I LOVE FACEBOOK GROUPS. I do. And I was elbows deep in The Knot's boards when I was engaged. (My husband even more so, actually!) They can be such amazing assets. We picked our reception venue from a referral there. Never would have discovered it on our own. But there's a dark side to the internet, and it thrives in wedding planning groups sometimes. lol. My peacock wedding was grabbed by some trolls and made to be fodder for them nationally. Members were kicked off. It was a whole thing. (The next year, the peacock color inspiration was on-trend, so...being first isn't easy. lol) Here are some tips for best utilizing these online homes for brides.
1. Eliminate the phrases "reasonable" and "arm and a leg" from your vocabulary.
They do you no favors, but are prevalent in these communities. More effectively, you should ask for referrals with a budget range in mind. Not doing so is usually out of fear that a wedding industry professional is a villain eager to fleece you. Generally speaking, they post their rates publicly, but when you don't, it's hard to know if it's worth their time to reply to you. If you aren't comfortable using a number, you're likely wasting your time.
Ineffective: "Hey ladies; I need a cake that won't cost an arm and a leg."
Better: "Can you recommend a cake artist who runs around $2.50/slice and can sculpt with fondant?"
Best case: You have to sift through too many suggestions that aren't a good fit.
Worst case: You end up with a cheap product that looks it, because you ONLY asked for help based upon price. Value and price are different, friend.
2. Put on your armor; they keyboard warriors await.
Some people will hate that you have different priorities than them. After all, we can all just go to the courthouse and grill burgers in our backyards afterward. (*eyeroll*) That doesn't mean everyone wants to! Don't let anyone budget shame you. More and more couples are waiting and saving for the lavish celebration. When you're 20, it's hard to pull off. If you're 35, it might not even be a stretch. Similarly, don't let yourself get Pinterest envy. Your style and personality will come shining through, regardless! If the gown is more important to you than having a champagne toast, you do you. Someone else might splurge on catering but skimp on the dress. This day is about the two of you. It should be an expression of that.
3. Discernment is rare.
Just because someone came highly recommended doesn't mean they'll meet your standards. I'll throw some shade here and just say that there are plenty of women in groups saying how they love their cheap gowns and think they're great quality. Well. I'm happy they're satisfied. I wouldn't be. Know yourself and your expectations. Take everything with a grain of salt. Usually browsing a vendor's Instagram feed will give you more of an idea of the work they are doing for clients regularly.
4. Search function!
I recommend you start with the phrase "Bride Beware" on local boards. You'll learn some things about what NOT to do!
Then, before posting, and hoping that people notice and want to answer a common question again, just dig into the existing knowledge already in there! "Makeup artist referral". Bing, bang, boom.
5. Obligatory Coordinator recommendation
I love a great coordinator, and you shouldn't assume there isn't a great fit for you. Look into it. ;)