Wedding Planner Networking

7 Simple Steps to Building a Professional Wedding Vendor List

The excitement of getting your very first client is an amazing feeling. After all that's the whole reason you started this whole wedding planning gig, right?

Just as important, though, is developing relationships with your local professional wedding vendors.

So while you're waiting for your first bride to walk through the door, chart your course of action to develop an amazing list of professionals who will be integral in helping you create the weddings your clients want.

1. Get out there!

Introducing yourself to wedding vendors is critical since these are the folks who will become an endless source of referrals for you. Get out there and meet everyone, with an emphasis on everyone!

Think beyond your typical caterers, florists and photographers. Travel Agents, make-up artists, massage therapists, ballroom dance instructors…you never know where that next referral is coming from.

2. Introduce yourself to other wedding planners

Instead of thinking of your fellow wedding planners as ‘the competition', think of them as an endless source of referrals for your wedding planning business. Yes, referrals!

Imagine that you and I are both wedding planners in the same town. A bride comes to me needing help with just day-of wedding services. The thing is that I recently made the decision to work on full-service weddings only. Rather than turn her away, I call you and ask if you're interested and available to help her.

Or perhaps a bride requests your professional wedding planning services but you're already booked on her wedding day. Imagine how grateful your bride would be if you're able to recommend her to me, another fab wedding consultant.

You get the idea?

Unless (or until) you have an entourage of wedding planners working for you, it's unlikely that you can handle all of the wedding planning business in your town. Get to know the other ‘professional' wedding planners out there…you'll be so glad that you did.

3. Make a list of potential vendors

Your next step is to make a list of the specific vendors you'd like to meet. A good place to start is the local vendor listing on The Knot. Don't contact anyone just yet. At this stage you're just creating a list. Look at vendor websites, read bride testimonials and you'll soon get a feel of whom you'd like to know better.

Local bridal shows are another source for wedding vendors. Typically the show organizers print a program and list wedding vendor names on the bridal show website.

4. Schedule wedding vendor appointments

Set a goal to meet a certain number of wedding professionals each week. Call each vendor and arrange a 15-minute appointment to introduce yourself. Taking the time to make the call shows them that you're a professional.

Don't just ‘drop in' unannounced!

I've found that most vendors get busier as the week progresses, so you may want to arrange for your appointment to happen earlier in the week. Of course, that may not always be the case. Each vendor you contact will let you know what time works best for them.

5. Research each vendor

Once you have secured an appointment with a wedding vendor, familiarize yourself with their company before your meeting. Check out the company website, their blog, Google them, read brochures, etc.

Although the point of the meeting is to find out as much as you can about the vendor's line of business, think about how you will answer any questions s/he may have about your wedding planning business. Be prepared to answer questions succinctly and with confidence. Nobody wants to hear you ramble on about yourself (except you, perhaps).

6. WIIFM:”What's In It For Me? (the vendor, that is!)

Yep, that's right; think carefully about what you can do for each and every wedding vendor you meet. Do you have a shared interest? Or someone that they would be interested in working with?

When you go out of your way for another vendor (or any person for that matter), you increase the likelihood of that person doing the same for you.

7. Ace the vendor meeting

For your face-to-face vendor meeting, dress as you would for a client meeting. No rumples, or wrinkles (on your clothing that is :)) Remember the adage ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression'. You are representing your business.

Bring extra business cards just in case your vendor asks to keep a few on hand to share with his/her clients.

Center your energy and attention on the vendor. Turn off your cell phone ! Even if s/he doesn't extend the same courtesy to you–so don't get flustered if phone calls, clients or staff questions interrupt the flow of your meeting.

Remember…

  • Some wedding vendors may not be helpful or welcoming. Don't take it personally–that's probably the way they treat everyone!
  • Most vendors are friendly and generous with their time.
  • Most vendors are eager to meet with you.
  • Wedding professionals form a close-knit community, ideally all of them will get to know you.
  • Vendors will become an endless source of referrals for you.

HAPPY PLANNING!

This Post Has 48 Comments
  1. Hi Debbie

    After some advice. In the early stages of setting up my own wedding planning business. Do I need to register as a sole trader or a limited company.

    Confused not sure which way to go.

    1. Maureen,

      When I began planning weddings, I operated as a sole proprietor. However, the goal was always to incorporate or separate the business from my personal assets. After a couple of years I setup as an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation). Not sure if that’s the best arrangement for you, but definitely speak to an expert (my accountant helped me). Don’t let this stop you from getting started with your wedding business, however. Get going and make this a goal.

      Hope this helps. πŸ™‚

    2. Hello I’m new at coordinating weddings. I can say that out of hurt from my wedding being not as I dreamed, I ended up helping a friend and my passion came alive. I always knew I loved weddings. Planning gives me a chance to help other brides not experience what I went through. I admit I get carried away πŸ™‚
      I have did about 10 FREE weddings and that has gotten old. I had one recently and after meeting with the couple and getting them on track the backed out on me. It was then that I felt if this is something I will be doing and I enjoy, then I need something in place. I’m seeking any information that you may have that will help me.

      1. J’NEEN,
        I did something very similar for the first 32 years of my career as a DJ.
        What you need to do is become your value. At this point you are doing a great job in convincing everyone around you that your value translates to $0. Your time, effort and knowledge all have a dollar value attached to it and it is your job to figure out what it is. Without knowing you or your work, I can assure you that your value is plenty more than $0.
        Free consultations are a great marketing tool and a fantastic opportunity to let the potential client know how knowledgeable you are and how they would benefit by hiring you. When lawyers interview for a job they do not argue the case before the judge as part of the interview process.
        Learn to stop short of designing the event for them.
        If and when you get turned down because they do not want to pay your value, know that was not the client for the business you want to have.
        Cheers!

        1. Fantastic advice from someone who clearly knows! Thanks so much, Josef.

          — Debbie

      2. Hi There! I just saw your post as I was researching how to become a wedding planner/decorator… I saw that it was recent, and so I just wanted to tell you that I am doing the exact same thing! My wedding decorator did an absolutely awful job, and it really ruined the experience for me, and now I am doing a friends wedding for basically free! (not free, but almost free…$300.)

        If you have any tips that you could pass my way on how you got started I would appreciate it! I’m having a blast doing this wedding for her, and really emphasizing the customer based service so she doesn’t have to experience what I went through too! Congrats on finding your passion and I wish you nothing but the best!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your insite into this business. I have always loved event planning and weddings. I started out helping brides the day of their big event while helping out my best friend who was their photographer. I realized I had a knack for it and decided to make a go of it… so excited to get started! Thanks for all the advice and guidance.

    Kelly

    1. Hello Kelly,

      Thanks so much for your feedback. Congrats on making the move toward being a wedding planner! Best of luck. If you haven’t already, stop by on a Tuesday if you can for a live episode of Confetti, the wedding planning business talk show. It would be great to talk to you. http://ConfettiRadio.com

      –Debbie

    1. Hi Maddie,

      Thanks for writing. Glad you’re finding the info helpful. There’s a lot to learn but it’s doable. πŸ™‚

      –Debbie

  3. Hi! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog.
    Is it tough to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about setting up my own
    but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any tips or suggestions? With thanks

  4. Hi Debbie,

    I was wondering if you have any advice or tips for wedding vendors that would like to meet with wedding planners. I recently started a wedding photography business and would like to introduce myself to wedding planners working in my city. What is the most appropriate approach? Thank you,

    -Pavel

    1. Hi Pavel,

      Thanks for taking the time to write. My first suggestion for meeting wedding planners in your area would be to to contact a few of the wedding planner associations to see if they have a local chapter; there should be no shortage of ‘serious’ planners there!

      Also, check-out websites where wedding vendors are listed (you may, in fact, be listed there, yourself), and reach out to wedding planners that way. And last but not least, see which planners are listed as ‘preferred’ at some of the popular wedding venues in your area. They usually only recommend planners who are ‘true’ professionals.

      Hope this helps! πŸ™‚

      –Debbie

      –Debbie

  5. debbie! you have no idea how much i love you right now. am a nigerian and an aspiring wedding planner, but at times this dream of mine scares me, but you just put an end to that… thanks for being an inspiration…XOXO

    1. What could be better?! Getting so much love all the way from Nigeria! Thanks so much for your feedback, Ibiyeye.

      Being scared is a sign that things are about to change for you. That’s a good sign; a really good sign. Take action and keep going, okay?

      You made my day. πŸ™‚

      –Debbie

      1. am glad i did. guess what? just got a copy of my own fabjob guide to become an event planner.

  6. Hi Debbie,

    Thank you so much for sharing your expertise with me! I cant even put into words how helpful you have been. I am very young (24 to be exact) but I have always been the center of event planning within my family. I am currently completing my undergrad with a major in Public Relations in Texas. On top of that I started working as a Custom Printing Specialist at a local stationery shop creating wedding invitations and attending bridal shows. Unconsciously I positioned myself for this industry. Better yet, God did! I have only barely put my foot in the door, but so far I am loving it and I know becoming a wedding planner is my calling.
    Again, thanks so much! After reading your articles I feel a sense of confirmation that this is what I should be doing! πŸ™‚

    -Sherwanna

  7. I’m only 17 years old and it’s pretty clear to me that this is the career path i want to go down. I am studying a 2 year course at school in Hospitality & Events Management. I want my own business, as i am a born leader – got this from my mum! What is the next step for when i finish this course? I know i’m still young but i want people to take me seriously

  8. Hi! I am just now getting into the wedding planning business and am jumping in feet first. I have done tons of research, am looking into local vendors, have set up a website, and made a facebook page to try and get as many clients as I possibly can. I just started this within the last couple weeks, I have had a few brides message me about pricing and packages but haven’t had anyone set up a consultation yet. I am DYING to get my first client already!! Are there any tips you have for me on how to spread the word about my business and how I can book more brides??

    1. Hi Stephanie, during the February 2014 Confetti LIVE! episode, I read you question, however, without knowing more about your wedding planning business — i.e. what sets you apart from the other planners in your area — it’s difficult to provide you with an effective way to book more brides. If you could share more info on the Listener Talkback Line =1202-681-2126, I’ll try my best to help you.

  9. I am trying to build my vendors list, but what do I say to them exactly for them to take me seriously. For example I called a bakery the other day and I said: “Hi, my name is Tatiana and I am building my vendor’s list, so I was wondering if I could get 15 minutes of your time to learn more about your company.” I think I might of also said: “to see if we are a good match”, which I am not sure if that’s ok to say. like Stephanie, I have a website and I am connected to social media, I am writing a blog, but I can’t get the first bride. HELP! btw you are AMAZING!!!

  10. You have made this so much easier for me. But I was wondering if it would possible to get one of your wedding idea kits in the mail? If it is possible please send me an e-mail. I would be grateful.
    Thanks
    Jennifer πŸ™‚

  11. Dear Debbie . I am writing to you to thank and congratulate the items on your page. I tell you , I am from Argentina . Thus not speak very good English , so I had to use a translator . I recently finished a course in Event Management . I have helped organize family birthday parties , and I really liked , so I decided to study . I own a venture where I sell things and deal with customers of all types. But despite this , I have fears of facing a new challenge. Where he studied conducting impractical , and today I feel a little insecure , although I want to start throwing parties . I appeal to you, to guide me and to tell me if you really despite the fear I can move forward? I do not have a physical location for the event, you can rent to other people? Nor do I have photos or articles to help me integrate into the world of social events. Is there any way to help me have more confidence to take ? . How to make the client does not realize I’m new at events. ? from and I appreciate your responses. And again thank you very much for providing so much information that helps us especially to pricipiantes . Greetings .

  12. Hi Debbie,

    Thank you for all you do for fellow wedding industry professionals! I am in the beginning stages of building my wedding planning business, and your site and advice has helped me come a long way. I have one question for you though….what is the best way to make initial contact with other wedding planners and build a relationship with them? For some reason, I have this idea that they won’t give me their time knowing that I’m new to the group or might just see me as competition. How can I properly word my contact with them to make them see that I am worthy and am not just their competition but a friendly fellow planner?
    Thank you so much!
    <3 Kelly

  13. Hi Debbie. This is my first visit to your blog and I just wanted to thank you for posting this super useful information. I’m a wedding photographer and have just started networking with like-minded vendors. I have plenty to meet with, but I’m super excited (and nervous) about contacting them. Thanks again!

    1. Hello Otto,

      Welcome! Thanks so much for writing.

      It’s natural to be nervous at first, but, try to think of each meeting as a fact-finding mission (which is what it is). Go with the intention to learn all that you can about a vendor. Forget about being a wedding photographer (for a moment).

      With an open conversation, both parties are more relaxed. At some point, without you having to introduce the idea, the conversation will make its way to being all about you. THEN, you can let them know all about what you do.

      Keep going! πŸ™‚

      — Debbie

  14. I have a hard time getting vendors in my area to even talk unless I already have a bride that has booked them. A venue would not talk to me until I booked a bride that had booked them. Then It was easy to get a hold of them when I needed to ask something or schedule a walk thru. I have found that the smaller businesses like me are more willing to talk.

    1. Hi Kelly,

      Sorry to hear you’re having such a hard time. And you’re right, smaller and lesser-known wedding professionals are usually eager to talk to you.

      Just know that if another vendor or venue doesn’t see the value in meeting with you, that’s on them. Don’t make it your issue.

      Also, make sure to position this meeting as opportunity for you to learn more about what they do so that you can recommend them to your clients. Stay away from the “I’m a wedding planner and wanted to introduce myself…” approcah. Make it all about them.

      Hope this helps. Keep going! πŸ™‚

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  16. Hi!

    I read on how to meet with the vendor above however, can you please let me know while in the meeting with the vendor what should I bring with me? I would like to make a folder for him what can I include in this folder as a vendor kit? I am new to this industry i opened my event planning business three months ago. I do not have a portfolio yet. Please advise if you can.

    Thank you!

    1. Elena,

      Make the vendor the focus of this meeting. This means presenting a folder about YOU probably isn’t necessary. a business card is all you need at this stage. Save your portfolio for your vendor thank-you letter and follow-up. Hope this helps.

      — Debbie

  17. This is a really good article, any direction is great for a newbie. I’ve personally done a lot of weddings and private events over the years and at the time, there was not much to help me gain knowledge. Kudo’s!

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback, Wayne. And, of course, you’re right! Back then getting info about the wedding industry was kinda ‘cloak ‘n dagger’, LOL. Happy to help.

      — Debbie

  18. Hi Debbie, I’m receiving my bachelors in elementary education in two years but I also want to become a wedding planner as a side job and something just for fun (not looking to make this a career). I really don’t know much about wedding planning, flowers, wedding venues, etc. Do I need to go to school to become a wedding planner? If not, then what are the first few steps you suggest I take?
    Thanks!!

  19. Hi Debbie,
    I am so happy to have came across this forum. I am a graduate of 2003 bridal school. And went on with life with out giving another thought of a career in Wedding Planning- until now. And I just don’t know where to start. Well I have been researching for information. I have decided to do this out of my home office, (to save on start-up). Being that this is new with no clients as of yet. Can you tell me how to go about putting together a portfolio,(wedding photos) since I haven’t as yet had any clients. I would appreciate any help, advise that you can give. Thanks Debbie.

  20. Great ideas! As a photographer I’ve been looking to branch out and reach more couples through other vendors. And as a photographer I’m in a unique position to refer couples to other vendors as a photographer is sometimes one of the first vendors they book.

    1. Hello Malachi,

      Thanks for your feedback. You’re absolutely right, as a photographer, you are in a great position to connect with other wedding vendors. Don’t sleep on it! πŸ™‚

      – Debbie

  21. Wedding planner are requires for successful and best wedding, thank you for sharing the nice tips.