So you’ve said ‘yes’ to the dress, but have you said ‘yes’ to all of your vendors yet? Whether this is your first time planning an event, or you are an expert, planning an event can become stressful. It might be best to accept you can’t do everything on your own, delegate the big jobs like catering and entertainment to professionals, and watch as your event takes shape!
When organising an event, you are faced with many decisions. Choosing the right vendors is the one task that will certainly have the biggest influence on your event. The day of the event and your guests’ positive experiences are most certainly affected by the vendors you choose.
To help you along the way, we have put together some guidelines about what to consider before booking a vendor for your event.
When should you start booking vendors for your event?
Scheduling the ideal vendors for any event is key. Knowing where to look for vendors, and when to book is just as important as choosing the right ones. It’s very simple: the quicker you hire, the better. Not only will it give you enough time to plan everything and discuss all your requirements, this way you will have first pick on all your vendors. Delaying this too long can make planning very stressful and probably limit your choice of available vendors, to ones you are not entirely keen on.
Types of vendors you should definitely hire for a successful event:
Every event is different and as such, there are different requirements for each, when it comes to vendors. However, there are some vendors you should always include, such as:
- Caterer: For all your food and drink needs
- Decorator: To make sure the venue is elegantly decorated
- Florist: To enhance the decorations with beautiful floral arrangements
- Graphic designer: For the design of event posters and invitations
- Photographer/videographer: To make sure your event is being documented and create ever-lasting memories
- Entertainer: To charm your guests with a performance
All the above vendors should most definitely be on your list. They all offer unique services that will add to the experience of your guests. After all, the most important part of every event is the guests, and ensuring they have a good time.
Why you should definitely use an Event Vendor Directory.
There are many event vendors in the UK, but the challenge is finding the best ones. Finding reliable vendors for your event is extremely important. All it takes is one bad vendor, and the whole thing could fall apart. Organising an event such as a company launch, wedding, or even an awards ceremony is a huge task, and the last thing you need is someone unreliable or unprofessional that might not deliver to the high standards you should expect from your vendors.
Therefore, using an event vendor directory could save you the trouble of spending hours browsing and researching vendors, asking for recommendations and so on. When using an event vendor directory, make sure you specify your location, price range and type of vendor you are looking for. This way you can be certain you are looking at the best vendors near you. As the directory is public, this means you can access real reviews, from people who have previously worked with those vendors, and assess whether they are worth getting in touch with in the first place.
Taking advantage for an event vendor directory can save you a great deal of time, money and effort. And after your event is finished, leave your own review to help other event planners in their quest for vendors!
The ONE thing you should do before booking event vendors.
Before booking vendors for your event, it is important to make sure you have a venue. This will give you an idea of how much of your budget you can allocate to booking the venue, and how much money you will have left to pay your vendors. The size of the venue will also influence your decision making when it comes to what vendors to book, suitable entertainment, as well as the size of your guest list.
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Book your venue at least 4-6 months in advance, so that you have sufficient time to plan, and execute your event to perfection. All the big decisions, from catering, to decorations, to the printing of your event invitations, depend on you booking your venue, first.
Now that you found the ideal venue, it is time to start looking at vendors. But with so many event vendors in the UK, the selection process can be quite overwhelming. Fortunately for you, we have a few approaches that can help you with the selection and booking process. Here are 10 things to consider before booking vendors for your event:
1. Set a budget and stick to it.
Your budget for booking event vendors is determined by following the below steps:
- Book your venue: As mentioned above, you can only know how much of the budget to allocate to your vendors, after you find out how much you need to spend on the venue.
- Create your guest list: The number of guests is determined by the type and size of venue you have booked. You need to have a rough idea of numbers, so that you can allocate enough for catering, invitations, party favours, etc.
- Make a list of all the vendors required: There are some event vendors you should definitely hire, regardless of the type of event. But keep in mind, that the number of vendors you need will vary, based on the type of event. For example, the vendor requirements for a wedding, are a lot more complicated than for a corporate event. You need a make-up artist, wedding car hire, a cake maker, bridal wear, the list goes on. Therefore, a wedding budget will most likely be bigger than a corporate event budget.
When the time comes to set the budget, it is important to be realistic. Taking all of the above into consideration, try to set a budget that you can afford, but also make sure it can fund the entire event. Setting too small a budget might mean you end up going over it, or having to pass on some vendors you would like to have.
And even if you can afford a big budget, make sure you set it within reason. You do not want to end up with unnecessary things for your event, just because you can afford to spend. Trust me, keeping it classy is the way forward.
Need a little bit of help allocating the budget for your event? This clever Budget Planner, complete with monthly budgeting journal, finance planner and expense tracker, is the perfect tool to keep you on track with your spending!
2. You don’t have to go with with the first recommendation you receive.
A certain vendor might have worked out for your friend or relative, but that does not mean it will be the case for you too. Choosing a vendor based on someone’s recommendation might turn out to be great, however, it is always best to consider other alternatives before you hire them. Thoroughly research each vendor or entertainer to make sure you are on the same page, and that their work is as good as you’ve been told.
3. Outline key requirements for your event.
Before you begin the quest for vendors for your event, you need to do some groundwork. Have a written outline of all the requirements you have for your event, and make sure you present it when you ask for a quote. This list should be different based on the type of vendor you are contacting. For example, the type of catering you would like to have, should be on your caterers’ list of requirements, but there is no need to have catering requirements on the list you send to a photographer.
This step is very important, as you will be able to determine if they are the right choice for you or not. If they cannot fulfil the requirements you set, then there is no point even considering them for the job. You can then remove them from your list and move on!
4. Make a list of potential vendors.
Make a list including 2-3 preferred vendors from each category e.g. photographers, cake makers, florists etc. If you know other event organisers, make sure you contact them and ask for referrals for each one. Event organisers tend to have their preferred vendors that they like to use over and over again. They also might have a ‘black list’ of vendors they would never work with again. After all, they are professional event planners, so they know best!
Then, narrow the list down even more, based on whether they can meet your event requirements, budget and expectations. Taking other people’s reviews into account, write pros and cons for each vendor, and slowly start shortlisting the ones that stand out for you. This should make the selection process a little bit easier.
5. Know what you want, and be honest.
There is no harm in outlining exactly what you expect from your vendors. It is your event, so you are in charge. Don’t just assume that the photographer, caterer, decorator or DJ will know exactly what you want. Be specific about everything, from the type of music, to which guests you want to have more pictures of, every detail matters!
If you are planning to serve food at your event, make sure you ask all your guests to provide you with dietary requirements as soon as possible. This list should be included in the requirements sent to prospective caterers, to ensure they can cater for this. You don’t want to end up with an event full of hungry vegan guests!
Aside from all the technical expectations you may have, this is also a great opportunity for you to negotiate prices. Don’t be shy, there is nothing wrong with haggling down the price! Before outlining your key requirements, be sure to mention your budget. Be honest with them about how much you can afford to spend and who knows? They may have some special offers or discounts for you to take advantage of. Like the saying goes, “if you don’t ask, you won’t receive”!
6. Check if the venue has an existing relationship with local vendors.
It is very common for venues to build relationships with local vendors. This is extremely helpful as some venues have specific guidelines or restrictions that associated vendors are able to comply with. Also, it shows that the vendors have previously demonstrated high quality of service, so much so that the venue is more than happy to recommend to their clients.
There are also huge perks when you use vendors that are already familiar with the venue. For example, the venue’s event coordinators usually have pre-agreed special discounts with their vendors, if you book through them. Make sure you ask the venue during your viewing, as it might save you some time researching vendors, and you might end up getting more for your buck!
7. Get on the phone to all potential vendors.
Your initial enquiries, which are sent to all the vendors you are considering to book for your event, could easily be done via email, letter, fax, whatever floats your boat. However, it is extremely important that you speak to them on the phone, before making a final decision.
This is your opportunity to ask any questions and clarify anything you might have left out of your initial enquiry. Make sure you go over all the event requirements, and get confirmation from them that they can deliver. Sometimes, text can get lost in translation, and vendors respond to enquiries confirming their availability for the job, but might miss important information or special requests you’ve mentioned. Double-check that they are the right team/person to get the job done, and make sure everything has been accurately communicated.
Speaking on the phone will also give you a chance to determine what type of person you are about to get in business with. Their telephone manner will let you know if they are polite, professional and courteous. This is extremely important as some of your vendors, like the photographer or entertainer, will most certainly interact with your guests. You want to be confident that they will treat your guests with respect and make them feel important.
8. Look for vendors that welcome your concepts.
Some vendors have a specific style or type of way they like to work in. These types of vendors, however good they might be at what they do, are usually very difficult to work with. This is because they hardly ever step away from their signature styles, and may not be open to changes, as it would take away from their brand. Sometimes, it is also a matter of personality, artistic vision, creative style etc.
Flexibility in altering their style and openness to suggestions should definitely be the traits to look for. It is what will essentially confirm that they can carry out the vision you have about your event. A good event vendor should be able to utilise their creativity and find innovative ways in which to incorporate your vision, guidelines and requests. It is their job to deliver a product or service that matches, or better yet, exceeds your expectations.
9. Check their track record.
10. Don’t be afraid to walk away.
So you have followed our tips, found vendors for your event, and paid deposits. What do you do if one of the vendors you have hired is unable to meet your expectations, work to your timeline and deliver high quality work? Simple: just walk away.
I know it sounds crazy. You have already paid a deposit, and they have already started the work. However, it doesn’t have to be as complicated as it sounds! You have chosen that vendor for a reason. And if they can’t deliver to your standards, it is definitely a reason to terminate your contract and book a different vendor. You already have a shortlist of more reliable alternatives to choose from, so it should be easier than starting from scratch. Plus, you do not need to stress about presenting something of low quality to your guests. Trust me, it’s not worth the trouble.
To wrap it up.
Let’s face it. Planning an event is no easy feat. However, your vendors are there to make your life easier, by making sure your requirements are met. It is therefore extremely important to book vendors that are reliable, committed and good at what they do.
Once you have a final list of vendors for your event, go over each individual contract, and make sure you read the small print before signing! What’s their cancellation policy? Do they have any terms set, in case they are unable to meet your expectations? Is there a refund policy? If everything seems to be in order, and you are happy with their terms, then it looks like you have finally found the ideal vendors for your event!
And once your event is finished, don’t forget to rate and review all your vendors here!