Stepping into the waters of wedding planning can be overwhelming. There are so many different options and approaches that you can when you’re putting your wedding together that it’s easy to get lost or discouraged. Reviews are one way to cut your way through the weeds and find a path forward to the Boston wedding of your dreams, but how do you make the most of those?
Abnormal Distribution: If you’ve casually been around statistics, you’ve probably seen a diagram of a bell-curve - this little hillock of distributed variables that fall off evenly to one side or another of a mean. For example, heights tend to follow a normal distribution. With wedding vendor reviews, you’ll often see the opposite where instead of a neat hill you tend to get a valley with some highs, lows and very little that tends to fall in the middle.
There are a few reasons for this - one of the most powerful tends to be selection bias. Often people will only leave reviews when they’ve had either a really great or really terrible experience and they want to share it with other people. If a product or service was okay, there isn’t the same impulse to share about it and suddenly it’s six months later and you can’t really remember the rental place, even though they were just fine. It’s also not uncommon for couples in New England to not leave reviews until they’re asked (and vendors are only going to try and ask couples that had a great experience).
Scores Are Bad: Because of these built in biases, you can’t just rely on sores to tell you which vendors to book (though if someone has a lot of one-star reviews you can probably give them a pass). Most wedding websites also don’t give a lot of details or breakdowns with scores, so they don’t tend to convey a lot of information beyond positive and negative. So you’ll need to look a little deeper to get the best mileage from reviews.
Details: Different people tend to focus on different aspects of a product or service, depending on what they needed to get from it. Reviews will tend to reflect that and color the impression that the vendor left. No one review is likely to give you a complete picture, which is why you’ll want to look as many reviews as you can from as many places as possible.
So with this in mind, how can you use reviews to help you score a great New England wedding vendor?
Search High and Low: When you’re looking at a vendor, read both their top ratings and the ones at the bottom. You want to look for patterns, evidence that they’re either doing something consistently well or generally just bungling. For example - if you have a photographer with a one-star reviewing saying they were late to meetings and four five-star reviews that say they were always on time and very accessible, maybe that one-star review shouldn’t have much weight? The same is true for negative reviews, if you’re seeing a cluster of negative reviews with the same complaints, then it’s something to deeply consider.
Dates Matter: Generally speaking more recent reviews will be more reflective of how a business is currently operating. A bad review from ten years ago is probably less relevant than the glowing reviews from the prior season (and of course the reverse is true as well).
Location Counts: If you’re looking at national companies, try to find local reviews and feedback because those are the people that you’ll be working with on your wedding day. If you’re having your wedding in New England, you’re not working with the bridal sales team from San Francisco or the photographers in Florida.
Follow Up: Positive and negative reviews can also be great launching points when you’re interviewing vendors. You can see how a Boston wedding vendor might address specific concerns that you’ve seen raised in previous reviews (like, it’s good if they can talk about how they learned from that and how that’s going to make their work for you even better) or get them to talk a little bit more about what positive qualities distinguish them from other vendors.
These are also things to keep in mind after your wedding when you’re ready to write your own reviews to pay it forward to the next couple. What tips do you have for getting the most out of Boston wedding vendor reviews?
Ryan Richardson is a wedding and engagement photographer serving Boston and beyond; including Cape Cod Weddings, New England Weddings, Massachusetts Weddings and Rhode Island Weddings.