Broke-Ass Tag: Vendor Conflict

2/23

8 DIY Steps to Handling a Conflict with Your Wedding Vendor

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.

Happy weddings!

Christie Asselin

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
  • 5/3

    Ask Liz Bad Wedding Planner or Bad Bride

    Dear Liz,

     I think I have  a bad wedding planner. But please help me figure out if she is truly bad, or I’m being extra stressed-out and picky.  I am having a destination wedding in Costa Rica and I live in New York City.  I am very specific in what I want and I email her at least once a week. My planner is quick to respond to emails- within a day- however, when it comes to actually finding vendors, pricing, etc., she’s not very effective.  I found my band/DJ and photographer by myself, since her options weren’t that great. When I asked her to find a Jewish/Catholic officiant for us, she said she couldn’t find one. Meanwhile,  I found two options in NYC.  When I ad her for a certain tablecloth she couldn’t find it. My mom found a place to rent them. I have a feeling the rest of my planning experience is going to be similar.  Is this normal? How should I confront this? Am I the problem? Please help!

    Signed,

    Wronged Direction

    Dear Direction,

    Okay, so …Okay. I will start off by saying that, as a wedding planner, I look at each of your examples and think, well, yeah, I would have done it differently. Why didn’t she call your venue for DJ or officiant recommendations? Why not ask you where you found the table cloth online and track it down that way?

    What I do know is that wedding planning is a collaboration, and there have been a few times where a bride says to me on Monday, “I need a photographer,” and I say, “Okay, I’ll send you my three recommendations by Wednesday, I have to track them down and make sure they’re available.” And then my bride emails me back on Tuesday, because she’s found a photographer she’s fallen in love with, and asks me to find out more information about them, and I do, and that photographer is the one she ends up signing.

    So, I’m not sure if your wedding planner hadn’t found them yet, before you discovered other options, or how long it was between request and denial, or in what way she told you that she came up empty-handed. Flat out? “Still looking”? Dunno. I mean, I kind of had to laugh when I read that she couldn’t find a Jewish/Catholic officiant in New York City OR Costa Rica. I’m not sure how that’s even possible. Basically, it’s hard, from 3,000 miles away and with no personal interaction, to accurately gauge her level of suckage.

    However it went down, the other thing I absolutely, positively do know, for a fact, is that you are definitely frustrated. Very, very frustrated. From your perspective, she does suck, and that’s all that matters.  And, you’re only going to get angrier moving forward — it’s just going to get worse if you don’t deal with it.  So, yes, talk to her. Actually, check the cancellation clause in your contract, make sure it’s something you can live with, and then talk to her. It is better to do it on the phone or in person, too. Give her the three examples you gave me, tell her that you’re really concerned that she hasn’t given you the help you need, and that you’re worried that this will continue for the rest of the time that you’re working together. As for her response, “But, you … “s (accusations, lack of responsibility) are bad, and a version of “I understand how you feel, and let’s move forward, like this … ” (aka, a plan) is good. Decide what you want to do from there.

    Are you having problems with your planner? Or questions about how to find the help you need? Let me know below! And, if you would like to learn more about me and my pretty little part of Wedding World, go to www.silvercharmevents.com.

    See you at the end of the aisle,

    Liz
    Liz