1. Glowing recommendations.
"It's easy to be blinded by a pretty website or a catchy company name, but word-of-mouth referrals are key," says Lindsay Sims of TOAST Events in Georgia. Start by hitting up your recently married friends for recommendations. If one vendor is mentioned multiple time, they're probably a good choice.
2. A license and insurance.
While interviewing vendors, it's not just about pretty pictures. (Remember this when you're mesmerized by the bling!) It's so much more than that. Sims recommends asking your vendors about how long they've been in business, whether or not this is their full-time job, and if they're licensed and insured. The licensing and insurance is especially important to protect you in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
3. A professional portfolio.
No work samples? Huge red flag! Your vendor should be able to show you photos that clearly display their work. "While you're looking at portfolios and the vendor's blog, look for a breadth of work, too," says Courtney Spencer of Merriment Events in Virginia. It's a great indicator of experience and also shows how flexible the vendor is with different styles.
4. Professional accreditations and memberships.
"The wedding industry has a low barrier to entry, with more and more hobbyists every day," says Sims. Legit vendors are likely to hold professional accreditations and memberships to industry organizations. These are signs that they're invested in their profession.
5. A great gut feeling.
"Trust your intuition above all else," says Spencer. Choosing vendors isn't the time to make friends. Don't pick someone you're wary of because you feel bad that he or she gave a good pitch. If something feels off, it probably is. Run for the hills (and another, more trustworthy vendor). Chemistry with your vendor is paramount.