Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tips on Choosing the Right Wedding Venues and Vendors

Choosing the right wedding venues and vendors are an essential part of the bridal planning process. The decisions you make on choosing clients to run your wedding ceremony and wedding reception will be key factors on how successful your wedding will be. Choosing the right venues and vendors are critical factors for the most important day or your life.

Before you make any decisions on hunting down venues and vendors you need to have a wedding budget and break that budget into wedding category components. You also need a ballpark of how many wedding guests you plan to have at your wedding. Next you need to start going down the list of wedding categories and identify 3 or 4 wedding venues or vendors per each and every category.

Research the internet, check with friends, look at the local yellow pages, check the newspaper, you may stop by the Chamber of Commerce too. You should capture for each business, the name of the business, the street address, their phone number, their website information, their Facebook page, and blog if they have those too. You also may to decide to use a wedding planner to plan your wedding, they can help you too. Also when you meet with wedding venues and vendors they leave suggest too. Also check in with family members and friends they may make suggestions too.

Lets first address finding a wedding venue. A wedding venue is a place where you have a wedding function. It can be a church, chapel, ceremony site, wedding reception, a wedding tent, outdoor location or a rehearsal dinner place. You should consult a wedding planning checklist and use their suggested order to determine the order of contact. Before making a phone call to a wedding venue you should know your targeted budget for that wedding category, the targeted date of your wedding, and ball park figure of your wedding guest count.

It is highly recommended to make a phone call first, some wedding couples do make contact with email, do not use text as text is considered too informal, best to use text when touching base. There are four primary things you want from the initial conversation before deciding to proceed with a one on one interview with the venue. First, is the venue available for your wedding date; second, is the venue the right size for the amount of wedding guests you are planning; third, what is the cost of the venue or range of costs; and fourth, is how was the demeanor of the person answering the phone.

Whether you decide to proceed with an in person interview is determined by the following facts. If the date is available great, if not can you change the date, second you want a venue that fits the size of your wedding guests, you don't want a space that's too crowded and you don't want a space too empty, the space has to be just right for your wedding guests to have a good time, as for the costs, you only want to proceed if the venue is no more higher than 25 percent of your targeted budget, that means if your budget is $10,000, your limit to proceed further would be $12,500. (Please note, many vendors will resist giving you a price or price list, they want the upper hand). Don't give your targeted price, your goal is to find if their price range is in your targeted range in order to meet with them, you don't want to meet with them and waste your time and their time if the price is too high. Lastly, how was their phone personality, customer service is important, were they professional on the phone. If all above are good, set up an appointment for a one on one interview.

Now to phase 2. When you meet with them in person, be sure you are on schedule, you are on time for the appointment, if you get caught in slow traffic call. Before your meeting you should know the budget, be familiar of the business website, know how many people ballpark who will be at your wedding, and your targeted cost, and have a bunch of questions laid out what to ask, you also might have a wedding planner, laptop computer, notebook, or piece of paper with your questions and put your notes on your questionaire. At your appointment you should bring along a friend, could be anyone involved with your wedding, your fiance, your maid of honor, a bridesmaid, your mother, a sister, or even a best friend, this person is a witness to what was discussed. First thing you should get is a business card, sometimes the venue has a brochure.

Usually the interview should let the wedding venue representative speak first and talk about their business and how they operate, next you should ask all your question, and then get a walk-thru of the facility and then sit back down and then you can divulge your target price. You don't want to make a decision until you have interviewed all your wedding venues, which should be at least 3 or 4 venues in that specific wedding category. Immediately after meeting with them you will want to score them, that means to evaluate them. They may apply sales pressure, you want to hold them off and make a sound decision and not be swayed, you want to make your best decision. Remember, you are the boss, you hold the upper hand, it is your wedding. If they offer you a special deal before walking out the door, more than likely the deal will still be there as long as you make contact within a week.

One last thing, once you make a decision, let the wedding venue you are going to go with, book first and get papers signed quickly. This is in the event when you signing papers and to decide to book with them, if something comes up at the booking, you still have your other options. Sometimes things happen before signing the papers, they might have booked another or something is not right in the contract. Make sure everything agreed to is in the contract.

You should interview all your venues within 10 days of each other and book with them no later than two weeks after your appointment. After you have signed papers and booked with the venue, let all the other venues you interviewed with of your decision. They may have slotted you and you are holding the slot up. They may also ask why you do not choose them, talk the positive of the venue that you have chosen, you don't want to burn bridges if something does happen and you go back to them later. You want to let the venue know so they don't continue holding your slot, so they can book the slot to somebody else. You don't want to be responsible and due harm to the business resulting in that venue losing a wedding to work.

If you would like help in deciding which wedding venue to go with, if you have 2 or more venues to decide on evaluate the wedding venue by giving each factor a rating from 1 to 10. After you are done total the score of the wedding venue, this is just a guide, it's totally your decision.

                                                    Scoring the Wedding Venue
                                          (Applying Scores 1 is Poor, 10 is Outstanding

 Factors                           Venue #1           Venue #2          Venue #3        Venue #4

1-Location
2-Wedding Coordinator
3-Communication Skills
4-Experience of Staff
5-Charm Factor
6-Architecture
7-Theme and Style
8-Logistics
9-How Long in Business
10-Decoration Possibilities
11-Amenities & Extras
12-Website
13-Alexa Reading
14-References
15-Price
Total

1-Location
If the venue is the church, chapel, or ceremony site measure distance in miles from the bride's house. If the venue is a reception facility or rehearsal dinner measure distance in miles from where the wedding ceremony is taking place. 10 points if the distance is less than 4 miles, 9 points 4-6 miles, 8 points 6-8 miles, 7 points 8-10 miles, 6 points 10-12 miles, 5 points 12-14 miles, 4 points 14-16 miles, 3 points 16-18 miles, 2 points 18-20 miles, 1 point if greater than 20 miles.

2-Wedding Coordinator
This factor is in essence is evaluating the prime interface person of the wedding venue in question. This could be a wedding coordinator, manager, caterer, officiant, or a church aide. This person kind of runs the show at the facility. To get a high rating, the person takes control insuring you have the perfect wedding, they know their profession well, they know where everything is, they can answer any question that you ask, they have received proper training and participate in continuing education, they have respect when they give orders, they make sure everything is taken care for the wedding, they keep in control if a situation arises, they don't panic, they don't show frustration, they don't show a temper, they handle the hot situation of the moment, they are helpful in ordering things for the wedding, are wedding couple focused, they work in an upbeat mood with a smile and they are polite to everybody. Score 10 points if they are all mentioned above, less points for every flaw they have, 1 point for a bad manager. Some of the evaluation is from people that have worked or seen this person work, you might stop by sometime to see them in action and some of the score is subjective.

3-Communication Skills
The communication skills is all about the interface you have with the venue. When you need to contact the venue to tell them something, you can reach someone to forward the information you want to tell (e.g. there is a change to the wedding guest count, a change to the meal, what time should the musicians arrive at the ceremony, etc.). Also should something come up, the venue will contact you right away. The venue also educates you on their operation and can explain things in a matter that you fully understand. 10 points if they are outstanding at communicating, 1 point if they are poor or somewhere in the middle.

4-Experience of Staff
The average time working of the important members of the staff, 10 points for 10 or more years working, 9 points for 9 years, 8 points for 8 years, 7 points for 7 years, 6 points for 6 years, 5 points for 5 years, 4 points for 4 years, 3 points for 3 years, 2 points for 2 years, 1 point for 1 year or less.

5-Charm Factor
How beautiful the Venue is consider all these things, the view of the entrance, the view of the building or entryway of the venue, the view of the surrounding area, and how beautiful is the inside or outside of the venue itself, 10 points for everything breathtaking, 1 point for all being pretty ugly or some points for somewhere in between, a higher ranking for more charm a lower score for less charm.

6-Architecture 
The architecture is basically the layout arrangements and the trim. Basically you are looking for a nice flow, a good area for dining, drinking, talking, and dancing or plenty of space for setup at the ceremony site. The place shows plenty of character has really neat molding, has beautiful art or sculptures, has beautiful lighting, has picture windows with beautiful views, or pretty decorations. 10 points for breathtaking, 1 point for pretty vanilla (a room that's a square box with no trimmings). Or some points in between.

7-Theme and Style
Some brides like their wedding contemporary, some brides their wedding country, some brides like their wedding Victorian, some brides like a beautiful scenery such as a beach or a lakeside or a mountain view. If your venue fits your theme and style score 10 points or is totally different than what you are looking for score 1 point. Or if the venue kind of has what you are looking for score them somewhere in between.

8-Logistics
If we are talking ceremony site 1 point each 1)Holding room for bride, 2)Place for musicians, 3)Plenty of room around perimeter of the ceremony location, 4)Spacious ceiling, 5)Privacy area, 6)Not competing with other weddings, 7)Has ample outlets, 8)Has good acoustics/vibrations, 9)Has good lighting, 10)Has good parking.

If we are talking wedding reception or rehearsal dinner 1 point each 1)Plenty of room for dining, 2)Plenty of room for drinking, 3)Plenty of room for talking, 4)Plenty of room for dancing, 5)Privacy Area, 6)Not competing with other receptions , 7)Has ample outlets, 8)Has good acoustics/vibrations, 9)Has good lighting, 10)Has good parking.

9-How Long in Business
If the venue has been in operation 10 years or more score 10 points, 9 points for 9 years, 8 points for 8 years, 7 points for 7 years, 6 points for 6 years, 5 points for 5 years, 4 points for 4 years, 3 points for 3 years, 2 points for 2 years, 1 point for 1 year or less.

10-Decoration Possibilities
Do you have total control of completely decorating your wedding and you can have control of what extra things you can have at your at the venue or do you have absolutely no control or say in how to design the venue (such as incorporating color schemes and wedding themes) and what you can have at your wedding venue (such as having musicians, dance floors, candy buffets, ice sculptures, photo booths, etc). 10 points for total control, 1 point for absolutely no control or a number in between if you have some control, a higher number for more control a lower number for less control.

11-Amenities & Extras
Does the venue offer a lot of extra things and amenities besides their core business in which it can save you a lot of money and add elegance to your wedding. Can they provide a lot of decorations to your wedding venue, do they include wait staff, food, drinks, linens, elegant table wear, wedding cakes, musicians, photographers, dance floors, special lighting, etc. If they offer a lot of amenities score 10 points, if they only provide their basic core business give them 1 point, if they offer some basic extras give them a number in between.

12-Website
The website often correlates often on how well the business is doing. A great website greets the visitor with a good first impression and pops up on the screen pretty fast. The website is easy to navigate around, has good content, is up to date, shows some good photos or videos and possibly uses something like youtube, has a little information on the history of the business and a little write-up about the staff, has a picture of the business and shows a map on how to get to the business and has all the contact information, name of business, address of business, phone number, person to contact, their email, and where you might find more about the business using blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. If an outstanding website score 10 points, if a very ugly website score 1 point or if half good and half bad, score somewhere in between. If a business has no website score them 3 points, some businesses choose to advertise through other vendors.

13-Alexa Reading
Some people may ask, what in the heck is an Alexa Reading. An Alexa Reading is in the word of search engines how popular is a businesses' website. Take note of the website address or URL of the website. Go to www.alexa.com and you will see a search bar to input a website address or URL into and then hit the green search bar button to the right, and you should get back an alexa traffic rank. The lower the number, the higher the ranking, it shows how popular the website is. If the ranking is below 2 million score 10 points, 9 points 2-3 million, 8 points 3-4 million, 7 points 4-5 million, 6 points, 5-6 million, 5 points 6-7 million, 4 points, 7-8 million, 3 points 8-9 million, 2 points, 9-10 million, 1 point if greater than a 10 million alexa traffic rank, also 1 point if no alexa reading comes up.

14-References
Hopefully the venue can give you 3 references, you should try to interview at least 2 of the references. You should ask each reference contact 3 questions, how would you rate them 1-10. 10 being outstanding 1 very poor. How well was the venue run(1-10)? Was the people that ran the venue, were they very reliable(1-10)? How was the communication between the venue and yourself(1-10)? Input the average score. If you aren't provided any references, give them the benefit of the doubt of scoring them a 1 and give them a score of 3.

15-Price
Start with your targeted budget and then obtain the price they quoted you. If the price is not higher than your budget score 10 points, 9 points if not greater than 2% of your budget, 8 points if not greater than 4% of your budget, 7 points if not greater than 6% of your budget, 6 points, if not greater than 8% of your budget, 5 points, if not greater than 10% of your budget, 4 points if not greater than 12 % of your budget, 3 points if not greater than 14% of your budget, 2 points if not greater than 16% of your budget, 1 point if the venue price is greater than 16% of your budget. For a breakdown, if your targeted budget was $10,000, if the venue price was $10,000 or below 10 points, 9 points for 10,000 to $10,200, 8 points for $10,200 - $10,400, 7 points for $10,400 - $10,600, 6 points for $10,600 to $10,800, 5 points for $10,800 - $11,000, 4 points for $11,000 - $11,200, 3 points for $11,200 - $11,400, 2 points for $11,400 - $11,600, and 1 point for greater than $11,600.

Now accumulate all the scores for each venue and the one with the highest wedding venue score is what an evaluation of the venues recommends. This is just a guide, it's really up to you to decide.

As to how to score or evaluate a wedding vendor, the process is similar to scoring a wedding venue but their are different factors to score. Again you do your research from websites, friends, yellowpages, and other wedding vendors. You again should have gathered before phoning them, your targeted wedding date, a ballpark amount of wedding guests you are expecting, and a targeted budget. You also want to evaluate the phone conversation, do they act professional and do they have a nice phone personality.

If they pass the phone test and you decide to meet them in person have your fiance, maid of honor, mother, sister, bridesmaid, or best friend along, again they are a witness to what is verbalized and promised. Some vendors will want you to meet them at their studio, some will meet you at your house, and some will meet you somewhere in between. Make sure the place you can meet has a little bit of room to look at brochures and you can indulge in conversation. Could be a restaurant during their slow period, could be an office or country club or a golf club. Be sure to get their business card first and have plenty of questions to ask them.

First let them talk about their business and how they operate, verify that they are okay with your targeted wedding date and how many wedding guests you are expecting and where your wedding and wedding reception is going to be. Hold off on giving your budgeted price until late in your discussions. After they review how they operate, then ask them your questions, try to get them to answer any question you have. Then review the brochures or if they are at studio let them show you around. Don't commit to signing or booking with them until you have finished with interviewing with all your vendors in the particular wedding category. You should interview 3 or 4 vendors at least for each wedding category.


                                                    Scoring the Wedding Vendor
                                          (Applying Scores 1 is Poor, 10 is Outstanding

 Factors                           Vendor #1          Vendor #2         Vendor #3       Vendor #4

1-Travel Distance
2-Vendor Professionalism
3-Communication Skills
4-Experience of Vendor
5-Charm Factor
6-Knowledge
7-Comfortable To Work With
8-Quality of Product
9-Time Business in Operation
10-How Many Weddings
11-Dresses & Grooms Well
12-Website
13-Alexa Reading
14-References
15-Price
Total


1-Travel Distance
Measure distance to their primary venue. If the vendor travels less than 10 miles 10 points, 9 points 10-15 miles, 8 points 15-20 miles, 7 points 20-25 miles, 6 points 25-30 miles, 5 points 30-40 miles, 4 points 40-60 miles, 3 points 60-80 miles, 2 points 80-100 miles, 1 point greater than 100 miles.

2-Vendor Professionalism
The vendor comes across as very professional, knows their business well, shows an outstanding product, pays attention to detail, answers any question you ask, they come across as assertive, is very personable, is very approachable, and they have a good demeanor, they are friendly, their focus is letting you be the boss, shares thoughts but lets the bride make the final decision, shares things, explains things and educates the bride, is patient, works with a smile and is enthusiastic, has received proper training and participates in continuing education. Is out to make your wedding perfect is wedding couple focused. Score 10 points if they are all mentioned above and come across as an outstanding vendor, less points for every flaw they have, 1 point if they come across very bad. Some of the evaluation is from people that have worked with them or seen this person work, look through their brochures or see a video or get a tape of them or their work in action. Better yet see their work or their action live.

3-Communication Skills
The communication skills is all about the interface you have with the vendor. When you need to contact the vendor to tell them something, you can reach them. Also should something come up, the vendor will contact you right away. The vendor also educates you on their product and can explain things in a matter that you fully understand. 10 points if they are outstanding at communicating, 1 point if they are poor or somewhere in the middle. Give them a higher number if pretty good at communicating, a lower number if they aren't a good communicator. Get this score from prior clients.

4-Experience of Vendor
How many years has the vendor been in business, 10 points for 10 or more years working, 9 points for 9 years, 8 points for 8 years, 7 points for 7 years, 6 points for 6 years, 5 points for 5 years, 4 points for 4 years, 3 points for 3 years, 2 points for 2 years, 1 point for 1 year or less.

5-Charm Factor
If this is an officiant how is their oratory skills? Do they inspire and an outstanding speaker? If they are an emcee? Do they get the reception hopping and people dancing, making sure all are having a good time? If it's other wedding vendors are they good conversationalists with your wedding guests. Do they represent the bride well and leave a good impression? Are they authorative when they need to be and always act in a professional matter, are upbeat, work with a smile, never show a temper around your wedding guests? Score 10 points if all of the above, score 1 if a disaster as a wedding vendor, or somewhere in between higher score with some good attributes, a lower score if many attributes are lacking.

6-Knowledge
Do they produce an outstanding product and are they very knowledgeable of their product and very knowledgeable of their profession. Are they well trained and continuing to educate themselves. If they seem expert at what they are doing and/or produce a superior product score them a 10, if they seem clueless score them a 1. If somewhere in between score them a higher point value if they are pretty good and a lower number if they are so-so.

7-Comfortable To Work With
This factor is in reality if the person has your personality type. Some people are go getters and have a strong personality and some people are analyzers and give things a lot of thought and some people just want the facts and want to be told. To study personality types you might want to consult the Myers-Briggs study or visit the www.personalitypage.com . If you are working with somebody you are really comfortable with and somebody that could be your best friend give them a score of 10, if you find someone you can't work with, your personalities clash give them a score of 1. If they are pretty comfortable to work with, give them a higher score or if they are just tolerable to work with give them a lower score.

8-Quality of Product
In this factor it's all about the product, is the final product breathtaking or outstanding, disregarding the person. Is the wedding cake's stunning and delicious, is the music simply the best, the food absolutely delicious, the flowers and decorations are the best, the photographers and videographers product is simply unbelievable and captures the moment, the officiates sermon is inspiring, the calligraphers invitations are collectibles. Score 10 for a product that can't be beat, score a 1 if the product is dreadful, a higher score if the product is pretty good, a lower score if the product is not up to snuff.

9-Time Business in Operation
How many years has the business been in operation, not the vendor,10 points for 10 or more years, 9 points for 9 years, 8 points for 8 years, 7 points for 7 years, 6 points for 6 years, 5 points for 5 years, 4 points for 4 years, 3 points for 3 years, 2 points for 2 years, 1 point for 1 year or less.

10-How Many Weddings
Some wedding vendors work full time for weddings and some part time. Give a point for every 10 weddings performed. 10 points for more than 100 wedding performed, score 9 points for 81-100 weddings, 8 points for 71-80 weddings, 7 points for 61-70 weddings, 6 points for 51-60 weddings, 5 points for 41-50 weddings, 4 points for 31-40 weddings, 3 points for 21-30 weddings, 2 points for 11-20 weddings, 1 point for 0-10 weddings.

11-Dresses & Grooms Well
How a professional wedding vendor is dressed and groomed comes back as a reflection of the bride to wedding guests at her wedding. At the wedding itself, all vendors should be sharply dressed, the men in suits, the women in eye appealing dresses or pant suits and nice appealing shoes, not excessive jewelry. In interview meetings, vendors  should be professionally attired. If it's a beach wedding, fashionable clothing such as Hawaiian shirts. The hair should be in place and for the ladies wearing the appropriate makeup. Score 10 for a very sharp dresser and groomer, score 1 for wearing a t-shirt or shirt tale out or out of fashion dresser. Score higher somewhere in between for a pretty good dresser or a lower score for a kind of sloppy or not so fashionable dresser.

12-Website
The website often correlates often on how well the business is doing. A great website greets the visitor with a good first impression and pops up on the screen pretty fast. The website is easy to navigate around, has good content, is up to date, shows some good photos or videos and possibly uses something like youtube, has a little information on the history of the business and a little write-up about the staff, has a picture of the business and shows a map on how to get to the business if they have a studio and has all the contact information, name of business, address of business, phone number, person to contact, their email, and where you might find more about the business using blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. If an outstanding website score 10 points, if a very ugly website score 1 point or if half good and half bad, score somewhere in between. If a business has no website score them 3 points, some businesses choose to advertise through other vendors.

13-Alexa Reading
Take note of the website address or URL of the website. Go to www.alexa.com and you will see a search bar to input a website address or URL into and then hit the green search bar button to the right, and you should get back an alexa traffic rank. The lower the number, the higher the ranking, it shows how popular the website is. If the ranking is below 2 million score 10 points, 9 points 2-3 million, 8 points 3-4 million, 7 points 4-5 million, 6 points, 5-6 million, 5 points 6-7 million, 4 points, 7-8 million, 3 points 8-9 million, 2 points, 9-10 million, 1 point if greater than a 10 million alexa traffic rank, also 1 point if no alexa reading comes up.

14-References

Hopefully the vendor can give you 3 references, you should try to interview at least 2 of the references. You should ask each reference contact 3 questions, how would you rate them 1-10. 10 being outstanding 1 very poor. How well did the vendor perform and did they provide good service(1-10)? Was the vendor very reliable(1-10)? How was the communication between the vendor and yourself(1-10)? Input the average score. If you aren't provided any references, give them the benefit of the doubt of scoring them a 1 and give them a score of 3.

15-Price
Start with your targeted budget and then obtain the price they quoted you. If the price is not higher than your budget score 10 points, 9 points if not greater than 2% of your budget, 8 points if not greater than 4% of your budget, 7 points if not greater than 6% of your budget, 6 points, if not greater than 8% of your budget, 5 points, if not greater than 10% of your budget, 4 points if not greater than 12 % of your budget, 3 points if not greater than 14% of your budget, 2 points if not greater than 16% of your budget, 1 point if the venue price is greater than 16% of your budget. For a breakdown, if your targeted budget was $10,000, if the venue price was $10,000 or below 10 points, 9 points for 10,000 to $10,200, 8 points for $10,200 - $10,400, 7 points for $10,400 - $10,600, 6 points for $10,600 to $10,800, 5 points for $10,800 - $11,000, 4 points for $11,000 - $11,200, 3 points for $11,200 - $11,400, 2 points for $11,400 - $11,600, and 1 point for greater than $11,600.

Now accumulate all the scores for each vendor and the one with the highest wedding vendor score is what an evaluation of the vendors recommends. This is just a guide, it's really up to you to decide.

Always tip your wedding vendors even if you weren't real happy with their product or performance. Always be prompt for all your appointments and always be polite. If an issue should ever arise, confront the issue in private, never in public. Once you have chosen a wedding vendor and right after you book with a wedding vendor let the other wedding vendors know you booked with another, so the pending slot opens up for someone else. If a wedding vendor asks why you are going with another, stress the positive of the vendor you have chosen, don't bring up a negative about a business unless the vendor has a flaw that needs to be worked.

Hope this little guide helps you make a right decision on what venue and vendor to decide on for your wedding. Have a wonderful wedding!

See you on the other side!


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