Here at Every Last Detail we talk a lot about how to FIND OUT pricing from vendors and wedding vendor pricing. Because let’s face it- in today’s world, with communication at our fingertips, there should never be unanswered questions. But while you can certainly get pricing from people, you also can’t JUST compare pricing. Which of course I totally agree with- there is way more to choosing a wedding vendors than just price. Truth be told, I didn’t even *think* of that when I was researching and meeting with vendors for my own wedding, and it resulted in me making some not-so-great decisions. So today, guess what we’re talking about?!
When finding out pricing, the next step in your research would be to meet with your potential vendors. Well, I’ve found that when you’re researching and meeting with vendors, it’s really easy to want to compare them to each other. I mean, it’s what seems like the right thing to do, right? Well, unfortunately, it’s not!
So here’s how it goes. You usually meet with a few potential vendors in each “vendor category”, so naturally, you need something to help you make your decision. This is where we often turn to comparison, which is a total and complete disservice to yourself and your potential vendors. Take it from someone who DID compare vendors to each other and ended up with the short end of the stick. You just can’t do it. As the saying goes, it’s like comparing an apple to an orange. Sure, you can find a common thread, but overall, comparing the two is just not something you can do.
Photo by Cat Pennenga Photography
Why can’t you compare vendors to each other? Well let’s think of a few “real life” examples…
Can you compare McDonald’s to Maggiano’s? Sure, they both serve food. But one you have to sit down to eat, and the other you can get your food in 3 minutes. One you’re getting burgers and fries, and the other you’re getting Italian food cooked to order. Or what about a dress from Target and a dress from Nordstrom. They could look similar, but what you’re saving on one dress, you’ll probably (hopefully) make for in quality with the other… and I don’t know about you, but I have definitely experienced that difference in quality! With both cases, the compared options are SO different… you just can’t fairly compare them to each other!
Image via Leigh Pearce Weddings
In the wedding world, every vendor offers different things. Everyone has their own way of doing things. Some include special perks with their pricing, some charge extra for those same things. Some people just give you a flat price, some do pricing by the hour or item. Everyone has a different process, different costs, different services. It’s because every vendor is unique and different- you wouldn’t be having to choose if they were all the same!
I know when I was researching and meeting with photographers, I found myself comparing “packages” to each other. But what I also wasn’t considering was experience. Quality. What I was getting for the price. Thinking about it now, going for a bigger, more inclusive package with a lesser-quality photographer wasn’t the way to go- because even though I thought I was getting more bang for my buck, I definitely sacrificed in quality.
Images by Liveview Studios
Either way, you have to make a decision and you have to compare potential vendors in some way. So instead of directly comparing vendors, here are a few suggestions for the things you should look for:
I don’t care what type of vendor we’re talking about- experience is HUGE! It’s the difference between something going horribly wrong on your wedding and something being swiftly taken care of. Even though you do pay more for those who are more experienced, think of the magic words: you get what you pay for.
It’s crazy the difference of quality that I see in people’s work. To me, quality is not only the outcome, but also customer service. So it’s really based on your own perception of “quality”- which is great, because everyone views things differently. :) Again, you get what you pay for.
This is a huge thing for everyone, right? It’s essentially most of what determines what you’re paying. While we’re trying to avoid strictly comparing vendors based on pricing, it’s still important to know what you’re getting. Florals- is setup and delivery included? Photography- are you getting an album for that package price? Catering- are rentals included? So yes, it’s important to know what’s included. It has a direct outcome on the price- but don’t let it dictate the outcome of your decision.
And then of course price just goes without saying, right? What I’m trying to convey is…
And don’t try to compare vendors directly to each other. Just keep in mind what each vendor offers and how they offer it. And most of all, don’t forget that you want vendors who you LIKE- you’re going to be spending lots of time with them! :)
I could go on and on and on with examples of how comparing wedding vendors is like comparing “apples to oranges”… but that would get repetitive, don’t you think?
So how about this- I know some of you have had to decide on your vendors already. What helped you make your decisions? Did you look solely at price, or did you keep several factors in mind? Share with all of us- you all can learn from each other! :)
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2012 and and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.