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The #1 Question You Need To Ask Yourself About Every Wedding Pro You Hire

April 7, 2019

It’s no question that wedding planning can be one of the most stressful endeavors a couple goes through in their journey to say “I do”. Having a celebration with your friends and family can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have in your life, and …
what better day to have that celebration than on the day you commit to the love of your life?

So why is something that is so wonderful so stressful? There are many reasons, but the biggest is simply that we want everything to go right without any snags! Add to this that this is the biggest, and likely most expensive, party you have ever thrown in your life, and the pressure just adds up.

While there can be some really huge snags that can happen with friends & family, there are also huge snags that can happen with professionals. The biggest snag that happens with the people you’ve hired for your wedding day can simply be summed up as: They go out of business, or they don’t show up for your wedding day.

The #1 question to ask yourself about any business or professional you hire for your wedding is:
Will this business be in business by the time we get to my wedding date?
Now, no one has a crystal ball and can predict the future, and no business is immune from problems that can lead to a business having to close their doors. But some things greatly reduce that likelihood down to a very slim chance if you know what to look for. Here are three simple rules to follow when selecting your wedding professionals:
1. Only deal with businesses in the first place!
This may sound like a no-brainer, but if I could collect a dollar for every time someone suggested a “friend” take the place of something a professional should handle at a wedding I wouldn’t need to DJ anymore. This is also, hands down, the most common scenario where a couple ends up in the awful situation of finding a replacement last minute because the friend backs out or just ghosts the couple. Usually couples try to do this with the two most important ingredients of the day too: documenting (photographer/videographer) and entertainment (DJ/Band). 
What makes this situation even more stressful is when the friend bails, depending on the popularity of your date, there may be very limited availability from professionals in the area. Sometimes you might get lucky and find someone who is very good that can handle a wedding on short notice, but if you haven’t set aside an emergency fund to cover the difference between the cost of your friend and a professional, then that’s another stress. 

Again, only deal with legit businesses in the first place, and your risk goes way down.

Bonus tip: If you do happen to have a friend who runs a business as a wedding professional treat their business as if that wasn’t your friend running it. They should do the same for you too. This means don’t ask for any special favors or discounts, and keep the friendship separate from the service they provide as a professional. It may be too hard to do, and it may be best to not hire friends at all.

2. Does the price you’re paying for the service fall into a professional range in the market?
The toughest question that couples deal with is, “How much?” Ironically it’s likely one of the first questions a couple asks when looking around (i.e. “What are your rates?”, “How much for a wedding?”, etc.). This question gets tougher when a couple determines a budget without having done research on the cost of the services their looking to procure, and without factoring a reasonable guest count (in the Northeast Wisconsin market, and most markets across the country, a reasonable way to figure out a total wedding budget is to take your guest count and multiply it by $150). 

Before determining your budget allocation for each part of your reception, it’s important to talk to lots of professionals. The best strategy is to start at the top and work your way down. Find the highest priced services in the market. Learn about their service, then ask the next lower, and the next lower. Pay attention to what’s missing as you work your way down. For some services you’ll want the best of the best. When it comes to the major three for a wedding: entertainment, food & drink, documentation; these are the areas that will most directly impact the success of your event along with the memories you preserve from it, and the ones you’ll likely want to invest the majority of your budget. Start there before you get to things like the dress, the invitations, and the favors.

If you start at the top and work your way down, it’ll also become much clearer to you what is an unsustainable, and therefore, unreasonable rate. An unreasonable rate is:
 – When the exchange of money is disproportionate to the service or good being exchanged.
Can that be a business that charges “too much”? Yes. Keep in mind that this is very uncommon though as “ripoffs” tend to get called out very quickly by the public and the media. A far more common unreasonable rate is one too low where a business could not survive without a supplemental income from another source. These are the side-hustlers. For example, if you hire a photographer with 10 years of experience that is only charging $800 for your wedding, that means you’ve very likely hired a side-hustle photographer. Why does this matter to you? Here’s why: if that photographer lost their “real job” tomorrow, had to sell their camera to make their rent/mortgage, and your wedding is in 2 weeks, guess who isn’t going to have a photographer for their wedding. It’s the same thing with cheap DJs, unlicensed bakers, etc. 

​The old saying, “If it’s too good to be true…” sums this point up nicely.

3. Does the business carry insurance?
The fact that this question even has to be asked is ridiculous, but the reality is that there are very few, or no gatekeepers when it comes to some of the wedding professions. This is going to mostly apply to your creative professionals. In fact let’s give you a list where you should and shouldn’t have to ask this (but it’s always a good idea to ask every pro you hire):

Shouldn’t have to (but it’s a good idea anyway):
Hair & makeup
Venue (if you’re having your wedding at a private residence you may need to purchase your own event insurance)
Tailor/Dress Shop/Tux Rentals

These professionals typically need licenses to run their business, and usually part of keeping and maintaining that license is to have insurance. So it’s a pretty safe bet that they have it, although it doesn’t hurt to ask how their coverage may help you and your event in the case of an incident.

Should Ask:

These professionals have zero licensing requirements. That’s why the level of skill and quality can vary so greatly. Insurance from these professionals helps protect you and your event, but it also protects the business owner to help keep them in business should something go wrong at someone else’s event before yours happens.

So, it’s that simple! Hire professionals (not friends/people who do things on the side), expect to pay a professional rate, and make sure your professionals, especially your creative professionals, are insured. You’ll feel A LOT less stressed!

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