We got engaged in January, and within 10 weeks, I had booked all our wedding vendors. I know, I know. That seems super fast, and a lot of brides are curious to know how I made such quick decisions in such a little amount of time, so I’m here to share my secrets…..
To preface, Alex and I are tying the knot across the country (in the USA) from where we currently live (think 3,700+ km). Rather than having the luxury of meeting potential vendors in person over coffee, at their respective studios, as many brides do, it meant that I was left with word-of-mouth referrals, online reviews, and phone conversations as the sole resources to make my final decision.
To be perfectly honest, the only vendor I really cared about meeting in person was the photographer, and of course seeing the venue IRL (in real life). The biggest challenge, in my opinion, is pin pointing where you want the wedding to be. The venue! And it’s true with what they say — Once you have that locked down, the rest sort of falls in line.
Securing a venue gives you a date and a place. You literally cannot do anything without those two. Picking our venue was slightly overwhelming, but once we stepped foot on Tubac Golf Resort and Spa, we knew we hit the jackpot. As I said before, we loved everything about it, and it incorporated everything both Alex and I envisioned for our wedding. We signed our contract within a week of our return flight to Washington, DC. Boom! We had our venue.
OK, so moving onto the other vendors: photographer, cake baker, musicians, florist, and a wedding planner! Now that’s when the ten weeks of non-stop planning really began.
Luckily Tubac had a list of their preferred vendors, folks that are (1) reasonably priced, (2) familiar with the space, staff, and (3) previous brides had been happy with — all aspects are important to a bride-to-be. I used Tubacs preferred vendor list as a springboard in my hunt. I decided to focus on one vendor category at a time, and went in the order of which vendors I booked.
Before I began with anything else, I figured that I wanted to secure a wedding planner. Someone to assist not only the day-of, but also guide me through the planning stages.
I had two phone interviews with two women who had been in the business for a long, long time which is great. I wanted someone with years of experience under their belt. They were both wonderful, but one wasn’t available on our wedding date to assist with day-of coordination, and the other was highly recommended by Tubac. It was a no brainer. We hired Jeri, our wedding planner and moved on.
I drove myself a bit bonkers with selecting a photographer. The photos are the only tangible item you’ll have from your wedding day, and this is the number one most important vendor for me. I wanted to look at practically every photographer in the Southern Arizona area, not just the five on Tubac’s list. So, I created a spreadsheet with nearly 50 local photographers, read a thousand reviews, looked at online gallery after online gallery after online gallery, and of course, pricing packages.
From there, I ranked everyone in order from best quality pictures, pricing, responsiveness to my inquiry, etc. I then had five phone interviews, negotiated some prices, and then fell in love with one in particular. After I spoke with Lori on the phone, I knew she had the type of personality that would work best. After all, your photographer is the person you’re going to spend the most time with that day, you want to hire someone you gel with. And, her photos are to die for. I knew I had to have her. She was a bit above my budget, and what I ideally wanted to spend, but I know she’ll be worth every penny.
I wasn’t quite sure how to go about selecting a DJ. My wedding planner recommended two different DJ’s, both who are very familiar with Tubac, and both had glowing online reviews. I ended up selecting Hans for a few reasons. I love the fact that Hans is a middle school teacher by day, and a wedding DJ by night. That just about sealed the deal. And then, Hans mentioned that he’ll play LIVE GUITAR for our ceremony. I was sold. When I found out that Hans can play the song Alex wants me to walk down the aisle to, on the guitar, I wrote him a check and signed the contract immediately.
We’re getting uplighting, live ceremony music, and a DJ for the reception for a very reasonable price, which made up the difference from going over budget with the photographer.
Wedding cake baker
When we first got engaged, I was overwhelmed with the different options, styles, locations, vibes, themes, everything. But the one thing I knew I wanted, regardless of any decision was having a naked cake. So eliminating bakers was far easier than the photographer.
My wedding planner recommended three bakers that she works with, but after viewing their respective online galleries to see their recent work, none of them fit with what I wanted. I found Sugar Song Cakes online and FELL IN LOVE with Lorie’s work. I knew I had to have her. The icing on the cake (pun intended) was when we spoke on the phone, it was so blissfully apparent how passionate Lorie was, she knew her stuff, and that’s exactly who I want baking my wedding cake. That was an easy one.
By the time I got around to my florist, I was a bit over having a million vendors to choose from. I spoke with my wedding planner who suggested three, and two of them were on Tubac’s preferred list. They all seemed wonderful, were all priced comparatively, and did great work. I narrowed it down to two. I had phone calls with each of them. They were both wonderful, very knowledgeable, kind, and committed to meeting my budget. It was very tough to choose. I slept on it for a night or two, and knew I felt a bit more comfortable with Katie of Posh Petals, and that was that.
How to speedily choosing your wedding vendors
- Don’t overthink — I don’t enjoy having things linger on my to-do list, so the sooner I can cross them off, the happier I am. This definitely played a part in making fast decisions
- Don’t look back — With that said, once decisions have been made, I’m of the mindset that there’s no going back. Any choice becomes the right choice as long as you commit to making it the right choice.
- Trust your instinct — Like any wise groom-to-be, Alex let me take the lead on picking our vendors. He was there for support, and to talk through options, but ultimately, he knew this decisions were more important for me to make.
Over the summer, my mother and I flew out to Tubac to do a bit of planning. We stayed at the resort, ate at the restaurants, slept in the bungalows, walked the property (many times over!), and of course, tried out their spa. From there, I got to meet my wedding planner, conduct a tasting with the baker, go over to my florists studio to work out the details in person, try different entree and hors d’oeuvres with Tubac to select the final options, and run through a hair and makeup trial.
I left Tubac in June feeling very confident with the people I hired. A very deep exhale!
Have you ticked off all your vendors yet? Are there any that you found particularly easily or particularly difficult? Let us know in the comments below.