March 14, 2009

Dude...where's my backdrop? 7 questions for your wedding decorator

Lately I've been receiving a number of brides who have come to me after dealing with what I call "bootleg" decorators. The ones who promise the world, but then come up so short on their wedding day, it's really kinda sad. Here are some questions you should really ask your decorator

Do you have free consultations?

Most of us offer free consults. be respectful of time. Try and get all the basic info such as pricing and availability by email or by phone first, that way, you know what you're getting into when booking an appointment.

if you have an idea of what you want, great! you can help us best serve you by having a few ideas outlined with picture examples. We can't help you if you don't know what you want and you don't like what we show you. We assume that you like our work which is why we're meeting in the first place!

If you have a budget in mind, let the decorator know! But you also have to be realistic with what you have in mind. You can't expect your decor to look like $5,000 if you only have $500.

How long have you been doing decor?

This is a great question. We all had to start somewhere! However, your decorator should be honest with you.

For instance, I started in 2005 when my older sister's wedding decor was a disaster! I vowed never to let another bride have grass green substitute sage green in decor because she couldn't afford a backdrop that costs $5k. I started doing weddings here and there for friends and then turned it into a business in late 2006.

Ask them for testimonials/referrals from past clients.

Are the pictures on your website/portfolio yours?

I know it sounds like a crazy question to ask, but ASK! You'd might be surprised at the answer you get.

I know of a few companies have been known to "borrow" pictures from other decorators and pass them off as theirs to unsuspecting brides!

When you're going through a potential vendor's portfolio, it's normal to see a gradual evolution in style, colours, fabric etc.

However, if you see pictures where one job looks like it came out of a bridal magazine and on the next few pages you see tons of sloppy swagging, badly mismatched colours, a case of 'not-enough-fabric' on the head table backdrop or even people in the picture, I would question it.

in a professional decorator's portfolios, 9 times out of 10, you won't see people in their pictures at the reception hall (unless the decorator is also a florist and the people are brides posing with flowers OR they are professional pictures from a photographer).

why? we are normally LOOOOOOONG gone before any of your guests arrive. If you do see people, they should be in uniform - aka banquet staff! so there's no real reason to see the BP at the head table or half eaten cake on the cake table. If they have people in their pictures, ask them how they got them!

I'd also be suspicious if their portfolio included:

- too many blurry pictures and an extraordinary amount of camera phone pictures. This is a bad case of "I went to a hall on a Saturday afternoon and took pictures of a already decorated hall"

- only one picture of a setup. most decorators take MANY pictures of their work, so at least 2 or 3 will end up in a portfolio.

Are you going to decorate my wedding?

Most of the decorators (if not all) on this board do the weddings they book. There are some companies, similar to dj companies, where you speak with one person, but another person does your decor. Nothing wrong with this type of arrangement, just be aware that this may be the case.

Do you have special promotions/specials

ask us! you never know what we might have! Free money boxes/rentals, free receiving tables, free upgrades for off season. If we have a new product we'd like to get out there, we may use your wedding as the example and you can get discounted or complimentary add ons!

What does your pricing include?

don't just base your decision on cheap pricing! Ask to see a sample of what you're getting for $200! If chair covers are being advertised for $1.00 installed or head tables and cake tables for $200, unless you're getting married in your parent's basement, it's probably too good to be true.

Ask to see examples of their $200 work! If you ask, any reputable decorator may allow you to come and see them on-site during a setup so you can see what you'd be getting for your hard-earned $200. If they won't allow you to see their work on-site, save your $$ for a decorator that will!

Pricing may not include delivery, setup, same night take down, mileage etc.

How does booking/payment work?

if a company makes you feel uncomfortable or pressured into signing on the dotted line, i wouldn't recommend booking with them.

however, most decorators do not hold dates without deposits. if we held dates for every bride that said they wanted to book, we wouldn't get any business done!

For us, peak wedding season is from Easter to Thanksgiving. If you've done all your research and feel that they are the right company for you, contact them ASAP to book! Dates book quickly!

I hope this was useful! Happy Wedding Planning!!!