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Wairarapa weddings: 9 tips when choosing your wedding suppliers

A photo of two ladies looking into a box, seeing their wedding bouquets for the first time

Planning your wedding can be a wonderful, peaceful experience shared with your partner. If this is you congratulations! Often planning your wedding can be confusing, overwhelming and stressful for both of you. I am passionate about assisting couples plan their wedding the former way!

Here are nine top tips to consider when choosing your wedding suppliers. These can help when choosing a wedding photographer, florist, celebrant, cake maker, dress maker/designer, jeweller, wedding planner etc.

1. Do you like their work and unique style?

Have a look at their website, social media pages, brochures: anything that displays their work. Do you love what you see? Does that fit with what you and your partner are looking for? For example if a photographer's work is dark and moody; and you're looking for images that are full of colour with bright smiling people then they are not the photographer for you. Trust me when I say: you cannot ask a creative professional to change their natural style. You will not get the results you are after. A much more successful method is to choose someone who's work you love in the first place.

2. Do you like them as a person?

Do you enjoy talking to them? Are they a 'people person'? As a bride, you will spend more time with your photographer on your actual wedding day, that your spouse. Ideally, you want this person to 'get you', your relationship and unique style. It'd be great to have another friend there on your wedding day. Check out how they talk about themselves and their work online, speak to them on the phone and meet them in person to find out if you click.

3. Are they passionate?

For me this is the most important thing to consider when choosing a wedding supplier. Do they ooze enthusiasm about venue and dress ideas? Are they passionate about the industry, their craft and working with engaged couples and most importantly: you? If they love what they do, they will want to provide the best possible service and work together, to achieve exactly what you want.

4. Are they a registered/professional business?

How can you tell the difference between a keen hobbyist who has worked on a friends' weddings, and a seasoned professional? Here's how: do they have an ABN? This can be published on their website but more commonly will appear on official communication such as quotes and invoices. Another way to differentiate a professional from an amateur is whether they are a member of professional associations or guilds. Look for ones similar to these: The Wedding Experts Community, Australian Institute of Professional Photographers (AIPP), Jewellers Association of Australia, Cake Decorator's Guild of NSW.

5. Do they have experience?

On their website and social media pages, can you see images from a variety of different weddings? Look for different couples, bridal party members and backgrounds. How long have they been practising and in business? The more weddings they have professionally worked on, the more experienced they are to ensure your day runs as close to the plan as possible. Knowledge and experience will also be demonstrated by communicating professionally and speaking confidently about their work, prices and what's included.

Providing the opportunity for students or family friends to gain experience in their chosen creative profession at your wedding can be a wonderful thing to do. We all started somewhere! A great way to do this is to choose an industry professional who has assistants join them on the day or during preparation. A second photographer can be still learning whilst the professional photographer leads coverage on the day. A florist student can help select flowers at the markets, work together on the arrangements whilst the professional does the final binding.

If you choose students or family friends to be in charge entirely, are you happy to accept the potential consequences if things don't go to plan? For example key moments may not be captured by the photographer at all, your cake may not be the right size for the number of guests or your bouquets may fall apart.

6. Do they have relevant qualifications?

Do they have any relevant qualifications and when were they obtained? Certificates, Diplomas or Degrees are optional points to consider when choosing a wedding supplier. A professional can have loads of experience and create amazing work without being qualified. Do not underestimate this fact! Conversely, someone with a qualification and no experience may not produce beautiful, professional work. Someone who has just gained their qualification may also not be experienced enough to pull off a wedding straight away.

7. What do other people say?

Have a look for testimonials from previous clients displayed on their website and reviews on Facebook and Google to see what other people are saying about their work.

Another way to tell the quality of their work is if they have won (or been a finalist or highly commended) any awards. Putting their work forward to be judged (and found to be exceptional!) shows great courage and that they have faith in their own work.

8. Is their work affordable for you?

What is your budget and does that align with what they are quoting?

Choose your top priorities for you, consider spending a larger portion of your wedding budget in those areas. It may be really important to you that your dress and waistcoats are made from eco-friendly silk (spend money on your attire), your fondest childhood memory was of your mother's cottage garden and you want to pay tribute to her (spend money on flowers), or you may want to capture memories of everything that is personal to you as a couple on the day (spend money on photography and video).

9. The deciding factor: value for money

Consider all of the above! Consider their style, personality, passion, business professionalism, experience and qualifications. You are paying for that person's knowledge, experience and equipment as well as the physical items purchased (the photos, the flowers, the cake etc).

If it seems like a 'great deal' or waaaay cheaper than anyone else, chances are it's too good to be true. The old adage 'you get what you pay for' really does ring true in the wedding industry. Check prices displayed on their website or in information sent to you. What is included in that price should be clear. Do you want or need everything that is included, if it is a package deal?

I have carefully curated a collection of trusted wedding suppliers. People who I have worked with over the years and people I have engaged for our wedding in 2017.

Please feel free to check out the Friends page on the Lucalia Photography website. You can contact me here.

Lots of love, Sarah

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