Spotlight: The APW Vendor Directory

Hey there, Team Practical!

Associate Editor Maddie, here.

One of the things I remember most clearly about planning my own wedding was my vendor search. Wedding blogs hadn’t hit it big yet, and I’d never planned a big party before, so armed with only Google and  a somewhat pleasant phone demeanor (Michael calls it my “phone voice,” but usually that description is accompanied by a sour face) I went to town trying to find people who were local, who fit in our budget, and who wouldn’t laugh when we described the kind of laid-back wedding we were planning.

It was hard. Which was why I was so thrilled last year when Meg announced the APW vendor directory. Even though my wedding was looooongg past, I was excited for the people who were now planning their weddings and could take advantage of this awesome tool. Which is funny, because even though I’m a sponsor as well as Associate Editor, and I pay for front-page advertisement, I’m also a reader, and I still really value the ability to search for a specific kind of vendor in a specific area that starts and ends at a specific price point. Especially when that price point is teeny tiny. There, I said it. I’m a vendor directory junkie.

Which is why when Meg mentioned that we were going to write about the benefits of shopping the vendor directory , I jumped at the opportunity. So here are some of my little secrets about the vendor directory that you might not have known about, as well as a few spoilers for what we’re doing this summer to make it even more awesome:

  • The vendor directory is extra friendly to those of us with smaller wedding budgets. It’s no secret around these parts that front page advertising costs more than the vendor directory (and it should, because we put a ton of time and resources into our front page advertisers, but that’s another story for another day). But what that means is that usually our vendors in the directory are newer wedding elves who are up-and-coming in the wedding industry and working their way up towards front-page sponsorship. In the meantime, many of those advertisers (especially of the photography persuasion) are offering introductory prices as they build their businesses. Translation: lots of the vendors in the vendor directory are going to be right in line with your budget (and you can search them by geography and service type! Win!)
  • The vendor directory has a greater variety of services available to you than the front page. I’m sure you’ve noticed that many of the front-page sponsors tend to fall under the same few categories: photography, jewelry, sometimes fashion. This is mainly because those businesses specialize in weddings and are therefore able to concentrate their advertising budget on a specific market, which makes the front page a good fit for them. But for other services where weddings are a part of the business and maybe not ALL of it (DJ’s and makeup artists, for example), the vendor directory is a perfect place for them to advertise and begin to build their wedding clientele. What does this mean for you? You can finally find a sane florist who has agreed to the sanity pledge and will help you figure out a bouquet that matches your taste and your bottom line. Oh and you don’t have to worry about getting those promoted Google ads for 1-800-Flowers in the vendor directory.
So now let’s talk about some things we’re doing to make the vendor directory more awesome and bring you even more goodness this summer:
  • Vendor Highlights: Coming soon, we’re going to bring the vendor directory folks out of the shadows and into the spotlight. Each week on Monday afternoon, we’ll highlight a different vendor group that you can find within the vendor directory, along with links to their businesses. Then, once we’ve highlighted some of our existing vendors, we’ll be letting you know when we get new vendors to the directory. That way, if you’ve been dying to find an affordable photographer in the NYC area who takes just that kind of photo you love, you’ll be the first to know when they’ve arrived.
  • Ask a Vendor: Ever wonder why a certain kind of flower costs more in a certain geographic location than another? Or really, just want to ask what a good alternative to peonies is because you think you love them, but you live in New England and have never actually seen one in real life? (Who? Me? What?) Well, now you can ask the professionals and maybe (hopefully) save yourself some planning headaches along the way.
  • General Improvements to the Vendor Directory: As we work to bring you a greater variety of more affordable vendors, we are also working hard to improve the directory itself. Spoiler alert: we are hard at work improving on the existing search function so that you can narrow down your search even more specifically than you already can. We are also doing everything we can to fill out the directory with as many different kinds of vendors as possible (especially in those underserved regions where it never seems like we have enough representation). So if you’ve got someone you’re working with this summer that you absolutely love, send them our way!

At the end of the day, the vendor directory is a win for everyone. It allows us to bring you more affordable vendors, in harder-to-reach corners of the globe. It allows newer talent to get their foot in the door and work with this awesome community. And, with the sanity pledge, it allows us to take one small step closer to creating a network of wedding professionals who are committed to treating clients like people and vice versa.

So, if you’ve been dragging your feet on choosing vendors because you were feeling frustrated with the lack of availability, or just couldn’t pull yourself together for another Google search, then go check out the vendor directory. And if you did end up working with someone that you found on Google (or Bing? Do people use that?) and they aren’t in our vendor directory, but should be, please send them our way. Everyone deserves to work with creative, sane wedding elves that they can afford (and with awesome clients, like yourselves).

Staff Picks

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  • Caroline

    Love the vendor directory! That’s how I found our engagement photographer (Melissa, you are great!) here: We’re from Atlanta and didn’t know anyone to suggestion a NYC-based photographer. APW saved the day!

  • Carolyn

    This is awesome! Two things:

    1. I TOTALLY have a Phone Voice — who doesn’t? I call it my Adult Voice. My sister and I both bring out the Adult Voice when we really need to get something done. Not to be confused with the Comcast Customer Service Voice, which is another scary thing ALTOGETHER.

    2. Yes … you do love peonies. Trust.

    • Maddie

      I do love them! I recently moved to California where apparently you can buy them at Trader Joe’s for $7 (is it witchcraft? Possibly.) There is a bouquet in my vase right now. :)

      P.S. BAHHAHA Comcast Customer Service Voice.

      • I kind of have a black thumb, and yet have a couple of peony bushed in my front yard. I grew up calling them ant flowers because the ants eat the sugar on the buds to help them open? Or something? Whatever, they are always covered in ants, and I still think it’s funny that they’re considered this amazing plant, because it’s one of the few things that actually grows easily out here!

      • Carolyn

        They really, really, are the best. I had a bouquet of peonies on my wedding day (a little over two weeks ago!!!, and yes, it being Peony Season was a priority in setting the date … heh heh) and it was totally the second best part of my wedding. It was HUGE and I think it weighed 6-7 pounds, no lie, and my florist deserves garlands of gilded crowns for making that happen, and I should totally add her to the Vendor Directory! [comment coming full circle]

  • These are all such great ideas!

    I’ve recommended the vendor directory to all my good friends planning weddings on a limited budget!

    And to any budding wedding elves thinking of joining the vendor directory, I can say from personal experience that it’s totally worth it! People started coming out of the woodwork to ask me about my services, and they were people who wanted to work with ME, instead of people who google/binged “photographer” and sent a mass email to everyone who came up.

  • We friggin LOVE the Vendor Directory (and not just because we’re on it…mwahaha). When we get inquiries from couples APW and not, and are already booked, we generally just aim them in the direction of the Directory and tell them that if they’re APW approved, they probably rock socks. Can’t wait to see that puppy filled out.

  • Kate

    I love the vendor directory, just wish there were MORE vendors! I’m having a terrible time finding an officiant in CT…any suggestions, anyone??

    • meg

      Don’t worry, we wish there were more vendors for you too! This is Step One of the plan ;)

  • I was looking for the vendor directory a few days ago (needed some cute birthday jewelry and like to support AWP sponsors!) Anyway, just thought I’d tell you that it took me a while to find the directory, I ended up using the search facility. Now I see your screenshot I realize why – I can’t see the tab on the left side of the page. Is this the case for anyone else? I use Firefox on a regular monitor (not widescreen). Now I know it’s there I’ve zoomed out and I can see it, but looking at my regular view of the site its not visible at all. Just thought I’d let you know in case you want to put some extra links in the sidebar or on the header.

    • meg

      It’s one of those “you use the internet how you use the internet things”. IE, if you have APW zoomed in really close, you’ll cut things off. We link to the directory in almost every post though, at the end. Plus! You can zoom out!

      • Lturtle

        Meg, just FYI those little left hand tabs don’t show up at all on an iPad either. I use my iPad pretty exclusively on the internet, and no matter how I zoom I don’t see them. Not a criticism, I just thought you should be aware of it. I didn’t even know those tabs existed until I saw this screen shot, and I can’t be the only one accessing APW on a tablet.

        • Richelle

          Never knew there were left tabs because don’t show up on iPhone either

    • Sarah

      Could also be happening if you have Javascript turned off. I switch to my least locked down browser when I’m looking at the directory so that I’m confident I’m not missing things.

  • As a wedding elf myself, I love the vendor directory. I listed my photog business for the first time earlier this year and have already exceeded my goal for bookings thanks to the ever-so-supportive APW community (and I’m looking forward to more!). I am genuinely excited for every single wedding coming up this summer/fall and I know I would not have been able to connect with these couples if not for the vendor directory. Thanks APW!!

  • Woohoo! Can’t wait to see the improvements! I’m brand new to the vendor directory, but I have good feelings of what’s to come.

  • Marie

    I’m dying for some venders in the Cincinnati area! I hope some join the directory!

    • Most of Michigan here!!!

  • Claire

    I wish there were more vendors in Australia! I’ll send some towards APW when I use them but I wish there was something easy for me (especially budget wise) :(

    • Ditto for mainland Europe!

      • meg

        Mainland Europe is harder, since the main language isn’t English, so we don’t have tons and tons of readers. But it’s flat out absurd that we don’t have vendors in Australia, where we have TONS of readers. Send them to us! Let’s do it!

  • Lisa B.

    I’m really hoping there will be more vendors in Michigan sometime soon. Looking forward to the new improvements! :)

  • Jessica Schilling

    I’m a big fan of the vendor directory! Like Stephanie, I’ve also met my goals for photography bookings this year mainly from APW couples who found me in the directory, and that is an amazing feeling. I also like browsing through all the other categories to see who else and what else is out there in this very talented group of businesses you’ve brought together. Can’t wait for the new features!