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Red Flags & Green Flags to Look for When Hiring Your Wedding Vendors

Want to know one of the most important and often overlooked aspects of your wedding day? Comfort. From the clothing that you wear to the loved ones you share the day with to the vendors you hire, you deserve to feel comfortable every step of the way. 

You deserve to have a safe space where you can be honest, goofy or sweet, a space where you can feel like yourself and know that you are CELEBRATED just as you are. 

That might seem like an easy task when it comes to choosing your cake or the outfits, but vendors like wedding photographers are a little bit more complicated because they will be spending significant time with you leading up to or on your wedding day. 

As an experienced wedding photographer, I put together this helpful list of red (and green) flags for you to look out for in potential wedding vendors, such as photographers, planners, celebrants and others.

bride and groom lean noses together during photos at Sanctuary on Penn
Savannah & James at Their Celestial Inspired Sanctuary on Penn Wedding in Indianapolis

But first – Something I’d like to suggest right up front is to follow your gut. If you get partway down the road with a vendor that you realize doesn’t align with your values or won’t ultimately be adding anything to your celebration then please, please, PLEASE feel empowered to sever ties in a professional manner. Finding someone that is a good fit for you will bring so much more peace and joy to your day.  

Now, let’s dig in!

🚩 Red Flags When Looking for Wedding Vendors

Don’t Have You Sign a Contract

No contract, NO THANKS! Contracts exist to protect you as clients as much as they do to protect the wedding vendor, and so almost every vendor you work with should require you to review and sign a contract. 

Contracts typically outline all of the services or products you are purchasing or renting, your payment deadlines, and any other fees and policies, such as the cost for added services or what happens if you have to unfortunately cancel or reschedule. As an example, our contracts at Raven Shutley Studios include details about how many hours of photography coverage you’ll receive, an estimated delivery timeframe for your photos, and much more.  

Try to Push You into Things That Don’t Resonate with You

It’s YOUR wedding day, and a good wedding vendor is there to support your vision for your celebration – not to force their own vision. If you get the sense that a vendor is going to push you to do things or buy things that don’t feel like the right fit, then it might be worth looking elsewhere for those services.

Don’t Clearly Communicate Next Steps

Wedding planning is stressful enough, you certainly don’t want to be left guessing about things like payment deadlines or the process for receiving your photos after your wedding day. Lack of clear communication throughout the process is a major red flag.

Take Weeks to Respond

Additionally, if you have a question, you want to know that you’ll get a response in a timely manner, especially if their response will impact your budget. If they take a long time to respond during the inquiry process, don’t expect their communication style to change once you’ve booked your services. 

bride and groom hug on wedding day in Georgia
Ashley & Michael at their Conservatory at Waterstone Wedding Day

Pose You According to Stereotypical Gender Roles

Photographers, I’m lookin’ at you! We often see poses that enforce harmful power dynamics or gimmicks in photography that send a negative message (such as a posed photo of a bride dragging the groom to the altar…EW). These types of images show up far too often and we almost always see them as a red flag.

Don’t Have a Diverse Portfolio

A skilled wedding vendor has likely worked with lots of different types of couples. If you don’t feel represented in their current portfolio, they may not be the right person for you to work with. Caveat here, some folks are just starting out so their portfolio might be limited, but you can still usually tell by their vibe and how they treat you! 

Use Outdated or Gendered Terms, Like “Bridal Party”

It’s time to ditch terms that make assumptions about the gender identity or sexuality of the couple or their friends and attendants. If a wedding vendor has a hard time avoiding these terms in their marketing or in your conversations, then it may be a sign that they aren’t a good fit for you. 

Say Things Like “Your Wedding Is the Best/Most Important Day of Your Life” 

Seriously, can we squash this narrative? All that pressure kills the vibe! While your wedding is certainly an important day in your life, it is not likely to be the only important day of your whole existence. Additionally, we often see this messaging used to get people to splurge and go over budget on things for their wedding day, and the truth is your marriage and partnership is so much more than just this one day. Don’t forget to keep your priorities in view as you go through the process of selecting your vendors.

bride and groom toast champagne sitting inside Monday Night Brewing
Nicole & Alex at their Atlanta Beltline Elopement

Green Flags and Gold Star Moments When Looking for Wedding Vendors

Take the Time to Get to Know You and Your Partner

The right wedding vendors for you will take a genuine interest in getting to know you and what you want for your celebration. I know it’s important to take the time to listen to your unique love story in order to deliver the best possible experience for you.

Are Receptive to What YOU Want

Again, a great wedding vendor isn’t going to push you to exceed your budget or go for things that aren’t a good fit for your celebration. Listening to what you and your partner really want is a major part of our role as vendors.

Clearly Communicate Next Steps and Expectations

At no point during your wedding day should you be unsure of what your vendors are meant to be providing. Setting clear expectations up front, providing things like a timeline for your day, and communicating things like when you can expect to receive your final wedding photo galleries are all signs of a great vendor.

Alway Have a Back-Up Plan (or Two!)

An experienced wedding vendor isn’t going to panic over a last minute rain storm or a slight change in the timeline due to traffic. We know that things happen all the time that we can’t control, so it’s always important to have a Plan B ready to go!

Provide Opinions When Needed, but Don’t Inundate You with Unsolicited Advice 

Great vendors are there to help execute your vision for your wedding day. We do this by offering our expertise and support throughout the planning process. The last thing we ever want to do is add stress by overwhelming you with tips and “must-haves”.

Have a Clear and Comprehensive Contract

A good contract includes things like a clear list of products or services you’ll receive for your wedding day, a payment plan or list of deadlines so you know when you’ll be expected to pay your vendors, policies, and more.

bride and groom make funny faces during portraits at the Wahoo! Grill
Tara & Cabot at their Wahoo! Grill Wedding in Atlanta Georgia

Capture You in a Way that Feels Authentic

Your wedding photos should be real to who you are, and this is a skill that not every photographer has. If you’re looking for a photographer with this more candid and authentic style, you can usually catch this vibe from their portfolio! 

Have a Diverse and Well-Rounded Portfolio

A portfolio of past couples from a variety of backgrounds and cultures means a wedding vendor with lots of great experience who you can trust to be thoughtful and considerate of all present on your wedding day. 

Use Inclusive Terminology

Even things as subtle as a vendor who uses the more inclusive term “wedding party” instead of “bridal party” can make a big difference! Look for this inclusive language as a sign of a great wedding vendor.

Ask for (and USE) Your Pronouns

Using names and pronouns correctly is a sign of respect, and you definitely don’t deserve to be disrespected on your wedding day!

That’s it, folks! Those are my red and green flags to be aware of when looking for vendors during your wedding planning process. I hope this can help inform your criteria for finding the perfect wedding vendor team! 

Want to Work with a Wedding Photographer with All the Green Flags!?

Reach out to us here at Raven Shutley Studios to see if we’re available for your wedding date. We love working with creative couples in Atlanta, Georgia and worldwide.

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