Here's the thing. I know its hard to hire wedding vendors....of any kind. There are so many choices, so many good looking websites, so many different opinions...it's dizzying! I also know that DJs/Entertainment/Lighting vendors might just be the hardest to hire of all of the wedding vendors you will be interviewing. It's not like you can bring 40 of your friends to a consultation, ask the DJ to make them dance and BOOM! You found your vendor. With today's technology, it's not hard to make a good looking website...it isn't difficult to make a good looking bridal show booth... and it only makes good common sense to have a prospective client meet with whoever is the best salesperson in the company. So, as a wedding couple looking to hire an Entertainment/Lighting vendor, how do you know what the product at the wedding will actually LOOK and SOUND like? How do you know what's REAL?
So, a conversation, about this exact topic, I had with a new client this past week really struck a chord with me. The client was looking for a quote on some specific lighting design elements: Uplighting, a Monogram, and some Crystal Columns. Like any vendor would do, we encouraged the couple to come into our office for a consultation. It became clear, pretty quickly, that the client was wary of setting a live consultation without a quote first. Realizing this, we sent the client a quote for the items they were looking for and attached a bunch of pictures of our lighting design work in the specific venues they were considering. A few days later the client called back and booked the lighting on the spot and set a consultation appointment to discuss our DJ services. The client confided in me that they were having a discussion with another vendor for the same items. The other vendor was reluctant to send a quote (took 4 emails), had only "stock images" on their website of lighting design, and, despite claiming they had done lighting design in the venues the client was considering, could not produce any images of their work in those venues (what, your phone has no camera?). Despite our quote being a little bit higher, we were excited that the client chose to do business with us. I think that there is a lot to be learned from this new client of ours on how to figure out what's REAL.
Here are some specific tips on how to make sure that the product you are actually buying will match your vision.
1. Don't Trust a Stock Image
Hey, this one is easy. If you are looking for an example of a vendor's work, make sure the images you are seeing are truly examples THEIR work. If a vendor is using a stock image of a product as an example, then they may not have ever even performed that kind of service before. Do you recognize the venue in the picture? If a vendor tells you they've worked in a particular venue before, they should have images of their work in that space. Everyone has a camera phone...
2. Ask Your Other Vendors
Other vendors are often the best resource you have for insight into hiring decisions. If a DJ/Lighting company has claimed to have provided a particular service in a venue, ask that venue's management for what they thought of how it went. A match of personalities between you and your vendors is critically important, but almost equally important is the relationship between vendors. Ask the vendors you are interviewing who else they like to work with. You will get great results when you hire a team of vendors who all enjoy working together.
3. Find a Way to See the REAL Product
Hey, seeing is believing, right? While visiting another couple's actual wedding reception can be tricky to arrange, has the vendor you are considering found another way to have you meet their event staff and see them perform or showcase their services live? Many of the best vendors will host open houses, showcases, demo-nights, or some other format that allows prospective clients to get a glimpse of what the actual product will look and feel like. If a vendor you are considering has not found a way to do this, it makes you wonder what they don't want you to see, doesn't it?
And, on that note (at the risk of turning this blog post into a commercial)...Make plans to attend VIP2014, our showcase party that we host with some of our favorite vendors. Our Semi-Annual VIP Party will be held November 15th at Eagle Vale Golf Club, co-hosted by Events by Jen, and with vendor participation by Stacy K Floral, Natalie Sinisgalli Photography, McCarthy's Tents and Events, Gourmet Goodies, Rochester Wedding Magazine, and Santiago Cigar Factory. At these events, we, in essence, throw a grand party with the help of some of our amazing friends in the industry. We have all of our DJs perform, display all of our lighting design services, open all of our photobooths, provide an open bar, and show off the work of some other great wedding professionals. It's a party showcasing great venues (In this case, Eagle Vale in Fairport) and the work of awesome vendors. For more info or to RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org!
There, now you have a plan to figure out what's real! Good luck out there!
John Roach, Agent of Awesome