Check wedding suppliers – why you need to check your wedding suppliers.
Not all wedding suppliers are the same. Not all are full-time professionals. Not all will be around when your wedding comes around. A few simple checks on each of your wedding suppliers will help ease your mind!
Do they have a landline or just a mobile?
This is about investing in a business. Even if you are working from home under the stairs you should really have a separate landline from your home number. A landline is easier to trace and check than a mobile. And to be honest, traceability is a MUST.
How old is their website domain name?
An easy one to check:
The older the domain name the longer they have been around.
Is their website a cheaper freebie?
Business should invest in themselves. You can easily get a free website from the likes of Wix or Vista Print or SmugMug for example. However when you look at a business that won’t invest in itself by spending £5 a year on a domain and £25 a year on hosting you need to ask yourself what else are they scrimping on?
A BIG giveaway is having the offering company name (Wix or SmugMug for example) on the front of the website itself.
You can check who owns a website name (called a domain name) using this tool – WhoIs
It gives a list of very useful info such as who owns the domain – and if you are looking to find that supplier that did take your money and run this may be a good place to start IF they did register it themselves. Sometimes companies like VistaPrint own the domain name and just rent it to the supplier. Again, not a good business decision and you should think about why a legitimate business who wants to be around in a few years time should do that.
Is the website look and feel professional?
Who has designed the website? A professional company or some kid in a bedroom doing it for a few beers? Many business owners will not invest in a web design company and do it themselves. That’s ok, but the site should look and feel professional. It is about that investment again.
Does it work well on mobile as well as tablets and desktops?
With the rise of the free website companies you need to be very careful about this aspect; it’s very easy (though time-consuming) to design a great looking website.
Does the business have a professional email address?
An email address like “wephotographweddings @ yahoo.com” should fill you with dread. (apologies to wephotographweddings who may use that email address by the way!). Professional hosting (or indeed semi-professional hosting for that matter) will give you an email address that is attached to the business name:
charlie @ wephotographweddings.co.uk
Again, it’s about that lack of investment in a business.
Do they have an address on their website?
Some different legislation comes into effect here, and it will depend on various things.
An address MUST be listed on an invoice – so you can trace it and if required serve court papers to that address. If no address is listed or given then DO NOT PAY THE INVOICE UNTIL YOU HAVE A VERIFIABLE ADDRESS.
If in any doubt use a Credit Card (all credit cards come with insurance), or PayPal via a Business PayPal account. DO NOT send money as a gift or to a personal PayPal account.
Do they use invoices or just send an email asking for money? Even new business can use web-based invoicing systems easily enough. It’s all about running a business.
If ANY supplier asks for cash walk away right there and then. It’s not because of HMRC rules etc – it’s because you have no legal recourse. If you offer to pay cash fine – get a receipt with the companies details on. Mobile number, email, landline, property address etc. Check those details!
Do they only have a Facebook Page?
Again this is about investment in a business. Nothing wrong with Facebook, but they are easy to set up and remove. In fact, I can do just that in 15 minutes using a fake profile. It would have amazing images from Google and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
Look for suppliers who have a website AND a Facebook page. Look for suppliers with a Facebook page that is updated regularly – at least 2-3 times per week.
If a photographer isn’t updating their Facebook page ask them why. It is our bread and butter for advertising. It’s not because they are too busy it’s because they don’t have enough work. If they are too busy they are earning enough to pay someone to update it for them
Other Social Media Channels
Are they on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc? Do they update those regularly?
How about checking LinkedIn for the suppliers that are supposedly “full-time professionals”? It’s worth a look to see if in deed they are what they say they are.
Paperwork and Documentation
Do you get the sense it’s been rushed or has there been some thought put into it? Do they have a set of Terms & Conditions that cover what they do, what can go wrong, delivery time frames, what’s included etc, complaints procedure? Does it look ‘legal’ or does it look cobbled together?
Is that set of Terms & Conditions on their website?
If the price seems ooooh good to be true; it probably is. Yes, you can amazingly low but high-quality suppliers and those are few and far between. There is a reason a Mercedes costs more than a Skoda you know…
“Two full-time professional wedding photographers attending all day at your wedding. One 30cm x 40cm wedding album with 50 pages, one A1 Canvas for £300”
(and yes, I’ve seen this kind of pricing going on.)
That is too low. No one can make a profit from that let alone two full-time professionals. If a business can’t make a profit how long will they last?
They may be doing it part time – but even then they need to cover their costs etc.
If you see stuff like “Registered with HMRC” on a website; ask them what is actually registered. If you work and pay tax you are ‘registered’. Do they mean they declare their income on the work they do? Good; ‘cos if not they are defrauding the government and hence you!
For some extra info on how business ‘should’ operate:
Every business should hold Personal Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance. Just ask them for proof; they should be able to supply it in 48 hours or less. If not run a mile fast. In fact, some venues I’ve worked at have requested to see proof of my insurance before allowing me to work there.
If they are a cake maker or other business that handles food ask for the food hygiene certificate for example.
Can you get a set of samples sent to you for evaluation? Or maybe an engagement session from the photographer/videographer to see how they work and the finished article etc?
Wedding Photographers / Videographers – Check their work.
It is easy for a person to pick up a camera/video camera and attend a workshop and get amazing images. In fact, I’ve been on workshops using models that are size 0, look stunning, dresses that were perfect, hair and makeup done by professionals etc. All I had to do was press the shutter – no thought to anything. The models did everything and the tutors did the rest. Boring as hell. However, it does mean that getting stunning images for a portfolio isn’t hard. Getting them in real life under the real pressures of a wedding is hard.
Check the portfolio of the supplier!
- Does all the work have a consistent look and feel? – That’s a good sign.
- Do some of the work look totally different to the others? – That’s a bad sign.
Have you seen a full portfolio from a full wedding? Bridal prep through to first dance with the same couple? If not – ask to see it.
Do the wedding photographs look ‘professional’? Sharp shadows just behind people? Red eyes? Sharp images? Group shots with no one looking at the camera?
Wedding Photographers / Videographers – Check what kind of backup they have.
Backup hard drives (on site and off site as well as cloud storage) isn’t expensive these days. Every single photograph should be backed up as soon as possible onto separate hard drives etc. Ask your supplier about their backup process; do you feel safe in what they say?
How long do they keep backups for instance? Do they charge for backups?
Even if things go wrong with hard drives the suppliers business insurance will pay for the hard drive to be rescued.
OH. MY. GOD. Awards. There is an award for every supplier in the world it seems. However, there are awards and their awards. I’ll concentrate on wedding photographers.
If the award is from a website then ignore it. They are easy to get and not worth the pixels. It’s voted on by other people using the website – and we all know how social media can be manipulated.
Is the award for a posed / stages shot or is the shot typical of the portfolio you have seen in real weddings? Again many photographers will attend a workshop, get everything set up by someone else and then submit that image. FAKE. If they can’t do it for real then don’t book them.
If it’s a national or internationally recognised body then great. However, do a Google search for the awarding body and date and name of the photographer. I’ve come across photographers saying that have won awards when they blatantly haven’t.
Is the award actually for WEDDINGS? Yes, best to check. I asked one award winning photographer what the award on his website was for and it was for an aircraft photograph taken about 5 years previously. BUT he was an “Award Winning Wedding Photographer”. You work it out.
Personally, I DO NOT enter awards/competitions etc. Being busy with 40+ weddings a year is the best award I could get – that of satisfied and happy clients.
As you can see from my own Facebook page I don’t keep reviews on it. Why? It’s not because of disgruntled clients, far from it. It’s because of idiots on Facebook who troll!. Facebook makes it very very hard to give a right of reply or remove fake reviews. Google, however, are much more professional. Google reviews are also better from a website search point of view – so again if they are serious about their business then look at the Google reviews. Here are my Google Reviews.
DO NOT BELIEVE reviews that are just on a website. Think about how easy they are to fake!
Check wedding suppliers – In Summary
This isn’t a definitive list and is by no means intended to be exhaustive. At the end of a day, a brand new business can have none of the above and be amazing. An old established business can have all of the above and be crap.
Only YOU can decide if it’s worth it.