Posts in the 'wedding vendors' Category
One thing I see over and over again are couples who have issues with a vendor’s performance, and don’t quite know how to proceed. For instance, I just heard about a wedding photographer who has not delivered prints for a wedding that happened two years ago. Can you imagine?
Here are the steps I suggest you take when you have a conflict with your vendor, and you are not yet ready to hire a wedding lawyer. Please note that these are general steps. Every case is different.
1) Gather all of your supporting documents. Hopefully you have a contract with your vendor. This will likely be the most important document. Whether you have a contract or not, gather all of your emails, text messages and voicemails. You really want to organize whatever correspondence you have with your vendor. If you have a relevant voicemail on your phone, note that you may need to have that message officially recorded so that a court may listen to it. At the very least, be sure to transcribe it for now.
2) Review the documents. Try to find the place where the vendor agreed to do whatever s/he did not do, or did negligently. For instance, with the wedding photographer example, you would try to find the place in the documents where the photographer agreed to deliver the photos by date “x.”
3) Draft up a demand letter. Draft a letter, and attach all relevant documentation. Keep the letter professional, and leave your emotions out of it. Even when there is conflict, you will still catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Be polite, but firm. Be sure you clearly spell out all relevant facts in chronological order. In your concluding paragraph, specify what you want. For instance, using the above example, if you want your photographs, then specifically ask for those. If you want your money back, then ask for that.
4) Include a response time. Give the vendor a reasonable deadline to respond to your letter. I personally, generally, like 2 weeks. Make it clear to the vendor that if the conflict is not appropriately handled, then you will proceed with contacting an attorney or filing a lawsuit.
5) Send the letter. Send the letter via fax (yes, fax machines still exist!), or email and send a hard copy. You might also consider sending it via certified mail. You want some kind of verification that your letter was received.
6) Be patient. Wait for a response. Hopefully you will get one, by your deadline. This can be a frustrating time. Also, demand letters are the first step, and not always productive. Try not to think about the wait too much. During the wait, catch up on your blog reading.
7) Follow up. If you don’t get a response by the deadline, follow up. You can follow up by sending a concise letter or email and attaching the initial demand letter. Simply stating something to the effect of
“Dear Vendor: I have not received a response to my letter of December 28. I remain prepared to file a lawsuit. Kindly let me know if you have any response.”
You know your vendor, so apply the follow up principle according to his or her personality and what you think will be the most effective language. Don’t forget to be polite, though!
8) Consider your next steps. If you still don’t receive a response, or the response isn’t what you wanted, considering filing a lawsuit or consulting with an attorney. Contact your local small claims office to determine if the amount of damages fits into the jurisdictional cap, which varies by state. In California, for instance, the cap is $10,000, with some exceptions. Other states have caps of $5,000. The information will likely be set forth on the court website.
If your claim is more than the jurisdictional amount, then it would be advisable to consult with counsel. Although small claims cases are generally informal, and friendly to non-lawyers, non- small claims cases are much more complex.
You should not hesitate to move forward if you feel you’ve been wronged. There are finite time limitations on causes of action. So, don’t delay in proceeding with whatever course of action you
As always, you can consult with an attorney. Your case may be too complex for small claims court. And, if you do go to small claims court, the key to winning is having an organized and succinct argument with supporting evidence. A wedding lawyer can help coach you to success.
Christie Asselin is a sixth year, California licensed, litigation attorney with a background in personal injury and business disputes. In 2012, she began to explore legal issues related to weddings including vendor negotiation, and contract review. She loves all things weddings and has a personal and deep love of Gwen Stefani’s wedding gown. She also adores Oceana roses, and cathedral-length wedding veils. You may visit her website at: yourweddinglawyer.com.
Disclaimer: Please note that the information stated above is general legal information, and not legal advice. Please also note that the author is admitted only to the California State Bar, and to no other state. Attorney Advertising. This communication may be considered attorney advertising. Previous results are not a guarantee of future outcome. No Attorney Client Relationship. The use of any content provided in this article and your provision or submission of any information while using this site will not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Ms. Asselin. Please be aware that any information that you provide by reason of your use of this article is not privileged or confidential. The content of this article is provided solely for informational purposes: it is not intended as and does not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein should not be relied upon or used as a substitute for consultation with legal, accounting, tax, career and/or other professional
Credit: Elizabeth Bates Photography
It can be a cruel world out there for brides on a budget. So much of the pretty can be out of reach, and it gets exhausting trying to keep up with the Joneses. Bridal Burnout can take place way early on, because there is a butt-ton of brain juice going into your wedding. That’s why, here at The Broke-Ass Bride, we stress the importance of priorities and focusing your energy in the areas that matter most to you, rather than tossing your hard-earned cash at something you don’t necessarily care a great deal about. The Wedding Industrial Complex has a way of pre-shaming brides into having the biggest, the best and the prettiest, and the this and the that and just the absolute MOSTEST BESTEST.
And also why I want to bring attention to this really shitty thing that happened around the web this week. Our girl Jessica at The Budget Savvy Bride posted a great wedding tip in her series of budget wedding tips — which includes advice on cutting the guest list, bringing in your own booze or even doing non-floral florals. The particular tip in question? No. 18: DJ your own wedding. You know, like set up the iPod to rock the soundtrack to your reception. Not unheard of, right? Well, Jessica did it for her own wedding. We’ve had many Real Weddings featured that have done the same. I mean, I did it. Hell it’s something we’ve been suggesting on BAB since 2010, y’all.
But once Budget Savvy Bride’s tip hit Facebook? A massive shitstorm of vitriolic vile flooded the comments … from “professional” DJs. One even went so far as to use “#killyaself”. UM. Really? Budget Fairy Tale compiled some of the other putrid spew that came forth from this.
If having a big ol’ dance party isn’t your thing, and you’re just not that into the music, DIYing your wedding music is a really great way to provide ambiance — and even just make sure you get the version of a song you want, because not everyone has a copy of Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” laying around — without shelling out the big bucks that it takes to have a professional, whether it’s a DJ, band or a fucking opera singer, at your wedding. But hey, man, if you can afford it and it’s a priority for you, DO IT. But there should be absolutely no shaming involved.
Weddings are super, super personal. And they should be. They should represent you as a couple, and they should be something you’re comfortable with. Because, really, what good does it do you to host a party that you don’t want to attend? No good at all. Really.
But here’s the thing for us bitches on a budget: We put priority on different things. Tiffany and Justin totally cared about booze, so they got married at a brewery. Kate gave zero fucks about real flowers, but wanted literature — hence, her book flowers. Courtney and Carli got married in the morning in the loft of a barn. Bianca bought her dress for $10 and it’s still one of my all-time favorites while her groom spend $200 on his duds. Each wedding is different and special, because each couple is different and special. Weddings are personal.
No couple, ever, should be made to feel bad about the decisions they make for their wedding, as long as it’s right for them and their circumstances. Family may be involved, for some, and not for others. Budgets may be huge for some, and not for others. And sure, some weddings might not be super amazing for all the guests, but it’s not really about the guests. It’s about celebrating love.
And if a vendor, or anyone really, gets pushy and especially if they dare venture into being condescending or start shaming you? You might not want to work with them. Know who you’re hiring. It’s important, because it’s your money.
As Liz once said:
“A lot of time brides feel pushed to do this or that, but really, there aren’t any “haves” in Wedding World, just “wants.” If you don’t want to spend the money, and you don’t see the value of it, don’t do it. That goes for all of your future wedding choices, too.”
So, let’s stop being assholes about the decisions people make for their own weddings and appreciate the differences and similarities we all have. Let’s not compare ourselves to the next person, nor expect them to measure up to us.
Vendors are terrifying. In a perfect world I would just have a friend that was a caterer, a friend that was a florist, a friend that was a DJ, etc. Unfortunately that’s not my situation. I, like most brides, have to rely on the good people of yelp (and like minded websites) and the recommendations of my venue and friends.
How I feel when going around in circles with 50 different vendors.
That being said there were two vendors that I didn’t even have to think about: Photographer — thanks Suzanne at SheWanders for being so bomb; and cake. As a little kid, my family and I used to go to VG’s for donuts every weekend. Michael calls me a “doughnut snob” because I don’t think anything compares to a VG’s raised crumb doughnut. VG’s also made all of my childhood birthday cakes. That being said, there was no question in my mind that if I could have VG’s make my wedding cake I would.
Last weekend I picked up my flavor samples — marble cake with vanilla frosting, one with raspberry and Bavarian cream, and the other with chocolate mousse filling.
Now let me say a couple of things that reinforce why I love VG’s:
1. They give you two 7” round taster cakes for free. This meant that my whole entire family got to taste the cake and I even had leftovers to bring into the office.
2. The flavors were AMAZING. I don’t usually like fruit filling (many of the tasters felt the same way) and only got the raspberry because my mom wanted to try it, but we all loved it! The cake itself was super moist and tasted great four days after I first got it when I brought it in to work.
3. They totally worked with my out-of-town difficulties. Since I live in LA and VG’s is in San Diego, I couldn’t really do an in person consultation, but they work great via e-mail & actually respond to me in a timely manner.
4. They don’t want to charge you a million dollars. Their quote was similar to what my parents paid for their wedding cake 25 years ago.
The bottom line: VG’s is fantastic. It’s one less vendor that I have to stress about, and that makes it a tiny bit easier to deal with the rest of the craziness.l
Yes, this is actually a cake made by VG’s. Isn’t it fabulous?
I had the rare opportunity this weekend to attend a wedding where I didn’t know anyone. I wasn’t a guest or a guest’s date so therefore I was able have a completely objective, fly-on-the-wall perspective of someone else’s special day. I got to watch a shoe-string budget wedding almost fail. But guess what? I was the only one who seemed to notice.
Our food at the Gedding. Simple and beautiful. We were proud!
A chef friend of mine asked if I would be her sous-chef for a wedding for about 40 people in Nipomo, CA. I love to cook and I love weddings and now I love to see what other couples are doing, so I agreed to do it with her. It should be noted here that one of the grooms (it was a gay wedding, a Gedding) is a co-worker of my chef friend. So, she (and I) were doing this for free. Free Catering from a genius chef and her cute sidekick? Nicely done, Grooms. Nicely done. The wedding was held at a modestly beautiful, country home. The ceremony was set up outside in the backyard with white folding chairs and several vases of flowers. The reception tables surrounded the ceremony area, ready to have the ceremony chairs added as soon as it was time to eat. About 5 hours before the ceremony was to begin, we arrived to several family members and friends (half the wedding guests) making favors, stringing lights and putting together flowers. From the looks on everyone’s faces, it was clear they’d been working all morning. There were people running around asking where things were, who was supposed to be where, etc. It seemed a little stressful to say the least.
We found the kitchen to be really well stocked for our needs, so we got to work on what seemed like 57 different small plates the grooms wanted us to put together. Stuffed mushrooms, pesto chicken, pulled pork sliders, curried cauliflower, crème fraiche potatoes, tapenade, etc, etc. (It all ended up being delicious!) The kitchen was a central location so I got to see and hear everything. So many things went awry, that even I was getting stressed out.
This is the “Chef friend,” Stephanie. We call her “Chefani.” I suppose I could’ve named her in the post before now. She is also one of my bridesmaids!
It seemed to be due to sheer lack of organization, so as a soon-to-be bride, I was taking notes! I got to see a lot of mistakes addressed in The Broke-Ass Bride book first hand! Here is what I learned for my own wedding:
Lesson 1: Be careful in using friends as vendors and have a back-up plan! The Dj cancelled last minute and they decided to “just turn on the iPod” (Yikes.) The DJ was “an old friend” of one of the grooms. Why would he cancel last minute?! From what I could tell, there was no other entertainment planned for the reception. After everyone had eaten and they had cut the cake, the sun had not even gone down yet and there was NUTHIN’ going on. By the time my chef friend and I left, (6pm) people were shuffling around to get ready to leave.
Lesson 2: Limit alcohol consumption (and Lesson 1 again.) The owner of the venue (another friend of the Grooms’) began taking tequila shots at 1pm. Approximately 7-8 of those shots later, (And 7-8 times that I turned her down in joining her) she had, (surprise, surprise,) forgotten to make her special BBQ sauce for the pulled pork sliders. (I still haven’t decided if all the tequila was because she was nervous or that was a regular thing. Either way, it was impressive because despite 1,000 repeats of the joke that she was “trying to sauce the cooks” by offering us shots, she stayed pretty with it.) When she finally did remember, she barreled into the kitchen, pulled out several pots and pans, her laptop for the recipe (for her special sauce,) all the ingredients she might need, and more tequila. She started her sauce and promptly forgot that she was making said sauce so my chef friend came in to save it. Thank goodness! (I’m pretty sure the owner of the venue took all the credit for that sauce that she didn’t really make.) By the time the wedding was to begin, she had cleaned up pretty well but had a little sway to her. After the ceremony, she had moved on to wine and probably didn’t last much longer after we left. She invited us to Christmas Eve dinner, but probably won’t remember.
Lesson 3: No matter how small the wedding, make sure your wedding guests know where to go and when to go. As the guests arrived, not one person knew where to go, not even the officiant! With all the family and friends helping with wedding favors and decorations when we arrived, you’d think they would’ve made some cute signs directing people where to go. They had so many cool areas set up, the ceremony area, a wine and beverage bar, the food tables, etc. Let people know that’s what’s happening! I was just the caterer’s assistant, and part of my job became directing people where to go and greeting other vendors (more friends) as they arrived. Throughout the wedding, people were like, “I guess the ceremony’s starting?” “Do we eat now?” “Is the bar open or what?” My chef friend and I had all the food set and ready to go as soon as the ceremony ended. Everyone approached the food tables and NO ONE partook. We had to run outside and yell, “Go ahead! Eat!” People really need to be given permission at weddings. Even small weddings need timelines.
Lesson 4: If you do use friends as vendors, figure out a way to thank them that doesn’t involve making your wedding a walking advertisement for their companies/services. There were, what seemed like, 100 “toasts” that went on forever thanking all the friends for their contributions for the wedding. “Thank you to Ben from Cakes R’ Us for the beautiful cake. You can find more of his cakes at www.cakesrus.com!” or “We can’t thank our good friends at Wines R’ Us enough for their contributions today. They’ve been making wine since 1986 …” Maybe some people might disagree with me on this and I do think that friends and family who make a wedding possible should be thanked, but this wedding sounded more like a golf charity event.
Lesson 5: As long as you’re happy, your guests will be happy. Ultimately, everyone was there to see the couple get married. They looked handsome and seemed really happy and that is really what matters. It is really a comforting feeling to know that, even if all my grand plans for the most awesome wedding of all time don’t all work out, people are still going to be happy to be there for us. And for that reason, we cannot fail.
But in all seriousness grooms, no entertainment? The iPod never even got turned on.
Catering a Gedding wouldn’t be complete without a good selfie. Pardon my bangs, I worked pretty hard that day.
Still don’t have a venue …
You’ve heard the word “friend-or” (which I am highly against which is probably a story for another day), but have you heard of a “friend-fficiant”? Probably not because I literally just made that word up nine seconds ago to use in my title. If you haven’t figured it out yet, “friend-fficiant” refers to a friend that is serving as your officiant at your wedding. I haven’t copyrighted it yet so please feel free to use it as you see fit.
Religion is not a part of our lives, and we decided that having someone we know be our officiant would be so gosh darn special. And also PAYING someone to officiate your wedding? Insane. Absolutely insane. I understand that there are professionals that are realllllly good at officiating weddings and creating perfect ceremonies. But I am also incredibly stingy and I knew that I could get someone to do it fo’ free, naturally.
And beyond the cost-savings, we do have a very special (not “special”) friend that just happens to be the reason for our entire coupled existence. She is the one whose fiance worked for the same company as Justin and who invited me to crash that infamous Christmas party that would forever change our fate. She is also incredibly well-spoken, and shares our core values and beliefs so close that we could all actually marry each other and live on a compound. Which, would make her endlessly happy because she has been trying to get us to move up to Seattle ever since she left us in San Diego. BUT I DIGRESS.
Like the real ladies we are.
We have a really rad friend who is MORE than honored to be our officiant. FRIEND-FFICIANT. After we told her, she immediately got ordained through the internets (once she finished crying). IMMEDIATELY. She also chose the title of “Doctor of Space and Time.” And I mean, that just totally validated our decision.
Having a friend-fficiant is a fairly new concept to my family — my family with Catholic roots. My mother probably suspected I would never get married in a church, but I do think that she did expect us to have a professional minister conduct our ceremony. It just felt so cold to us, and so incredibly impersonal. It was just not our gig, at all. Non-traditional is basically our gig. How special to have someone who knows our relationship from the very start to seal it in marriage for us? I can’t think of anyone better (besides Bill Murray, H. Jon Benjamin, or Herschel from the Walking Dead)…
Are you considering a friend-fficiant?
Credit: Lucky Photographer
I am in a pickle right now. My Maid of Honor has dropped out of my wedding (for valid reasons) and my older sister is replacing her. She was already a bridesmaid so it just seemed right. I really want to have the same amount of bridesmaids as groosmen and now I am short one. My parents are pushing me to make my little sister a bridesmaid. But two things hold me back…
1. She’s only 13.
2. We don’t get along at all.
She was already going to be in the wedding as a candle lighter but that is not good enough for my parents. My problem is that if I put her into the wedding I am afraid she will try and grab the spotlight, and take the day away from my fiance and me, since she is VERY self-centered. Or, do I not put her in it and let my mother make the rest of my life a living hell? I feel like I won’t win either way.
Personally, I think that 13 is a little too young to be a bridesmaid, and an immature 13-year old is really too young to be a bridesmaid. It’s not the toughest job in the world, but there is a little bit of showing up, paying attention, and having a good attitude about all the showing up and paying attention that is required. Plus, it sounds like you’re going to be distracted either responding to what she’s doing, or waiting for her to do stuff that’s going to piss you off. I’m not really worried about her stealing the spotlight from you, though, trust me, all eyes will be on you for most of the day. And, you know, she definitely won’t be able to go to the bachelorette party!
So, shift the topic with your parents, from “We don’t get along and I don’t want her,” to, “She’s too young. You know how she is, she’s just too young to handle it.” But, before you have another discussion with them, find another alternative. If your older sister is receptive, ask her for help. Is there another friend of yours, or the both of yours who would be happy to do it? Come armed with a name and a confirmation by the next time you talk to your parents. And, let them know you’re going to “upgrade” little sis. She’s lighting the candles now, can she hand out programs before the ceremony? Some way that she can get a little extra attention.
Will I be missing out if I don’t have a videographer? I just don’t think they’re worth the expense. However, having one’s drunk friend do a less than stellar video isn’t so useful either.
True, recording-while-drunk never particularly turns out well. It doesn’t really sound like you’re that into it, and seriously, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. A lot of time brides feel pushed to do this or that, but really, there aren’t any “haves” in Wedding World, just “wants.” If you don’t want to spend the money, and you don’t see the value of it, don’t do it. That goes for all of your future wedding choices, too.
Would you make the 13-year old a bridesmaid? What type of upgrade would you suggest? Or did you feel pushed into a wedding purchase you didn’t want? Let us know in the comments below. And, if you would like find out a little more about my corner of Wedding World, visit me at www.silvercharmevents.com.
See you at the end of the aisle,
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+.