Finding the Right Wedding Suppliers for You

Chloe Del Monte Photography

February 27, 2024

It’s time to navigate the world of wedding suppliers like a pro. Your wedding day is a one-night-only performance, so choose your bandmates wisely.

It’s opening night. The crowd hisses into an excited silence as you step out onto the stage. You nod to the band, grab the mic with your best Jagger pout, and wait for those iconic Brown Sugar chords. For a moment nothing happens.

Then, out of the corner of your eye, a flautist shuffles onto the stage. Your confusion turns to wide-eyed horror as the first few notes of My Heart Will Go On fill the air. Before long, you’re butchering the high notes, dodging bottles and shooting daggers at the flautist.

Finding the right wedding suppliers isn’t always as straightforward as you’d think. Mainly because it’s an entire industry you haven’t got the first fucking clue about. Why would you? You’ve never had to find a wedding venue before, or pick out a florist. Every decision is new. And to make matters worse, the decisions aren’t isolated. They have layers of knock-on effects that’ll ripple out across your day and change your whole experience. Choosing the perfect suppliers isn’t just about booking the ones you can afford. It’s about looking for the ripples beyond the splash, and strategically crafting the experience you want.

Choose a Venue You’ll Love

Building your venue shortlist is all about the four hows: how big, how pretty, how expensive, how booked. But that still leaves you with a shitload of venues to choose from. So, how do you find that one perfect place?

Firstly, think about how much freedom each venue will give you (and how much freedom you actually want). DIY venues, for example, give you completely free rein to create the day of your dreams. You can make the place your own for the day and fill it with colourful furniture and neon lights. You can have cocktails for lunch and tacos for dinner. You’re not choosing from a menu; you’re cooking in the kitchen.

But with freedom comes responsibility. Furniture needs finding, lights hanging, tacos sourcing. There’s no big events team to help, and if anything goes wrong, there’s no on-site coordinator to save the day. You see what I mean? Ripples.

Every venue is different, each with its own balance of freedom and rules, support, options and aesthetics. There really is no perfect venue, so don’t stress yourselves out looking for one. Just imagine what your day looks like, and then find a venue that’ll be able to give you the experience you want.

In a tie-break situation, it all comes down to how the place makes you feel. Go and see it together in-person – walk around, go exploring and talk to the staff. That first impression you get, that feeling you’re filled with? That’s how your guests will feel when they arrive on the day. If it doesn’t pass the vibe check, find somewhere else.

Finding Your Perfect Photographer

Right, we’re getting into high-stakes territory now. This is a big decision, maybe even THE big decision. Not ripples; fucking tsunamis.

Firstly, you’ll be with your photographer all the time. If they’re an annoying energy drain, you’ll spend the whole day ever-so-slightly pissed off and irritable. If they bounce off you, boost you up and make you laugh, you’ll spend the day in an unshakably great mood. You want, “Hey, how’s it going?!”, not “Shit, here they come”.

Arrange some Zoom calls, check out their social media (especially their IG Stories), read their ‘About Me’ pages… you know the drill. Just be involved in the decision and make sure you both absolutely love them as a person. If you’re not a million percent, keep looking.

But it’s not just about their personality, it’s about their approach. They all take photos, but they go about it in VERY different ways. Luckily, I know a ton-o-togs, so lemme give you the inside scoop.

Documentary photographers step back and let you get on with it. No prompts, no guidance, just candid moments and authentic storytelling. But purist docu-togs are rare. Most of them can’t help getting involved a little bit. A nudge towards a window here, a quietly worded suggestion there. The story’s still almost true, it’s just a wee bit prettier.

As you get more guidance, more prompts and more suggestions, the edges of reality begin to blur. The photos look more polished, magazine-worthy, spectacular. You spend more time away from your guests, on a mission with your photographer to create wall-worthy art. Your photos aren’t just telling the story anymore, they’re a part of it.

The thing is, there really is no better or worse, right or wrong. It just depends on what experience sounds right for you. The key to finding the perfect photographer for you is deciding how much of your day you’re willing to sacrifice at the altar of photography.

Oh, and don’t be fooled. Perfectly-composed, perfectly-lit, spectacular moments rarely happen by themselves. No matter what the caption says.

A Playlist and a Speaker Do Not a Disco Make

“How was the wedding?”

“Yeah, it was great! Awesome party at the end, everyone went crazy.”

People always talk about the party at the end of the night. It’s the crescendo of the day; let’s make sure you finish strong.

First of all, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. I saw a wedding the other day where the couple had a Ceilidh dance (like a Scottish barn dance) to kick off the party before the DJ arrived. I’ve seen marching bands, acoustic trios, stages filled with instruments and an open invitation to jam. What a lot of people are doing nowadays is having a DJ accompanied by a couple of live musicians. That way you get a DJ’s limitless repertoire, amped up by the energy of live performance. It’s kinda the best of both worlds.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is, don’t think your choice is just, ‘band or a DJ?’ This is your day. You bring the party however the fuck you want.

When it comes to finding the best performers, always ask for live videos. Every band or DJ will have a perfectly polished promo video, recorded in the studio, with loads of autotune and cool effects. And then you listen to them play live and they’re shit. Reviews, recommendations and live videos are your best friends.

I hate to say it but you get what you pay for. It’s a competitive market and word spreads. If they’re expensive it’s because they’re busy; if they’re busy it’s because they’re good. When you find someone you like, book them quick and splash some cash.

Florists and Other Creatives

Two years ago, I would’ve told you to book the cheapest florist you can find. I mean, it’s just flowers, right? Send them a mood board and get them to recreate it. Oh, how naive I was.

Floristry is an art, and just like all artists, floral designers have specialties, things they love and things they’re passionate about. Then they have things they just do because someone’s paying them. With all of your creative suppliers, look for people who’ll be excited to help bring your vision to life. Be a passion project for them, not just a pay check.

Stalk your suppliers on Instagram and/or TikTok before you get in touch. Watch their Stories, read their captions, scroll their feed. It’s usually pretty obvious what they’re genuinely passionate about, and what’s just food for the feed. Its always good to check out their tagged photos and videos as well, it gives you a little peek behind the curtain.

Once you have a shortlist, have a call with each of them. Send them your mood board, and ask what kind of magic they’d work with your budget. Are they bursting with ideas, inspiration and enthusiasm? Or are you already bored talking to them?!

Most of all, remember relationships are two-ways. Once you’ve chosen your team, treat them as friends, not transactions. Your wedding is your very own work of art, your own symphony. And the people you invite to be a part of it will be putting their own creative stamp on a day you’ll remember for the rest of your lives.

Every wedding supplier I’ve ever met has gotten into it because they want to connect with their couples and be a part of something special. So, guide them with your ideas but also let them be creative and do what they do best. That way, you’re be sure to create wedding magic together!

About Jon Carpenter

Jon has been writing about weddings for over five years and been married to a wedding photographer for six. He proposed in Kefalonia, got married in Whitstable, eloped in Vegas and now lives in…well, Chatham. But at least the first three sounded cool. Either way, wedding-wise, he’s pretty wedding wise.

This article originally appeared in issue 51 of Rock n Roll Bride magazine. You can purchase the latest copy here, or why not subscribe to never miss an issue?