Tips for Choosing Wedding Vendors

Who are we to write about tips for choosing wedding vendors?

We’re people who have worked with a lot of wedding vendors, being one of those ourselves. But uniquely, as wedding photographers, we are standing at the edges of your big day, and we are able to observe what’s working and what’s not. We’re like flies on the wall… but not gross or annoying like flies and with cameras in hand. ((ha))

You can imagine that we have some strong opinions about all of this. So we decided to share our tips for choosing a few of the key wedding vendors, including florist, music, cake, and catering. (We’ll be writing a separate post about venues.)

Of course, the most important thing you can do, above all the things, is to get a great wedding photographer. Check out this Erie wedding photographer. (Hint: that is us. Because this is our blog and we are awesome.)*

*Please be aware that all of that is written in true Gen X-style irony and sarcasm and tongue in cheek.


Planning a wedding can feel like putting together one of those five thousand piece puzzles that you think will never end and is comprised of microscopic sized pieces. There’s always… more. More to decide; more to pick; more to coordinate.

It can feel like there are endless wedding vendors to contact and decide upon.

But if you go into this with clear ideas of what you want and a willingness to be flexible, it can be, dare we say, fun? If it’s not fun, consider asking for help from trusted friends and family or even hire a planner. Of course, not everyone likes this kind of project so don’t feel badly if you’re one of those people.

Onward… to tips for choosing wedding vendors!

First up…

Bride smiling and greeting a guest while hold her florist bouquet.


You may be a trendsetter yourself, but for anyone looking for ideas for the floral theme for their wedding, here’s a short article about 2023 trends in floral decor and bouquets.

And here are some things to keep in mind when you’re making decisions about your floral vendor:

  • If you’re not one to know your flowers, maybe take a moment to start looking at photos. See what catches your eye. Start to learn the names of your favorites.
  • Find photos of bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces that you love.
  • Firstly, determine your floral and decor budget ahead of time so you don’t get too far into a dreamy version of your wedding and then realize it’s out of reach. Go in armed with this information from the start.
  • Ask friends and family who their favorite florists are. Word of mouth is best.
  • Don’t pick the first florist you walk in to. Schedule a meeting with a couple of your top picks and see who feels like someone you want to work with.
  • Go in with visuals: pictures or fabric swatches for bridesmaids dresses, a picture of your dress, perhaps a Pinterest board of the feeling you want your wedding to have. The more information you can give your florist, the better they can do for you.
  • Have each florist you talk to create a proposal. This is the best way to truly know what you’re getting. Decide based on concrete information rather than just guessing.

Next up…

DJ or Band

Wedding guests dancing to music played by a DJ at Erie Art Museum reception

Music is important. And if you’re having a wedding in a church, they might have musicians they work with regularly, but this doesn’t mean you can’t do something different. You could bring in a violinist, for example, or perhaps there’s a piece of recorded music you’ve always wanted to walk down the aisle to. You’re the boss.

Then there’s your reception (or wedding after-party if you’re waiting a bit). Who doesn’t want music that will make everyone get up and dance and have a great time?

But should you get a DJ or a live band!? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Consider the cost of each to start. And take into account your reception location. Which would fit better?
  • Consider, too, the level of energy you want to feel at your reception. A live band will definitely create much more of a party atmosphere.
  • If you very specific tastes in music, a live band can be great.
  • If you want a more eclectic musical experience at your reception, a DJ might be the way to go.
  • Do you want both? For example, a DJ could play while the band takes a break.


On to a favorite…


A variety of cakes on display at a wedding reception in Erie, PA

Wedding cakes don’t have to look like… wedding cakes anymore. For example, here are some current wedding cake trends.

They don’t even have to be cakes. You could go a whole other route for your deserts (and there’s always the traditional cookie station to consider). Check out these wedding dessert alternatives. You could even have… donuts (Mmmm… donuts…).

Whatever baked goodness you’re going to have at your wedding reception, here are some things to think about:

  • Pick a few bakers to visit based on reviews or friends’ suggestions. Or maybe you know the best bakers in town already!
  • Ask if they do tastings.
  • Consider not only your own preferences but what others might like. Perhaps you love lemon but you know both your families are chocolate fiends. You could get a lemon treat for yourself on the side!
  • Do you want to do a tiered cake or something less traditional?
  • Do you want fillings or plain?
  • Are you going to save a small cake for your first anniversary? (Really… it’s fun but it’s not… great.)
  • Find out what each baker’s specialty cake is and make sure to try that one.
  • Also take into consideration your or anyone else’s special dietary needs. There are lots of ways you could have something for everyone. (Including that cookie table we mentioned above.)

And lastly…

Bride standing at doors with arms wide open in her reception area before guests arrive.


We’ve all been to weddings where the food was… less than desirable. And none of us want this at our own weddings.

To start, check with your venue. Sometimes they will only work with a specific caterer, and if that’s not to your liking, you might need to find a different venue. That said, venues often have favorite or preferred caterers that they’re used to working with. Don’t let this hem you in.

There are also pros and cons to both traditional sit-down service versus buffets. Check some of that out here.

Other than those basics, also take the following into consideration:

  • What time of the year is it? Considering seasonal foods is always smart but can also be really fun.
  • Meet with potential caterers and do some taste testing. (Of course!)
  • Ask the caterer if there are other jobs on your day. How many helpers do they have? How long do they stick around after set up? What about clean up and linens?
  • What exactly is included in their fee (gratuities, cake cutting…?)?

Looking for a place to start? Then you’ll definitely want to check out one of our favorite caterers in Erie, PA

Finally, no matter what vendor you’re looking into, the following are essential at the start: Know what you want and need. Have your ideas either written down or represented in visuals. Take check lists of questions.

And remember: Eventually all of your hard work will pay off.

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matt mead photography 1821 oxford st. erie, pa 16505  (814)315-3353