What Made You Super Love Your Vendors?

We want to give your favorites a little something for free

As I’ve helped my BFFs plan their weddings this year, I’ve noticed the same two issues plague them near constantly: family drama and lack of wedding vendors. And while the family drama is making me consider opening up my own wedding therapy practice (for realz, someone give me a 1-900 number and we can talk it out), the vendor stuff feels like it should have resolved itself by now. Except, then I remember that there’s a big difference between planning a wedding in a major metropolitan area and planning a wedding where I got married. (In a smallish city where the wedding industry is like… four venues and a handful of people your friends used for their wedding.)

Case in point: One of my BFFs is getting married in Maine at the end of the month, and she could not, for the life of her, find a makeup artist. The one makeup artist in town who everyone uses is obviously booked up through 2018. And everyone else was either unavailable, too expensive, or not the right fit. (Mostly because everyone else was like… six people.) And while wedding planning inevitably involves compromises, choosing a napkin you don’t really love isn’t exactly the same as choosing… a face…. you don’t really love?

And while we aim to help solve that problem with our own vendor community (who really are the kindest and most talented people in the business), it’s harder when the people you’re looking for are the kind of vendors who might not even have their own website. Because chances are, that means they are also not spending dollars on advertising.

But I have good news! We just launched a brand-new vendor directory with a FREE listing option. No strings attached, no gimmicks. We just want to make it possible for you to be able to find great vendors. And we want to fill it with all the best people we can find. Which is why I’m opening up today’s open thread to you guys. Can you help us out and do one (or more!) of the following?

  • Either send your vendors this link and tell them to fill out a (no strings attached) free mini listing. Or leave their information in the comments below, and we’ll reach out to them for you. (I know you’re busy.)
  • Second, I want to know what it was that made you truly love the vendors you loved? We’re constantly chatting with our vendor community about how they can be better serving our community, but it would be even better if that feedback came directly from you.
  • Lastly, I’d love to know where YOU found your vendors. Online? Word of mouth?

I was lucky to have had only amazing professionals at my own wedding. And then doubly lucky to have been a vendor myself, working with the best community on the planet (you guys, duh). And I firmly believe everyone deserves that. So help us help you?

List your favorite wedding vendors in the comments below! They don’t even have to be from your own wedding. Did you love your brother’s wedding photographer? Know a friend who’s a kick-ass baker? Drop their deets!

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  • Lisa

    Things I loved about our best vendors:
    1. Organization: I never felt like they were flubbing around trying to remember the details of what we’d discussed. They had all of the information down, and I never needed to go back through my e-mail to find confirmation that I did indeed request a specific thing. They were on top of it from the beginning.
    2. Transparency: They gave a straight up list of prices (preferably on a web-site) and were up front about fees for anything additional from the beginning.
    3. Timeliness: E-mails received a response within 24 hours, and follow up came through on the prescribed schedule. I didn’t feel like I was chasing them down to get information.
    4. Personality: They were good people who were friendly, informative, and professional. We sincerely enjoyed chatting with them and felt they understood the vision we had for our wedding.
    5. On-line Payment Options: Several of our vendors allowed us to use Chase QuickPay instead of writing a check. This made final payments so much easier the week of the wedding because we were able to send the money electronically (sometimes as we were sitting there talking to the vendor!) instead of remembering to bring the check book, have the checks pre-written, and then give them to a family member/friend who could make sure they were distributed appropriately.

    Favorite Vendors in Chicago:
    1. Wasabi Photography – Travis was amazing. Not only did the photos turn out beautifully, but he was devoted to customer service and make sure we had a great experience working with him.
    2. Hala Beauty – Nikki was a great make-up artist, and she really helped me to define a look for the wedding day. She made sure I had extras of things like the lipstick so I could touch up as needed throughout the day.
    3. Events by Jack – Thought of literally everything. I cannot sing his praises enough.
    4. Hubbard Inn – Created a beautiful event space for us, cooked up some fantastic food, and made our guests feel welcome. When there was an issue with our reservation, they made sure to do right by us even though it meant an inconvenience for them.

    • Zoya

      YES to #2! My biggest complaint with wedding planning was how few vendors list prices on their websites. (Vendors, Y U NO LIST PRICES? We wasted so much time contacting folks who were way out of our budget.) We also ran into a bunch of unannounced extra fees with our caterer, which was a major sour note in an otherwise great experience.

      One caveat to the website thing: we originally chose one of our vendors in part because she had a clear price list on her site. She turned out to be a disaster (see my comment above). We found that a much better indicator was whether folks had a clear, concise rate sheet ready to go when we reached out for a quote.

      • Eh

        When I was looking at venues I was really frustrated that so many did not have price lists online, or the pricing was confusing.

        And my caterer also had extra fees that he did not tell us about until we got the final invoice at our reception.

      • Jan

        We didn’t even reach out to people without listed prices. No time for that crap.

      • Bsquillo

        Playing devil’s advocate here, as a working wedding vendor (band): one reason vendors may not list prices publicly is because they really can vary quite widely depending on the client. We do have a set hourly rate for music, but the bottom line is going to be affected by travel distance, total time commitment, sound rental or not, specific song requests, mc duties, etc. It’s way easier to shoot all of that detail over in an email quote than it is to lay it out on a website with limited context.

        However, vendors shouldn’t string you along either- you should be able to get a detailed quote in a timely manner (that includes all fees) in one email.

        • Katharine Parker

          This makes sense, and I remember a florist commenting on here with a similar explanation. (My floral price changed basically up until I got married, as we changed so many things along the way… Adding four floral chandeliers will do that!) In cases where fees vary widely, a minimum and average are really useful to have on a website, along with quotes as requested.

        • penguin

          I’d even accept a price range at that point, with notes that it will vary depending on what you request. There were florists I contacted who said they only take full weddings (i.e. including centerpieces), and their wedding minimum was $5,000. That would have been good to know for me and my $500 budget.

    • Eh

      I wish more vendors had on-line payment options. It was pretty annoying having to prepare cheques and make sure the vendors were paid (since we didn’t have a wedding party, the vendors were told to talk to our MC/DOC but most of them still bothered me or my husband).

      • penguin

        And anytime they say that they have an online pay option, but pass the credit card fee onto us, I hate it. It feels ridiculous to still have to write checks.

        • Eh

          A few let me eTransfer deposits but wanted cheques for the remainder. This made no sense to me.

          • penguin

            Yep some of ours let us pay the deposits with credit cards, but the rest of the amount had to be cash. My dress store took credit cards for everything, but say they need cash for the seamstress for alterations.

        • Eenie

          We thought our photographer was going to charge us for the credit card and she said she considers it the cost of doing business these days and doesn’t charge extra. She had a super cool online contract system too so we could sign and have access to everything.

          • LAinTexas

            This. I’m a virtual assistant, and I never pass off the fees to my clients. I did, for a long time, choose a certain way of invoicing clients that took minimal fees (literally $0.50), but it would take 7-10 days for money to get to my bank account that way. I finally got tired of waiting so long to receive the money, so I switched to methods that take the larger fees but that get me money quicker. I don’t pass those fees off to my clients, because that’s shitty, and anyway, they’re a business expense, which means I’ll get a percentage back when I file my income tax return. I also have “a super cool online contract system,” lol. :)

    • Engaged Chicago

      I am LOVING Jack! I think he’s charging us double what you had but I feel so calm and grateful for his foresight that honestly I want to pay/tip him more!

      • Lisa

        I am so glad to hear that! We had a special referral from a co-worker of mine who was going to be our DOC but had to back out because of a work event. She used to work under him, which is why I think we got the discount. I’m happy you think he’s worth the investment, too; I would happily have paid his full fee for the peace of mind he brought us.

        • Engaged Chicago

          Oh that makes sense! He is literally my main hope for knowing the day can run smoothly/to my expectations and dreams. Haha I just feel like he gets things done. So good to know he did well by you too.

  • Lindseym

    Not wedding related, but it is amazing how much difference one tiny thing can make. For example, we all once went to a backcountry cabin in AK that required a LOT of effort to get to. When we hiked/kayaked out after three days, we were exhausted and really hot. When we got on the water taxi, they had a cooler of ice-cold beer for the 45 minute ride back to Whittier. I had been grumbling about the cost of the water taxi before the trip, but that completely changed my perspective. Even though that provider was more expensive than a different one in the town, I would use them ANYTIME now.

  • Zoya

    We found our planner/coordinator and our photographer on the APW directory, and they were the two vendors we were happiest with! They then recommended other vendors to us, and we fleshed out the rest of our wedding vendor list that way.

    A couple things that made each of them stand out:

    – We had a terrible experience with the first wedding planner we hired (she ghosted us, and we had no way of getting a response from her or getting our deposit back). We eventually found Jessica Franklin at Dreams on a Dime, and it was such a relief to work with her. Not only was she super-flexible and pretty responsive, but she also helped us figure out which wedding traditions it made sense to stick with, and which ones we could jettison. At the wedding itself, she fit in with our crowd so well that most of our friends assumed she was just another guest!

    – Manali Anne Photography was probably our favorite vendor! I’m super camera-shy, while my husband loves having his photo taken. She made us both feel incredibly comfortable, and was really warm and bubbly. Her photos are goooooorgeous and her pricing is super-transparent. She really went above and beyond for us–giving us rides in her car, sharing restaurant recommendations, even cleaning my husband’s glasses with her lens cleaning cloth during a photo session!

  • AtHomeInWA

    Will the free vendor directory still be part of your Sanity Pledge? What I like about the current vendors page is the idea that they have been at least somewhat screened. I don’t mind finding out a vendor isn’t a good match for me, but it is nice to know the APW vendors are not downright icky.

    • ssha

      I clicked the link for filling out the form, and it links to the Sanity Pledge and asks them to sign. Is that your question?

      • Kate

        On that note – APW, am I misreading, or is there a ‘not’ missing in your pledge? “… We strive to make our language and marketing inclusive of the above, and directed solely at “The Bride” or “Bride and Groom”.”

    • It will! All vendors still have to agree to the Sanity Pledge when they sign up, and they will still be screened by us, even if it’s a free listing.

  • Colleen

    I looooooove my photographer. (Kendall Shea of Fuck yeah photography). She had a pronoun box on her client contact page, a very clear non discrimination statement, easy to view and bursting with love photographs on her website. She was super pumped about meeting my fiancé and sweetheart. Communication has been super flexible, and she’s been incredibly upfront with the financial aspects and her limits.

    I asked for recommendations for photographers who had worked with LGBT couples before in a local wedding Facebook group and she was strongly recommended.

  • sage

    For most of the vendors where I didn’t care as much about the end product, I used google to research a few options in my price range / location, then decided based on gut feeling and whoever gave the most timely and professional responses.

    For photography, I decided to go with Amanda Summerlin after reading amazing reviews of her here on APW.

    For the DJ, I went back through my mind of all the most fun dance-party weddings I had attended nearby over the last couple years and asked my friends for the relevant DJ info. Most were large entertainment companies where you may not be able to select a specific DJ, but one (Clayton Chaney) is a college grad from my alma mater who works independently from the entertainment companies. He is awesome, and he offered a discount to fit my budget since we have mutual friends.

    Ironically enough, I ended up contacting one of the entertainment companies I had passed over for a DJ to see if we could hire them for a photobooth. When I explained that we were no longer looking for a DJ because we had found one with whom we had a personal connection, the company offered us a discounted rate on the photobooth.

  • NolaJael

    I feel like the vendor problems go both ways – I was involved with a small church that was gorgeous in a 100+ year old way and *cheap* considering how expensive New Orleans can be, with no restrictions about interfaith marriages, etc., but they still had trouble getting their name out there and would only have like 8-10 bookings a year? I feel like there needs to be an Etsy of wedding vendors. Something smaller than the WIC sites but less sketchy than Craigslist…

    • Sounds like a business idea right there!

    • Lindsey

      If the church is a non-profit, then they might not be able to advertise without affecting their tax status. At least in my state of Minnesota, for my church to advertise to book wedding business would be construed as the church acting as a for profit business.

  • Trinity
    • Julia Schnell

      Just FYI, the link you posted had the “)” too close to the URL so it throws a 404 when you click. Nothing a quick edit can’t fix! But also, this photo is gorgeous!

      • Trinity

        Fixed–thanks!

  • Eh

    We got married in my husband’s hometown. It’s an hour from the city we live in so a lot of the vendors from the city won’t travel there (or charge a lot to travel). It’s also small so there is not a lot of choice (it’s more about knowing who not to go with). We found pretty much all of our vendors through word of mouth since most of them did not have websites (some didn’t even have contacts, which was a bit unnerving).

    If I knew someone who was getting married, I would recommend our officiant, florist, photographer and piper. Everyone else was ho-hum (probably because of the lack of competition).

    On top of the fact that those vendors did a great job, they also treated us with respect and understood that we don’t plan weddings everyday (unlike them, who do provide services to people who are getting married on a regular basis). They provided us with the information we needed and didn’t make us feel stupid for asking a question or not knowing what they were talking about. The officiant and florist were particularly good about walking us through the whole process.

  • Our vendors are listed in our APW Real Wedding, and highly recommend each and every one of them. Why did we love them? Because in their own ways, each of them helped us realize our dream of being guests at our own wedding. Our coordinator handled everything so we wouldn’t have to; our photographers/MUA/decor people all showed up on time & did exactly what we asked; our venue came through big time with everything we requested. Throughout planning all our vendors were great about fast communication, meet deadlines, and were transparent about costs. Really I couldn’t have asked for a better group of vendors for our wedding.

    Link to APW feature – https://apracticalwedding.com/mcnamara-alumni-center-wedding/

    • Alison

      It was through your post that I booked Ask The Moon for my wedding. They were the best “throw money at this problem to make it go away” expense.

      • Yay! So glad to hear you also had a great experience! :-)

  • SF Bay Anon

    Salty Raven photography! Danielle’s pictures make me all swoony every time I look at them. OK, so part of it is just that my wife is hot. But also Danielle framed things so beautifully, made us so comfortable, and gave us just the right amount of guidance so that we look like two good-looking people in love. (Instead of two awkward ladies wearing more makeup than usual, which is what I was afraid of beforehand.) She was amazing with all the relatives, from the elderly aunties down to the squirmy babies, generous with her time, flexible when our day-of schedule went a bit haywire, and just a rad person to hang out with besides. She’s local to Massachusetts but made it easy for us to hire her for our SF Bay Area wedding. Straightforward about timelines and pricing, considerate, helpful, goofy, down-to-earth, queer-friendly–I can’t say enough good things.
    Not really a wedding vendor but sort of: Nick’s Pizza in Oakland supplied pizzas and salads for our reception and they were rad. We worked out a fair price, including delivery, and felt good about supporting a beloved local queer/trans-owned business. They even made us a special seasonal wedding pizza flavor! Everyone loved it and stuffed their faces.

  • Julia Schnell

    In the Cleveland area, our venue was great to work with! smARTspace at 78th St (http://78thstreetstudios.com/smartspace-at-78th).

    We also had a great caterer, if tacos are your thing: http://bombatacos.com/ Really responsive staff, really delicious food, really reasonable price. (I think it was around $3k for 100 guests).

  • Rose

    We found some of our vendors (photographers, clothing, rings) through APW, so I don’t really have any to refer! The others we found through word of mouth or people we knew, honestly. Some of those was huge successes (our church, the local flower farm that provided some of the flowers, and the band) and one was not so great (the caterer). The flower farm was Arrowhead Dahlias in Longmont, CO; they sold us two gorgeous buckets of flowers (one alllll different amazing dahlias), and I know they used to do arrangements too, although I’m having trouble finding information about that now. http://www.arrowheaddahlias.com

    I really like finding unknown vendors through APW, because I knew that they’d signed onto that sanity pledge and that they wouldn’t mind working with us. Even getting married in a pretty liberal area, with unknown vendors I always felt that concern that maybe they wouldn’t be down with a gay wedding. Even if they’d agree to do it, I didn’t want to hire anyone who wouldn’t be supporting us. So one of the biggest things that I looked for when looking up vendor options was whether they had any representation of queer couples in their online materials, or any other indication that they’d be welcoming to us. Also transparency in costs, I really preferred the places that had costs online.

  • lamarsh

    I LOVED my florist (picture below, because why not?) Daffodil*Parker in Madison, WI. (http://www.daffodilparker.c… They work with any budget and they never tried to upsell us on anything. Even my husband loved them when he went to the final meeting (and he definitely was not interested in flowers to begin with). https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fb4b1b2cac5dc87436670095fec4791a304490808a3cd567f1641d64fe7f97e3.jpg

    • ssha

      I LOVE your bouquet.

  • Zoya

    Oh! I forgot to mention our florist, whom we found through a glowing recommendation from a friend. We worked with Natalie Marvin from Belle Flower in Emeryville, CA. She has a really cool aesthetic, organic and a bit funky. We left pretty much all of the design up to her (we said, “here are the colors we’re wearing, we want colorful and bright, go!”) and she did a fabulous job. People kept coming up to us during the wedding to ask who did the flowers!

    We originally asked for some flowers to decorate the chuppah, but on the morning of the wedding it was so windy that the chuppah kept blowing over. At the last minute, Natalie made the call that it wasn’t safe to add the extra weight, so she repurposed the flowers for the cake table instead. If anything, it looked even better!

  • Lisa

    Seconding all of the things that Lisa loved about her vendors (organization, transparency, personality, etc). I also looked for:

    1. Flexibility: Our vendors knocked it out of the park in terms of working with us to make our vision come to life. This included willingness to travel 2 hours outside of Chicago for a backyard wedding, menu customizations, finding and hiring extra staff, last-minute changes, etc.
    2. Ethicality/Politics: We specifically looked for businesses that supported the LGBTQIA community, were owned and run by POC, were willing to put themselves out there for what they believed in, and donated a percentage of their profits to organizations we supported.

    We really lucked out with all of our vendors. Here are some of the many favorites:
    1. StyleMattersDJs.com (Chicago): DJ Max had us fill out an insanely detailed form to get to know our musical preferences, Skyped with us (since we lived out of state), and kept the dance floor full from beginning to end with club-style mixing and turntables. No chicken dance here. We added extra time because our guests were having so much fun. Then, when we tried to compliment his skills, he complimented our family for being out there non-stop.
    2. TuanB.com Photography (Chicago): Adam & Matt took the most beautiful documentary-style photos, and they were both friendly and responsive. Their customer service is top-notch. They’re also members of Stand Up Chicago and the Green Wedding Alliance, and they donated a portion of our fee to the ACLU.
    3. Paella-Party.com (Chicago & Naples, FL): Ken was willing to do whatever we wanted, gave us multiple sample menus with prices listed, and delivered fantastic seafood and vegan paella to the Illinois countryside. He even hired dishwashers at our request so we didn’t have to figure that out. When we met to try the menu, he came to our house, cooked it in our kitchen, and we had leftovers for days.
    4. Anna-Be.com Bridal (Denver): Anna Be and their sister store A&Be have such beautiful and high quality dresses and respect your price cap. The staff was really helpful without being judgy or obsequious, and they didn’t bat an eye whether I was there by myself, with my groom, or with an entourage.
    5. Needle Me Knot (Denver): Mehrnoush altered my dress perfectly and is an all-around lovely & kind person.
    6. TheRegimentShops.com (Boulder): My husband had his suit made here and has had other suits and overcoats tailored here. He was very particular about his outfit (why don’t people acknowledge that grooms care about weddings too?). Gary takes such pride in his work – finding the right fit for each customer and making them feel comfortable whether this is their first suit or their 100th.
    7. AGoodDayInc.com Stationery (Canada): Jordan answered all of my emails immediately, as though he was waiting for them to appear. The stationery is gorgeous and he was happy to show us multiple drafts until it was exactly as we wanted it, worked to make sure the Hebrew lettering was correct, and got our stationery to us really fast despite having to go through customs.
    8. BrackishBowties.com (Charleston): My husband bought a custom feather bow tie and matching feather boutonniere/hat pins for his groomsmen. They were happy to customize, gave us a bulk discount, and the results were spectacular.
    9. FiftyFlowers.com: This online store’s customer service was above and beyond. They contacted me to confirm my order, inform me when the flowers were sent, and announce their arrival. They also had detailed care instructions and would expedite shipping if they needed to replace anything, which they did not because all of the flowers arrived perfectly.

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  • Kaitlyn

    We’re not getting married till April, but I’m already in love with my makeup artist and photographer. My MUA was the biggest sweetheart during my trial and is coming in on her day off to do my makeup for my engagement photos next Monday (!!). My photographer was actually a little bit above our set budget, but J and I loved her so much during our meeting, we booked her. She reminded me of someone that would hang out with us and we would be comfortable with her following us around all day.

    Both are super responsive to my emails and have been super helpful with other recommendations I might need (like where to get my hair done for my engagement photos!).

    They’re in Rhode Island: ProRadiance Artistry and Meagan Emilia Photography :)

  • We had a lot of friends donate expertise for our actual wedding, but we had some great local vendors at our reception back in our city. Carte Blanche Catering (Cafe a la C’art), our caterer, was wonderfully flexible and creative in our budget, incredibly professional and helpful on the day (our reception had the simplest cleanup of just about any event I’ve been to due to the help and expertise of the catering staff), and the food was delicious (and fantastically vegetarian). We also loved our venue– Tucson Museum of Art. It was beautiful, affordable, easy to work with, and had a great feel for us. (Added bonus– since they are the kind of place that does their own events, they had lots of amenities we could affordably add on- linens, tables, chairs, sound system, etc.)

  • ssha

    Mariah was our photographer! http://www.mariahjoyphotography.com/ Her work is stunning, and she’s a ton of fun. She has a lot of experience doing intercultural weddings, too (ours wasn’t, but just throwing it out there). What I loved: She didn’t make us do weird poses, but captured us naturally. She ran through family photos like a boss and even my hates-being-photographed spouse, who was dreading the photo session, still had an intact smile at the end.
    We didn’t really have any other vendors- friends/family did our cake, decor/flowers, and makeup/hair (although my hair stylist is a professional, she doesn’t have a website or really advertise for events). While it was nice to have people we trust doing all those things, whose work I had seen before, looking back I think I might have hired a wedding coordinator to save my sanity (if we had had the $$). Maybe then my phone wouldn’t have been going off every 12 seconds with someone with a wedding question. Or maybe it still would have. *shrugs*

  • mjh

    Our wedding was small and homegrown, with just a handful of our very closest people. We only hired one vendor, our photographer Anna Kim https://annakimphotography.com/ Anna is based on Maui, but I think it’s worth hitting her up for photography on any of the islands. Our wedding on was on Lanai and she was totally cool about it and made everything easy.

    We did everything else for the wedding ourselves, but we knew we wanted amazing pictures and decided that it was worth throwing down for a great photographer. Still, we were a bit worried that it would feel awkward having photographers at our 14 person, intimate backyard hangout style wedding. It wasn’t awkward at all. Anna and her second shooter jumped right in and it was like we’d invited some cool new people we met who brought cameras.

    The photos are *amazing*. They’re the kind that don’t just look great, they capture all the emotion in those moments perfectly. They’re the kind of photos that you flip through and you can point to one and remember exactly what smack your friend talked right before it was snapped, when the picture shows you cracking up. They’re the kinds of photos that make you pull out your photobook when you’re stressed or annoyed with your partner, and the flood of your love for each other and the love from your people comes pouring in from the photos.

    If you want a photographer who will answer alllll your questions, unobtrusively melt into your wedding day, roll with whatever weirdnesses in where/how/with whom/what you do for your wedding with absolutely no shade, and give you amazing pictures at the end, hit Anna up.

  • jem

    Maddie, what part of Maine is your friend getting married in? I’m pretty sure my MUA travels to southern ME and I absolutely loved her– http://www.makeupbykira.com

    I also LOVED our DOC. She was just so normal and cool and supportive. I want her to be my BFF and the only thing I miss about wedding-planning is my regular email correspondence with her– Boston brides, you need Erin in your life: http://www.erindoes.com

  • Amy CT

    We’re planning our April wedding from 17,000km (10,500 miles) away, and I have some very serious allergies, so all of our vendors have been selected based on “how well did they respond to mild interrogation by email?”

    It’s been a little intense, but being so far away and not being able to visit/meet with anyone/anything while choosing has meant that we’ve gone with our gut and things seem to be coming together just fine.

  • Jan

    I loved our photographer. She was very sweet, listened to what we wanted, and was super unobtrusive on the day. She also asked all the names of our family and close friends and then practiced them ahead of time. Everyone was so astonished and flattered that she knew who they were! She also has an online payment option and was affordable, both of which were fantastic.

    Our caterer was great as well, although they were not very communicative in the month or two before the wedding. Still, though, we felt very taken care of and like they were truly invested in the day. Our point of contact was not the day-of event lead and wasn’t supposed to be at the wedding, but she dropped in unexpectedly anyway and said hi just because she wanted to see it all and congratulate us.

    One thing I wish we would have done was hire a day-of coordinator. We had a sort-of DOC in my friend who helped do set-up while we got ready, but it was a really big job for him and I think hiring out would have been smart for many reasons.

  • Allison Lampe

    So I didn’t have a ton of vendors, because I handled a lot on my own. But the two main ones we had as a big part of the day were absolutely phenomenal!

    Music Inc. DJ was our MC and DJ for the evening and I cannot stress enough how awesome he was. He went above and beyond as a DJ and honestly was half the reason the night went so well. He was grabbing drinks for the head table, dismissing people to eat for us, helping me mingle, even helped set up the lighting before we arrived apparently. The music was perfect and the dance floor was always going. My favorite moment was when he took our photo booth and guest book to a wheelchair bound guest so he could add his picture without trying to traverse the whole room. It was so incredibly thoughtful and just a step above. And his prices were so reasonable, especially for the amount of time he put in. Cannot recommend him enough.

    http://www.yourpartymusic.com/home.html

    Then there were our photographers. The Fairs are a married couple out of Peoria, IL who just plain kick ass. They’re so easy to work with, and their work is just beautiful. Their eye for detail and catching the beautiful little moments between all the pretty poses is what I love most. I will tout these guys forever because they are seriously such an absolute joy to work with. Plus Laura is just invaluable to a bride, with safety pins and various survival gear at the ready at all times to help the day go smoothly! They love to travel too so if you’re not in Illinois, don’t rule them out!

    http://Www.thefaits.com

  • Rachel

    Our wedding here.
    http://marahgrant.com/2012/08/dan-rachel-wedding/

    Anna Held Floral Studio (Chicago). They didn’t frown on my desire to DYI our flowers. And they let me order bridesmaid & table flowers from them in bulk (yay! Mango Cala lilies!). At the last minute, I asked them to arrange a boquet for myself and a boutineer for my fiancee which they pulled off elegantly.

    Marah Grant Photography (Indiana). Her travel fee was reasonable and we got a discount for booking a Sunday wedding. She has a decade of experience and is so easy to work with. (Really personable). She could get the shot she wanted with just a couple camera clicks.

    JR Dessert Bakery (Evanston, IL). Makes amazing cheesecakes. Highly recommend key lime cheesecake…

    Refined Dining (Plaines, IL). This is a family business. They worked with our budget (a big relief to my family), and were professional in every way.

    Formally Modern Tuxedo (Chicago). Great selection and sizing. Good customer service too. Thank you for making my man look good on our wedding day!!!

  • Rebecca

    I loved our photographer, Katherine Wilson (on the south coast of NSW in Australia – please don’t neglect her just cause she’s in Oz, it would have been really useful to have a more widespread vendor list when I was looking). I found her online and loved that people in her photos looked super natural and happy instead of posed (she does mostly candid).

    What made her stand out for me was her communication and ease. She responded to everything quickly, called me when she got lost and was going to be ten minutes late to the house where we were getting ready (called! For ten minutes! I have close friends who aren’t this courteous!), and fitted right into a small group of close friends and into the wedding. Some people don’t remember ever seeing her because she was so natural in her movements.

    She was also cheaper than others in the area, loved our dog, turned a several hour trip to my location into a family holiday with her husband and kids so that the travel costs were minimised, uploaded print quality photos instead of online ones so that distant family could print their own and gave us free mugs with our initials and an A4 print as a surprise wedding present (my husband thinks it’s silly to be happy about this because she would have built it into the cost, but I agree with my accountant friend that since we were happy with the price just for photos it is a kind of bonus).
    I don’t know whether she still does all these things but I do think they indicate a consideration that is super valuable.

  • Abs

    Ha we found literally all our vendors through APW (or APW-vendor’s
    recommendations), because we were planning from a distance and I didn’t have the time to spend sorting out people we didn’t click with. Everyone was great (if you’re in DC: Lula Mae Events for coordination was AMAZING, Timber Pizza for food, event at Eastern Market, DJ from mydeejay.com. Also photographer Smitten Chickens was great and has no travel fee).

    Our main priority was to have people who wouldn’t judge our wedding or have weird gender assumptions like we had seen at so many other weddings. Also people who would work with the fact that we weren’t going to be there until two weeks before–willing to do Skype and Paypal, etc.

  • Her Lindsayship

    Commenting way late but really want to put in a plug for our DJ, Sara Williams in the Boston area. (She also does planning/coordinating, but we only hired her as a DJ because of budget reasons.) She had great energy and talking with her felt comfortable, but she didn’t have that overly hyper DJ personality. She fit in great for us. She had a questionnaire to figure out what kind of music we were into and specific requests, and then we also just sent her a bunch of Spotify playlists for different parts of the day to give ideas, and what she did with that was essentially PERFECT. We didn’t leave the dance floor because she just kept playing our jams. She did a great job of reading the room, too, AND she threw in a ridiculous throwback because it featured in my sister’s speech about the first time I introduced my husband to her, AND she may have read our minds because she played the most ideal last song for us, and it’s one of our favorite memories from our wedding. She also stayed late because we had run behind schedule, and she was so chill and friendly about it.

    We were happy with all our vendors, but she really went above and beyond so I want to recommend her to everyone. I would definitely also recommend Central Bistro in Boston as a venue – they were amazing to work with in the months leading up to our wedding, the food was incredible, and they handled everything for us in terms of set-up and tear-down, so we just dumped a bunch of decorations on them the day before and then showed up to party, and then marched out to after-party. I don’t know if venues are included in the vendor directory, but I really hope Central Bistro makes it in because it was ROUGH trying to find a Boston venue in our budget that still felt special, and I hope other low-budget-for-Boston couples can get in on that!

  • Brigid

    We used Hanna Agar Photography, a conceptual portrait photog out of Wisconsin who’s creative, a stellar listener, and just good company: http://hannaagar.com/

  • Anna

    So so so much love for our photographer Shawnee Custalow (of A Lovely Photo) – she’s been featured on here several times and I’m pretty sure I found her through APW already, but just wanted to give her an extra shoutout because she was so great to have around during the wedding and the photos were KILLER.

  • Mmmmkay

    We got married in the Texas Hill Country, and I couldn’t say enough about our vendors.
    1) Viridian Design Studio (http://www.viridiandesignstudio.com/) did our month of coordination and flowers and were absolutely amazing. They helped transform a camp dining hall into a really beautiful reception space, were super friendly, and so easy to work with. Our bouquets were beautiful and they also had some great recommendations for our other amazing local vendors.
    2) Raw Mane Lounge did hair and make up, and they were phenomenal, I could not say enough good things about them.
    3) Kimberly Chau Photography (http://www.kimberlychau.com/) did our photos. She’s super professional, kind, and well versed in weddings. I would recommend her a thousand times over for how wonderful she is.
    4) Cartewheels Catering (http://cartewheelscatering.com/) did our dinner, and people still talk about the food we had today. The tasting was delicious, the dinner was fantastic, and dessert was to die for. They also did a great job with our request for Italian Sodas since our site was a dry location per policy. They had plates prepared for us and an awesome post celebration take home bag also set up.