Wedding Vendors – Hiring, Firing, Complaining, Etc.
This week we’re going to look at wedding vendors, how to hire them, what to look for. We’ll also look at how to handle problems with dignity and grace – and with an improved chance of a good outcome.
Hiring Wedding Vendors
I’ve recently joined a Facebook Group for brides and wedding vendors, a forum and a way to connect. I have to say that I’m dismayed and shocked by the number of brides who say that they’ve been scammed. It’s very tempting to save money where you can. But do remember that if it seems too good to be true then it probably is! Check your vendors out before you hire them. Too many times I’ve read that people have paid for goods, not received them and then been blocked by “wedding vendors”. I put that in quotes because these are NOT wedding professionals.
A professional will generally have a website as well as business pages for Facebook and other social media sites. Check them out, read their reviews, see how long they’ve been in business for. I know everyone has to start somewhere, but even wedding vendors new to the business will have a professional feel to them. How are you being asked to pay? Is there a PayPal option, debit or credit card options to protect you? Do they have insurance?
Friends as Wedding Vendors
This is a tricky one! Your friend offers to make your wedding cake or to do your flowers, but they’re not professional. Do you go with them? In a previous post I looked at how to have a budget wedding and mistakes to avoid. If you know that your friend is virtually professional and you’re happy to use them, go for it, with caution. However, just remember that they won’t have professional indemnity insurance. Ask to see photos of their work. If you’re at all reticent about using them you need to let them down gently.
Emphasise that you value your friendship too much to risk spoiling it in any way and that you want them to be able to relax and enjoy your wedding day. Asking them to make a smaller contribution such as a floral arrangement for your gift/guest book table will make them feel included. However if the arrangement isn’t up to much it won’t spoil the whole look of the day. If it’s nice then everyone wins!
You have a friend or acquaintance who IS a wedding professional and you want to use them. Yes, they’re free for your date. Yes, they’re happy to do it. No, you can’t ask for a discount! If they offer a discount then that’s lovely, but please don’t expect one. They do what they do to make a living and you should respect that. If at the end of the month you’d worked hard and your boss asked if it was ok to pay you 75% or less of your wages how would you feel? I’m guessing pretty cheesed off and definitely undervalued.
Contracts and records
A professional will always have a contract or Terms & Conditions. This is important to protect both of you. You as a client need to be sure that you’re getting everything you require at the price you’ve agreed. Your wedding vendors need to be sure that they are getting paid for everything they are giving you in the agreed price.
Always retain email conversation chains or paper copies of everything. Keep records of your verbal conversations by dropping your vendor an email confirming what you’ve discussed and agreed. Give your vendor photographs of what you want, keeping a copy for yourself. Get it agreed in writing what is going to be provided. If the vendor can’t do exactly what you want for some reason, get in writing, preferably with photographs, what CAN be supplied.
Firing Wedding Vendors
Don’t like the look your makeup artist gave you in your trial session? Talk to her at the time and explain the look you’re after. If you’re wanting a natural look to go with your boho style wedding and you get a heavy over made up look suitable for a nightclub then ask for it to be toned down. If you’re still not happy and don’t feel that they can give you what you want then it’s perfectly ok to look for another MUA.
You’ve hired your wedding vendors but one of them isn’t delivering to agreed timescales, what do you do?
- Firstly, send a polite email asking for an explaination/clarification. Set a deadline for a response, 10-14 days should be sufficient.
- Secondly, send a follow-up email stating that goods/services promised have not been delivered by the deadline set in your first email. Give a final deadline by which you expect some action to have been taken. State that after that date you will have no option but to cancel your contract and find an alternative vendor.
- Thirdly, email saying that the deadline has not been met and you are cancelling your contract, requesting an immediate refund of any money you’ve paid.
- If no refund is forthcoming you can pursue the matter with Trading Standards and the Small Claims Court.
Personally I would send letters by recorded delivery too, keep the proof of posting/tracking reference. You can then check online if it’s been signed for.
Something’s gone wrong on the day
The floral centrepieces are not what you ordered. The table plan looks like your 11 year old niece put it together. The DJ’s being rude to guests. First of all, try not to let it spoil your day. Things sometimes go wrong. Can it be fixed at the time? If it can, deal with it and move on. If not then don’t let it ruin the best day of your life. At the end of the day it’s about the celebration of your love and commitment to each other.
If something can be documented, get your photographer to photograph the centrepieces or table plan or whatever is wrong. This is important so that you can compare with the photographs of what has been agreed during the planning.
Don’t fire off a snotty email immediately. Take time to calm down first. There’s a saying: You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. It’s true. You are far more likely to get the result you’re after by starting off being polite. Also, amicable resolution will cut down on the stress for you. If you let the wedding vendor have it with both barrels immediately you will put them on the defensive. Your email process for sorting out problems that happened on the day will take a similar path to firing a vendor.
- Email explaining why you’re unhappy, supply copies of photos of the agreed work and the actual work. Ask for the vendor’s suggested way forward. Give a deadline for a response.
- Either accept their suggestion and bring an end to the matter or tell them that you’re not happy with their suggestion. Tell them what YOU think is a reasonable solution.
- If you can’t agree on a resolution then you may have to go to Trading Standards and/or Small Claims Court.
Reviews for Wedding Vendors
People are very quick to complain and far far slower to compliment. Please give your wedding vendors good reviews if they’ve done a good job. It’s very easy after the wedding and honeymoon to just go back to your daily life. Think of us vendors as you would a guest who’s given you a gift. You wouldn’t dream of not saying thank you (I hope) add your vendors to your list of thank you’s to be done. Many of us are running our own businesses and are constantly trying to advance them. Remember at the beginning of this piece I said to check out the reviews? If no one gives reviews then there’s nothing for you to check ……..
Beware of giving a scathing review if you’re not 100% happy. Firstly you could be ruining someone’s reputation. Secondly you could be laying yourself open for a libel lawsuit, especially if you’ve exaggerated to make your point! Try to sort things out amicably, and stick to the facts.
Treat Wedding Vendors Well
Food and drink
Your wedding vendors are human. They need to eat. Some may have a clause in their contract regarding food if they’re going to be there all day. For example, your photographer may have been with you early to capture your WD preparation. If you’ve booked them to be there all day and into the evening you don’t want them keeling over! You don’t need to include them on the table plan and give them the full wedding breakfast – unless of course you want them there to capture candid shots throughout. However, a bar meal will be very much appreciated and keep them happy. Arrange for them to be able to get soft drinks from the bar to prevent dehydration.
Most wedding vendors who will be at your wedding for all or part of the day will turn up looking smart. However, if you’re worried about this you could send out a general note referring them to the venue’s dress code. Or you could say that the dress code for the wedding is formal/smart casual and that you’d like your vendors to follow suit.
Do have reasonable expectations of your vendors. Many of us go the extra mile to make sure that you get what you want. Sometimes an element of a job might take longer than expected for one reason or another and you won’t get charged for the extra time. If you’re nice to work with the likelihood is that the odd hour or so won’t be charged for. Bridezillas however will be charged for every extra minute!
If you’re having a wedding planner who charges by the hour, set a total limit on how much you will spend. Or agree a flat fee for their services. That way it’s up to them to allocate their time accordingly.
Please note that the advice given here is not legal advice and should not be taken as such. It is merely a suggested course of action. If you are going to take legal action against a vendor please do some research on the correct procedure/timelines to follow.