Worry Free Weddings: Interview With Jess Levin of Carats & Cake
Our “Worry Free Weddings” series continues! We sat down with Jess Levin, Co-Founder of Carats & Cake, to get the lowdown on how to choose the best wedding vendors, and what to expect from the experience of working with them. It can be overwhelming to sort through countless websites for wedding planners, florists, photographers, caterers… In this post, we cut through the noise.
Lavalier: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Jess! For our readers who aren’t familiar with Carats & Cake, can you tell us about it?
JL: Carats & Cake is the best place to find local vendors to turn your wedding vision into reality. We feature real weddings and provide direct access to the vendors reviewed by the couples. So, you can not only fall in love with an image of a stunning floral arrangement, but also you can click through and contact that vendor for your own wedding.
Lavalier: What inspired you to create C&C?
JL: We wanted to simplify the planning process by solving the information problem. Right now the market is flooded with inspiration but going beyond that (finding the right local vendor to execute on your vision) can be challenging and overwhelming. With Carats & Cake we wanted to create a platform that would allow recently married couples to share their weddings and their experiences while simultaneously providing those in the planning process with real actionable information.
Lavalier: For those planning a wedding, what is the most important piece of advice you could offer in regard to what to look for when selecting a vendor?
JL: Think about hiring your vendors the same way you would think about building out a team to work on a project. Except this team will be with you on arguably one of the most important moments of your life. So, you care just as much about the quality of the work as the quality of the people. You really want to try to get to know someone before you hire them because the last thing you want is a bad working relationship to overshadow your moment.
Lavalier: Do you think it’s necessary to have a wedding planner, or is it reasonable to think one could go at it on their own?
JL: It all depends. Each situation is different and every wedding and couple is unique. Personally, I come at it from a business decision. If I was building a house (especially an expensive one) I would probably hire an architect to guide me through the process, ensure I have a strong foundation and spend my money efficiently. I think about hiring a wedding planner along the same construct.
Lavalier: How can a bride realistically decide what aspects of the wedding she can take on DIY, and what aspects are best delegated to a vendor?
JL: The DIY question depends a lot on time and budget. Some couples have the opportunity to take time off before the wedding and can take on more. If you are working full time and have a demanding schedule a lot of DIY can be challenging unless you have lots of friends and family involved. Also some couples opt to DIY certain things to save, however one bride also warned me, that every DIY took twice as long as expected because she wanted everything to be so perfect.
Lavalier: When you finally decide on a vendor, what do our readers need to know about finalizing the working relationship? Any advice about contracts, deposits, etc?
JL: It all comes down to making sure expectations are clearly discussed and agreed upon for both sides. These can include how often you expect to communicate, key dates, and deliverables. Also, hiring a vendor is not a one way relationship. As a couple you have the responsibility to meet decision and payment deadlines, and your vendor will be operating under these assumptions. Often time when things go wrong, it’s due to a communication failure that ultimately could have been avoided.
Lavalier: Have you come across any niche vendors, offering an uncommon service that most brides might not think to look for?
JL: Rentals are a big category that a lot of couples overlook. You can change the entire look and feel of a venue by switching out the chairs or bringing in special glassware. Also, lighting is another important element that can really transform a wedding.
Lavalier: When working with multiple vendors, how can you make sure a wedding stays cohesive and that all things tie together perfectly on your big day?
JL: Hire a wedding planner? Kidding. This starts before you hire your team. Look for vendors that may have worked together before successfully and don’t be afraid to ask vendors you have already hired for recommendations as you build out the rest of your team.
Lavalier: What are some things to look for when narrowing down a list of vendors you equally like?
JL: References are a great way to help you make a decision. On Carats & Cake you could look at the vendor’s profile and see what their past clients had said. You can also click into the client’s wedding to help you get a sense of their taste and find out if the review is helpful. You can do this yourself offline by asking a potential vendor for a reference and ask to see that couple’s wedding before you contact them.
Lavalier: Any advice for our brides about how to stay organized and on top of things where it comes to not just wedding planning, but managing vendors?
JL: It’s a group effort so get your significant other involved. Also, I know a lot of couples use Google Docs to help manage the process.
Lavalier: This is some wonderful advice, Jess! Thanks again for taking the time, you’re the best!
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