Planning a wedding can be a challenging, yet rewarding experience. Planning a wedding in another state or country can create a whole new level of challenges! Let me break down some tips to help get your special destination day planned:
1- Invest in a planner: Investing in a wedding planner can be an extremely helpful asset. Not only do they know timelines and coordination, but they will have a large list of trusted wedding vendors! If you're planning a destination wedding, hiring someone who is familiar with the area you're going to, and can provide local insight will help ease the whole process for you. A favorite Vermont planner of mine is harlowdahliaevents.com/.
2- Google Search: If a planner isn't in your budget, searching vendors on the world wide web can be extremely overwhelming. The biggest questions to ask yourself when searching are: Does this company have a website? Is this company active on social media platforms? Does the company have lots of reviews? Does the company list prices, or are they in my price range? In today's day and age, anyone can claim to be a florist, makeup artist, planner, etc. Do your research and look for lots of testimonials, pictures, etc. A clean, professional, and easy to navigate website are all important!
3- Social Media: Taking it one step further from #2, looking into social media platforms is huge. Again, ANYONE can create a Facebook or Instagram page. Be sure that the company has an actual business page, and not a personal one. Look at the quality of the content they're posting, and how active they are. Of course, there are exceptions of vendors who are top notch, but aren't on Facebook. Instagram in particular is a great way to see a quick visual portfolio. As a makeup artist, it's a great way for me to express and show my work off in a visually pleasing atmosphere. As you're looking over pages, you'll get a great idea of the style, talent, and tone of the vendor. Then ask yourself, can you see yourself or your big day presented on their page? Does your style match theirs? PS- search #hashtags relevant to what you're looking for; i.e., #vermontmakeupartist or #vermontweddingvenue
4- Wedding Wire/ The Knot: These two sites offer a wide range of vendors in an easy to use search function. My caution with these is that the companies who pay the most per month for their listing will be at the top of the search list. This doesn't always mean the ones paying the most are the best option. Take your time and scroll through the listings, click on website links, and even reach out for a phone call with the vendor. A great alternative to these, if you're looking in Vermont, is www.vermontweddings.com/. The layout of the site is easy to navigate, and since it's a local who runs it, she vets and screens the listings a bit better than Wedding Wire/ The Knot.
5- Vendor communication: Once you see what you like, reach out to that vendor with some questions! Don't just email or call saying "how much is this". Reach out and genuinely ask the questions you want answers to. Some great ones include: "What is your availability for X date in 202_", "We have X number of guests, can you accommodate that?", "Have you done weddings at X venue before?, If so, what was your experience?" Once you've sent your initial inquiry, see how long it takes that vendor to reply. It is guaranteed by me that I will reply within 24 hours. I always try for even less, though. If a vendor takes days or weeks to reply to your initial inquiry, that is a red flag. Granted, during peak wedding season, we all get very busy! However, clear and quick communication is a good sign that they know what's up.
6- Other vendor recommendations: Once you start booking some of your bigger vendors, like the venue or photographer, ask them if they can recommend a great hair stylist, makeup artist or DJ. Chances are, they will have a few in mind! Vermont is a relatively small knit community, and in general, everyone is happy to team up and work with or recommend other talented professionals.
7- When to start booking: There are many mixed opinions on this topic. The biggest things to keep in mind is, when is your wedding? Peak New England dates are May through October. If your date falls on a Saturday in October, chances are, you'll need to start the booking process a year to a year and a half in advance for ALL vendors. If your date is a Sunday in December, chances are, you can wait a bit longer as it's not a peak time of year or day of the week (at least for New England!). As a makeup artist, I've found a lot of brides reaching out 3-4 months prior to their wedding date wanting to book. I hate turning anyone away, but I always try to educate that a year or more is usually necessary, and will recommend some other great artists.
So that's it, folks! I hope these little pointers will help guide you to your dream team of wedding vendors. Happy booking!
Hillary Fay, Vermont Makeup Artist.