Tips for hiring destination wedding vendors

2 April 2012

As y’all know, we are working with several lovely people on our wedding that are not from the town where we’re getting married. They’re not even located in Connecticut! Tanja is in California, and MacKenzie and Philip and our officiant live in North Carolina. I don’t have any statistics to back me up, but I feel like bringing wedding vendors to you is becoming more and more common. As we all increasingly do research and find vendors online, it’s easy to fall in love with a particular photographer before you even realize where she’s based.

Of course, flying in a vendor isn’t the right choice for everyone, and might even seem a little ridiculous to some. That’s okay, I don’t mind :) If, however, you are hoping to make this work for you, I’ve gathered a few tips over the last few months!

Let’s break this down…

1. Though most vendors charge (either a flat fee or on a cost-by-cost basis) if they need to travel a distance to your wedding, some do not. My friend, photographer Meredith Perdue, is a great example – she is based in Maine, and generally does not charge travel fees for New England weddings. If you haven’t yet fallen in love with a particular vendor, but know you aren’t satisfied with the vendors in your hometown, looking for a vendor whose work you love and who doesn’t charge travel fees could be a great option!

2. Once you’ve hired your vendor and know where they’re based, start doing research! I knew Tanja would be flying out of either SFO or SJC. So almost as soon as we hired her, I set up city-to-city alerts on Airfare Watchdog. This helped me get a feel for the average prices of flights from those cities to mine, so I would know what was a good flight deal and what wasn’t.

3. At around the 8-month out mark, I began checking flight prices through Kayak at least once a week. And then, one day, I saw it: a round-trip cross-country flight for $301. BAM! Done and done. (Note: Make sure you okay the flight’s date and time with your vendor before you book it!)

4. Once you’ve booked the flight, enter the details into another website, Yapta. Yapta will then track the price for you, and alert you if the fare dips below the re-booking fee, for FREE. Then you can call the airline to claim the credit. Bonus: If you book on Jet Blue, you can be refunded for ANY price drop!

5. Okay, you’ve got your vendor in your vicinity, and now you’ve got to get them around town! If you’re getting married in a big city, public transportation will probably do just fine. If, however, you’re out in the boonies, like we are, a rental car will probably be necessary. (Some vendors might be willing to be chauffeured for the weekend, and if you have a willing volunteer, then that could be a cheaper option. But make sure it’s okay with your vendor, and make sure your chauffeur is very responsible – you don’t want your photographer to be late to the church because your cousin didn’t pick them up on time!)

Y’all, rental cars can be EXPENSIVE! I didn’t really realize just how expensive until a few months ago. Thankfully, I found AutoSlash around the same time. This site is amazing!! Book through them to find the best rates (they search for the web to apply every applicable coupon), and then after you book (similar to Yapta), they’ll continually search for offers and codes to lower your rate, and automatically apply any they find. The day after I booked Tanja’s rental, they emailed me to say my rate was now $30 less!

6. They’re there, they can get around town, and now they just need a place to stay. If you’re getting married in your home town, and have lots of eager-to-help family friends with empty guest bedrooms, one option might be to have your vendor stay with one of them. HOWEVER, for this arrangement to work, your vendor has to be 100% on board, and you need to choose your family friend VERY carefully.

If your vendor will be staying in a hotel, my best recommendation is to book EARLY. We booked rooms for Tanja and our officiant just under 12 months out from our wedding, and we got an amazing rate: $84/night on Thursday, and $95/night for Friday and Saturday at a Hilton. By comparison, the same hotel is now charging $169/night for the same room. Most hotels have a 24-hour cancellation policy, anyway, so if you find a better deal a few months later, it’s no trouble to cancel your first reservation!

Whew! I know that’s a lot of information, but I hope you find it helpful! If you’re getting married, have you hired a vendor from outside your state?

P.S. I realized as I was writing this post that these tips don’t just apply to transporting wedding vendors, but to anyone who’s traveling, so enjoy! :)

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April 2, 2012 8:36 am

These are great tips! I’m not planning a wedding, but these would be good tips for travel for non-brides too :)

April 2, 2012 10:09 am

Such good advice! I’m definitely saving this for future reference, since my current dream wedding includes vendors from every corner of America, thanks to all the wonderful wedding blogs out there!

April 2, 2012 11:54 am

Great post, Emily. These are definitely some tips I wish I had come across when I was planning my wedding. I think I would have been more willing to consider vendors from other areas had I known it didn’t have to break the budget. Lesson learned. Happy wedding planning!

April 2, 2012 9:52 pm

These are wonderful tips, Em! I definitely need to try AutoSlash for some of my weddings this year. Of course, it’s also so fun to be mentioned in the post as well – thank you!

September 1, 2012 11:25 pm

Ah you’re getting Inkspot Crow!! I’m so jealous. Awesome choice though. I just keep praying that one day when I get married they’ll happen to be in New Zealand on holiday around my wedding date and just want to capture my wedding. Ha ha ha. A girl can dream. They’re the best!