The struggle to find wedding vendors can be seriously challenging when you’re in the planning stages. Unless you’re going with an all-inclusive venue, you’ll need vendors for everything from your picture-perfect photos to that fab, hand-painted wedding cake you’ve been eyeing. To top it off, the search becomes even trickier for destination weddings. So how on Earth does a bride-to-be find the perf peeps to help her on her big day? We chatted with 10 real brides who gave us the scoop on how to track ’em down. Read on to learn how they found their wedding day dream teams.

Katelyn Causey - Lee Davidson Connor Photography

1. Browse Etsy. “Our flowers came from an amazing Etsy shop called The English Flower Farmer. It was incredibly affordable, and they were delivered in special boxes so they wouldn’t be ruined.” — Katelyn Causey (Photo via Lee Davidson Connor Photography)


2. Recruit local loved ones. “We were planning a completely out-of-town wedding, so we heavily relied on recommendations from family and friends that we had in the area to point us in the right direction. We are also very big on reviews, so we thoroughly researched each vendor online before even meeting with them. A few we even phone interviewed, before making the trip up to St. Louis to meet with them. For us, it was all about how they made us feel! They were going to be part of a very big day, so it had to be the right fit.” — Kaitlyn Ivancic (Photo via Maria Newman Photography)

Ga Ming West - Samantha Floyd Photography

3.Phone a friend. “When I was looking for a wedding photographer, my husband, Matthew, suggested that I reach out to his friend, and I’m so glad I did! Her work is amazing, and her calm demeanor is an asset for any occasion. A wedding can be a very stressful event, but Samantha Floyd brings out the best in every person she photographs.” — Ga Ming West (Photo via Samantha Floyd Photography)

Kellie Washington - Adam Mowery Photography

4.Work with people you know. “It was important to my husband and me to work with vendors we trusted. A lot of the vendors we chose were people we knew or had worked with in the past. Others were highly recommended by friends or family members.” — Kellie Washington (Photo via Adam Mowery Photography)

Kelsey King - Perry Vaile

5. Research, but be open-minded. “When it came to our elopement in Norway, yes, I did a lot of research and planning for the trip, but we let ourselves be open to whatever adventure would unfold and were graced with an unforgettable wedding day. During my research, I found our elopement photographer through Google Images, of all places, while I was looking up photos of Lofoten. He had shot another wedding in the Lofoten Islands a couple years before, and the pictures were breathtaking. The photos told me that not only was he incredibly talented and willing to travel, but also that he knew the area. Finding him was such a blessing and something of a ‘happy accident,’ since I didn’t set out to find a destination/elopement photographer that day.” — Kelsey King (Photo via Perry Vaile)

Tara Bakhtiari - Carlos And Jen Photography

6. Pay attention to the reviews. “My husband and I found our vendors mostly via word-of-mouth and researching Yelp reviews. I think having previous experience with your vendor is the best way to go so there are no bad surprises, but we took a chance on our photographer and were burned in the process. Do all of your research before jumping in. Follow vendors on social media and pay attention to how they treat their followers — it’s a great way to see if they’re someone you’d enjoy working with!” — Tara Bakhtiari (Photo via Carlos and Jen Photography)

Danielle Elandt - Dana Laymon Photography

7.Social media will come in handy. “Social media played a huge part in my vendor selection. I toured some popular venues around Wilmington, Delaware, but Brooklyn Arts Center stole my heart. It seemed perfect in every way and I pretty much knew that before going to see it in person. I found it on Instagram and fell in love. I also ended up choosing my photographer because of Instagram.” — Danielle Elandt (Photo via Dana Laymon Photography)

Michelae Hobbs Wedding

8.Follow your heart. “While I found my venue in a local blog, I literally stumbled across my photographer while walking down the street! I was thrifting and saw him doing a photo shoot against a bright blue wall that I had never noticed. The shoot looked great, and I was impressed with his eye for backdrops. I walked up to him, asked if he did weddings, and called him the next day. My husband and I met with him, and it was a done deal. It just felt right. It’s so important to follow your instincts when going into any business relationship, and your wedding is no exception.” — Michelae Hobbs (Photo via Terrence Middlebrooks Photography)

Elizabeth Tate - Nancy Ray Photography

9. Reach out to your squad. “To this day, one of my biggest wedding day regrets was that I didn’t ask someone I know personally and professionally to be our photographer. She has fantastic reviews and is incredibly talented, but I assumed she couldn’t because she was a bridesmaid. I didn’t want to put too much on her shoulders! Even though she was in the wedding, she and her husband brought their cameras and my favorite images came from them. My hired photographer was someone whose site I randomly found in a Google search. I liked his style, and he was willing to work with my budget, so I jumped on it, but I would NOT recommend brides select their photographer this way! I got lucky because he didn’t completely screw up my day, but I definitely SMH whenever I think about it. My advice: Don’t Google-guess to find the right photographer, and don’t make assumptions. Word-of-mouth is a fantastic way to find your vendors. Ask your friends, read reviews, and listen to other vendors’ recommendations in the industry. At the end of the day, there are thousands of websites to sift through, but with word-of-mouth, the cream will rise to the top!” — Elizabeth Tate (Photo via Nancy Ray Photography)

Callie Davis Nancy Ray Photography

10. Book your key vendors first. “After we chose our wedding date and venue, we quickly moved forward with booking other large vendors, including photography and videography. These vendors were the biggest decisions, not only because we would remember our wedding day by what they captured, but because they are the only vendors that will be standing by your side throughout the whole day. I knew without a doubt that I wanted Nancy Ray to capture our wedding day. After working for her for years, I couldn’t imagine anyone else taking our photos, and I trusted her completely to capture the heartfelt moments and thoughtful details. We were absolutely blown away by her images! Fun fact: She was also a bridesmaid and I wouldn’t have had it any other way!” — Callie Davis (Photo via Nancy Ray Photography)

Do you have any tips + tricks for finding the best wedding vendors? Tweet us and follow us @BritandCo for more wedding essentials!