MegMo2017: R&D- The Internet

In the military world, this stage of wedding planning would be called R&D.  Research and development.  It's the best and worst part of starting any project.  The sky is the limit, except that it has to fit within this budget!  Give us all your best ideas, but sorry about the ones that cost too much.  Not gonna happen, but seriously, think outside the box, anything you want!  Not really, but chin up, Sport.

Fun right?

This is 2017, so I figured R&D wouldn't actually be that difficult.  We have technology!  We have the internet!  I don't need to cold call people and ask them what they are going to charge me.  YAY! I don't have to speak to PEOPLE!  For as social as I consider myself, sometimes talking to people is really, really difficult.  Actually, it's the asking for help, but that's a me problem.

But then.. I started running into some problems.  My exhalations of the internet had jinxed me!  Some of these websites were complete garbage.  Or better yet.. some businesses didn't even have a website!

Did you know that some businesses only have a Facebook page?
Yep.  You got that right.  No actual website at all.  Just their Facebook page, filled with comments from other people and shitty cell phone pictures and maybe some contact information and an address if you click around for it.

I get it.  Customers can post their reviews there, share pictures, and everyone has Facebook.  BUT WTF?  I struggle with a professional who doesn't have a website.  I even have my own website and I'm not even a professional anything!  There are some things that Facebook just isn't good for.  Price lists, for instance.

Because I'm planning a budget wedding in Charleston, the biggest things I care about when I go to a potential vendor's site is:
1.  How much is it?
2.  What does it include?
3.  What does it look like?
4.  How do I contact you if your answers to question 1, 2, and 3 make me happy?


1.  How much is it?



Seriously, #1 is the biggest priority.  At the end of the day, it's MY dollars and I have a really hard time letting them go.  75% of wedding vendor websites will have a cost/investment section, but some don't.  This absolutely infuriates me.  I don't want to have to contact you to see your price list.  I just want to see your price list and save us both the hassle of emailing back and forth when your prices are way out of my budget.

I understand that having a conversation means that I will be a little more likely to use your service, but I'm just as likely to waste your time.  Save both of us the emails and just put your price lists (or investment list, whatever you want to call it) on your website and be done with it.  That way, when I do contact you, you know I'm serious.

Also, I don't think I've ever seen a Facebook business page for a wedding vendor with a price on it, which only adds fuel to the no-official-website-fire.  I've looked at price lists on weddingwire.com and I don't trust them for some reason.  I don't know how often that information is updated.  I'm very skeptical since the entire site is dedicated to finding vendors, so it's more important to get your name on the list than have correct information.

My favorite part of using the WeddingWire website has been putting in Charleston, SC as my area and searching for "under $500" for a DJ and getting no results for my search.  Oh yeah, did I mention that Charleston, SC is one of the top 3 wedding destinations in the US (depending on who you're talking to).  If you're speaking to a wedding professional in Charleston, they will tell you that Charleston is the #1 destination for weddings in the US.  Can I get a FML?


2.  What does it include?


There are approximately a mabillionty vendors in Charleston for a single thing.  Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating, but still a lot of vendors.  If you're looking for a venue you'll find everything from spaces downtown, restaurants, event spaces not downtown, old houses, court houses, old plantation houses, beach front property, churches (this is the Holy City), farms, parks, houses on the water, you name it, it's probably around Charleston and you can get married there.  That said, technically you can get married anywhere.

You can't throw a rock and NOT hit a photographer.  That said, most anyone with a camera can call themselves a photographer, but there is definitely a difference.  Back to the website thing.  If a photographer doesn't have a website with a public gallery or portfolio, they are a hard no.  Also, photographers tend to have specialties.  Not that a photographer can't shoot multiple subjects, but often photographers tend to gravitate towards one subject they are best at.  For me, that's landscape/flower photography.  I can shoot a wedding, but it might not be my best work.  It is what it is.

It's the same story for caterers, DJs, coordinators.. the list goes on and on.  I want to know what the price includes to be able to eliminate options and make the R&D process easier on myself.

Let's talk about venues.  Keep in mind, this is my Charleston experience.  Your location could be completely different and for your sake, I hope it is...

Not only do you have to decide which venue look you're going for (beach wedding?  barn?  plantation house?) you have to also apply your budget to that selection.  The sky is the limit for rental prices here (I wish I was kidding).  I need to specially know from a venue what I'm going to get for my dollars.  Just the roof?  Tables?  Chairs?  Linens?  A partial coordinator?

Again, this is simple information to put on a website.  I'm certain that as the venue manager, you are tired of repeating the same shit to a million different engaged couples.  And I'll be honest, I'm tired of having to click through your website, only to find none of the information I'm looking for, then having to search for your contact information, and having to manually send you an email or filling out the contact me form to repeat myself for the 10th time that day asking if the venue is available on my dates and how much it costs/what is included.

Some venues offer ONLY their facility for your money.  As in, the roof and the bathrooms (hopefully).  Some don't actually offer a roof.  Some of the older places might not even have bathrooms (definitely looked at a venue where renting a porta potty/something like it was a requirement).  Some offer their roof and some tables/chairs.  Some offer chairs for inside but not outside.  Some offer tables/chairs for rent.  Some have a kitchen.  Some have bridal/groom suites.

I want the best bang for my buck.  What incentive do I have for going with you over any of the other venues?


3.  What does it look like?

 

#3 is the easiest requirement to fulfill because of social media.  Even those businesses with only Facebook pages can manage this one.  What does your venue look like?  Are those chairs you offer a million years old and broken?  Do you have a gorgeous old tree with spanish moss that we can get hitched under?  You have a pavilion but the roof has holes?  You have a bridal suite, but the furniture is possibly a hand-down from my grandma's parents?  You have lots of cowboy boots and horseshoes around the property?

These are important things for me to know.

My minimum standard for my venue (ok and everything else wedding related) is that it be within my budget.  But the best budgets are flexible and I'm willing to pay a little more for a place that includes less than another venue but is more visually appealing.  I am willing to take away from another category (photography) to find a gorgeous place that fits with US.


4.  How do I contact you if your answers to question 1, 2, and 3 make me happy?


This should be the easiest question of the 4 to answer.  Contact information should be splattered everywhere.  You know how when you would listen to the radio or watch TV and the announcer would say the phone number no less than 4 times in a row?  It's also flashing huge on the screen (if you're watching TV) for the entire duration of the commercial.  Yeah, that's how easy it should be to find contact information for a business online.  (un)Fortunately, Facebook is the easiest way to to disseminate contact info since it's fill in the blank for a business page.  But on some websites, I've had to dig around to find an email or phone number to contact a business.  In fact, I've given up on some vendors because I had to look too hard.  It's just not worth it.  That's the thing about there being so many vendors in the area, there is always another one.  Help me, help you.

Contact tabs are great.  Even better?  Have all that information on a header AND/or a footer on every.single.page on your website.  Also, social media buttons too.  Because while those cell phone pictures are shitty, I want to see those too.  I want to see what other people were able to do with your services.  I also want to see what you might not think are the best photos that you want featured.





I'm all about keeping it simple.. and keeping it in my budget.  I want to save us all the time and energy when it comes to this long tedious process.  If you've planned an event, what did you look for when trying to find vendors?




Comments

  1. I got my stuff via the bridal shows. Although the photographs were done by the same guy that did my senior pictures so I already knew who I was going with for that.

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  2. Today, I bought a really nice bra to wear under my dress! LOL I'm dealing with tiny bits at a time. (no pun intended, yes my boobs are tiny)

    You are master planning!

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  3. Business that don't just outright list prices or contact information...why? Just why? Do you hate your customers?

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  4. Businesses that make you comb through their sites to find little to no information are infuriating. Basically if these people aren't going to make it simple, you take the bull by the horns and interview them and spell.it.out to get the answers you need so there's no surprises or disappointment down the road.

    I'm glad you're getting this all done and decided early out; you'll be thankful for that that once you start making bookings. Once all that's out of the way I hope it's an enjoyable experience for you that you'll look forward to unfolding. :)

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  5. yeah this was awful. a lot of places in KY aren't super internet savvy so they'd have a basic website or facebook page like you said, and they never had prices or anything listed. i ended up going with people who did, because i didn't even want to actually speak with someone to get all that info. i was happy to talk to someone when i had more information, but i hated the asking - not to mention it just seems so sneaky and rude.

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