an open letter to wedding vendors

This post has been brewing in me for a little while now. It is NOT directed to any one person or situation in particular. But a accumulation of occurrences.

As wedding engineers (er, planners), we get a plethora of wedding vendors that contact us requesting to be on our referred vendor list. Facebook messages, emails, cards, phone calls, and more. We have a process when we recommend a vendor (and yes, we will occasionally recommend vendors that we have not worked with before… as long as they have some stellar testimonials that we check out).

We are also offered many things, one of which a little “kick-back”. “Refer me and I’ll give you $50.” says wedding a vendor.

Honestly that’s not our motivation when referring vendors. For the record, we do not accept kick-backs of any kind. What we prefer is that you (the wedding vendor) extend that $50 towards our client’s service package. You look good, we look good. Win/Win.

However here’s the real needle in the haystack that I want to address in this blog post.

Darling wedding vendors, we recommend to do the following:

  • Bring your A game and a little more. Seriously. Treat the clients that we bring to you with such great care that they want to be your Bestie as well.
  • Want to work with US. That’s right. We bring you into the team-fold to spend all day with you on a Saturday (away from our family), we want you to work with us. If you have ever experienced working with the planning…forever events team, you KNOW that we don’t ask you to do anything that we wouldn’t do ourselves. In fact, there is no such language as, “That’s not our job” at an event. We pitch in and work hard right along side of you.
  • Watch each other’s backs. It takes a full vendor team to execute a fabulous wedding. Everyone doing their part and a little more. We all make mistakes (yes, us too). We’re human. Help us and we’ll help you.
  • Be a little more flexible. You know that your job is going to be a little easier with us on site. Timelines and production schedules are complete. All vendors are contacted prior to the wedding. So don’t lump us with all your other DIY clients. We are professional. Time is money and we know what we are doing. A little flexibility goes a long way to repeat referrals.
  • Have fun on the wedding day. We pull 17 hours sometimes. Often, we’re the first ones there for setup … to the ceremony … the reception and breaking out. We love what we do, but I won’t lie. Sometimes it can be a long hard work day. Bring a smile and a great attitude. The day will go by faster and easier.
  • Communicate with us. Sometimes client’s don’t tell us everything. A rogue Father of the Bride goes off and plans special events during the reception as a surprise and we don’t know anything about it. Let us know ….
  • Refer US. You read that correctly. Throw our name out there to YOUR clients. Ask them, “WHO is your wedding planner?” and tell them about us. Tell them why you like to work with us. You should know, we SELL YOU before our clients call you to meet. This is a tight wedding vendor circle and throwing back some love to us is just as important as us always referring you. One sided relationships almost never work. Think about it.

This blog post was from the heart and for educational purposes. We are so fortunate to work with so many fabulous wedding vendors. And on the weekend’s that we have a “dream team” put together…we all sleep better the night before.

Go ahead, tell us what you think…

feature image photo credit: chris berneking photography

plan on!


14 thoughts on “an open letter to wedding vendors”

  1. Yes, yes, and yes. Couldn’t agree more with your post! Bring your A game, bring a smile, and a great attitude. It’s a team effort to give an excellent experience to the couple and their family! I’ll just kindly add that all vendors, from venues to hair and makeup stylists need to be working ON our businesses too…no one has arrived, and unprofessionalism reflects poorly on the whole industry – newer and older pros alike. Thanks for posting, Saundra! -Stefanie

  2. Really great post! Sometimes I have gotten the feeling that some vendors do not want to be bothered and my questions regarding timelines, tasks etc ‘annoys’ them. I am not trying to tell you what to do, I am doing my job my making sure the entire day is the very best it can for the bride and groom. We all have the same goal!

  3. It is true that “buying” a referral is a short-term strategy that can only backfire in the long-run. We would MUCH rather invest in a relationship with both the client and the partner-vendor by providing out-of-this-world service to a bride and groom. For the couple to hear that their planner was able to work out a credit toward their wedding photography package not only raises the couple’s stock in their planner, but it also demonstrates the good will of the photographer. Certainly sounds like a win-win to me!

  4. Excellent post, right on the money (!). I would only add to treat big and SMALL events alike, especially small, intimate weddings — they might not be bringing you the big bucks but that is someone’s Big Day, make it memorable! Also? The Details, it’s all about the details.

    One more: Who knows who is watching you and taking notes, or not.

  5. I AGREE. One sided relationships never work. As a planner myself, we sell our clients on vendors and in return vendors should sell us (planners) to their clients as well. I can’t count how many times I have referred vendors to my clients and they don’t return the favor.I have learned now that referrals is a two way street. Do for me what I do for you. It’s that simple. If you can’t swing business my way, well then call me and thank me for the business and get photos to me in a timely manner after the event. It’s the least you can do for getting a referral from me.

  6. Lelaine Sakkemoie

    I am a wedding vendor and I agree for the majority of what you said, but, I have been subject to some very questionable AND rude behavior displayed to me by some planners. I have had some that think they are my BOSS, or worse—the cleaning lady at the hotel! I appreciate the referrals, but treating me and my staff like dirt is not acceptable. Just because you referred us, does not entitle you to to disrespect me or try to tell me how to do my job!!!!!!

    1. Lelaine, I understand what you are saying. There are bad apples in every group. You see our philosophy above. I have numerous stories as well, from a vendor telling us to, “Go cut the cake and look pretty”. Respect is a two way street and you don’t owe any planner anything who treats you that way.

      1. Lelaine Sakkemoie

        I appreciate you saying that, I have had several situations with planners who we work with to say and do things that leaves me scratching my head as to why they think it’s acceptable (with a vendor who has been known to do a good job and is trusted). [We work w/floras and decor]

        I had one well-known planner who replied back to an email that was simple, CONFIRMING, brief, but very important and said “please do not bother me right now, I have a lot of details to deal with. We have already gone over this and I don’t need more work on my plate” Umm…isn’t that your job to make sure your vendors are on the same page???!

        What I did was in the future to never be available when she referred me anyone, she’s known in the industry and self proclaimed ‘witch’ (nice PR, isn’t it?!) I am saying this because all to often I hear planners complain about vendors, but no one is ever bold enough to be open on the other end (as to fear loss of referrals and business) Respect is a 2 way street!

        1. So be the first and call her out. I’m sure you are busy enough without her referrals anyway.

          I would MUCH rather have a vendor speak to me directly about a situation that bothered them than spread it to everyone with an ear, behind my back. How can I rectify the situation or at least tell my side of the story if I don’t know about it? There are always two-sides of the story … it can be eye opening to both parties IF they are mature enough to talk it through.

          Oh. And everyone complains about everyone. I have never met a more Peyton Place like that of the wedding industry. For me, it’s all business mixed with a little fun. Otherwise I don’t care about ego’s, backstabbing, drama or other ridiculousness.

  7. Saundra,

    I love your open letter. As an Owner and travel specialist of Farrah’s Exclusive Travels, LLC. I believe that many vendors get overwhelm with tons of events, yet they are afraid to say no. Every point that you made is vital to any wedding vendor. Fortunately, we conduct business by the same factors that keep our planners referring us over and over again.

    Thank you for posting this. I will definitely share this with my agents.

    Owner/ Certified Honeymoon / Destination Wedding Specialist
    Farrah’s Exclusive Travels, LLC

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