Congratulations on getting engaged! Now it's time to start planning your dream wedding! There are so many factors that come into play when selecting the vendors for your wedding. There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind. Depending on your priorities, the order of these will vary, but they are all extremely important.
Your Budget - No matter the size of your budget, it can be tough to manage. Set your total budget before you start researching vendors and have a general idea of how much you will appropriate to each category. When dividing up your total budget, be sure to set aside an amount for unexpected or trivial costs. An unexpected cost may include renting a tent last minute because there is rain in the forecast or hiring a shuttle service because your guests booked at a further hotel than you suggested. A trivial cost would be anything relatively small that you may not have factored into it's own category - such as, Bridal Party gifts or your hotel room to get ready in. Realize that these things can add up, so before you commit to crafting your centerpieces or purchasing monogrammed robes, make sure you know all of the costs involved and that it fits inside your total budget.
Your budget is super important when selecting vendors. Don't be afraid to be honest when you reach out to a vendor - tell them your budget for their category. Know that what they charge reflects their cost of doing business, their level of expertise, and the time that will go into their work (for some vendors, they will do more work before or after your wedding day and that must be added to their costs). When you are honest with them, they will be honest in return. They will tell you whether they can work within your budget OR if there is another professional they would refer you to. However, it is important to be realistic with your budget. Just because you can allot a certain amount to a category does not mean that is what that service actually costs. Do some research on vendors in your area to get an idea of what to expect.
While we're on the budget topic, I want to go ahead and debunk a common myth. This may shock you but, GETTING MARRIED IS NOT EXPENSIVE. Getting a marriage license, speaking your vows, and becoming man and wife is cheap! Throwing a huge party for your friends and family is what costs. The size and extravagance of your wedding is your choice. Please keep this in mind as you research your vendors. They are not tacking on extra money because you told them it's for a wedding. Any large party lasting for many hours with a timeline of multiple events and hundreds of people is going to be expensive.
Your Style - This one may come into play more with your Photographer and Videographer, but any creative vendor hired will have their own style. You will want to make sure that you know their style and understand that their work will reflect it. For example, from a Photographer's standpoint, they may shoot and edit in a way that makes your photos light, airy, and romantic. If your style is more dramatic, dark, and moody, they may not be the Photographer for you! Be honest in this respect as well. Sometimes a vendor can accommodate your style and sometimes they will tell you they just aren't the ideal match to meet your needs. Having realistic expectations here is important, too. If the style of your finished product is up to par with the quality and style of a vendors portfolio, they have done their job well.
Your Personality - I cannot stress this one enough. Anyone that will be spending time with you leading up to and on your wedding day should be someone that you don't just tolerate but get along with! By no means do you need to be best friends with your vendors, but your wedding will be a lot less stressful and a lot more fun if you mesh well with your vendors. If you are extremely laid back and not concerned with sticking to a rigid schedule, imagine how stressful it would be to work with vendors who are uptight and constantly reminding you that you are behind where the timeline says you should be! Alternatively, if you need to have everything work like clockwork to relax at your wedding, you want to know that your vendors take that seriously. Knowing that you are on the same page with your vendors will go a long way in your enjoyment of your wedding.
As I mentioned in the top of this post, the order of importance for these factors will vary couple to couple. You should decide if one of these trumps another for you and your fiance or if one of these seems irrelevant to you! Every couple is different and every wedding is different. Decide what's important to you and make well informed decisions about the vendors you want to work with on your big day. Happy Wedding Planning!