Hiring Vendors for A Destination Wedding

BouquetOnce you’ve found the perfect location for your destination wedding, it’s time to look for some great people to help you make your dream date a reality.

While the task of finding a vendor may seem overwhelming, you actually have a lot of resource to help find the right person.

In this article we are going to go over the most common vendors used during a destination wedding, what you need to know before hiring a vendor, and where to locate some great vendors. We’re going to end the article with some tried-and-true tips on hiring vendor from afar.

Let’s start by talking about what kind of help you’re going to need.

The most common vendors for destination wedding

So long as your wedding isn’t at an all-inclusive resort, you’re going to need at least a few of the vendors described below.

  • Wedding planner
  • Caterer
  • Baker
  • Florist
  • DJ/entertainment
  • Photographer/videographer
  • Makeup and hair stylist
  • Officiant

The number of vendors you will need may be less or more depending on how elaborate your wedding is. The real key is to start looking for them as early as possible.

When should you start looking for vendors for a destination wedding?

If your wedding is nurturing a very high demand season, vendors will get booked up very fast, especially local ones.

Rather than wait to visit the actual location, it would be prudent to start doing the research soon as you have decided on a destination for your wedding. As a general rule, you want to give yourself 8 to 12 months before the actual wedding.

Now that we know when to start looking for vendors, let’s go over some ideas on finding a vendor from afar.

Where can you find vendors that specialize in destination weddings?

You have more resources than you think when it comes to hiring a destination wedding vendor. Not only can you use online resources, you can also network with others to find reputable and responsible vendors off-line. Here are some ideas of how to find vendors that specialize in the city that you will be getting married in.

Google search – doing a simple search on Google will provide you a great start. Simply type in the name of the city followed by the type of vendor. For example, you could do a search for “Bahamas destination wedding photographer”.

Pinterest – Do a similar search on Pinterest for vendors that specialize in your location. Simply do a search for the city the name of the vendor and you may come across some great boards created by vendors that specialize in your destination. Here is an example.

Wedding venue – Don’t be shy about asking for recommendations from the people that run the wedding venue that you selected. The sales manager at these places has worked with all kinds of vendors and will be able to give you some great recommendations on who to work with and who to avoid.

Forums – Use the forums and websites like Weddingwire.com and Theknot.com to ask other brides who have had a destination wedding in the same location as yours. Find out who they worked with and whether they would recommend them.

Destination specific websites – Every city has some kind of guide that lists different kinds of vendors. If you can’t find a destination specific website, then try using the Yellow Pages to look up different vendors that serviced the area.

Visitors Bureau – Just about every popular destination has a visitors Bureau that has a list of vendors that are both reputable and in good standing with them. Rather than ask for the entire list of vendors, ask for 2 to 3 vendors that they would recommend you use.

Going through the list of resources above will yield more vendors than you can handle. So how do you go about pruning this list?

Experience, quality and referrals is all you need to know

The problem with hiring a vendor from afar is that you never know how reputable they are. You don’t know when they will go out of business or if they’re going to walk away with your money.

When narrowing down you list of vendors for your destination wedding, there are three primary things that you should be looking for.

These are experience (how many years have they been doing this), quality of their work, and how good their references are.

Ideally, you want the vendor to have been doing their trade for at least five years. Anything less is too risky in our opinion. In addition, the no one lasts five years in an industry without a level of competence.

The quality of work is something you can tell by looking at a vendors website, their pinterest page and by asking for referrals on destination wedding forums.

When asking for references, make sure you ask the following:

  • Was the couple was satisfied?
  • Was the vendor is responsible?
  • Was the vendor on time for the wedding and for the delivery of any products?
  • What are his/her weaknesses? Strengths?
  • Would you recommend them without hesitation to your own sister?

Doing the research above will help you narrow your choices down to two or three vendors that you want to work with. Now it’s time to contact each vendor and start asking questions.

What are some questions to ask vendors for destination wedding?

Below is a list of questions you should ask a vendor before hiring them for a destination wedding. But don’t restrict yourself to just these. Feel free to ask any question that want answered, regardless of how small a detail it seems. It is always better to be clear about your needs right from the start. It sets the right expectations for you and the vendor.

  • How many weddings have you done this year?
  • How satisfied was the client at the last wedding you did?
  • Do you have any photos of your work?
  • How do you prefer to communicate with clients before the wedding?
  • Do you have reliable Internet access? How often do you check your e-mail?
  • Can I expect you to respond within 24 hours? Do you prefer to be contacted by phone or email? Do I have to make an appointment before calling?
  • How many weddings do you take on during a typical weekend (preferably in the month that you are getting married)
  • Have you ever worked with the wedding my size?
  • Have you worked at the wedding venue that I have selected?
  • Who is going to show up on the day of the wedding? You or someone else? If it is someone else, then can I meet them ahead of time.
  • Can I see a sample contract?
  • Can you work within my budget?
  • How much do you charge? Is it a flat fee or based on the hours you put in? Are there any overtime charges?
  • Do you offer any packages that will save me money?
  • How much deposit do you need, and when do you need it by?
  • What is the payment schedule of the balance?

Having done the research and the legwork, you are now ready to hire vendors for your destination wedding. But before you run off, read the tips below.

Tips for hiring a destination wedding vendor

  • Before hiring a vendor, try to speak to them on the phone. Can they communicate with you in English? If they can’t, do you know someone who can translate for you?
  • When selecting vendors, sometimes your choices will be limited. For example when choosing a photographer, your wedding venue may restrict who you can use.
  • If you can afford to, spend a couple of days and go on a scouting trip to the destination. Ideally, you should go at least six months ahead of the wedding so you can screen and hire vendors after seeing them personally.
  • One of the problems with dealing with vendors from afar is that it can be difficult to explain how you want things done. Try creating your own boards on interest and share those with vendors so they understand your themes, colors, likes and dislikes.
  • Some vendors, like photographers may need to be flown and if you can’t find a good local one. Know that you will pay for their airfare, food, and lodging.
  • If the vendor seems to be behind in their work, then consider hiring someone else. If they can’t be organized enough to run their business, then how can you trust them to be organized enough to do your wedding.

Selecting vendors for destination wedding can seem daunting at first. However knowing what you’re looking for, what to ask, and who to ask will ultimately help you find the best destination wedding vendor for your event.

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