Pulling in talent: What to know if you’re using non-local vendors

Some out-of-town vendors are easier to work with than others, says planner Adam Donovan-Groves. Rental company Paisley & Jade, based in Richmond, is a popular choice in our area for its selection of beautiful furniture. Photo: Katie Stoops Some out-of-town vendors are easier to work with than others, says planner Adam Donovan-Groves. Rental company Paisley & Jade, based in Richmond, is a popular choice in our area for its selection of beautiful furniture. Photo: Katie Stoops

Thinking of hiring vendors from beyond Charlottesville to help put together your big day? Maybe you want to source some Victorian furniture from Richmond-based Paisley & Jade, for example. Or maybe, like one of Adam Donovan-Groves’ former clients, you just happen to know a great photographer from Ireland.

This artist, remembers Donovan-Groves, “had worked at the client’s sister’s wedding, and everyone loved the style that he had.” Donovan-Groves, a wedding planner, admits he wouldn’t have crossed the Atlantic looking for a photographer: “It was a little surprising to me. The clients had to pay travel expenses and everything else.”

A bump in cost can be one of the main drawbacks to hiring non-local vendors, Donovan-Groves says. “If we need somebody on Friday, they have to get here on Thursday,” he says. “It’s hotels, meals, it’s transportation; if they’re flying you also have to rent cars. It does add a decent amount of money.”

On the other hand, if you’ve chosen your out-of-town vendor because you have a personal relationship, you may be getting a discounted rate, points out local planner Jennifer Hamlin from Events with Panache. She’s also had clients—themselves coming from outside Charlottesville—who bring vendors with them based on a recommendation from a friend or family member back home.

Consider the issue of communication with vendors during the planning process. Texting and emailing may not be the best way to convey your personal vision for, say, exactly the right flavor of ceremony music. Hiring out-of-towners may send you to Skype to attempt those crucial conversations, and ups the ante for coordination between your planner and other vendors. As a planner, says Hamlin, “I always have a conversation via email and phone before the wedding, sending them all the details the client and I have worked out. I typically walk [out-of-town vendors] through the venue verbally and give insight before the weekend of the wedding. Usually that vendor will never have been to the venue before.”

Some types of vendors may be easier to seamlessly incorporate than others even if coming from afar. Hamlin says photographers are the vendors most commonly hired from elsewhere, while Donovan-Groves has seen clients hire out-of-town bands. Caterers and florists, on the other hand, seldom make long trips with their perishable wares. And, Hamlin points out, “If it is a caterer, they have travel expenses for the full staff that day.”

Donovan-Groves stresses that not only are local vendors familiar with Charlottesville’s wedding infrastructure, they’re on par in quality with anyone in the country. “Charlottesville is special when it comes to weddings,” he says. “This is not the norm for any other city in the U.S. to have this much strong talent concentrated in an area. We’re built for weddings.”

Some out-of-town vendors are easier to work with than others, says planner Adam Donovan-Groves. Rental company Paisley & Jade, based in Richmond, is a popular choice in our area for its selection of beautiful furniture.

Posted In:     Weddings

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