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7 Steps for hiring Wedding Pros

Write Down your expectations.

Sit down with your fiancé and decide: What's our budget? What look and feel are we going for? What are our top priorities? Write down your answers so you can refer back to them throughout the process.

Search for Wedding Pros.

Start by talking to the coordinator at your venue about who they recommend; if someone's done a wedding there before, she's likely within your budget. Next, search websites and blogs, ask for recommendations from newlywed friends, and visit the "Vendors page on W2W." (You can search by region and vendor type.)

Interview the Wedding pros.

Go for coffee or ice cream at a place where you'll both be comfortable. (Unless they have an office or studio) To avoid feeling overwhelmed, meet with no more than three of each type of vendor you're hiring.

Look for Chemistry first.

Definitely look for chemistry. Make sure you and the vendors you meet with get along and communicate well. This is a huge factor, because you will be working with these different people for the months leading up to your big day. Once you establish chemistry, move on to discussing details of the job, such as the vibe you're after, timing, and how you see the process should you decide to work together. And be sure to ask how available they would be to you throughout the planning. Make sure you take notes on everything. The questions you should ask every vendor: What's your story? Why and how did you get into this business? What does the process look like, during planning and on the day of? What's your availability, during planning and on the day of? What's your preferred mode of communication?

Don't rush your decision.

After each meeting, debrief. You need time to evaluate the candidate based on your notes and first impressions, call their references, meet with other contenders for comparison's sake, and make sure they fulfill the job description. They should be willing to hold a date for two to seven days after your initial meeting or, at the very least, agree to call you if someone else inquires about your date.

Seal the deal.

Once you've picked your team, your vendors will work up their standard contracts. Make sure the basics are included: logistics (date, time, and location), payment schedule, the scope of services offered (what's expected to be done and when), and a timeline for deliverables (for anyone who owes you something after the wedding, like your videographer and photographer). And make sure it includes the deal-breaker clauses: one on cancellation, and one for the extent of liability insurance (covering circumstances beyond the vendor's control, like if the photographer's negatives were damaged, and "acts of God," meaning cancellation due to a natural disaster; $1 million is standard). "If a contract doesn't include these things and if the vendor won't add them, walk away." Make sure you read the contract in its entirety and understand what you're agreeing to.

Follow these 6 steps and you're on your way to hiring wedding professionals that will make your day a true success!



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