Many venues offer a list of preferred vendors, but do you have to use them? Here, we break down the details.

Many venues give couples a list of "preferred vendors," which may include caterers, florists, DJs, officiants, bartenders, and more. Some brides and grooms jump with joy over the list, since it can cut down on hours spent researching reputable services, but others may be confused, especially if they were planning to bring in their own suppliers for the big day. The situation raises an important question: Should I use the preferred vendors for my wedding?

Venues offer preferred vendors for a variety of reasons. First, they've probably worked with that professional often, and have found that their team consistently provides good service. Therefore, in recommending the florist, band, or caterer, the venue won't worry about unprofessional behavior or extensive clean-up jobs. Another main factor behind preferred vendors may be money. Some vendors pay for their position on the list, and they may also dole out commission after every wedding. The vendor benefits by getting more service, while the venue benefits by receiving more money-it's a financial win for everyone.

Knowing this, some couples may hesitate to book preferred vendors. The first step in making a decision is figuring out the venue's policies and restrictions. Most of the time, preferred vendors are, as the name implies, recommended companies that you aren't obligated to use. However, some venues require couples to hire all of your pros from a limited list-in fact, by signing on the dotted line with a venue, the couple may even be contractually obligated to do so. Alternatively, a venue may impose a fee for hiring an outside vendor, or they may have specific requirements you need to follow (i.e. the supplier must be insured). Always read the fine print, and think twice before reserving a venue with strict vendor policies; after all, there's no guarantee you'll like the florist's signature design or the band's go-to playlist.

The next step is conducting online research. If the preferred company received many positive reviews, they fit with your desired wedding theme, and you feel great after meeting with or talking to them, then go ahead and book. If not, try looking elsewhere instead-even if this means choosing a new venue with less restrictive vendor requirements. Remember: It's your big day, and nothing should stand in the way of your dream wedding!


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