How to Shop Local & Small Businesses for Your Wedding

Planning a wedding can be overwhelming. That’s why, when possible, I always encourage my brides to shop small businesses and support local wedding vendors. It’s a nice gesture, of course, but let me tell you, Queen – it also makes wedding planning so much easier!

Having been a wedding photographer for years before pivoting to boudoir and bridal boudoir, I’ve learned the ins and outs of the wedding scene. Today, I want to share some of my best tips on how to shop small and local for your wedding. Because you deserve to make the process as enjoyable and stress-free as possible. It’s your big day!

Brida Boudoir in Jacksonville, FL - Pompy Portraits

Our lovely bridal boudoir client, Ashley

Why is it important to shop locally for your wedding?

If you’ve never helped plan a wedding before, let’s talk about it. For starters, it’s a game of Tetris with a lot of coordination and communication. Shopping locally to your venue is simply easier on you. Local vendors are right in your venue’s backyard, which means they have the best connections with other vendors and your venue. (Connections that can come in handy to pull off a smooth wedding!) 

They’re often more affordable since you won’t need to cover their lodging or import supplies. Plus, shopping with a small business means you’re supporting the local economy and a local family. Your business means a lot to them, and they’ll treat you like a valuable person, not just another order number.

jacksonville wedding vendors & bridal shows

Here are my 5 best tips for how to shop local for your wedding:

1. Ask for referrals from local brides on Facebook groups

Local wedding groups are gold mines for honest opinions and firsthand experiences. Local brides will share their stories, both good and bad (and nightmarish), about the vendors they used. It’s a great way to get the inside scoop on who you can trust. These ladies have all the insights. Many groups also have files or pinned posts with vendor recommendations, making it easy to find reliable contacts. Plus, you can ask specific questions and get responses from brides.

2. Ask friends if you’re getting married in your hometown

Your friends can be a great wedding-planning resource too. If they’ve recently gotten married or helped plan a wedding, they’ll likely have recommendations for reliable local vendors. They might even have personal connections with these vendors, which sometimes leads to better deals or more personalized service. (Yes, please!) Don’t forget to ask about their experiences with the vendors’ professionalism, quality of work, and whether it felt easy to work with them or more like work. They care about you, and they’re the most likely to steer you to the right people. 

3. Attend a local bridal show or event

Bridal shows are fantastic for seeing a lot of local vendors at once. But the truth is, they can be overwhelming too. They’re crowded and not everyone’s cup of tea. Smaller events like our Brides and Bubbly offer a more intimate setting to meet local wedding vendors. You’ll have the chance to chat one-on-one with Jacksonville’s top wedding vendors and other brides while sipping champagne. It’s a fun way to get insider tips and make valuable connections. These smaller events often provide a more relaxed atmosphere where you can have meaningful conversations with vendors, ask detailed questions, and really get a feel for their personalities and styles. (And you definitely want to make sure you vibe with your vendors!) Plus, the intimate setting means you’ll have more time to explore each vendor’s offerings without feeling rushed or pressured.

4. Cruise around town to find small shops

Sometimes the best finds are right around the corner. Spend a day exploring your town or the town your venue is in. You might stumble upon a charming bridal boutique or a bakery that creates the best wedding cakes. Local shops often have unique items and personalized service that you won’t find with larger, more commercial vendors. Plus, visiting these shops gives you a chance to see their work in person, speak directly with the owners, and even get a client list as references. Plus, let’s be real – you deserve to make a day of it! It’ll be a fun activity for you and your fiance or you and your bridesmaids.

5. Ask your venue if they have a preferred local vendors list

Many venues have a list of preferred vendors they’ve worked with in the past. These vendors are familiar with the space and know how to make everything run smoothly on your big day. They’ve likely built a rapport with the venue staff, which can means they’ll help you get better coordination and fewer hiccups during your event. Additionally, venues might offer incentives or packages that include discounts on their preferred vendors. This is more rare, but I’ve seen it happen for a few spots around Jacksonville and St. Augustine.

How to shop small for your wedding in Jacksonville & St. Augustine, FL

Jacksonville and St. Augustine are such close-knit communities – everyone knows everyone. All the local vendors here are interconnected, which means they know how to work together to bring your wedding vision to life seamlessly. Don’t hesitate to ask any of us for recommendations – we’re an open book! Even though I left wedding photography, I’m still very connected to that community. Whether it’s florists, cake bakeries, bridal gown designers, or photographers, we’re all here to help make your day special.

Brides and Bubbly on July 25th

Ready to pop some bubbly and dive into wedding planning? Join us for Brides and Bubbly on July 25th from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm at Pompy Portraits Studios. This isn’t your average bridal show – it’s an intimate gathering where you can chat one-on-one with Jacksonville’s top wedding vendors. Imagine sipping champagne while getting insider tips, cool ideas, and making connections with the local wedding pros who’ll make your big day happen. It’s the perfect blend of fun and wedding planning. And feel free to invite a few of your bridesmaids too!

This event is free, but space is limited, so make sure you RSVP. 

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