Posts in the 'wedding vendors' Category
I got engaged last month, and I was so excited to start planning my wedding. But it’s taking so long to even get to see any venues, we aren’t going to visit the first one on my list until this Sunday. It’s also been really hard to get a hold of any photographers too, and I don’t know what to do. Is this the way it’s going to go, I just have to keep calling and emailing over and over until I can get meet with anybody? How am I supposed to hire people if they won’t call me back, or can’t see me for weeks?
Most of my job as a wedding planner is trying to get in touch with one person or another, so, believe me, I get your frustration. I know it feels like bad customer service, but a lot of it’s just bad timing. Bad timing and busy, busy schedules. The venue you’re going to see this weekend most likely has a wedding right after your visit and another wedding next weekend. Same thing with photographers, plus they’re editing weddings they’ve already shot, too. Your wedding is months away, and not actually their wedding, yet. It can be easy to get lost in the shuffle…or at least feel like you are.
Knowing what to expect helps. Generally speaking, the best time to contact any vendor is between Tuesday and Thursday. Venue managers usually take Mondays off. Friday is not great because everyone is gearing up for Saturday again. Photographers might work on Sundays, too. Never try to contact them during the weekend – anyone who has to work the weekend of your wedding is probably working this weekend too. Never drop by without an appointment.
In your initial contact with any vendor, give them as much information as you can. Date, guest count, location, overall budget, anything you know about your wedding so far. Try not to create a phone tag situation – if you are emailing or have to leave a voice mail, tell them best time and wait to get back to you. If you reach an assistant, find out the best time to reach the boss, and try again. Figure out your schedule beforehand too: If you can only meet in person on a weekend because of your schedule, say so. If you can meet after work or at lunch, say so. Give them specifics to respond to. Always give specifics.
Now, I’m not saying that I haven’t run into wedding pros who simply will not respond in a timely manner, but that’s not the norm. Most are eager to talk and find out more about your wedding and, well, get paid. A good rule is if you do not hear back in two days, move on to the next company on your list. If they miss a scheduled phone call or meeting, seriously consider moving down the list. It’s not going to get any better once you hire them – it shows disrespect for your time that is not going to change.
So, what’s the longest it took for you to hear back from a vendor and meet with them? What do you think of my advice? Let me know in the comments below! And, if you would like to find out more about me and my Wedding World, visit my website at www.silvercharmevents.com.
See you at the end of the aisle,
It can take a lot of time and effort to find the right vendor for any part of a wedding. And while lots of websites have list upon list of key questions that you should ask each and every vendor, here are the things that send up little flags for me personally as to whether I’ll consider doing business with a vendor.
1. Timely responses to my phone calls and emails! First things first–let’s talk about timeliness. I expect that as a prospective client, when I come a-knockin’, that my email will be acknowledged within a reasonable time frame; say, a week. I don’t even expect to have all of my questions answered at that time, a “Hey Mellzah, got your message, I’ll have time to give you a full reply next week” response will suffice (provided that they do actually then respond to me within the time frame they’ve now set for themselves).
I don’t expect anyone to sleep with their phones under their pillow or devote their lives to email outside of business hours, but if a vendor doesn’t reply to an inquiry within a reasonable time frame, they’ve already sent me a message: “Your business is not important to me.” Think about it: when you go out to interview for a job, you’re on your best behavior–you arrive on time, you’re clean and well-dressed, you go out of your way to impress the interviewer because you want the job, even if your natural proclivities tend toward lateness and merely occasional swipes of deodorant, because you want their money.
As a personal example of businesses doing it wrong, when I was searching for my ideal venue, I ended up cutting two I had initially loved off of my list: one had asked me if I wanted a tour, and when I responded in the affirmative, fell off the face of the earth and never replied to me again. The other, while beautiful, has negative review after negative review on Yelp for “weeks of no contact” “emails constantly ‘getting lost’”, “urgent voicemails left with no response”…it’s not something that inspires confidence. My personal belief is that if a business doesn’t impress me while still in the honeymoon stage of trying to get my money, they’re certain to treat me even more poorly after they have it. On the flip side, when a business responds to my questions promptly and thoroughly, I’m nearly overwhelmed by the urge to fling money at them.
2. A decent website, with GOOD photos. My friends, it is 2012 and there is no reason for a vendor to not have a website. Perhaps back in 1997 when AOL billed for internet time by the minute and it took you the better part of an afternoon to download a picture of a unicorn it was fine to go without, but in this day and age, if you’re a vendor who doesn’t have a website, you pretty much don’t exist to me. The one paragraph blurb you paid out the nose to have placed in the back of Seattle Metropolitan Bride & Groom doesn’t begin to give me enough information.
Websites are the single best way to answer a ton of questions that many, if not all, potential customers will have, so you don’t have to answer them individually, saving you an assload of phone and email time. Seriously–put tons of information on your website. Rates, packages, promos, reviews, FAQs–on a well-organized website, no one is going to say “Great googly moogly, I am overwhelmed by this readily available information and wish I could go back to the days of calling someone and maybe not ever getting a response or having to call again later when I remember a question that I forgot to ask earlier and then a third time when I need a clarification!” A great website with a ton of information directly influenced my decision for a wedding and reception venue. I refer back to it when I’m trying to figure out what size tablecloths I need or what length aisle runner I need to construct if I want it to run from the door to the altar. It has been an invaluable resource to me.
Speaking of websites: those babies had better be loaded up with pictures. GOOD pictures. I’m not spending three hours on Pinterest at a crack because of all of the compelling text, and if the pictures of your venue/food/rentals suck, it tells me that you accept mediocrity, and that if you aren’t trying when you advertise yourself, you’re not going to try any harder for me. Venues: If all I see when I visit your site are photos of the same fountain or fireplace from several different angles, you are telling me that there’s something wrong with the venue, because it’s the same trick apartment complexes use on Craigslist to hide the fact that their apartments have shag carpeting and no windows by only showing photos of their modern business and fitness centers.
If you’re a working photographer without a significant amount of photos on your website, this is an even bigger problem to me: how do you not have work available to show? This is your product! It’s what you do! I saw a local photography company host a sale on one of those “deal a day” websites and the only picture they had to show was a blurry (not artistically blurry, just poorly-focused) first dance photo. There is no price low enough for blurry, bad photographs to make it a good deal! If you’re a photographer and I can’t see your work, if you can’t show me a full wedding from beginning to end after I’ve inquired, if all you can show me is one lucky shot that you captured out of 300 weddings photographed, it is an enormous red flag to me.
3. A better than average reputation. I always take individual Yelp reviews with a grain of salt, as I know that people (a) are more likely to write about a bad experience than a good one, (b) like to complain, (c) write bad reviews in the hopes of getting special treatment or perks that they would not receive otherwise in the hopes of getting their negative review retracted, (d) are generally unreasonable douchebags (read: “I visited a steakhouse and there weren’t enough tofu options.” ), but a significant number of bad reviews is likely to sway me.
I place more emphasis on my monkeysphere; do my non-douchebag friends know or have had interactions with this business? I put out a call on Facebook recently to ask my friends if there were any local photographers that they knew or recommended. A few recommended a friend of theirs (whom they had not hired); another friend wrote me privately and told me that he had previously considered this same photographer a friend, but that she had offered to give them a significant “friend discount” for their wedding and then pressured them to sign a deal with her that was $1,000 higher than the going local high-end photographer rate, taking advantage of the fact that they hadn’t shopped around on price. Given my friend’s personal allegation of this photographer’s dishonesty, I am not even considering her in my ongoing search for my photographer.
I love planning lavish parties, and this isn’t my first rodeo–friends still talk about the insane circus sideshow themed birthday party I threw in 2008–so I’m no stranger at throwing gobs of money at vendors to bring my party vision to life. I’m also colloquially known as Seattle’s equivalent of Kevin Bacon; I connect people. So when a vendor impresses me, I intend to use them for future events, and I’ll recommend them to friends as well. Vendors can’t have a “well, they’ll only get married once so it doesn’t matter how I treat them” attitude. It matters. Websites. Reputation. It’s how you’ll get my business. Timeliness, honesty, and respectability is how you’ll keep my business. Because when it comes down to it, I’m just one person and it doesn’t really matter whether I hire you or not…but I’m far from the only person who holds these viewpoints, and the steps you take today will ensure whether or not you have a healthy future business.
Even the best bridal budget can end up falling to pieces due to unforeseen costs. From extra catering fees to an unexpected medical bill, you can plan ahead to avoid getting caught off-guard. One way to prevent diverging from your original budget is getting everything in writing so that each of your vendor contracts are legally binding, and making sure you’re legally protected in case something goes wrong. Here are some helpful tips for managing these important aspects of your wedding.
Come to the table prepared.
Don’t make any agreements with vendors (or exchange any money) without getting the details in writing, period. If any of your vendors don’t have a contract ready to go, you can make customized contracts for each of your vendors and with Rocket Lawyer.
Read all your vendor contracts and negotiate.
As with any contract, be sure to read and understand everything you sign for your wedding. Take the time to walk through each contract with your vendor or venue representative and ask questions before finalizing. As the person paying for the wedding, you have negotiating power, so don’t be afraid to ask for adjustments. And watch for extra fees in the contract too–they can put you over budget if you don’t plan for them.
Include the details to avoid any confusion.
When paying in advance, it’s a good idea to ask for an itemized bill. For example, if you are bringing or using your own supplies such as homemade table centerpieces for the reception, be sure to indicate this in your venue agreement. If you have a fixed venue rental package that includes such items, you may end up pre-paying for something you don’t intend to use.
Make it legal with your family and friends.
Asking friends or family to help out is a great way to reduce costs, as long as you are smart about it. Even if you’ve handed off the wedding planner baton to a family member in lieu of a professional planner, it’s still important to write up a wedding planner contract that not only includes their responsibilities, but also lists an itemized budget to follow. You don’t want to end up in situation where your cousin goes over budget on items you weren’t planning on spending as much on.
Plan ahead for better (or worse).
If something goes wrong, you don’t want to foot the bill (think: your tipsy uncle trips in the buffet line). The venue won’t want to be held responsible either, so they’ll generally ask you to sign a release of liability before your wedding, which states that they are not responsible if someone gets injured or something gets damaged at the event. That means you’ll need some liability coverage–because it will be your responsibility. Often your existing homeowners’ insurance will cover the event, but you need to make sure. If not, you’ll need to buy it separately for the event. Once you’re insured, don’t forget to take measures to make sure everyone stays safe in the first place. For example, stop serving guests that become intoxicated. Talk this over with the bartender and wait staff, and put it in your bartending contract for clarity. And do whatever you can to prevent drinking and driving. If you can’t afford to include transportation in your budget, nominate a designated driver to take them home safely.
Pay with your credit card.
Staying on budget requires keeping accurate records of all of your purchases. One good way to do this is to pay for all of your wedding services, rentals and supplies with a credit card (just make sure you have a plan for paying it back). This will not only keep your wedding transactions in one place, but will be extremely helpful in the case of any billing disputes. If a vendor doesn’t deliver what they promised, you can dispute the transaction to make sure you get your money back. With that said, be sure to read over your invoices carefully before swiping!
Careful planning can help make sure you have a great wedding. When everyone’s expectations are set beforehand, it’s a big step toward making sure the only thing getting hitched is you.
Charley Moore Esq. is a practicing attorney, and the founder of Rocket Lawyer, an online legal service that has helped more than 20 million consumers with their legal needs, including wedding and family estate contracts. In addition to affordable rates with local attorneys, people who use Rocket Lawyer also have access to free legal documents and in-depth help articles. For more information, please visit and follow Rocket Lawyer on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
Hey Wedding Vendors, Win Half Price Tickets To ISSE Dominican Republic 2012! I’ll See You In Cap Cana!
Last December, I had the distinct privilege of speaking at Inspire Smart Success Experience in Riviera Maya, Mexico. (You can read all about my fantastic experience here!) This May, we’re moving the party to the gorgeous beaches of Cap Cana, and all the inspiration will be happenin’ from May 6th-May 9th. (Clear your calendar!) Whether you’re an up-and-coming wedding pro, or a seasoned vet in the wedding industry, I wanna see you at Inspire Smart Success Experience: Dominican Republic!
As a guest speaker, I have the pleasure of awarding TWO HALF-PRICE EVENT TIX to two deserving wedding professionals.(Photographers, bloggers, stationery vendors, cake makers – I’m lookin’ at YOU!) The event experience is $1950 when you register by April 15th – which means you can get 3 days at an all-inclusive luxury resort (The beautiful Sanctuary Cap Cana), all-you-can-eat buffets, booze, ISSE parties, dinners, galas, and most importantly, all the tips, tricks, advice, and inspiration you need to take your biz to the next level – all for only $975! (Schmoozing with the likes of Preston Bailey, Grace Ormonde, and Ines Di Santo? That’s all FREE.) Check out this insanely amazing line-up for ISSE DR 2012:
That’s right – there are bloggers, magazine editors, designers, celeb event designers, tv personalities – and you’ll be rubbing elbows with all of them at daily panels, sessions, and of course, parties! To enter to win this exclusive discount, simply leave us a note on our Facebook page. We want to be inspired – tell us who you are, what you do, and what drives you to do it! Don’t forget to include a relevant link – your business website, a fabulous press piece, or perhaps a feature on a popular wedding blog? We’ll announce the winner on our FB page next Monday!
This past weekend, Mr. Officer and I had a housewarming party to celebrate our move into the ‘burbs. By all accounts, the party was a success, and our upcoming nuptials were a big topic of party conversation.
While chatting with some friends, they told us that we should be sure to hold back the tips for the photographer until after we receive everything in our package, because they ended up waiting almost 5 years to get everything they paid for from the photographer. Umm, what?! First of all, I’d be beyond peeved if I had to wait that long for my wedding pictures. Second of all…..we have to tip these people? I mean I was assuming we’d have to tip the waitstaff and we were planning on giving a donation to the church, but the photographers? Aren’t we paying these people a boatload already?!
It’s all about the tipping Benjamins, baby
photo via New Hampshire Magazine’s Bride
A quick search on the interwebs revealed that we are expected to tip just about everyone involved in our wedding day. TheKnot.com has a handy little cheatsheet, and here’s what it has to say about tipping our wedding vendors:
- Wedding Hairstylist/Makeup Artist: 15 – 20% expected at the end of service
- Wedding Delivery & Setup: $5-10 per person expected (note: I’m not sure if this applies to but I’m assuming this if for the catering rentals)
- Officiant: $500 donation to the church expected
- Ceremony Musicians: $15-20 per musician at the end of the service, optional
- Photographer: $50-200 per vendor at the end of the reception, unneccessary….wahoo!
- Wedding Reception Staff: 15-20% may be built into the contract, and I’m not sure if this applies to us. Is this the catering manager, the venue owners/innkeepers? I’m so confused!
- Bartenders/waiters/etc: $20-25 per waiter/bartender may be included in the contract
- Wedding Band: $10-25 per musician, optional
Whew, that’s a lot of tips to keep track of throughout the day, and I’m still feeling a little confused about the whole thing. We don’t want to be cheap-asses, but we also don’t want to spend a lot of extra money if it isn’t neccessary.
Brides, get out your Miss Manners books, because I need your advice. What do you think we should do? What’s appropriate? Is The Knot list correct or do you think it’s way off base? Would you tip all of the “optional” people? Help!
I talked about this a little bit last week, when I mentioned making The Lists of Three (TM Liz). The first venue might not work out, so rather than go back to the drawing board, make sure you already have two more options in the pipeline. Practical, yes, but it’s also a good way to temper any disappointment you end up having. Managing your expectations is a big part of that. I always say that the first vendor you meet is not the only choice you have. And many times, you’re grateful for that!
But it also extends to the rest of your wedding, too. Not just being prepared to meet a lot of vendors, but being prepared when you meet them. Dates and guest counts when you visit venues. Pictures of flowers and arrangements you like when you speak with florists. A preliminary count of how many out of town guests you’re going to have before you book your room block. A strapless bra and both high-heels and flats when you try on dresses. Three songs that you absolutely have to hear at your reception, so you can tell a D.J.
It’s true that you could figure out all of these at each meeting, or even after. Heck, a lot of bridal shops have bras and shoes you can borrow. But but it’s better if you bring it with you. I’ve sat in meetings with couples when the “No” and the “we haven’t thought about it” answers pile up in response to “How many/What Do you want” questions, right along with their stressed out expressions. You don’t have to have all the answers, just the basics.
Always be prepared. If your ceremony is outside, have a back-up plan if it rains. If your reception is going to be outside, have a rain plan and reserve heat lamps. Cover your bases. Find out where the nearest grocery and hardware stores are to your wedding, just in case. I have stories that you never want to hear. I bring along a huge emergency kit to every wedding, and it lives in my car every other day of the week, too. It is always better to have and not need, then need and not have. Always. It’s not paranoia, it’s, well…preparation.
What have you done in preparation to plan your wedding day? Do you have any questions on how to prepare for any part of it, or how not preparing bit you in the butt?? Let me know in the comments below. It happens to the best of us.
See you at the end of the aisle,
I don’t know what magic genie I must have conjured with my various wanton longings for a beachy, margarita-laden getaway… but as if by magic, I was invited to come speak at the Inspire Smart Success Experience in Riviera Maya, Mexico next month (along with a whole crew of tremendously inspiring colleagues)!
I get totally giddy whenever I look at that list of speakers. So many industry heroes of mine… I keep pinching myself that I get to be included in such a stellar line-up of pros. AND IN MEXICO, YO, at the gorgeous Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun Resort! Y’all know how much I love me a margarita. Chalking this up as reason #3,798 that mine is the coolest job in the world.
ISSE Mexico is an event designed to help entrepreneurs in the wedding industry learn, connect, and recharge – so they can return home ready to rocket their business to the next level. Sessions over the 4 days will include:
- Social Media
- Getting Published
- Getting on TV
- What you Need to Know BEFORE spending your $ on Advertising
- Photography 101 & 102
- Wedding Planning 101 & 102
- Blogging 101 & 102
- Goal Setting & Selling your Value
- Balancing Motherhood and Work-Life Balance
- Technology ‘Stuff’ You Must Know
- Inspirational and Stress Release on the Beach
- Special Private Session for ISS Mentoring Members
- And MUCH MORE
The event is almost sold out, but if you’re a wedding pro with a yen to learn how to advance your career while treating yourself to a glorious getaway, come join the party and sign up today! I’d love to see you there!
If you read the Broke Ass Brigade Newsletter yesterday, you know that I’m rebooting my “What You Don’t Know About Your Wedding” teleclass series from last year. Talking with a DJ on Wednesday, still working on interviewing a bartender. And for those of you who won’t be able to get on the call live to ask questions (Because it’ll be 9pm/10pm where you are, and “Modern Family”/”Revenge” is on), just get on the list and I’ll send you an .mp3 later.
There’s just a lot of stuff you don’t know. And you’re not supposed to, because this is the first time you’ve ever planned a wedding. Not to mention your last, hopefully. It’s like asking you to be lead surgeon on a heart transplant. Less at stake, yes. Still not going to happen without a bunch more experience. So, in no particular order, except how they’re occurring to me under deadline pressure:
1. Tax and Service and Delivery – Seriously, the first question you should ask any vendor after you get a quote. $35 per person for dinner sounds great, until you add almost 10% for the tax and 20% for service, which throws another $10 on there. Granted we’re expensive here in L.A., but do your local calculations and you’ll see what I mean. Don’t faint when you add it up for the bar. $5 chivaris – Yay! $150 delivery? Hmm…ASK AND CALCULATE.
2. No matter what you do, you can’t get everyone to RSVP on time. Even if you use e-vites. Even if you ask them to RSVP online. Even if you give them a later RSVP date. Even if you give them an early one. You are still going to end up calling and emailing stragglers after the date has passed. Sucks.
3. Same goes for showing up on time.
4. Same goes for showing up at all, period. As a coordinator who knows what it took to get there and what it cost per person, there is nothing more annoying to me on your behalf, than empty seats at a table. And it happens at just about every wedding. Sometimes there are good reasons, but still. KHANN!!
5. There is a reason why you won’t see pictures for a few weeks after your wedding. They say that for every hour a photographer shoots your wedding, they do 4-6 hours of work on your pictures. Editing, color correcting, admin work, posting to an online gallery. And this is for every wedding they do, not to mention all the other stuff they have to do to maintain their businesses. Photographers are usually pretty realistic about how long it’s going to take – they are NOT being lazy or brushing you off. But you’ve seen their other work. You know the end result is worth it.
6. You won’t be able to return all of your unused alcohol. I know, right? If you had to chill it, you won’t be able to return it, whether you opened it or not. Once it gets back to room temperature it’s going to skunk pretty quickly, and most stores won’t take it back at that point. And, of course, you can’t return open bottles of anything, so tell your bartender not to open a new bottle or jar until the last one is empty. You would think that would be intuitive, but not always.
7. Buffets aren’t necessarily cheaper than sit-down. “Yes, they are!” a Caterer friend said to me. “Well, yeah, the way YOU do them!” I shot back. Buffets require less staff, but possibly more equipment and rentals. And it depends on the menu you choose. Sit down and compare Apples to Apples, cost to cost.
8. Three things that will be left over: Programs, Cake, Favors. Keep 10 programs for yourself and your family, recycle the rest. Ask the bakery about to-go boxes when you order the cake. Food or candy are the only favor that completely disappears.
9. With a few exceptions, your family actually wants what’s best for you, I swear. They just think that they know what’s best for you, and they think you don’t. How could you? You’re a kid, still. Don’t prove them right – no tantrums, no fights. Confirm, with a smile, that whatever it is that you want is what you want, and the way you want it will work out fine. And then keep moving until you reach a safe distance. Repeat as necessary. Hey, I didn’t say it was going to be easy!
10. This is all going to work out. You are going to find all of your vendors, get everything scheduled, dot the i’s, cross the t’s, and have a wonderful wedding during which you will be absolutely gorgeous. It might seem harrowing right now, but it’s going to come together, I promise.
So, what are your questions about this list? Would you add anything to it? Let me know below!
See you at the end of the aisle,
Our friend Eva (one of the brilliantly talented ladies behind Utterly Engaged e-zine) just opened a fantastic new boutique called The Wedding Pantry, focused on serving the needs of brides and grooms prepping for their wedding and offering some wedding inspiration… and I had to share it with y’all because I’m so excited for her!
The boutique features unique merchandise such as bridal jewelry and handbags, featuring local vendors, and hosting fun events such as trunk shows and DIY classes in calligraphy, favors and more! Its also a great place for brides to meet with prospective vendors, or browse through magazines and books for inspiration in the lounge.
I really admire Eva. She got this idea and turned around and made it happen with such ferocious ambition! I’ve loved following along the process on The Wedding Pantry blogsite. Its truly a homegrown business with big hearts behind it.
Utterly Engaged calls the Wedding Pantry home, and will be holding launch parties for their new e-zine issue releases here, too. The next one is May 31st and has a s’mores theme, so The Fresh Hubby and I will definitely be there! (I mean, c’mon. Its s’mores!) But they have a ton of fun events coming up, so check their calendar regularly. The DIY bouquet workshop on May 28th is perfection for you broke-asses, dontchaknow.
The Wedding Pantry is located at 138 Main Street in Tustin, CA. Give Eva a big hug for us when you go!
Photos courtesy of Connie M. Chung