Throwing a wedding is not a one-person job. It takes a whole village of vendors: planners, florists, caterers, bakers, photographers, videographers, venue coordinators, bartenders, musicians and more. So, you want to make sure you’re choosing the right people to bring your wedding vision to life.

That’s why it’s crucial to thoroughly vet all of your vendors before hiring them to be a part of your crew. And the sooner you get started researching and interviewing potential vendors, the better.

“We always encourage couples to fully research their vendors. Check them out on wedding websites such as WeddingWire or TheKnot and read past client reviews,” says Brianne Ackerland, senior certified wedding planner at Stress-Free Weddings. “Additionally, what is the vendor’s response time to your inquiries? If they take two or three days to get back to you, we recommend moving on to the next Vendor on your list.”

Here are some of the key questions to ask every vendor as you build your dream wedding team.

1. How many events have you booked at the same time?

While your first question should be about availability for your specific date, couples should also ask about each vendor’s workload. Are you their only client that day? Or are you one of two, three or more weddings that weekend? What is their maximum number of clients they’ll take on at one time?

This question is important because it shows how much time this vendor will be able to devote to your wedding, says Lydia Noble, founder and creative of Noble Events.

“You don’t want to be the client that’s the cake at so-and-so location. I want my baker to go ‘that’s Lydia’s cake,” she explains.

2. What is your backup plan in case of an emergency?

Unfortunately, disaster can strike – even on your wedding day. And since your wedding is such a financial (and emotional) investment, you need to know what your vendors plans B, C and D are.

“If you break a leg, if an act of God happens, how are we going to handle that?” asks Noble. For example, what happens if your photographer falls ill? Will he or she have a backup shooter in place?

Also, read your vendor contracts over carefully to see how worst-case scenario problems will be addressed financially. “If a hurricane come through or the building catches fire, how is that going to be rectified? Am I getting 50 percent back of my money? Or am I getting zero?” explains Noble.

3. When is the final price and when is it due?

Talking about money can be uncomfortable, but when it comes to wedding vendors, it’s unavoidable. So do your budget a favor and don’t be afraid to ask about the nitty-gritty price details.

Ackerland recommends asking the following questions about fees:

• How many hours of service are included with pricing?

• What is the cancellation policy?

• What is postponement policy?

• Is the deposit refundable?

• When is final payment due?

• Are there any extra fees or incidentals?

4. What is included in your services?

Even more importantly, look for what’s not included. Will the venue provide tables and chairs but not linens? Will the DJ supply his own sound equipment? Does he have microphones for speeches? Is the caterer going to bus the tables?

Ackerland also advises taking personality into account when comparing vendors. “Couples will often settle on a vendor because of price. It's important to make sure you and your vendor's personalities match as well,” she says. “This is key in hiring photographers, wedding planners or any other vendor you will be spending months communicating with. If you get a bad vibe or can't see this person as ‘part of the family’ then we recommend the couple keep searching.”

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