If you have started touring venues for your perfect wedding spot, you know how much time and consideration will go into this big decision. How many people can the space hold? Will this be in my budget? What is included in the cost? And the list goes on and on. I have shared my thoughts on how to select your perfect wedding venue in the past (see those tips here!!); but something that is often allusive are preferred vendor lists provided by venues.
Preferred vendor lists can be a wonderful thing! Most venues provide complimentary lists to their couples listing those that provide excellent service at their location and have done so in the past. These lists usually range in category and budget. A perfect tool to get your started in your planning! These lists are typically just a guideline and you are welcome to bring in your own vendors and creative partners if you already have some in mind.
B U T C A U T I O N ! ! !
Make sure to ask your venue if these vendors have paid to be on this list. You want to work with people that are recommended because they are great, not because they paid the piper. Also, if you are considering a venue with a list of partners you are required to use, make sure to ask about additional charges to use vendors not on the list. If you have your heart set on XYZ Photography and they did not want to pay to be on the list, will it set you back an additional $500? What if you want to use the same makeup artist your sister did and she is not on the list? That is another $500 you owe your venue. This type of paid for vendor list (and kickbacks while we are at it) is generally frowned upon in the wedding industry, but certainly not unheard of.
That said, some venues have understandable restrictions that are of a benefit to you. One of which refers to catering. Some venues require you to use their in house caterer (no exceptions!) or you may use one of your choosing from a select list. As as former venue manager, trust me when I say, you want to use a caterer on that list! These folks have been in your venue before, know all of the rules and regulations, and can actually save you money from knowing your space so well. Sometimes there are additional fees associated with outside caterers so be sure to ask your venue about this in detail.
Overall, your selection of venue and the associated vendors should be the right decision for you, your partner, your families, and guests. Some couples enjoy the easy shopping of a limited list. My motto is always to each his own, but I always advise to do your due diligence and research, research, research! Know what is an acceptable practice in the industry and do not be afraid to ask for what you feel is right.
Of course, it goes without saying that if you consult with a wedding planner, you can avoid all of this. We planners work with creative partners that are recommended to you based on their reputable business practices as well as your personality and budget not who is lining our pockets. For Leigh Pearce Weddings, if a vendor offers a discount to me or cash in hand for booking a client for them, I in turn ask for that amount to be reduced from my client’s bill. My experience and services are a large investment for my clients so I want them to know I will save them money anyway that I am able.
I would love to hear YOUR thoughts on the matter! Please share in the comments below!