of printing do you offer?

Companies offer various types of printing, all with different price points, so find the one which matches your budget and style.

Do you out-source your printing or do it in-house?

While there’s nothing wrong with either, in-house printing affords the advantage of a quicker turnaround should re-printing be required if an error occurs (*crosses fingers in the hope that it doesn’t*).

What if I’m lost for words?

These guys will have worked on thousands of invites so they’ll be able to advise you on what exactly you need to include on your invite to make sure that people actually turn up.

What other stationery do you offer?

Typically, the full stationery list includes save the dates, invites, RSVP cards, place names, table plan, menus and thank-you notes… phew! Having everything created by one company offers consistency, should work out less expensive and save you loads of hassle!

Can you create custom invites?

If you have a particular style in mind that you haven’t seen in your stationery supplier’s body of work, find out if this is something that they can create for you. Bonus points for coming up with something so unique too!

What materials and finishes are available?

From card to ribbon and embellishments, a good wedding stationery supplier will have access to premium materials.

Can I proof before you print?

Mistakes can be avoided by spending a little time proof reading. Ensure you have the final sign off before anything hits the printers. No one needs that headache in the run-up to a wedding.

Armed with these top tips, we have no doubt that you’ll pull together an epic bridal team, so that your day goes off without a hiccup!

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