In our business (tent and party rental) we’re reasonably priced, but we’re not the cheapest in our area. We get a fair amount of calls throughout the year that are simply price comparison calls—“Hi, can you tell me how much you charge for a 40×60 tent? Ok, thank you.” We appreciate that brides and grooms want to get the most for their wedding budgets, but most wedding products and services are not always apple to apple comparisons.
Planning a wedding does entail an enormous amount of research and decision making, but putting in the time and asking the right questions early on means there will be few, if any, surprises when the big day comes—and the final invoices arrive.
Here are 5 things to consider when shopping for a wedding vendor:
1) Product Quality
In our case, tent and party rentals, the tent is the most expensive product we rent. It’s also the most expensive product for us and our competitors to purchase, maintain and replace. Because of this there can be a fair amount of difference in quality. Wedding planners we work with know this first hand. If you’re having a tented reception, no amount of decorations can mask dirt, stains and cracked vinyl that are typical of a “cheaper” tent.
The same holds true for many rental items. We’re amazed that some vendors rent dirty, scratched and scuffed items. These items show up the day before or the day of a wedding and there is little you can do to have them replaced. And who wants to ask their wedding party or family to clean the rented items before the big event.
Take the time to check references, or post “has anyone used XYZ for an event?” and find out what level of quality you’re going to be dealing with when choosing a vendor.
Part of our business is working with the bride and groom and helping determine the most appropriate tent size for their site, number of guests and the event itself. We offer a free onsite consultation to measure and inspect the site (read our entry on planning an outdoor wedding). We also provide, free of charge, custom floor plan layouts that are extremely helpful in designing the tent’s setup. While most rental providers offer free estimates—heck, most have their prices posted on their websites—additional services can come at a cost or are non-existent. Be sure to clarify what, if any, additional services are offered when evaluating vendors.
3) Additional Charges
These days with the rising price of fuel, many vendors have increased their delivery charges, or in some cases, are tacking on additional service charges for weekend or after-hours set-up or removal. In our industry we’ve found this to be a huge differentiator between competitors, and often a question that is never asked by brides before making a selection. If your venue requires that you have rental items removed within a certain period of time following your event, be sure and verify if the vendors you’re evaluating can accommodate, and if there is an additional charge to do so.
4) Product Variety
This can be particularly important when selecting a rental provider. Most full-service rental providers will carry a large selection of chairs, tables, linens, tableware, etc., but it doesn’t necessarily mean they will carry every variation of a style. If you have some “must haves” for your wedding—perhaps you want an arbor for the ceremony, need martini glasses, absolutely must have Chavari ballroom chairs for the reception, or are looking for a certain shade of green for the linens—you’ll save time and delivery charges by finding a vendor that can meet all, or most, of your list.
With the proliferation of online review and social media sites, it’s easier than ever to check on a vendor’s reputation. Many venues will also offer a list of preferred vendors, which means they’ve taken care of some of the leg work for you. Typically event or property managers only keep vendors on their list whom they and their clients are happy with. In addition, it never hurts to ask your other wedding vendors who they recommend.