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Experience and/Training --There is no magic number of years of experience, no level of training, which makes a professional or business able to serve you well. Every type of wedding-oriented business (apparel, flowers, catering, photography, music, etc.) demands a different training and competence to perform efficiently. It is also important to note that a talented and conscientious newcomer to a profession can give you service equal to that of an established professional who has less talent or enthusiasm, or fewer principles. Weigh the information you learn about a professional's experience with the other characteristics which follow.

Competence --Ask the professionals to show you examples of their work. Creative professionals such as florists and gown designers should have photographs of their past projects for you to view. They may also have samples you can examine, which is very helpful. These give you a chance to see the details and finishing techniques they use. Reference letters address the professional's competence, but remember that professionals only show the good ones, so weigh the information accordingly.

Reputation --For expensive products and services, you should ask for formal references. However, in small- to medium-sized communities, word gets around if a business is trustworthy or unethical, if the staff is helpful or pushy, if the prices are reasonable or expensive. Couples and their families spend a lot of money and put a lot of emphasis on wedding products and services. If they did not get what they wanted or expected, they broadcast this information to others in the area. Certainly some customers are unsatisfied because of their own unrealistic expectations, but if a professional in your community has a reputation for negative practices, consider this information carefully before deciding to work with them. Compare favourable recommendations against your own needs and expectations.

Communication --A responsible professional will make an effort to inform you of their practices, limitations, timetables and any problems which may occur. They should take time to answer your questions and address your concerns. It is important that you, in turn, pay close attention to this information, and abide by the guidelines the professional sets for services they will provide.

Personality and Enthusiasm --Although everyone has their own personality and way of expressing themselves, you should look for a professional with whom you can work effectively. Besides being able to communicate as mentioned above, you must be able to agree on methods and procedures and trust that your professional's handling of your wedding and any crises which may occur will be reasonable and responsible.

Enthusiasm, although difficult to measure, is very important. Try not to do business with any professional who seems uninterested in your wedding and desires. Everyone's moods vary, but a consistently apathetic or negative professional may be a poor choice. Once you contract for their services, breaking the agreement may be impossible or expensive, so try to gauge the interest of the professional early on. Enthusiasm is not a substitute for any of the other traits listed, but a professional who really wants to work with you may try harder than one who is unenthusiastic.

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If you live in a medium or large community you will have several providers available for most products and services, so you can select the professional who best fits your needs, desires and budget. In small or rural communities, there may be only one professional in the area. If you are unhappy with the professionals available to you and cannot handle that service in another way, be very clear with them from the start about your expectations and desires. Then stay in touch to achieve the best possible results.

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