The relationships you build with your vendors can be incredibly important. These are the people who will help guide you through your pre-wedding stress and woes; help you avoid simple mistakes; mediate family “issues” (aka opinions!); help you stay on budget; refer other wedding professionals; be your advocate and hold your hand (via e-mail or phone, of course). Destination weddings rely heavily on their vendors. Long story short–they are extremely valuable.
That being said, your vendors will become a part of your life for the next several months so choose wisely. Whether you have already contracted your wedding vendors or you’re still getting used to how nice and sparkly that ring looks on your finger and have barely begun the planning process, here are a few guidelines for a happy vendor/couple relationship. Vendors, this goes for you, too!
Trust: You have to trust your vendors. If you question your vendors at every turn you either selected the wrong vendors or you’re micromanaging. Either way, something’s got to change. Trust is key.
Communication: Couples, you need to be clear with potential vendors about what you think you need/want. Vendors, you need to be honest about what it is you do (and what you don’t do!), your professional experience and how the booking/planning process works.
Money: You are spending your hard earned money with your vendors and in exchange you’re getting their time (which we all know IS money!) and expertise. You are both invested in the process. Couples, be realistic and upfront about your budget. Vendors, your clients don’t know what to expect in terms of the bottom line and they need to know what this gig is going to cost.
Respect: Do unto your vendors as you’ll have done to you. Do you prefer timely responses to your e-mail inquiries? Your vendors probably do, too. Although you may be one of several brides (or many brides depending on how busy your chosen vendor is) you deserve prompt replies (give ’em 24 hours or a little more if they don’t keep office hours or it’s their busy season) and respectful, informative exchanges. Vendors, this goes for you, too!
Negotiation: If you truly click with a vendor you’ve met and they are out of your price range, just let them know what you are able/willing to spend and see if they can meet you half-way. Sometimes they can and sometimes they can’t, but it’s worth an ask! “Price shopping” several vendors and then leaving them hanging while you wait for straggling proposals to roll in can be risky business. You may miss an opportunity to work with the best vendor at the best price while you’re “waiting to see” what other vendors charge.
Consideration: Vendors, don’t treat couples like they are “just another wedding”. No matter how many weddings you have under your belt or how small this wedding may be in comparison to your “other weddings”, your couple is planning to do this just once. It’s a big deal to them. Treat it that way.
Honesty: Be honest about where you’re at in your planning process. Don’t say, “We’re excited to work with you”, or “I’ll send a contract”, and then not follow through. This happened to a colleague of mine recently and I think it’s pretty lame. Don’t have someone save your date if you aren’t ready to commit. Book when you’re ready and don’t string people along. It’s bad juju. You’re planning a wedding–you don’t want to invite bad juju.
A good vendor relationship will result in a smoother planning process and hopefully a seemless wedding day. I get inspired by my couples and the better our relationship is the more love I tend to pour into their designs. I can’t help it–it just happens that way.