“I do.” They’re two of the most important words we say. “Can I get that same cake but with buttercream frosting instead?” Not so much.
Planning a wedding is work, and for couples planning their nuptials in a zip code other than their own—from destination weddings to a church ceremony two towns over—the list of stressors goes on and on. For one, how do you go about finding quality wedding professionals from miles away?
Hundreds of thousands of couples come to Thumbtack every year to hire pros for their big day, many of which are being planned three-plus states away from the venue. We sat down with these brides to get their top secrets for planning a wedding from afar.
Yolanda’s wedding photographer, a local, personally guided each guest’s car to the couple’s venue when a funeral procession stopped traffic on the small town’s main streets. Photo via Fortier Photography.
Secret 1: Get Organized
For Yolanda, a small business owner (and new Thumbtack pro!) in Washington, D.C., planning her wedding from afar meant zooming in on every detail. Yolanda kept a Pinterest board to record wedding looks she liked and a journal to track every detail of the event planning process. Any time a wedding-related question or idea popped up, Yolanda was prepared to jot it down and file it away.
But the bigger problem was finding service providers. “I didn’t know any vendors in the area, so choosing who to hire was really hard,” Yolanda told us.
At the end of the day, Yolanda’s attention to detail helped her provide pros the insight they needed to make her wedding vision a reality. Her requests on Thumbtack were thorough, complete with dates, pictures, and context on her wedding theme. And when pros did respond, Yolanda had a prepared list of questions to ask and details to look for. Her preparations paid off—the pros Yolanda chose went above and beyond to make her wedding wonderful.
When a funeral procession shut down all of the streets leading to her venue on the day of the wedding (a detail no amount of planning could avoid), one of these pros quite literally saved the day. Yolanda’s wedding photographer, a local, personally guided each guest’s car through the back roads to get to the venue.
“Thumbtack basically planned my wedding,” Yolanda joked, “But my photographer was my guiding light.”
Lauren and her husband used Thumbtack to find talented vendors to make their dream of a destination wedding in New Orleans a reality. Photo via Brian Byllesby.
Secret 2: Read the Reviews
When you haven’t worked with a pro before and you don’t know anyone in your area who has, reviews become your lifeline. Nobody knows this better than Lauren, who used Thumbtack to plan both her wedding and her vow renewal ceremony a year later.
“I wanted to elope but my husband wanted our families to be there, so we met somewhere in the middle. His family is from the East Coast and mine is from the West Coast so we had the wedding in New Orleans—the perfect inbetween,” Lauren explained. But the couple didn’t know anyone in New Orleans who they could turn to for vendor recommendations—so they relied on Thumbtack reviews instead.
Lauren was in search of everything from a DJ to a photographer for her big day, and reading reviews gave her a concrete idea of what working with a pro would be like. Would the MC default to slow jams or disco? Would they show up on time? Would the photographer feel comfortable photographing outside, during the day and at night?
In the end, the answers to these questions helped Lauren pick the professionals that were best suited to her needs. And it gave her a level of trust that’s hard to find from 500+ miles away.
Lindsay and her husband never even thought of renting a party bus before checking out quotes on Thumbtack. Photo via Jacoby Photo & Design.
Secret 3: Stay Open to New Ideas
Lindsay thought she knew exactly what she wanted when she began lining up vendors for her romantic New York City wedding. But finding those pros turned out to be tricky for the St. Louis-based brand manager and her fiancé, neither of whom had much experience hiring in the city. After spending days poking around the internet, looking for vendors, they ended up on Thumbtack—and that’s when the planning began to pick up steam.
Lauren and her fiancé scanned professionals’ profiles and compared quotes, looking for services that matched their budget and aesthetic. They wanted a true cosmopolitan wedding, and that started with their entrance: the limo.
But as the couple delved deeper into their options on Thumbtack, their plans changed. While searching for a limo service, they stumbled across a party bus service—an alternative they’d never thought of before. By opting for a party bus, Lindsay and her fiancé could include a few more guests in their wedding party without bringing up the price. Win-win.
Thumbtack florist Daphne Simpson-Wellman agrees that couples should keep an open mind when hiring a pro—the more options, the better. She gave us an example: “I’ve worked at a lot of weddings where the bride and groom had fresh flowers and all the others had artificial. I like to call them ‘permanent botanicals.’ It’s a way of bending their budget.”
Samia planned her sister’s traditional Los Angeles wedding from her home in New Jersey–and blocked off a month to meet with professionals and get on the same page (in the same time zone). Photo via Daniel Boswell.
Secret 4: A Trial Run Never Hurts
When she agreed to plan her sister’s traditional Indian wedding in Los Angeles, Samia, who lives in New Jersey, knew she would need help. Luckily, she had Thumbtack. “Thumbtack was great because I was able to line all of my pros up in advance,” she told us.
By six months before the wedding, Samia had all of her pros ready to go. That’s when she blocked a month off on her calendar and bought her ticket to Los Angeles.
In the weeks before the wedding, Samia met with each and every Thumbtack pro to go through the details of their service, and in some cases, give the pro a trial run. She tasted cake, tried a full face of makeup, looked at the linens. And in the end, her in-person meetings paid off. The wedding went beautifully—and what’s more, the makeup artist Samia hired for the wedding has become her sister’s go-to stylist, transforming a cross-continent hire into an ongoing relationship.
For couples on a shorter timeline, planning meetings with each and every wedding vendor ahead of time might not be possible. Prioritize the in-person meetings that will mean the most. If you’re planning to have your wedding video on reloop in your living room for years to come, make time to meet with your videographer at the venue the day before.
Regardless of proximity, keeping in touch with your pros is a must. Get a conversation going early, and keep it going as you get closer and closer to the big day.
The Biggest Secret of All: Know Your Pro
The bottom line is that getting to know your pro ahead of time is really important. Whether you’re getting acquainted face-to-face in their tasting room or by comparing color options on a video call from 300 miles away, getting on the same page with your pro makes all the difference the day of.
Start by asking your pro to really understand your expectations and your larger vision. From the content of your Thumbtack request to finalizing the exact placement of centerpieces the night before, the more information you provide, the closer your pro can come to transforming those details into the big day you always dreamed of.
Planning to say “I do” this spring? Check out these 7 wedding planning tips from Thumbtack’s finest wedding pros.
[Top image via Jacoby Photo & Design]