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Booking our Major Vendors

January 21, 2014

For the most part, booking our vendors was a relatively easy selection process for us. ¬†Of course, being in the industry, we were already familiar with the work of those that we wanted to work with which helped immensely. ¬†We do recommend meeting with 2-3 vendors in the bigger categories of importance to you. ¬†You’ll want to make sure you like their work, but also their work ethic. ¬†Most of the time you can get a good feel for a person by spending a little bit of time with them. ¬†If something doesn’t feel quite right, it may not be a good match, and there’s probably someone else suited to your tastes just a phone call away.

I had actually known for a long time that I wanted us to get married in Jackson Square. ¬†Several years ago I was helping Doug photograph a wedding in Jackson Square, and as we headed over to the reception I looked at him with puppy dog eyes, and said, “Can we please get married here?” ¬†That day stuck, and ultimately that’s where we knew we would end up doing it once the time was right for us. ¬†We love this city with everything in us, and Jackson Square is the center of it all. ¬†To us it represents all things New Orleans — the people, the history, the music, and even the aromas of the food are all just steps away. ¬†During our ceremony we could actually hear a brass band playing in the background. ¬†To some, this may have been an inconvenience, but to us, it just added to the authenticity of our Nola wedding. ¬†Another reason for wanting to wed outdoors is that we’re crazy photographers — we wanted the beautiful daylight for our photos. ¬†All of this considered, and after only four hours of sleep on the night we got engaged — I was up at the crack of dawn calling the Parks and Recreation Department to find out how to book our date.

Which I suppose I should take a step back for a moment and talk about selecting a date. ¬†It’s a good idea when you start calling your major vendors to have one or two dates so that you can see if everyone you want aligns on a particular date. ¬†Doug and I had actually even discussed dates before he proposed because as wedding photographers our lives are planned out pretty far in advance. ¬†Like most Nola natives that have outdoor weddings especially — our first option probably would have been sometime in October. ¬†However, that is always our busiest month of the year. ¬†The next nicest weather month we decided was April. ¬†I’ve always thought of the number 7 as being lucky, so April 7th it was!

The night Doug proposed he informed me that he had already booked Groovy 7 for our band, months before asking me to marry him!! ¬†We both LOVE Groovy 7, and hands down knew that we had to have them at our wedding. ¬†They put so much work and dedication into their music. ¬†We have seen them rehearse before — they take it very seriously. ¬† I have tons of respect for them as individuals and as a band. ¬†Each member is so sincere and kind — they are all just honest to goodness amazing people. ¬†And on your wedding day, you want as many people you can find like that surrounding you.

Doug had also already arranged a meeting for the next day with the reception venue that was on the top of our list — Bourbon Orleans. ¬†With having Jackson Square as our first choice for the ceremony we knew that Bourbon Orleans would be a convenient destination for the reception. ¬†We liked the ambiance of their ballroom, and knew it would be about the perfect size for our 150 or so guests. ¬†Everything went great with the meeting, so we signed on the dotted line.

So within 24 hours we had a location for the ceremony and reception, and a band on the books!  What a crazy start!

Over the next couple of weeks we worked on securing the rest of our vendors. ¬†We didn’t know much about flowers, but being the pragmatic people we are, we knew we didn’t want to spend a whole lot of our budget there because we knew it was something that we wouldn’t have afterwards. ¬†But we also realized that the color and such can really add to the style and ambiance in the photos. ¬†We were initially going to meet with two or three local florists that we knew. ¬†Then we realized that we’d have to turn two down if we did this, and we didn’t want to have to do that. ¬†We had recently done several weddings with Ashley of Nola Flora, so we decided to meet with her. ¬†The meeting went great, and we booked her! ¬†Her work is incredible. ¬†I don’t know the names to many flowers –so I showed her photos of some of the things I loved. ¬†The day of the wedding it could’t have been more perfect! ¬†She did a fabulous job!!

Hair and Makeup isn’t necessarily something a bride thinks to book right away, but if you have someone you love, there’s no sense waiting and risking them not being available once you’re ready to book. ¬†Again, I knew that I really wanted Heather with Flawless Bride. ¬†We had worked numerous weddings with her and her team, and the brides and bridesmaids were always happy. ¬†I also knew that from working with Heather that she takes a lot of pride in her work. ¬†She’s very devoted to her clients, and wouldn’t dream of leaving a bride on the wedding day until she’s happy with everything. ¬†I’ve been with her when a bride was having a hard time explaining what she wasn’t sure about , and Heather has so much patience because she wants the bride to be happy. ¬†I think that says a lot about her. ¬†I was completely wowed with each experience I personally had with her. (She did my hair for engagements, bridals, boudoir, and the wedding day!) ¬†For the most part I’d give her a few thoughts as to what I wanted to look like, and then I’d let her run with it from there — each time I was blown away and felt incredibly beautiful. ¬†Heather also has the sweetest personality — and calming presence. ¬†I knew that I wanted her in my room on the wedding day in case I was stressing over anything. ¬†ūüôā

As for videography, we used to think that we wouldn’t need a videographer if our photographer was doing their job — but then we started to see the really awesome videos that are created these days, and we began to reconsider. ¬†Since we were paying for the wedding on our own, it wasn’t going to be something we had a large budget for — so we thought we’d ask what we could get for our money. ¬†However, before we could even approach Studio Vieux Carre, Terry messaged me. ¬†She told me that they wanted to cover our wedding. ¬†They believed in a pay it forward approach being that we are in the industry, and they would love to document our wedding! ¬†I was floored! ¬†I literally had tears in my eyes! ¬†I could not believe their generosity. ¬†Wow!!! ¬†Again — exactly the kind of people I wanted to share my wedding day with. ¬†We have always thought the world of Terry and Joe (her son), they are both so kind and passionate about their professions. ¬†And in one word,¬†amazing!! ¬†The two things after the wedding that we were soooooo glad we decided to have was videography and a planner — and those were initially the vendors we considered opting out of. ¬†I’m so glad we didn’t!!

I briefly touched on the idea of a planner above. ¬†Doug was for hiring someone from the beginning — but I was the one that had to be convinced. ¬†I felt like because we do this every weekend that we wouldn’t need someone because we know what to do. ¬†However, we both agreed to have a meeting with Valerie of Sapphire Events. ¬†After our first meeting with Valerie, I never once looked back. ¬†I was super thrilled to have her included in our list of vendors. ¬†I knew with her running the show that everything would go off seamlessly. ¬†Again — we’ve had the opportunity to work with Valerie numerous times — her work is her passion. ¬†When you hire Valerie, you have someone that will do whatever it takes to get the job done. ¬†When we first hired Valerie she hadn’t quite launched Sapphire Events, but was just doing a few things on the side. ¬†Now, her business is thriving!! ¬†We are so excited to watch her success and growth. ¬†She’s incredible! ¬†Don’t think you can do it all — while maybe it’s possible, it will be stressful. ¬†Let someone else take over all the details leading up to the wedding. ¬†You’ll enjoy it all so much more!!

Finally — of the main vendors, a photographer was obviously the one of utmost importance on our list. ¬†We realized that after all of the food had been eaten, the last song danced, the flowers cleared, the dress cleaned — the only thing remaining would be our photos (and our video). ¬†And as photographers we have such an appreciation for the saying, “a photo is worth a thousand words.” ¬†In our opinion, they are also worth several thousand dollars ūüôā , which is why we invested heavily in our photography budget. ¬†As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it was important for us to talk/meet with several photographers first to ensure that we not only liked their work, but that we liked their personalities as well. ¬†We knew in advance, that of all of our vendors, the photographer would spend the most time with us leading up to the wedding and on the day of the wedding. ¬†We were looking at photographers that were not local, two being out of state. ¬†So we ended up only being able to do phone meetings. ¬†But after we chatted with everyone Stacy Reeves was definitely the perfect match for us. ¬†She got her start in photography in a near identical fashion to Doug — so they hit it off right away. ¬†And Stacy and I just love everything girly and pretty — and her work is so romantic. ¬†I had been a fan of her work for several years — never even considering that someday she might photograph my wedding! ¬†It was so wonderful to to finally meet her. ¬†We’ve become friends throughout the journey — such a wonderful bonus!

Our other vendors also fell into place as we finished up our final details. ¬†We had Abstract Productions for lighting in the reception. ¬†(Lighting is so key to creating ambiance and depth in your photos.) ¬†We hired Southern Hospitality for chairs and some ceremony details. ¬†And we had Wardell Lewis as our Grand Marshall for our second line leading Young Pinstripe. ¬†Everyone went above and beyond — we were so thrilled and so thankful for all of the hard work that went into making our day perfect! ¬†We couldn’t have asked for anything more. ¬†I hope I haven’t left anyone out — I’ll have to pull out my wedding binder to make sure. ¬†ūüôā

Pinterest was just making itself known to social media near the beginning of our wedding planning, but I still looked at a lot of photos without the world of Pinterest. ¬†I simply took screenshots of ideas that I liked. ¬†I’m kind of glad Pinterest wasn’t popular yet, I may have gone crazy with too many ideas! ¬†Below are a few images that I used for inspiration for our flowers, cake, and colors.

Next up…….a ritual if you will, that was passed on to us by a good friend that we put to use for each of our wedding related events. ¬†Stay tuned!



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