This was an article we wrote for the Triad Weddings Magazine in 2022 and felt it was great information to share:
Thanks to social media, YouTube, Pinterest, and podcasts today information is literally at our fingertips but not everything you read is accurate, up to date or exactly what you are looking for. Note a lot of pins you see on Pinterest or in magazines come from style shoots and they take hours even days setting up for that one photo with countless professional vendors behind it. YouTube gives lots of demonstrations for how-to videos but check their sources and know they may already have a lot of the skills and tools/supplies to actually create those DIY projects. Podcasts are great for tips and ideas for how to create amazing guest experiences, when to book which services and breakdown of budgets. Remember, social media is usually filled with smoke and mirrors only showing you the “good” in the process, but you might not see the long hours, sweet and tears behind the scenes.
When I started in the industry decades ago, GOOGLE was just really amping up. Most of us went to a wedding show or used word of mouth marketing. Today, crowdsourcing is quickly becoming a “replacement” for full-service wedding planners and attending wedding shows as couples ask in social media forums and on their personal pages to find vendors and collecting information about their upcoming events.
However, in all of the excitement, couples tend to forget to post some of the most important information and details. We encourage when you are crowdsourcing and asking the public about certain services be precise about what you are looking for. If not, you could spend just as much time trying to figure out who does what, how much, where they are located and being overwhelmed trying to keep up with the response along with a lot of other vendors asking if you need their services too. Here’s a few items that will help us as vendors (or your friends) tag their information and availability:
- Date & Event Time- this allows us as vendors to only respond to the dates and times we available and we’re not wasting your time researching
- Location (city/state at least but venue is a bonus)- some places require travel fees or more staffing due to size
- Number of guests- this sets us up for success with staffing, supplies and helps us price your event accordingly
- EXACT services you are requesting (it’s okay if you don’t know but this will help define your search and the response) if not you could get from the bare minimum to the full experience and everything in between which could waste a lot of your time syphering through all of the options that in the end was not what you needed
- Budget- if you can, do a little research about the service you are requesting so that you have an idea what a reasonable budget is with the service you are looking for. Also remember, you get what you pay for. You can find “cheaper” options that might not give you all the levels of services you are looking for. You can find services that are quick to fill your needs. And then you can find quality that comes with education, experience, insurance, a professionalism, and expertise in the industry. However, you can’t find all three in the same quote.
However, on that same note, vendors should respect and only respond to the question asked in a forum or online. If they did not request your services only tag or respond with information pertaining to that question at hand. It will become overwhelming for couples to attempt to read a hundred responses especially when 25% are about services they already have booked or do not want. We as vendors should be referring other vendors during these posts. We should as an industry also use this opportunity to educate not only couples but other vendors that may either not know their value/worth or are undercutting the industry. However, if you respond with educational notes, please be respectful and state facts and links that will show information backing up your expertise.
There are several wedding and event websites filled with professional vendors to showcase their talents. When it comes to crowdsourcing that is based on the option of mostly strangers and how their experience were during their planning and event. Do your diligence and research those posts and answers to make sure they are not scams or those that may or may not take our industry seriously because it’s their side hustle and not their full-time job. We all started somewhere but be mindful when booking vendors without websites, no insurance and/or just starting out with little to zero experience. You only get ONE chance to make this event memorable. So, while giving someone new a chance make sure to ask ALL of the questions and get everything in writing in a signed contract.
Crowdsourcing is a great way to learn about some services in the city you are unfamiliar with and vendors you may not normally hear about because they may not have the funds yet for marketing their company in big shows or wedding organizations and websites but do your homework. Plus, you can always trust your venue and a seasoned wedding planner to offer a list of local resources and vendors to use in the area where you are planning an event to save you time, money, stress, and energy. Make sure to attend local wedding shows to meet vendors and see their work firsthand. Use Google to verify websites and services of those you got responses for certain aspects of your event. Look for reviews and ask for samples of their work when possible. Host in person meetings when available or at least ZOOM calls over phone and email communication. Ask if they are a part of any industry associations and always make sure they are fully insured. And at the end of the day, just have FUN planning! At the end of the day, focus on being married because the rest is just magic and memories.
Jennifer Ball, MWP, MS
Award Winning Accredited & Wedding Whisperer
NC State Manager for The Association of Bridal Consultants
UNCG & ACC Professor
Certified Sandals Honeymoon & Destination Wedding Specialist
Planners Unplugged Co-Author Book Project
Professional Certified Mixologist