Selecting the Professionals for Your Big Day


Your Big Day

The scope and magnitude of weddings varies so much it could take another book or many to describe. The ceremonies and receptions are as unique as the couple getting married. From religious, to civil, to military to elopement, they vary greatly in content and formality.

Some of the customs that appear in wedding ceremonies include the exchange of rings, sharing of wine, the wedding kiss, the processional and the recessional. The customs you chose will reflect your personality, lifestyle and those of the guests you invite.

Selecting Your Florist, Photographer Music, etc.

Selecting the right professionals to make your Big Day a wonderful memory for all, can be quite a challenge. In the big city there are literally dozens, even hundreds to choose from. In many cases, couples ask family and friends for referrals. What do you do when you are new in town or perhaps no one you know has recently married?

When it comes to the selection of your florist, photographer, baker, caterer, musician, etc., I suggest you find those who specialize in weddings. Pick up the phone and call to get a sense of her/his personality over the phone. Ask if he/she is available for your date. Ask for references. Once you’ve spoken to the references, set an appointment to visit their place of business.

In many cases people work from their home. If this is the case, ask them to bring several samples of similar wedding types.

Compare at least two to three professionals in each category, reviewing portfolios and policies. How experienced is she/he with your type of ceremony/reception? Compare prices. If one is too expensive, or too “cheap,” they may not be within your budget or you may run the risk of less-than -perfect workmanship. Remember “you get what you pay for,” and you will be more apt to make the right choices.

In addition to asking for the number of y ears of experience , who their contact person will be, whether they have liability insurance , d eposit and final payment requirements , ask if credit cards are accepted and, how they and their staff dress during wedding ceremonies as well as what their Gratuity Policy is. There are also other important things to consider when selecting your professional. Below is a list of items to cover in your selection process.

Your Officiant/Ceremony Location

  • What papers need to be filled out?
  • Premarital counseling requirements
  • Restrictions to getting married
  • Procedure for interfaith marriages
  • Inclusions in the ceremony
  • Writing your own vows
  • Can family members/friends be included, as readers, singers, candle lighters,
  • What services are provided (music, reception hall, singers, etc.)?
  • The costs for location, officiant, etc.
  • Are any decorations provided?
  • Are you allowed to choose the kind of music you want for the ceremony?
  • Are there any restrictions for photography and videography during the ceremony?
  • Is there a Bridal room available prior to the ceremony?
  • Other weddings that day
  • Custodial services and fees
  • Parking
  • Area for the Receiving Line


  • Legal requirements to serve alcohol
  • Server to guest ratio
  • Cost for a buffet, seated lunch, or dinner
  • Gratuity
  • Cake-cutting, bartending fees
  • Clean-up costs
  • Date of final head count
  • Keeping the leftover food
  • Restrictions on throwing petals or rice
  • Decorations included
  • Dance Floor
  • Kitchen facilities available to outside caterers
  • Available changing room


Did you know that roses are still among the most popular flowers for weddings? According to one survey, seventy-two percent of Americans polled chose roses as the perfect wedding flower. Carnations and lilies came in second and daisies and tulips were the third-place favorites. And although blowing bubbles, releasing doves or butterflies is still in vogue, a shower of rose petals remains the most popular ceremony send-off, replacing the once popular rice throwing and birdseed showers. Flowers symbolize good wishes of hope that your marriage will grow and flourish, thereby playing an important role in the wedding ceremony and reception.

Ask your florist the following:

  • What percentage of business is dedicated to weddings?
  • Do you make pre-ceremony and reception visits to make recommendations?
  • Do you offer the option of renting vases vs. purchasing them?
  • Do you provide candelabras, arches and other rental equipment?
  • Do you design silk flowers?
  • What are your delivery and set-up fees?
  • What are your hours of operation?


  • Who will be the photographer the day of the wedding?
  • Do you have an assistant during the wedding?
  • Type of equipment used
  • Backup equipment
  • Pre wedding site/reception visit
  • Studio portraits
  • Retouch negatives
  • Purchasing negatives/cost
  • Proofs (number, guidelines for keeping them)
  • When finished album(s) will be delivered
  • Cost per hour over contracted time

WEDDING TRIVIA: In Germany, the Bride and Groom hold festively decorated candles during their ceremony. Dishes may be thrown against the Bride’s house to bring good luck in some areas of the country.


  • Who will do the Videography the day of my wedding?
  • Do you have an assistant during the wedding?
  • Type of equipment/ editing equipment/ wireless microphone, etc, used
  • Who keeps the pre-edited footage?
  • Photo montage
  • Pre wedding site/reception visit
  • Backup equipment
  • When you will receive the final product
  • Money-back guarantee


  • Instruments played
  • Who will perform at wedding?
  • Hourly fees
  • Cost for soloist/duet/trio/quartet
  • Cordless microphone
  • Number of people in band
  • Music specialties
  • Master of ceremonies
  • Sound system/Light show
  • How long are breaks?
  • Pre-recorded music during breaks
  • What is the cost per additional hour?


  • Wedding cake specialties
  • Free tasting of wedding cakes
  • Do you freeze the wedding cakes?
  • Cost per serving
  • Delivery and set-up fee


  • Number of vehicles available
  • Back-up vehicle for an emergency
  • Number of drivers available
  • Photos of drivers

Wedding Consultant/Planner

Even if you have a do -it-yourself wedding, a wedding consultant/planner can make a huge difference in the outcome of your Big Day. I highly recommend you consider enlisting someone to help with the multitude of things you will need to get done before you walk down the aisle and when you say your final good-bye’s to your guests after the reception. Hiring the right wedding consultant will alleviate stress and keep you on target. After all, planning should be as much as joy as your Big Day. Her are some questions to ask your wedding consultants:

  • How long have you been a wedding planner?
  • How many weddings do you coordinate a year?
  • Have you had formal training and if so, what type?
  • Which, if any trade associations do you belong to?
  • Do you have staff to help you plan events?
  • Is there an additional charge for additional staff?
  • Do you personally attend and oversee each wedding?
  • Do you charge for an initial consultation?
  • Do you sell wedding invitations and if so, do you offer a discount?
  • What is the largest wedding you have managed?
  • How many hours go into planning a wedding?
  • Do you have a list of vendors you refer?
  • Do you make the arrangements with the vendors?
  • Do you help with set up and tear down on the day of the wedding?
  • Do you oversee the processional and recessional?
  • Do you charge for travel or other expenses or is that included in your fee?
  • D you charge a flat fee, or by the hour or a percentage of overall wedding budget?
  • In case the wedding is cancelled, what is your refund policy?
  • Do you attend the rehearsal?
  • What was the most difficult wedding you planned and why?
  • How did you handle it?
  • What else do you provide?
  • What do you not provide/oversee?

Excerpted from ‘Yes’ Is Only the Beginning by Heidi Richards Mooney.  Get your free copy here: