Choosing Your Wedding Vendors Wisely

I remember when I first went to university and moved into my own apartment. A lot of my furniture was hand-me-downs, but that didn’t really matter with all the excitement of putting my first place together and putting my own personal stamp on it. Pictures went up on the wall and décor was added.  There wasn’t a lot to spend on extras, but I do remember going to the local bargain department store and buying a new stereo system complete with speakers. It was from a “no-name” brand, but that didn’t make a difference to me. It was a real stereo, and far superior to a basic discman or getto blaster. However, it wasn’t long before the stereo began not to work properly. I had to learn how to jiggle the wires in the back of one of the stereo speakers just right when one of the speakers started shoring. Bonus features like “repeat” the CD or “auto-reverse” the cassette table that worked initially, became temperamental, only working properly a fraction of the time. What was seemed like a great purchase initially, became increasingly frustrating. It also turned out to be one of the best learning lessons of my life.

The lesson, of course, was if you want something that is a little better quality in terms of electronics, then you have to be willing to pay for it. I don’t mean that you have to buy everything top of line, like Bose© or Sony© (although it’s certainly nice if you can), but you should at least be looking at mid-level electronics from reputable and quality brands. Over the years, I’ve found similar things to be true with the purchases of clothing, furniture, food, and more. I like to save money as much as the next person, but if you shortcut it usually comes back to bite you in the but.

So what does this have to do with choosing your wedding vendors? Give me a minute here and I can explain…

As a wedding planner, we have two main programs that clients hire us for. One client will hire us for full planning coordination. These are the ones that rely on us to help them find all of their wedding vendors and hire them based on our recommendations. We work with them throughout the entire planning process, helping them with each and every detail. The other client is often looking to save a little money and hires us for “Day Of Coordination.” These are the clients who want us to manage their wedding day, but are willing to spend some extra time to find and hire all of their vendors on their own.

Ironically, most wedding planners would agree that “Day of Coordination” weddings are harder than “Full Coordination” weddings. With full planning, we know all of the vendors. They have proven to us time and time again that they provide quality services and an experience that our clients can rely on. With “Day Of Coordination”, our clients have made all of the hiring choices. Sometimes our clients have made excellent choices of reputable vendors, but often times this is not exactly the case. For many couples this is the first time they are planning on event on this scale. They don’t always know what they should be looking for in a vendor, and as a result, not knowing what to look for, often choose vendors based solely on price. When a bad decision is made in vendor hiring, as the “Day Of Wedding” coordinator, we “inherit” the problem and have to try and find a solution.

Bad vendor decisions I’ve personally observed as either a guest at an event or at one of the weddings we’ve managed:

  • DJ shows up drunk for an event and is so hungover they he passes out at the ceremony where he is supposed to be playing the ceremony music.
  • Cake is delivered by a courier who is unable to assemble the cake. When we phoned the cake vendor, their response was that while the client paid for delivery, they didn’t pay for assembly. [A reputable cake vendor would never send out a cake unless assembly was included.]
  • Photographer does not know how to use the settings on their camera or proper use of lighting so none of the reception photos turned out.
  • Cake vendor talks client into using them for a dessert buffet instead of the caterer for the dessert option. Problem arose when caterer left with all of the dishes and cutlery, and there were no plates or forks for the guests to eat the items with. [The cake vendor never thought about this when they talked the client into using them for the dessert buffet.]
  • Linens arrived and were wrinkled beyond belief. Even a professional steamer won’t get the wrinkles out.
  • DJ’s laptop overheats (lower quality laptop) and the DJ is unable to play music and has to shut the music down early.
  • A photographer wants overhead shots during the ceremony and make the groom’s father get out of his chair (remember, this is during the ceremony) and proceeds to stand on the chair for over 5 minutes (blocking everyone’s view of the ceremony) before finally getting off the chair and gesturing for the groom’s dad to take his seat. (The photographer didn’t even wipe his shoe prints off the seat.)
  • A groom hired a restaurant chef as their caterer. While the food was delicious, they didn’t have the necessary staff for bussing tables afterwards and left without following proper clean-up procedures. (Bride and groom incurred significant additional charges from the venue.)
  • Photographer has lights, but limited knowledge of how to use them. As a result, they use such a bright light behind the emcee that the guests can’t actually anyone speaking at the podium.

These are just a few examples of problems we’ve had to deal with when a couple makes a mistake in hiring a vendor. I wish we could say that we were able to fix the situation each and every time, but sometimes there isn’t a solution to be found. There is only so much we can do to clean-up for someone else’s incompetence. It also makes it hard as we know that the couple never anticipated these issues. They relied on their vendors to be experienced enough with the expected job so there wouldn’t be any problems.

We know you have your choice of vendors out there. There are tons of people who advertise themselves as wedding vendors that you can choose from, but that doesn’t always mean they are the right person for the job. Most wedding and event jobs don’t require any form of certification. In fact most people in the industry started out by taking a hobby or an interest and developing it into a career. However, do you want an amateur working on something as important as your wedding?


We know you have your choice of wedding vendors out there, but be wary. Don't make the wrong decision because you don't know what to look for or what questions you should ask.

We know you have your choice of wedding vendors out there, but be wary. Don't make the wrong decision because you don't know what to look for or what questions you should ask.


I can’t encourage you enough to please interview potential vendors carefully. Things you may want to consider include:

  • Does their pricing seem comparable to others or is it significantly lower?
  • Do they have experience? How long have they been in business?
  • Do they know what they are talking about or do they sound “green”? Are they able to share some tips or suggestions that you hadn’t even considered?
  • Have you spoken with some of their past clients for references?
  • Do their services they offer match their specialty? (Sorry, have to say this, but why would you hire a photographer from a DJ company?)
  • Were they referred to you by any of your other vendors?
  • Are they part of a professional association like the Calgary Bridal Alliance, the Canadian Disc Jockey Association (for DJs), or other professional affiliations?

We want you to have an incredible wedding day. We know how important it is to have vendors you can relay on and who will provide quality service for you on your wedding day. After all, this is one of the most important days of your life. You don’t get a “do-over”. There is no room for error!

I can’t stress enough the importance of doing your homework. Think back to the life lesson I shared at the beginning of the article. I understand completely that money is important. You are looking for ways to save money, but sometimes the person with the lowest prices isn’t the best choice. You know what they say – “If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is.”

If you’re unsure, know that we’re there to help you. While we do Full Planning, Day Of Coordination, and everything in between, we also do vendor referrals. If your budget is tight enough that Full Planning is not in the equation, know that you can book a time with Creative Weddings Planning & Decor (hourly consulting fee will apply) and we can give you referrals – vendors that you can have confidence in that they are both experts at their job, reliable, and trustworthy. We can let you know some of the questions you should be asking when you interview vendors to make sure you find candidates that are right for you. When it comes to something as important as your wedding, that investment alone might save you valuable dollars in the end, guarantee you both a great wedding experience, and give you the priceless gift of peace of mind throughout the planning process and on the wedding day itself.

Please contact us at or 1-888-790-6986, ext. 705 to get started assembling your perfect vendor team now.




Photo: Svetlana Yanova Photography

Photo: Svetlana Yanova Photography

Cathy MacRae is a Calgary, Banff, Canmore and Lake Louise wedding planner in the business of designing customized weddings that make your heart skip a beat! She is the lead wedding planner and design coordinator for Creative Weddings Planning & Decor©, working with couples to plan luxurious and extraordinary weddings with an innovative twist of elegance. Located in Calgary, Canada, she plans wedding for couples primarily in and around the Calgary, Banff, Canmore, Lake Louise, and Fernie area. Her clients want a wedding that is all about romance, elegance and personalized style with meaningful and heartfelt moments that take your breath away and created an incredible guest experience. She has been in involved in the wedding industry for over eight years now. The foundation of her business has been built on developing relationships with numerous quality vendors that her allow her to best match them with her clients so the end result is a unique wedding celebration that tells a story and sets the stage for the couple's "happily ever after." As a destination wedding specialist, she also works with couples who desire to wed in various picturesque dream locations throughout the world. She had done weddings in various exotic locales such as Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica, and the European. She is available to plan weddings internationally.

She has earned her Professional Wedding Planner© status with the Association of Bridal Consultants, and is also a member of the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada, the Calgary Bridal Alliance, and the Community of Wedding Innovators. She was a founding board member of the Wishing Well Wedding and Event Foundation, Canada's first non-profit wish granting founding providing weddings for couples directly facing terminal illness, and continues to support the foundation in the role of a STAR vendor. Cathy also owns Consulting For Creatives, where she works as a business coach with both new and experienced entrepreneurs in the wedding and event industry with a desire to get ahead.

For more information about planning your own wedding or for advice from Cathy, please contact her at 1-888-790-6986 or email her at

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