Booking Wedding Vendors: Noticing The Red Flags

August 20, 2022
wedding vendors along the garden route
wedding vendors along the garden route

Wedding Vendors

Noticing The Red Flags

Like any relationship, trust forms as one of the most important pillars. Your wedding planning should be as fun and stress free as possible. As easy as this may sound, to just hire professionals that you trust, unfortunately couples do end up regretting some vendor choices for things like unsatisfactory performance on the big day, shoddy customer service before the wedding day or deliverables not met after the wedding. 

I really hope you never experience any of the above, I only wish you have the best day ever. So here are some red flags to keep an eye out for when hiring your wedding vendors.

Bridal Appointment Tips


Timeline: From Yes to getting dressed

Most bridal boutiques won’t have your dress ready to take home with you on the day of your appointment. You are most likely going to get a new dress made to order. This will usually take anything between four and eight months. Also don’t forget you will have at least 2 – 3 fittings before you have your final dress.

If your timeline is shorter than the above mention period, take a deep breathe and DO NOT STRESS. Lots of boutiques will have something on “the rack” that will most likely need a few alternations. 

To ease your nerves, ensure that you dress will be in time, phone the boutiques ahead of time to see if your dress will fit in your wedding timeline before you make an appointment.


The Budget

This isn’t set a budget and then blow it. This is really set the budget and stick to it. Wedding dresses vary so drastically in prices you could spend a couple of thousands to a couple of hundred thousands. Be firm!

If you have someone who is buying the dress for you, have this conversation with them beforehand so you both on the same page and of course to avoid disappointment. There is no bigger disappointment than finding your dream dress and then seeing that its out of the budget. It is soul crushing.

Setting the budget means that the sales consultant at the bridal boutiques will only show you those dresses within your budget.

On a PS note about budget, not forget to think about accessories like veils, jewellery, shoes and hair accessories. Be mindful that some alterations could be added. Make sure when you purchase your dress that you are aware of ANY additional cost surprises.


Research: Designers and Bridal Boutiques

My goodness this could be one of those dark rabbit holes. There are thousands of designers and bridal boutiques. Doing some easy research will help narrow down the search for the dream dress.

I would suggest searching on social media, find some photographers pages, look at the dresses, the photographer usually tag all the vendors in their posts. 

Most bridal boutiques won’t have all their dresses online but they will stock the designers. Find your preferred designers and then narrow the search to those boutiques.


Create your Mood Board

The best part! Creating your wedding dress mood board! Pinterest is easiest the easies for this, upload all the dresses you are drawn too. As you go along, the more you add the more you will see a pattern emerge of the fabrics and silhouettes that keep recurring. 


The Entourage  

Just like your wedding guest list, deciding who comes with you during your bridal appointments can really make or break this should be fun and exciting experience.

I can’t stress this enough…..bring people who’s opinions you value the MOST!

The saying too many cooks in the kitchen could not be any truer for choosing your dress. The opinions of too many people could become stressful and confusing!

Think quality over quantity. Two to four people is more than enough. 


Avoid fake tans and heavy makeup

It’s only natural that you would want to feel absolutely SMASHING and GLAMOROUS when trying on wedding dresses, please bear in mind that fake tans and heavy makeup could be easily transferred onto the dress. Lets be kind to the dress and the future brides who want to try on the samples. 

If you feel better tanned, make sure you tanning day is a few days before your appointment so that it has time to settle. And with the make up, remember, a little goes a long way.

If you know more a less how you would like your hair to be done on the day, try and get your hair to resemble that style. It doesn’t need to be done by a professional but you could for example, if you know your hair is an “undo” throw your hair in ponytail. This with give you a realistic idea of how you will look on your wedding day in that dress. Also you can tick off buying hair accessories too.


Smash a burger before you bridal appointment!

If you anything like me, HANGRY is not a good look on me. Wedding dress shopping can be draining and most likely will be the entire day! And lets face it, there is nothing worse than shopping on an empty stomach!

So make sure you schedule a lovely lunch with your entourage and pack those snacks. You have an epic day to get through!


Lastly, be opened minded.

So you have done all the research, stalked wedding photographers pages, found designers, set your budget and created your mood board. You got this!

But there is that annoying but again, be opened minded! Try something that you might not think you would like. Sometimes, just sometimes you land up with something you didn’t expect. But the only way you will know is if you try.

Your body confidence is going to need a boost during this time, wedding dress shopping could be stressful. So give yourself extra extra love during this time.

Wedding Vendor Red Flags Summary


1 – Poor Communication

2 – No Reviews 

3 – Out Of Date Website & Social Media Platforms

4 – No Full Galleries Of Their Work

5 – Your First Impressions & Gut Instinct

Wedding Vendors: Noticing The Red Flags

Poor Communication

From the moment you send that enquiry you should feel that your wedding vendors are treating you as their top priority. Poor communication during these early stages is a red flag for underwhelming customer service to come.

As a wedding photographer myself, I try to reply within two days of an enquiry, yes some seasonal periods may take three or four days, but if your wedding vendors are taking weeks to reply or dodging zoom / phone call meetings, this should be your first sign to maybe look elsewhere.

If you are the one following up with them before they follow up with you in a reasonable time period (one week maximum), this is red flag territory!  

No Reviews (Google Business & Facebook is a good start)

The biggest red flag for me would be if you can’t find any reviews across the entire internet. I have reviewed every single camera body I bought, appliance in my home and book I have read. Why would you not want to find reviews on an unbiased platform for your wedding vendors?

Be careful if a wedding vendor only has reviews on their site, as great as it is that they would want to share their past clients experiences with them, but you have to ask yourself what are they hiding if they don’t allow public reviews?

Out Of Date Website & Social Media Platforms

A website is the face of your business. If your clientele is using your area as a destination wedding location they will be using Google to find wedding vendors in that area. 

A seriously out of date website could be a sign that that particular wedding vendor is no longer in business and secondly its important you are viewing their latest work as their style may have changed since the last time they have updated their website.

As a bridal couple you are trying to set a level of expectation from your wedding vendors about their work in hope that these expectations are based on what is current and not what it used to look like.

The same goes with your social media platforms, everyone owns a phone and just about everyone has some sort of social media platform, the two most popular being Facebook and Instagram. As a professional these need to be updated at least on a weekly basis.

No Full Galleries Of Their Work

Hiring a wedding photographer (and videographer) is a BIG DEAL, other than your partner and your wedding ring, the only other tangible item you take from your wedding is your wedding photos (and video). You can ask your wedding photographer if they wouldn’t mind sharing a full gallery of a wedding. Their instagram and Facebook feeds might look stunning it doesn’t mean they have a consistent beautiful coverage throughout a wedding. 

Yes not all vendors have “full galleries” to showcase their work, but you would like to see a more in-depth look at their work other than what is shown on social media. For example, if your florist is only showing bouquets on their feeds ask them for a full wedding design or if your venue is only showing beautiful shots of the venue ask them for a couple of wedding setup examples. 

Your First Impressions & Gut Instinct 

We all have the sense when something is slightly off. Trust this feeling. This is YOUR BIGGEST red flag. As a wedding photographer, I have turned some bridal couples away for the only reason I didn’t think we would be a great fit. I love to have fun, laugh, make corny jokes, be a little adventurous and if my bridal couple is opposite to me, both parties would have a meh experience and I would NEVER EVER want that for any one. I know that I won’t gel with every single bridal couple that enquires with me and I am okay with that. Their wedding photographer is out there.

The same goes with you, it is so important that you LOVE their work, when you chatted to them over email or a zoom chat, did you feel comfortable? I like to think of this, would you be friends in real life? Not best buddies but there needs to be some kind of comfortability around your vendors and personalities need to gel.

Weddings are suppose to be a HUGE celebration of your forever love and life. Pick the right people to celebrate with you.

Check out my awesome Plettenberg Bay (and surrounds) Wedding Vendors List.

Planning A Wedding In The Garden Route?