Morning all! Today we have some excellent advice from Be Wedding Wise, who are the UKs first ever reviews based wedding directory. With so much more information available to couples online, it can be so hard choosing the right suppliers for your wedding. I know you come to blogs like this for advice and recommendations but unless we have dealt with the companies ourselves we can’t give a 100% honest review. Suppliers mentioned in real weddings may have worked well for one couple, but may not be right for you. A lot of wedding directories on blogs are paid for but they don’t personally vet or verify the supplier reviews that they are sharing. This is where Be Wedding Wise comes in.
photography | David Craik Photography
A little bit of background about Be Wedding Wise founders, Lydia and David Cox in their own words:
We both have backgrounds in the wedding industry so when it came to planning our own wedding we thought we already had a bit of a head start on the ‘average’ bride and groom and presumed we would sail through our planning. However, we hadn’t anticipated that, when trying to find wedding suppliers that weren’t local to us, whilst there was an abundance of resources for sourcing suppliers, there was nowhere to read trusted reviews to endorse their services. Hence our idea for Be Wedding Wise was formed. We wanted to create one simple website where client reviews were mandatory and, most importantly, independently verified ensuring the hard work of validating suppliers was taken care of.
How are the companies in the directory vetted?
Wedding suppliers sign up to become a Be Wedding Wise member where they pay a monthly, or annual subscription fee, and create an online company profile. Be Wedding Wise has a strict policy of only accepting suppliers as permanent members once they have received a minimum of two verified customer reviews, the only site in the UK insisting upon this verification process. Every customer testimonial is read by the Be Wedding Wise team before being made live and reviews are verified by the Be Wedding Wise team who personally call, or research online, to check the authenticity. Once suppliers become permanent members, future reviews are randomly spot-checked to ensure continuous credibility.
How many suppliers do you recommend couples should speak to before making a final decision?
It really is personal to the couple, but we’d say it’s more about focussing on asking the right questions rather than how many suppliers you speak to. For example, when we saw our wedding venue, we instantly knew it was the place for us, so looking around more venues for comparison would have been pointless. Instead we made sure that we asked the venue as many questions as we could to ensure we felt completely comfortable before signing on the dotted line.
How far in advance would you recommend choosing and booking suppliers?
The sooner the better! Believe it or not great suppliers can get booked up as far as three years in advance so we honestly don’t think it could ever be too soon. We’d advise booking your main suppliers (church, venue, registrar, photographer) anywhere between 12-18 months in advance and your other suppliers (caterers, band, cake, florist etc) around 9-12 months in advance. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a suppliers work, only to find that they’re already booked, so if you know who you like, don’t hold back, get the ball rolling and at least ask them to pencil the date for you.
Do you enjoy working as a husband and wife team?
Yes! We’re one of those annoying couples that really would spend all day every day together if we could. It’s always been a dream of ours to work together so when we came up with the concept of Be Wedding Wise we knew we had to go for it.
Lydia and David have also been kind enough to give us their top tips on planning a perfectly stress free wedding…
STEP 1: DO YOUR HOMEWORK
1. THE POWER OF THE INTERNET
Before booking any suppliers, check that they have a physical, concrete address and working phone number. Companies House has a free service that lets you check these details, however do be aware that they only cover limited companies so many suppliers will not be found on there. If they’re not a limited company then do a Google Maps search to check the address is genuine and simply pick up the phone to check the number given gets you through to them. It’s also useful to do an Internet search of your supplier’s name and their company name to ensure nothing alarming comes up on any bridal forums or previous negative press coverage.
Where possible, seek personal recommendations and read trusted reviews. There’s nothing more reassuring than knowing another bride and groom are willing to personally verify how great their supplier was for their big day.
It’s also a good idea to see how active a supplier is on any social media sites. This will not only give an insight into how they promote their business but enables you to check that they are active and working in the months leading up to your wedding. Nobody wants their supplier to suddenly go AWOL a few weeks before their wedding day.
2. ASK PLENTY OF QUESTIONS
When making the decision on suppliers ask lots of questions…
Who do they work with?
If they work with an assistant (florist/photographer) then consider asking to see some of the assistant’s work too.
What if something goes wrong?
Check that they have a contingency plan in the unlikely event that they are ill on your wedding day. Would any of your day be affected by rain? Ask the relevant supplier how they would handle it if the dreaded drops do start to fall.
Are their photos up to date?
When looking at supplier’s product photos (wedding cars, equipment hire etc.) check with the supplier to see how recent their images are. The car may have been photographed 10 years ago when it was shiny and new – it may not be looking quite so smart 10 years on!
3. MEET FACE-TO-FACE
Nothing can beat the power of a face-to-face meeting. You can ask as many questions as you like and you won’t have to wait for any answers. It’s also really important to know that you actually like your suppliers and there’s good chemistry. If you love their personality as well as their work then you know it’ll be a match made in heaven. If, on the other hand, you find you’re struggling to ‘click’ face to face then this should perhaps prompt you to look elsewhere.
4. YOUR GUT IS GOOD
Follow your gut instinct. If you’re getting a bad feeling about a supplier then you’re most probably right. If they’re being slow at getting back to you, they’re unwilling to discuss finer details, answer specific questions or the tone of their email isn’t friendly and open, then you should most certainly listen to those alarm bells ringing in your head and consider going elsewhere.
STEP 2: YOU’VE BOOKED, NOW WHAT?
1. KEEP A PAPER TRAIL
To cover yourself for all eventualities you need to make sure you have documented quotes, contracts, email conversations and receipts on record.
2. GET A SIGNED CONTRACT
Agree on exactly what’s included in your quoted price and then make sure you get a written and signed contract detailing everything that you’ve discussed. It should detail all of the relevant information that is personal to your wedding.
3. DO SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
Make sure that you read each of your suppliers T&C’s very carefully before signing or paying anything. Also be happy and clear on their cancellation policy and payment terms. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask them any questions on anything you don’t understand.
If a supplier doesn’t have a contract and/or T&C’s (sometimes these are included within their contract) then it’s best to find an alternative supplier; these legalities are put in place to safeguard you just as much as the supplier.
A professional supplier should ask for some kind of deposit upon booking. It should be a reasonable percentage of the overall cost and any staged payments should be proportionate to the likely work that will have been carried out at each stage of the process. Remember that paying a deposit is a good thing; it’s in place to give you peace of mind as much as the wedding supplier.
2. DON’T SCRIMP ON THE THINGS THAT MATTER
You obviously have to work within your own budget but consider what your priorities are; maybe it’s the photography or the catering? Consider paying that little bit extra for the aspects that are important to you to ensure you have a supplier that you’re really confident in, rather than just trying to find the cheapest deal.
1. TAKE OUT WEDDING DAY INSURANCE
It’s always better to be safe than sorry and with policies starting from as little as £50 you’d be mad not to make this small investment. Be sure to check what’s included in the small print though – you don’t want to find out that your venue has closed down only to discover that venue closure isn’t covered in your policy.
2. SUPPLIERS INSURANCES
Check that your venue and suppliers all have their own insurance policies covering the services that they are providing, including contingency for errors and accidents caused by them.
I hope that this post has helped alleviate any planning worries you may have had, for further recommendations visit Be Wedding Wise.