Velas wedding reception setup

Should I Use My Wedding Venue’s Recommended Vendors?

March 12, 2024
Words by Meghan Ely
Photos courtesy of various

With the right team of professionals, planning a destination wedding is a breeze. However, researching, interviewing, and booking vendors from afar might seem daunting. Fortunately, many venues help by providing a list of pre-vetted recommended vendors. That’s why it’s wise to start your planning journey by selecting a venue for your big day!

bride and groom with greenery backgroundVenue & Photography: Hilton Rose Hall

If you’re unfamiliar with your destination, a preferred vendor list is an excellent starting point to build your wedding team. “These vendors have been tested by the venue and planners, and they know the venue well enough to provide smooth and excellent service,” explains Samuele Gallorini of Gallorini & Giorgi Events. In other words, your venue should only recommend vendors that will exceed your expectations.

But what if you’ve already found the perfect vegan caterer online? Or what if you want to work with the local photographer who shot your engagement shoot?

In many cases, you’re free to book whomever you want. However, “some top-notch venues have a policy that doesn’t even allow the couple to bring outside vendors,” notes Elena Gera of Focus on the Moment Photography. So, if you want more flexibility in choosing your vendors, keep that in mind when selecting your venue.

Assuming your wedding venue permits outside vendors, you’ll need to consider a few things if you intend to explore options beyond their recommendations.

Wedding couple run after each other on beach with sunsetPhoto by Caroline’s Collective

Is there anything to gain from using preferred vendors? 

Your wedding venue wants you to have the best day on their property. Their recommended vendors have been vetted over time, typically because they have experience working with the venue. They understand the rules, know the staff, and are familiar with the layout. Since they are already dialed in with the venue, you can trust that they’ll work together without much coordination from you.

Beyond the ease of existing relationships, you may also find unique perks from working with a venue’s preferred vendors. “Sometimes, the vendors give a deal to the couple because of the recommendation,” reveals Chandai Raghunauth of Chandai Events. Since many venues and vendors have partnerships, you could receive a special discount, a complimentary package upgrade, or a surprise day-of gift.

bride and groom on beach in ThailandPhoto by Alen Karupovic

Is there anything to lose from not using preferred vendors?

While a venue may not require preferred vendors, find out if other restrictions impact your big day. For instance, preferred vendors might get earlier access to the space or have a direct line to the venue’s primary contact.

Loren Petrowski of Marry You in Hawaii also explains that “some venues charge a fee if you use vendors that are not on the preferred vendors.” Ensure you understand the parameters before signing a contract to prevent speed bumps or surprise fees later on.

brides stand at altar with white rose archPhotos by Ricardo Arellano

How reliable are the venue’s recommendations?

Most venues have a rigorous process of vetting professionals and keeping their vendor lists up-to-date. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, so you’ll want to be diligent about confirming the quality of your venue’s referrals.

“Old lists can contain vendors who are no longer in business, who are no longer reliable, or just don’t contain the best options,” explains Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events. 

Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss encourages couples to tread lightly. “Some of these lists are paid opportunities and not always based on merit,” she warns.

As you research wedding vendors, ask your venue how a vendor qualifies for the list and how frequently they update their recommendations. If you have any hesitations, don’t be afraid to explore options outside of the list.

couple stand at altar with Italy's vineyards behindPhoto by Fabrizio and Romina Photography & Films

Are the recommended vendors the best fit for your wedding?

A great vendor with lots of experience doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right choice for your wedding. Chang cautions couples against relying solely on a venue’s referrals, as they may not be the best fit for your needs.

“Even if they are good and reliable, it’s very possible that there is a better vendor out there for you,” she says. “Finding the right vendor fit is key to having a good relationship and a great experience, and vendor lists don’t always have that.”

Countless factors influence your big day, from the size of your guest list to your ideal design aesthetic. Not every wedding professional can achieve your goals—no matter the skill level—so don’t feel tied to recommendations that don’t seem like a good match.

How much research are you willing to do?

One of the biggest benefits of a preferred vendor list is the ease of booking. The venue did the homework, so you don’t have to spend hours sifting through options. If you want to keep things simple, sticking to your venue’s referrals is an easy answer!

However, it’s wise to do some research regardless of your chosen route.

circle floral arch with ferns lining the aisle Photo by The MacMeekens

“It’s essential to research each referred vendor with the same care as if they didn’t come recommended by the venue,” confirms Sarah Chianese of Mangia and Enjoy!. “If you are happy with the selection, you know they are familiar with the venue and won’t require additional site visits. If you feel uncomfortable signing a contract, the simple answer is to not. Only hire wedding professionals you are comfortable and happy with.”

Still, going off-list will require more research and decision-making on your part. Consider this extra time as an investment in your big day, ensuring you get every detail right.

“Do your homework,” stresses Dee Lee of Dee Lee Designs. “Go on Instagram and TikTok and look to see what vendors are tagged at the venue or geo-tagged. It gives you a good idea of what vendors typically work or have worked at the venue.”

Petrowski also suggests “looking to reviews on WeddingWire, The Knot, and Google, to name a few.” For those that catch your eye, reach out to the company through email, phone, or social media to see if there is a connection.

Jamaica wedding venue on the beachPhoto by Katherine Joy Photography

How much professional support do you have?

While you can’t escape research altogether, wedding planning is much easier when you have some experts in your corner. When hiring vendors, use your inside resources to simplify the process.

If your venue has an onsite coordinator, Wilburton Inn’s Tajlei Levis recommends starting there. “Explain what you are looking for and your priorities,” she says. “Often, the coordinator has resources to find specialty vendors beyond the main list.”

In addition to your venue contact, Claudia G de Velasco of A Day to Remember encourages couples to “hire a planner outside of the venue to ensure they are looking out for your best interest.”

“Many resort/venue coordinators, while amazing, do work directly for the venue,” she explains. “Having an outside wedding planner ensures you have someone advocating for you and your vision.”

grooms dance under streamersPhoto by Jen Montgomery Photography

An outside wedding planner “knows you, your needs, your budget, your aesthetic, and all the things necessary to procure a great vendor team,” Sheils adds. So whether your dream wedding is light and airy or dark and moody, you can trust that your planner will have your back and keep you (and your vendor team) on track.

Whether or not you use your destination wedding venue’s recommended vendors depends on how you envision your wedding day and the planning process. Abiding by a preferred vendor list is undeniably the easiest solution, but it may not suit your needs if you have specific expectations for your catering menu, photography style, or music preferences. Lean on the support of your venue and planner to curate your wedding dream team!

bride and groom's table with pink floralsPhoto by Ricardo Arellano

About the Author: Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

*Featured Image by Grand Velas Boutique Los Cabos*

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