Planning your wedding can be either a fun or frustrating experience, it all depends on how you go about your preparation for the big day. The average bride will spend hours sending email after email, to over 100 wedding suppliers just to end up with a final selection of 14 businesses to service her wedding.

To ensure all of the precious time you spend researching is not in vain and that your plans come to fruition, ABIA has prepared a Top 10 list of do’s and dont’s.

No 1: Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork

It’s boring stuff, but if something goes wrong, you must have paperwork as proof. If you pay a deposit, you must get a receipt with the Terms & Conditions of sale. If you have ordered specific items, ensure that these items are clearly indicated on the Terms & Conditions. If you are not happy with the product or service delivered on the day and you wish to make a complaint to the supplier, you will not have a leg to stand on if there is no paperwork that clearly outlines what you are entitled to.

No 2: Booking Order of Priority

Many of the suppliers who will service your wedding are composed of family owned business with just one person qualified to supply the desired product or service. Therefore it is vital that you book some of these suppliers as soon as you have set a wedding date as many of the top suppliers can be booked out up to 18 months in advance. Some of the most sought after suppliers who are limited in the number of weddings they can service in one day are: Bridal Gown Couturier, Reception Centre, Ceremony Venue, Independent Caterer, Marriage Celebrant, Disc Jockey, Video Production, Photography, Decorator, Floral Design, Hairdresser, Make-up Artist, Transport and Live Band/Group.

Other suppliers to take particular note of are Bridal Gown retailers, while many of these suppliers carry a wide range of gowns, it maybe necessary to order your particular size in and this can take up to 3 or 4 months to arrive.

Wedding Stationery is another category that you should contact early and determine how long it will take to design your stationery and (if they provide the service) how long it will take to post all invitations.

No 3: Selecting Suppliers

Wedding Websites are one of the most popular means of finding, selecting and contacting wedding suppliers. Before you start requesting information from the suppliers listed on a website you should pick one category of suppliers you wish to have service your wedding and then contact each supplier in that category separately. For example, if you intend to engage the national average of 14 businesses to service your wedding needs, don’t contact all the suppliers listed on a website in these 14 categories all at once (The average bride will contact up to 8 wedding suppliers per category). The result will be a tsunami of supplier replies that will hit your email account all at the one time, all promising you that they pride themselves on quality and service, resulting in total frustration and confusion.

No 4: Check Supplier Credentials

A wedding is a one off event that cannot be repeated should something go wrong on the day, i.e. you can’t bring everyone back the next day to do it all over again. Therefore it is vital that you check out the bona fides of each prospective supplier. Ask each supplier, how long they have been servicing weddings, how many weddings do they service per year and get some recent bridal references. Ask if they are appointed, approved or accredited with ABIA or if they have won or been a finalist over the past 17 years in the State ABIA Awards. Always ask for proof of any claims relating to ABIA awards or accreditation as ABIA may have suspended, de-activated or banned a particular supplier who knowingly continues to claim to be a part of ABIA.

No 5: Listen & Learn

Experienced and respected wedding suppliers will posses a vast amount of knowledge relating to their specific category. These people can provide you with amazing ideas, so after you have described what you are looking for, listen to the advice given and take it on board. Remember these people do this for a living and have the experience and the expertise to be able to give you advice that will help to make selecting your potential supplier more easily.

No 6: Personality versus Product

You will find that some wedding suppliers may not posses the greatest of customer management skills in handling what sometimes maybe a very highly stressed bride. Don’t confuse this lack of customer skill with their ability to design the most stunning wedding products. While you should expect nothing short of perfection in all the products you order, customer relationship skills may not be their strong point. However, you should always expect a wedding supplier to possess a minimum level of politeness, courtesy, respect, good manners and civility. If you find these qualities un-forthcoming, then you should re-consider your choice of supplier.

No 7: Gone out of Business

The wedding marketplace is one that many business and individuals enter believing it to be a fairytale industry full of love, joy, happiness and the opportunity to build a profitable business. Of the 35,000 wedding suppliers rated by their past brides over the past 17 years ABIA has existed, over 24,000 of these have either gone broke, ceased servicing weddings or have disappeared off ABIA’s radar. Make sure that when you book and pay a deposit to a supplier that you keep in contact with each one every 2 to 3 months to ensure all is well and everything is on track. There is nothing more disastrous and devastating for a bride only to find out a few weeks or days before the wedding that the supplier you booked 6 months ago is no longer in business and the phones are disconnected.

No 8: Price versus Value

A wedding is not a commodity that you can purchase like a car or home entertainment unit. You can’t just determine what model, size or style you want and then go to the market and haggle over the price. No two weddings are the same as each one is designed to your needs and your budget. Sometimes a bride makes the fatal mistake of selecting a supplier based on the cheapest price available, whilst this is understandable given budget restraints you cannot be sure a supplier will return value for money until after the wedding is all over. To determine the overall quality of product, quality of service, value for money and attitude of suppliers staff, you should refer the Australian Bridal Industry Academy website and select only suppliers who have already been evaluated by past brides. These brides have already been through the process of selecting wedding suppliers and have provided an opinion after their wedding.

No 9: Rumours, Here-Say & Innuendo

On your journey down bridal lane you will come across a wide variety of opinions and attitudes from wedding suppliers and online bridal chat rooms. You should take extreme care if you find a wedding supplier denigrating or criticizing another wedding supplier. Any supplier who has to denigrate other supplier’s standards in order to elevate their own should be viewed with caution as these types of suppliers will be the first to cast blame upon you should you wish to make a complaint against the level of their product or service . The same applies to online chat rooms where a bride can criticize a supplier without the supplier having the right of reply. You have heard of the term Bridezilla a name given to a bride who cannot be satisfied. If you come across a Bridezilla who cannot be satisfied on a web chat site and who has bad mouthed or denigrated one of your selected suppliers you should immediately alert your supplier.

No 10: Have your Say

The ABIA rating system is generated by the suppliers who service your wedding. At least one of your wedding suppliers will need to register you on www.abia.com.au. Once you have been through the process of selecting your suppliers and the big day has come and gone you will be invited to vote on the ABIA system. This is your opportunity to have your say by rating your wedding supplier’s product, service, value and staff so if you are not automatically invited, please ask one of your suppliers to register you. Doing so will enable you to praise those who have excelled in the design and delivery of your perfect day and admonish those who let you down. You will also be helping future brides to select the best suppliers for their own wedding knowing that you have been through the process and are fully qualified to determine who are the best wedding suppliers based on the only opinion that counts – yours.