You have heard all of the horror stories – how the limo driver was an hour late to pick up the bride to take her to the ceremony site. How about when the bride’s white calla lilies arrived as yellow daffodils or the cake person who didn’t show up… at all! These are all wedding day nightmares and even though you think that these things can’t possibly happen to you – they can. That is why it is so critical to check references. But the more critical question that should be asked is what makes a referral or review reliable?
I have read a lot of advice on what makes for a good reference. Many popular wedding sites say that it is critical that you talk to as many past brides as possible as vendors can’t possibly offer accurate references – I couldn’t disagree more. There is actually a lot that happens on a wedding day that a bride doesn’t even see. In fact, most of the time the bride is the last to know when something is going wrong on her wedding day unless it has to do with her dress, her hair, or her make-up. That is just the way it is and that is the way it SHOULD BE. You shouldn’t have to stress yourself with every little detail – that is why you hired the vendors you did in the first place.
You are going to be much too busy to concern yourself with what time the cake person arrives to set up your cake. It should just be set up on time and as stated in your contract. That is what happens when you choose reputable vendors. By “reputable” I mean the vendor has a solid reputation for delivering to the client exactly what the client is paying for. The only way you can get a “reputation” is by being in business for more than five minutes and working well with others and by “others” I don’t just mean the bride, I mean the other vendors as well.
You also need to be cautious of the big wedding websites reference guides. If they are solely relying on the references from past couples that may not accurately reflect the true quality of work the vendor provides. For example, if you have a negative experience with a vendor you are far more likely to leave a negative reference for a vendor than you are to leave a positive reference if you have a positive experience. So that particular vendor could potentially have made thousands of couples very happy but they ended up ticking off the wrong bride because she couldn’t get something for nothing, or another one of a thousand reasons that isn’t the vendors fault, and their reputation could potentially be ruined. Always remember that there are two sides to every story and the truth most likely lies somewhere in the middle.
Sometimes the references are actually provided by the people who run the websites themselves. Well that isn’t an accurate referral system either because they have never worked with that vendor directly. Most of the time they are purely evaluating the vendor on their website or other limited information they are provided. That would be great if they were evaluating a vendors marketing skills but they aren’t. They are supposed to be evaluating the quality of work the vendor provides and you can only do that if you have some sort of interaction with them while they work.
Although it is okay to ask your best friend who just got married last year for all of the names of her vendors, don’t stop there. Ask each of the vendors you meet with who they would recommend. Remember that the wedding industry is smaller than it appears. When someone provides sloppy work, word travels fast to those who are in the industry on a daily basis. So let them be your eyes and ears. Rely on them instead of the word of mouth of brides that were consumed with, well, being a bride.