After meeting people for the first time and they learn I am a Wedding Planner, one question I get asked frequently (especially from newly engaged brides/couples) is “What would you say is the number one key component of a great wedding?” Now, I could say the venue location, food choice, the overall wedding theme or great music (which are all true) but my response is always GREAT vendors.
Without talented, reliable and experienced vendors, none of the above components could be executed correctly. So it’s very important to select and invest in quality vendors who you can trust to do a great job for you on your wedding day.
I know what you’re thinking, “but Bisola, weddings are SO expensive. I can’t possible ‘invest’ in ALL of my vendors. Besides, my uncle Joe, the music buff of the family, has already volunteered to be our DJ for the wedding” my response………“Noooooo!”
I agree that weddings are expensive. In fact, studies show that couples within the Metropolitan Atlanta area spend anywhere between $22k and $36K when tying the proverbial knot. National averages are now stated to be around $29K. But just imagine spending all of this money, time and energy planning a once in a lifetime day that you can never reenact again and one or more of your vendors screws it up because you were trying to save money?
So, please, for your sanity and mine stay away from the four letter “F word” when selecting your wedding vendors. What’s the four letter word you ask?
F-R-E-E! Yeah..free. What word did you think I was referring to??...
I cannot count how many horrible stories I have heard from brides who hired a novice wedding vendor on Craigslist who agreed to do their wedding for free in exchange for experience and they ruined their wedding day. Or how uncle Steve offered to be their wedding day photographer for free and the pictures turned out horribly. Or how their normally awesome baker/bridesmaid made the ugliest wedding cake you have ever seen and the worst part, it was for THEIR wedding.
The fact is that it’s hard to hold people accountable if they are providing their services for free. They don’t have to accommodate your requests or do a great job because their technically doing you a favor.
I’ll put it to you another way. Remember in college when you were forced into group projects? (Yeah, I know. Hated it!!) You would frantically scan the room trying to make eye contact with your friends giving them a head nod or eye twitch or some kind of signal letting them know “you’re in my group!...right?” After the grueling time spent getting your project together and turning it in at the last possible second, you could clearly identify the people in your group under the following categories:
The group member who never shows up to scheduled and agreed upon group meetings;
The group leader who did 99.87% of the work (this was me most of the time haha.);
The person who has an excuse for everything;
The team member who has absolutely no idea what is going on the entire time; and
(This person used to REALLY get on my nerves) The team member who disappears at the very beginning and doesn’t show up until the day the project is due and asks if their name is on the document.
After getting burned a few times in these types of groups, you then realized that in order for you to be successful (and pass the class) you needed to fill your team with people who showed up to class prepared and on time, asked insightful questions during class discussions, actually did the homework and always asked for extra credit just so they could get an A+ instead of just an A.
Building your team of wedding vendors is a very similar exercise. You don’t want the slackers; you want to build a team of “A list” vendors who have relevant experience that they can leverage for your big day.
If after reading this blog post you are still thinking about hiring your friend, family member or a college student as one of your wedding vendors please read this blog post again haha. But seriously, if you are still thinking about going through with this, here are a couple of tips:
1. Have a conversation about expectations and exactly what you are contracting them to execute on the day of. Make sure you are as detailed as possible.
2. Get a signed contract (PLEASE) that details all of the information you discussed in tip number one.
If they don’t have a contract or if they give you a hard time about putting one together, this should be a red flag. You can create one very easily with this Freelance Contract Creator so there shouldn’t be any excuse. Microsoft Office also has contract templates.
If you don’t feel comfortable asking them for a contract or giving them one you created, then I would advise finding someone else.
3. If they do charge a nominal fee for their services, refrain from paying the final balance until the day of the wedding.
What if they don’t fulfill their obligations? What if they ruin your wedding? And the worst… what if they don’t show up?
Also, make sure all of your payments are via check or some source that can be tracked in case you have to prove it later (if you know what I mean…)
Was this helpful for you? If so, let me know! I love hearing from you.
Next Thursday we’ll be talking about my problem with the popular term “bridezilla” and how you can reduce stress while balancing wedding planning and your career.