How To Select a Vendor When Planning a Party

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In the following blog, I have taken an excerpt from my upcoming book about event planning for the budget conscious consumer that discusses how to select your party planning vendors.  What I have learned through the years at A Wynning Event is the importance of working with the right vendors who perform the job you hire them to do and provide the guests with quality service and entertainment.

When it comes to hiring your caterer, florist, entertainment or rental company it is best to have a budget in mind for each category prior to meeting with the vendor.  I know I sound like a broken record when covering the budget issue but it is the driving force of what you can do and what the vendor is willing to do.  You don’t want to receive these unbelievable beautiful menus and floral designs only to be disappointed that you are way off the mark with what you can afford.  It is always better to start off smaller, with less, and then build.  You would be surprised with what you can get away with at times at a fraction of what can be spent.   

Unless you have a favorite vendor, be sure to obtain competitive bids.  This allows you to see if the vendor is on target with what you want to spend on your party, as well as check to see how the way they operate.  Different vendors can bring a unique thought process into the mix that contributes to the creative process of the party.  If you are not familiar with a particular vendor, it is perfectly acceptable to ask them if you could come to an event they are working on.  This applies to a caterer or entertainer and allows you to see how they operate, what their presentation is like and how their staff interacts with the guests.  Every time a new caterer wants to work with A Wynning Event, I always request to see them in action, and it has never been a problem.  Please note that I am not sitting at the table with the guests; however, at a large event that the vendor is servicing, I will come early to observe.  This is an excellent way to check out bands, musicians, and DJs and to see their interactions with the guests.   

It is important to check their references.  Again, if you are not familiar with their services there is no reason why you can’t speak with previous or current clients.  It’s amazing how many people don’t bother to call to see how someone they are going to be spending thousands of dollars with runs their business.  Checking references is a good way to verify your vendors actually will deliver what they promise on their proposals.  In regards to caterers, it is very important to research their capabilities because you don’t want to run out of food.  You want to ensure the portion size they will be serving is adequate and they are up-to-date with following the local health code rules and regulations. 

Once you have hired your vendor, sit down with them and go through their contract and proposal thoroughly.  Understand what they are going to deliver and insure the work they propose to do for your event meets your expectations.  For example, when I work with a DJ, I find it best to first brief them on the type of event they will be working at as well as my goals for that particular event.  This briefing helps the DJ bring the right type of music to the party.  It also helps the DJ to understand the crowd they are entertaining and to set the tone for the celebratory event.  At A Wynning Event, we always request that either the DJ comes up with a rough play list in advance or have the DJ supply us with their music catalog so the client can select their playlist.  Knowing the crowd we are working with helps the DJ have the right music at the right times and the client and guests are happy and having fun.  No matter what type of vendor you hire, you want to do as much pre-planning with them as possible so their work will exceed your expectations and there will be no questioning when hiring them again for your next special event. 

When hiring a rental company whether it is for a big event that requires tenting, lighting, large quantities of tables, chairs, etc. or a smaller event in which you are just renting plates, glasses and silverware it is always best to have the items delivered at least one day in advance.  Of course, larger parties require a longer set-up time but even for small events I produce I have the rentals come a day in advance.  An advanced delivery insures there is no stress if the truck breaks down (happens), a wrong item is delivered (happens a lot), not all your items are delivered (happens almost always) or you end up adding on at the last minute (happens too).  Better safe than sorry and no need to add stress and not have your barware walk in with your guests.

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