Where do you go to begin your quest for the perfect wedding? You look to friends, to co-workers, magazines, blogs, tweets, facebook, other wedding professionals etc. etc. etc. Before you know it you have folders filled with notes, a browser filled with bookmarks and stacks of magazines dog-eared. How can you possibly (with the 50 gajillion other things going on) start to weed through all this bulk of information.
The secret to all this wedding madness is to figure out how to prioritize and categorize all this info to make it useful. I will give you a little bit of the behind the scenes on how to do this.
Paid Publications– This category of publication is found on bookshelves in super markets and book stores. They vary in cost from reasonable to OMG no way am I buying that Ill just sit down here at Boarders and take notes. These magazines stay in business mostly from the advertisers but also from the purchase price, so in turn they strive to provide value to the purchaser. The articles are very helpful in the general sense but you must remember that local markets vary greatly from one another, from things like common practices to price. There is a reason why New York and Long Island brides go to PA to get a photographer (the work is often times better at a significant $$ savings). Personally I am in Style Magazine (the back cover 🙂 ) because I like the aesthetics of the book and its content
Read these books first to start formulating ideas and establishing thoughts on your weddings but once you start working with people locally these become not so important.
Free Publications– This category is mostly found at local professionals businesses and they fall into 3 categories (3rd party, self, and group) and I will explain why it is important to know the differences, because it can save you time and money.
3rd Party Free publications are considered by most professionals to be a legitimate form of advertising you pay for exposure, most established business choose to be here for various amount of reasons.
Self Free Publications are, in my opinion, not as credible of a source. These are the booklets that are put out by the professional you are visiting, mostly a venue that you are looking at for your reception. On the surface they look great but do not mistake them for a list of preferred or recommended vendors by the venue as often the venue has nothing to do with the books. These publications are actually sold by a publishing company to the venue and then populated with vendors they find on google or in other publications some are suggested by the venue. They are not necessarily the best or most used vendors for the venue. In fact there are a lot of venues discontinuing the use of these books because brides end up with bad professionals then look to the venue to be responsible for the recommendation.
Group Publication may be the most interesting form of free publication because these are made and distributed by the professionals themselves. Usually they have come together for their own personal reasons. They are not made for profit only exposure. It also usually means that the members in the publication have worked together or share a common vision and quality of work. Chances are that this is the closest you get to a personal referral with out going in and meeting with one of the professionals themselves, because these groups tend to attract like minded people
Personally I would only take the group publications home with me since online resources will turn up all the other professionals and you can help conserve our earths resources by not adding to the huge pile of paper that these other books generate (and chemicals that go into the production of them) The publishers probably found them in the same google searches you will be doing anyways. If a venue goes to hand you a booklet tell them politely that your ok but get out a piece of paper and ask them “Who would you hire to shoot your wedding?” Chances are that these recommendations may not even be in that booklet, and if they open up the booklet because a name doesn’t pop into their head chances are that recommendation isn’t all that valuable .
Online: Searching online is the life blood of wedding and even research so much so that many of the most sought after professionals have abandoned print advertising. A good general practice to remember here is to remember you are looking only at what has been specially prepared so it better look good. If a bulk of what you see doesn’t excite you and this is what they consider to be the best of the best then chances are you may not be happy with the entire body of their work. Its also important to remember, especially with photography, that your wedding is not just one picture but a series of pictures taken through out the day that all need to demonstrate consistency and artistry. It is ok to email a photographer to see an entire wedding rather than just greatest hits if they do not show it in their website.
Google searches make up a majority of the customers that find me if its not by a personal referral. I wont speak about the pros and cons of google but I will mention the online professional directory. When you google search a term for your wedding most probably the first link that pops up is a online directory.
Online Directories pop up first because they have the most links to them from all the vendors that advertise there. These are great resources to cover lots of ground for research. My one caveat is to remember that the order of the vendors in these directories are not from best to worst. Mostly the person on the top of the directory is the person that pays to be there so dont just go to the first couple ones, hit the whole list, skip around, start on page 2.
Facebook is a new phenomenon in finding a professional. I cant tell you how many times Im sitting down with a bride who tells me they stalk me on facebook. This is not a bad thing either, most of my friends and people that comment on my facebook page are other wedding professionals. Unlike any other online source you can see peoples personalities. This to me is great because when I hire people a lot of who I hire comes from who they are not just the work that they do.
Blogs are similar in that you get to see tons of who they are mixed with what they do. More so than a standard website. If you are looking at a blog that showcases lots of different professionals than these sites can function very similarly to the Group Free Publication mentioned above, in that normally there is a unifying theme that connects those showcased. So if that theme is something that exists in you or your wedding then bookmark it or better yet subscribe to it so you can see all the content through your email.
Friends– Nothing beats a referral from a friend that has used a certain professional and had a good experience. Just be wary of the referral from the friend that hadn’t used the professional. Sometimes these referrals can be the worst a friends cousin that DJs that they haven’t used may not be the best choice if they didn’t use them themselves.
Other Professionals– LOOK HERE, HEY YOU! IM TALKING TO YOU! LOOK HERE! If you scanned over this entire blog and forced yourself to read only one small part of it then read this. The very best way to find the best people for your wedding or event is to meet with people. When you find someone that you love, that you click with that you know will be perfect, grab a pen and some paper or whip out your iphone and pick their brains on who they think you should hire. Its not gospel but if you trust and respect (keyword trust and respect) the person then chances are they wont steer you wrong. These are the people that day in and day out over the course of years, live and breath weddings and events. They see the good the bad and the ugly and can give you the most reliable recommendation.
Hopefully this helps you out of that huge pile of wedding detritus and lends some insight to all the wedding related resources out there.