December 9, 2009 lisasimpsonweddingcelebrations

Okay, this could seem like venting or it could be informative to you, probably depends on your frame of mind when you read it.  Get a glass of wine or a cup of tea and read on….

Well, this was the year that I decided that some of my counterparts may have the right thinking – ‘I don’t work with you unless you hire the vendors I work with or suggest you hire’.

I have always prided myself on allowing couples to really have their own event, either by relying on me to give them vendor direction, or they found their own vendors and picked them for whatever reason.  But for some reason this year it really seemed that a lot of vendors couples had sourced on their own were about themselves or just not professional or prepared for what their role is in this very important day.

I of course, will not ever make my couple’s only use vendors I suggest, but I strongly urge you, if you are going to have a co-ordinator either from the beginning or closer to your date, ore are relying on your hotel/location person for referrals, ask them for suggestions and if you have someone in mind, ask them if they know them, or maybe have questions they suggest you ask the unknown vendor to ensure you really are getting someone who is going to be the best for you.  Remember we/them are not going to steer you in the wrong direction, it doesn’t benefit any of us at all to do that.

It could be the internet again, that has opened bride’s eyes to options that look great, but as I said in a previous blog, you can pay people to make your website fabulous, but you may not be.  I always wonder if we were back to bridal mags being the main form of advertising, with the cost involved with print, would half of these vendors be in this business, or is it because having a website really doesn’t cost that much.  Hmmm, something to ponder.

Here are some situations to backup my feeling of disappointment in some of these vendor choices, and the key thing to remember is that we see vendors every weekend, whether we know them or not, to compare each new one we work with to.  So if a vendor we are not familiar with is put out by something we know is a common situation, we would obviously sympathise with them and tell them what other vendors do to overcome this particular situation, or if this is never an issue with other vendors, realise this vendor has no clue as to how a professional handles their responsibilities and instead of looking at this person as a potential new vendor to work with again, immediately know this is not someone anyone else should be considering.

Here is also some good news, my brides and if you have a good co-ordinator, never know on the day any of the challenges I may be dealing with with these vendors, I feel I am being paid to ensure that.  But there were a couple of times when I made the comment, I wasn’t being paid enough!!  Yikes.

Florists – I could not believe the florists who did not come prepared with carts to move their product from loading docks to cere or ballroom locations, or even ladders if needed, and then are put out when the hotel due to liability will not assist them with these items, or all their items are in use and they don’t have anything to loan to the florist.  These should be standard in their vans I would think. Any panic from their end based on timing and now being behind is no ones fault but their own!!  Or the florists who did not have enough staff to fulfil their contract to you, meaning getting the cere site set up in the time they had, or the ballroom completed.  Or those who don’t want to collect their items at the end of the event and put that responsibility on you, even if you save a few dollars to do this, do not allow it, you must pay them to come back.  And I can only guess that the florist who brings their children to help setup or husband is giving you a good price!!  Sometimes I can see that the bride got the product and service she paid for in these situations, and that is obviously a budget choice, but there were situations where I knew other florists who would have given excellent service and product for the same price or less, and we would not have had the distractions of this vendor to take us away from other things we needed/wanted to be doing. Key tip here, always pay your florist to do a sample centerpiece, you will see if the $$ matches your vision or you need to spend more, or if you need to be more specific with the florist to get the end product you believed you had both been talking about, prior to seeing the sample, the paper read right, well so you thought!

DJs -unfortunately these poor guys often end up in the middle.  They are either old school/been around for a long time, which means for many years they had to somewhat co-ordinate the flow of events during the celebration part of the night due to the locations not requiring an independent co-ordinator and most of their clients don’t think they need one (not knowing what we can do for them in the planning months, or the difference we can make on a wedding day overseeing everything) so even if budget wasn’t an issue, they just don’t include a co-ordinator in their vendor list.  Remember a co-ordinator can save you time and sometimes their fee can be offset by directing you to vendors you may have never found without them.  I digress, back to the djs I was talking about, these are the guys who don’t like double checking the program on the night and going through the details to be sure they have it right (I didn’t do it once with a dj who made it very obvious I was wasting his time, and after he played the wrong first dance song, I checked to see he was working from a draft timeline of mine not the final, that I had also called to verbally confirm all details on two days prior to the wedding, so I live with whatever attitude I get now, I go thru it all!!).  These old style djs are also the ones who want to be center stage.  I had a terrible time with a dj this year who wanted to be right behind where the cake table was, so he would have been in the background of all photos.  It’s so wierd because the guys I work with that I recommend and see on all the primo lists, and charge a lot more,  have no issue not being seen, or in the spot light, and will go wherever they are directed to, yet you would think they would be the ones with the egos, but not the case, completely the opposite.  Of course power sources and speaker locations all come into play, but extension cords are a wonderful thing!!

Photographers-I used to say it didn’t matter if your photographer hadn’t worked at a location before, new eyes can mean great photos, but this year I saw so many slow photographers who due to not having been at properties before, spent too much time in one area and had to give up great locations that seemed to be so obvious, including one who had been with the bride for 45 mins earlier in the day, but right at sunset time after the cere was staging her on the roadway in a shot where she was looking up at him, with the groom and a golf cart that they paid good money for, waiting and when he was done, the sun was gone. They guys who work these properties all the time, know the area, know the priorities and can make it all happen, including cocktail time for the couple if wanting!! I hate to say it, but sometimes I get the feeling that if this is their first time at a location, their needs to take shots to showcase their style at the location for future couples, may supersede you!!  Also, and I think even the guys/girls who do work the coastal locations a lot need to be reminded, if it is important to you to have shots taken at the cere location after the ceremony with family/bridal party where you can actually see the ocean or backdrop, your main reason for picking that site, tell them.  Their job is to make that happen.  Their inclination to get the best shots is of course to take you away from that backdrop as it is too bright and go elsewhere or have you turned around at the location but with a different backdrop.  If you are paying $10k or an amount that seems a lot to you for your backdrop and you want pictures showing it, then tell them.  I don’t believe they have any idea as to the rental fees some of these locations are charging for the cere sites.  I have been suggesting they do a few there and their job is to get it as best as it can be, so at least you have some, and then take you to where they feel they have the best light/backdrop to get this group/family shots etc you hired them for.  One other possible question to ask a potential photographer, have they only ever shot digital or did they shoot film prior?  Prior to digital the photographers had to be good, they had to be timely and that had to have an eye, otherwise their lack of talent would cost them a lot in film developing in wasted pictures that they couldn’t even show a bride & groom.  These guys are the ones that don’t have to keep looking at their shots on their digital cameras, because they know they took a good shot.  They are quick, and they are the ones that can get your group/combo shots done after the cere, maybe get some beach shots in with you, and …….. get you back in time for some cocktail time with the guests, all within say 1 1/4 hours.  With digital cameras being relatively inexpensive compared to what film photographers used to pay, and with a wonderful thing called photo-shop, there are a lot of people putting themselves out there as wedding photographers, using the term photo journalistic (which is what 98% of all wedding photographers are now, they tell the story of the day), but on the day they have to take 5 shots of the same pose, they are constantly looking at what they just took to see if they need to do it again which of course is all adding to the length of time your photos take, and can mean missing out on other spontaneous moments that could be happening.  So something to ask, did you shoot film or have you only ever shot digital.  Of course if you find someone whose work you love, you are always going to be willing to put up with any challenges, because the end result is what you are going to keep forever.

Videographers – I don’t understand why some videographers don’t need spotlights on all the time during the dancing portion and some do.  It is amazing to me that after we have created a beautiful atmosphere with lighting and candles to have a videographer tell me he needs the lighting turned up or his video is going to be dark and the couple won’t be happy.  Maybe this is a big question you need to ask your videographer, can he work with subdued lighting?  I have yet to see a party really get going when everyone is dancing in what seems to be daylight.  The guys I recommend never have this issue, which is probably why I recommend them.  If they have rolling tripods etc for the toast time, they also don’t seem to have a problem standing right in front of your while the toasts are happening with no care as to who is behind them and now can’t see you or your reactions.  Things to think about, as until they happen you have no idea.

Hair & Makeup – well, sometimes it’s not even cheaper, but if it is, is it really worth it to be really running late?  I have a company that I recommend to my brides and for those that go that route, my bride’s are never late, they bring the right amount of artists to cover the services needed in a timely fashion, and end result everyone is calm and cool.  I saw too much of the opposite this year, and when I arrived I had to be the bad guy and start getting everyone moving.  When you run late, something has to give somewhere or your guests are on the waiting end which is not fun.  Some independents are greedy and have no probs knocking on your door at 4am to do services for a morning wedding and not bringing help, and remember, she gets to go home and sleep, while you normally have another 6-7 hours of event to go through, and the poor person who was the first to be done, can’t really do a lot once her hair/makeup is done.

Ceremony music – I love  my string trio/quartet I recommend.  They are fun for you the bride to work with, flexible and reasonably priced.  Not the cheapest but also not expensive. This year I had bride’s finding strings thru the web who were maybe $100 less than my lovely group.  Bride was happy with them, but I definately saw the difference, in how slow they were at changing songs pre cere or during the processional (worse!!), how if their time was up, they were up and gone, or one trio, came to me after and told me she would be sending the bride a bill for 15 mins overtime as they were over by 2 mins and they charged for anything over in 15 min increments.  One group in their hour needed a 15 min break.  At one cere just as I was about to start the musicians, stopped playing, got up and went to the guests water station, got a glass each, then went back and sat down and were now ready for me to begin (hmm haven’t they heard of bringing your own bottled water??) At one wedding I think their length of time was 1 hour and just prior to starting one of them got up and told me she needed to go to the restroom, so we waited.  I don’t know but shouldn’t she have done that before she sat down?  I am sometimes amazed that I realise it has been 8 hours andI have not gone to the bathroom, guess I am too busy or focused and probably a lot of that has to do with the fact that I go pottie just before I am on the clock!!! My lady has never subjected me to any of these things, and thus she gets lots of business from me.  She will learn songs if you give her notice and she understands things happen and our timing can be off.  I also saw a lot of chatting during the pre cere music between songs, which amazes me!!!  If you don’t see each other often, go for lunch after you are done with the wedding, don’t use this time to catch up.

Linens/chaircovers/chairs/rental items – so much is involved with these items, sometimes a small window of time to put them down, and always same night pickup.  Too many companies offer a cheap price to get you interested and then by the time you realise you need timed delivery and setup and same night pickup you are back up in price or they don’t do that and now what happens.

For some vendors, they just don’t understand why a co-ordinator is involved and don’t understand why they may be being given direction or asked questions by the co-ordinator, we are all a team that has come together to make your day fabulous, but the co-ordinator is the leader of the team, and the one you are relying on to ensure all your expectations are met.  Each vendor has their own contract with you but sometimes we are privy to info that the couple wishes for us to relay to the vendor, or we may know things that can change things as the day goes along and the vendors/dj need to be willing to trust us and go with it, making for a much smoother working relationship on the day.

We are on your side.  We want you to have the best vendor and rental item experience for your budget and style.  Why wouldn’t you lean on us to give you direction, and if a co-ordinator won’t give you vendor direction if you booked her for a small service, then something is very wrong, why would she want to deal with headaches on the day dealing with vendors who are not professional or prepared, maybe she doesn’t really know what you have hired her to do, and so you end up with a so so job from her, but you don’t know it because you have nothing to compare it to.  But the hotel knows it and will steer you away from those companies too.  Unfortunately if they keep getting booked they believe they are doing a great job, and they keep getting rewarded for bad behavior, remember, we see that how these people are is not the norm or your only option.

Limos – I always suggest have your co-ordinator make suggestions.  If a company gets business from a co-ordinator you will never have an issue, they like the repeat business.  But a limo company you find for a one off wedding, well things can happen, car switches, late, etc, they know they won’t see you for another wedding so if things don’t happen as planned, no biggie in their mind.

Doves – only one company down here I use, even if others are cheaper I saw a really lousy dove release earlier in the year and it scarred me for life!!!!  Not literally.

Now if you read thru the above you are probably like, wow, she is on a rampage about/has it in for vendors she doesn’t know or have relationships with.  Well yes in some circumstances, and my concerns and feelings always have you the paying client in mind.  Why should you get less or settle, and just because you may never know that there is better or you could have had a better experience, why should my concerns not be aok for future brides to keep in mind.  Thus the point of this particular blog episode.

But now, to hopefully balance it out a bit, as mentioned in an earlier blog, I have found diamonds of vendors that I now recommend thanks to a bride finding them first.  Take John Russo photographer, love him.  I also got to work with Mark Hix the dj again this year, hadn’t worked with him in probably 8 years – came in prepared/did his job, even if he thought I was annoying with double checking things, never showed it, and then we had a situation, and he went over and above and as a favor to me stayed on for 1/2 hour longer and did not charge the couple.  Love him.  Great English accent, for anyone wanting to add that bit of style to your event.  He will definately be one of my new constant recommendations.

I guess the key here is, I AM being paid by you to ensure all goes well and to do that, it has to involve double checking things on the day.  The vendors who don’t find this a problem, are the ones that I can add to my vendor list, as easily as I can take someone off or not recommend.  I want your event to be the best it can be, and I have the resources and knowledge and comparisons to make that happen.  Any vendor who does not understand the big picture and only looks at your day from their vantage and end result is possibly not the best to work with.

It’s tough from your angle as the bride when working out who your vendors will be and where you find them, and it’s tough for the vendor wanting to get started>  My advise to the vendors wanting to be constantly referred is, come prepared, be willing to do your job without being babysat or becoming a time waster/distraction for the co-ordinator, don’t make your meal/break the priority of the event, and the work will flow from there.

I am also sure that what I have just tried to inform you about when it comes to vendors, can also be said about co-ordinators, and we do all have different styles, fees, and detail orientations, and that is why the locations are a great source to find out who they like and would be good for you, or if they have heard of someone you are considering, they also are not going to suggest someone who is going to come in and make double work for the banquet/setup department or have you coming back to them after saying, you were not happy working with this person and why did they refer you to them.

Off to the office to detail a 2010 couple, we are way ahead of it and they will get to enjoy the holidays.

Till next time,


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One Comment Add your own

  • 1. caren  |  December 12, 2009 at 6:10 am

    Lisa this is such good information….I hope many many brides get the opportunity to read this and understand the word of wisdom.

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