Interview your wedding vendors? Why on earth would you need to do something like that?
Look, becoming a wedding vendor is not the same as becoming a doctor. There’s no formal training, no degrees, and no certification. And anyone who touts a certification as proof of how good they are is full of BS.
My point is that anyone can jump into the wedding industry and all of a sudden become a vendor. And the people that vouch for them? They can probably find just about anyone to do that. So that puts YOU in the challenging position of doing the legwork to make sure you’re not hiring a dud.
The best way to do this is by asking them hard hitting questions interview style. IN PERSON. A lot of you who are going through the process of planning your wedding have likely been on the other side of interviews – either for the purposes of higher education or in the workplace. You know what it’s like to get asked tough questions, and that’s exactly what you’ll have to do when it comes to hiring vendors for your wedding weekend.
A little caveat is that you don’t necessarily need to ask these questions of EVERY vendor that you’ll be hiring. For instance, chances are you won’t need to put your wedding cake baker through the ringer. But for vendors like your planner, decorator, photographer, videographer, DJ, and caterer? Fair game.
Was there ever a time that you ran into a problem on the weekend of a wedding? What did you do to resolve it?
If a vendor responds, “I’ve NEVER had a problem!” Red flag! There are always issues that come up during weddings, particularly during big productions like South Asian ones. They don’t have to be major problems, but can be little things like running behind schedule. If you have concerns specific to your event, toss that into the question.
Answer to look for: You want someone who is going to be forthcoming about the fact that wedding weekends aren’t seamless all the time and that they are not infallible as a vendor. You want someone who provides a thoughtful answer, specific without trashing anyone (another red flag if they do this), and demonstrates an ability to think on their feet and devise an appropriate solution with grace and tact.
Tell me about a time that you had a conflict or butted heads with another vendor and what you did to resolve it.
Why is this question important? Every vendor is proud of what they offer, but during your wedding weekend it’s all about teamwork and vendors putting ego aside to make your wedding magical. While it’s definitely important to find out what vendors are like from the perspective of the couple, it can be even more telling to find out what a vendor is like from another vendor’s experience. If you hire someone who doesn’t play well with others it could very well result in a domino effect of mishaps and affect everyone else’s ability to do their jobs well.
Answer to look for: Again, consider it a red flag if a vendor responds with, “No problems, not ever!” At the same time, don’t expect gossip here either – the South Asian wedding industry is a small world and vendors like to be respectful about what they reveal to couples. Don’t listen for the dirty details and the juicy story, listen for context clues indicating how your vendor thinks on their feet and does whatever possible to take care of the couple over his/herself.
If you need help getting delicate information like this outside of an interview format, we can help you with that.
Tell me about a time that the couple was at odds over an aspect of the wedding with their parents. What did you do to resolve it?
Is a vendor telling you that EVERY South Asian wedding was smooth sailing between the couple and their parents? >Insert massive eye roll here< Remember, it is VERY easy for a vendor to feed you BS – “Don’t worry, I can take care of you I have experience I’ve helped soooo many brides!”
Answer to look for: They need to be specific here – but without the gossip. Just like a future employer isn’t going to hire you from a vague wishy-washy answer, don’t expect anything less from a wedding vendor. South Asian weddings are notorious for conflicts between the couple and their families. Will your vendor be able to handle it should that happen at your wedding? Only their answer will tell.
What are some of the more creative ways you’ve gone above and beyond to bring a couple’s dream wedding to life?
You NEVER want to work with a vendor who tells you that something isn’t possible – unless, of course, you’re getting a little wild with your request (self-awareness, people!). The point here is to work with vendors who use ingenuity to work around roadblocks, whether they stem from cultural issues or technical ones.
Answer to look for: You might need to help the vendor you’re interviewing to come up with an answer you can work from. What do I mean by this? A good example is if you’re interviewing a planner or a decorator, ESPECIALLY if you are budget-conscious (who isn’t these days? We ain’t the Kardashians!).
Bring along a photo that has an aesthetic that you like but is clearly out of your price point. Point out the details that speak to you the most from that picture. And then ask them what their creative solutions are to integrate aspects of what you like within your specific budget. Meeting with a photographer? Try the same thing. Bring a wedding photo that you really love and ask them how they can achieve a shot like that in a setting that might make that photo unlikely. Example: Getting lush photos with lots of greenery when you’re getting married in a concrete jungle.
Can’t come up with an answer? Unacceptable! You don’t want to be stuck with a vendor who lacks ingenuity or who can’t adapt to or respect the realistic constraints of budget or location.
What was a situation where you found your work to be criticized?
Even the best of vendors get some flack from past clients OR their South Asian relatives. Even if a vendor doesn’t have a very specific or relevant response to offer here, they should still be able to offer an appropriate answer.
Answer to look for: What to look for here is a vendor who addresses negativity and criticism head-on by turning it into something positive. Their response should indicate that they try to learn from their experiences, good or bad, work to improve, and work to the best of their ability and knowledge. Red flags? Putting on airs that every job is a slam dunk (unless you’re hiring someone who is truly the cream of the crop and they have the references to back it up). OR turning sour and trashing past couples or clients. NOT a good l00k!
Do you have your own wedding liability insurance?
Getting married at a venue? Then your vendors NEED their own insurance policy. Venues require this and it can mean trouble for you come your wedding weekend if your vendors don’t have it. And to be quite honest, even if you’re having a home event you should require this of your vendors. If ANYTHING goes wrong and they don’t? Then you can be held liable. Any experienced and professional vendor will carry their own insurance policy, no questions asked (which isn’t even that expensive, especially compared to what they rake in per wedding!). In this day and age it simply doesn’t make sense for a vendor to not have insurance. Also, don’t just take their word for it. Ask for proof.
Answer to look for: This is black and white, cut and dry. The answer needs to be a ‘yes.’ If they say that they don’t have insurance, tell them that they will need to get their own insurance policy and provide proof to you before you will sign a contract with them. And if you’re unsure of which of your vendors will need insurance, check with the venue.
At the end of the day, you are shelling out a LOT of money for wedding vendors and trusting them with a major milestone in your life. Don’t feel afraid to ask them tough questions. The BEST vendors – the ones who are talented, deliver amazing customer service, and really advocate for couples – will be able to answer your questions tactfully and intelligently without slandering others in the process. Let your intuition guide you. And if you ever need any help, reach out to us. We got your back!
Any other corporate America veterans out there who have advice on questions to ask and answers to look for? Comment on this post or send us your input at [email protected]
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Founder & Chief Visionary, proud fur mom of 2, amateur artist, Netflix binger, wino, and chocolate addict.