Archive for December 27th, 2011




Vendors

This is a tough topic.  How does someone gain experience if they are not referred, we all had to start somewhere (mine was 13 years in hotels planning weddings from that side and realising what was missing from the bride’s side/protection-big picture perspective), but my chat below really is about using tried and true vendors.

This is your wedding, you are spending more money in these 5-7 hours of your life than you ever will again for something you don’t live or drive in, or for that amount of time,  and think about it, you are spending that money on/for others predominately, not just you. 

So why does a hotel make you hire a co-ordinator?  Because this person is now working on your behalf to ensure everything you should have done/be prepared for has been done/thought of.  A person provided by the hotel is not going to do that, they may ask questions that make you feel like they are interested or assisting, but their responsibility is solely to the items that you are paying them to provide/do for you.  I know this, having trained ladies to be my day of co-ordinators when the hotel I worked at would have multiple weddings a day and I could not co-ordinate them myself.  I trained the ladies, to ensure that everything we could be blamed for that was our responsibility was done correctly, anything else, was the client’s vendors fault or the couples fault for not thinking it thru/planning it out, whatever they had been responsible for.

So be happy when your location wants you to have an unbiased person involved, or even if it has to be someone off their list, they are on the list because many couples before you were happy with them and their event, so why mess with that.  If there were a lot of problems, that person would be off.  The hotel person who gives you a list or makes a suggestion as to a local co-ordinator/s for you to call, has already in her mind worked out who would be a good fit for you or be the kind of co-ordinator you would enjoy/trust/work well with.  So don’t think there is some underlying devious thought process going on, you are truely being pointed in a direction that the hotel person believes is going to end in a positive end result for all.

Same goes with a co-ordinator, I don’t refer anyone I have not worked with (or someone I know in this biz suggests if I don’t have someone we need).  Many  reasons for this, I don’t know how they work, are they slow, are they reliable, is the end result what they promise in the sales, are they easy to communicate/work with, do they come and do their job without causing turmoil for the hotel staff or me/my team.  The vendors I refer have insurance (so important, this year I had a few couples who had found vendors thru internet or their local shopping area and decided due to pricing or style, this was the person for them, then I find out that vendor does not have liability insurance.  Seems strange to me  a business person not having liability insurance but guess if they have gambled and been ok for so long they don’t see the point if something did happen to one of your guests and it was this vendors fault, due to no insurance, be prepared your guest if they can not longer work, is going to sue you, they need income/way to pay medical bills etc, they will go after anyone they feel can assist with their dilemma), but thank goodness the 5 star properties here in the OC demand they have liability insurance, but some of these vendors don’t know that, and suddenly you have a vendor you have given a deposit to and they don’t have insurance.  For one wedding that booked me  very short term, the groom paid for 5 vendors day of insurance, and for another wedding they paid 1/2 the cost for the photographers insurance.  I have to say for the first groom, his end result in product was fine, but did he end up spending more than he saved ultimately by choosing those vendors and then paying that insurance, I don’t know.  In the latter, unfortunately they got what they paid for, a photographer that was not good, did not get good pictures and was very slow.  Very nice, but his being nice, is not what you are going to be looking at in an album you don’t like in 5 years time.

So, the vendors I refer all have the insurance,  are all seasoned/experienced.  For the photographers, they are quick, they know what to shoot, where and seem to always be in the spot when it is needed.  They all started in film, so never need to look at their digital screen and see/hope they got a good one with the 8 clicks they just took.  The rental companies I use will include the delivery/setup and same night pickup fees, there are too many companies out there sucking brides in with low pricing, then the bride finds out closer to the event that these fees need to be added on, not a nice suprise, or worse she doesn’t have the money now so she/the family/the bridal party must tear down the wedding.  The djs have the latest equipment and take up little space and are quick at moving equipment from one area to another, you never hear feedback, they look good, and believe it or not can pronounce words that can be heard and understood, I saw quite a few bad mcees this year, this person makes or break the level of event you are having your guests experience.  Florists and hair/makeup, they can do what you need, and it holds up!!

Here’s the biggie, if they have been around for the past 5-20 years, chances are good they will be around in the next year or more.  So many of the vendors you are finding on line, seem to specialise in the latest look, date themselves/their work really quickly and don’t last because their style did not last, or they realised that being in the wedding business is a lot of work, not a get rich quick op.  You want someone whose passion is there from the time you booked them through to your wedding date and after, not someone who gives up the career at some point after the sale and you are their last wedding.  I have had dinner at the vendor table with these folks, so tired and so happy that this is their last.  Do I believe they are putting their best foot out there to ensure you get the best of them, no, why, they aren’t relying on the end result of your wedding to give them more business.  You also don’t want someone who needed to quickly make money, made a web site, started taking in deposits, then got an offer of a great job, and suddenly disappeared, or worse still and this has happened, a photographer who has so little business they are using money you paid them to pay their bills and now can’t fulfil your order/album, there is not enough future bookings coming in to cover past fulfillments.

I offer vendors that have different styles, come from different area codes locally for convenience, and start at different budgets.  Just because I or a hotel offer them, does not mean they are expensive, sometimes they are inexpensive and you would never find them on your own, thru referrals they are kept busy and don’t need to social network/advertise etc.  If we bring them enough business makes sense why should they put in more effort to get more business unless they want to grown, right.  When we do your budget I start to work out who I think $$ wise is right for you and then match the vendor that seems to also have the style you are looking for.  You always get more than one to choose from to start, if that’s not working you can tell me why then I seek out past the inner circle, there are sooooo many vendors out there your co-ordinator knows/has worked with and sometimes when we have to extend past the norm, it reminds you of someone you have forgotton about.

Now in saying all this, trust the hotel in believing you need an outside co-ordinator and trust if they are directing you to certain people.  Trust your co-ordinator with the vendors she is suggesting you look at (unless she is getting a kickback and this does happen feel free to ask) these truely are people she thinks are going to give/offer the best for you for your day/event. 

Pictures can be taken off peoples websites and put on their new site/the up and comer that wants to look great.  I had a florist whose friend was a starter co-ordinator, the co-ordinator was assisting the florist with a wedding I was doing at the Ritz, I worked out something was up when this person was asking the staff more non floral related questions than working on the flowers, and I am sure that after that wedding she posted photos on her new website saying something along the lines of,  such and such got married at the Ritz, florals  by ……., it was a beautiful day, everything went smoothly.  Now  as a reader of that website, you have no idea that she had nothing to do with anything, and she hasn’t said anything that was not true.  But you are not getting someone with experience and possibly they are a bit devious in their work ethic/way to get ahead, which would make me wonder if this is someone I want to trust all my money and dreams to.  So be careful, you want to see a good track record, you want to see lots of weddings, that tells you the person you are looking at is constantly working and obviously making people happy.  Sometimes there is the unhappy client, but my years in this biz have taught me that generally there is something else wrong and they need to find something to blame for their unhappiness or situation, except the reality.  Your key is the hotel, ask them about the person are they right for you, asking a past bride doesn’t really tell you anything, of course they were happy otherwise they wouldn’t say they could be used as a reference.

I am always suprised when I get asked about a vendor I have referred, ‘but are they good?’.  Of course they are good, why would I recommend someone that wasn’t, it’s only going to come  back and bite me.  If who I am suggesting is not working for you, then we keep looking until we find the right person, and sometimes my couples find the right person themselves (friend and family recommendations are a great way, tried and true also), and I have then ended up with a new vendor that I now recommend,  but all too often, my assistants on the day after shadowing a photographer will come back and  mention how slow they were and they didn’t seem to be taking good shots with great backdrops or seem organised/professionals.  I notice the mceeing and the rental companies and compare, and generally these decisions are financial, but I will tell you, with all of these, you get what you pay for in the end.  Doesn’t mean to say from your guests perspective anything could be seen to be wrong, but if you have ended up with stress due to that vendor/suprise fees/time and effort, then you probably did not save anything in the end.

Not a fun topic, again, hard for newbies to get experience if everyone is using who/what they know to ensure a great result, but that’s called insurance.  Having someone co-ordinate your wedding who lost their office job and then took a course at a night school but has no practical long term hotel/catering experience is not going to be a good co-ordinator, she/he is not fully rounded and the hotel or someone else is picking up their slack to ensure a great end result.  Someone creating a website with their wedding photos and saying they had so much fun planning their wedding and now are co-ordinating, again, even if charging very little, are you sure you want to risk them planning yours?  They don’t have the connections/relationships that are very much part of this business, as it is with all business’.  And most of the time those relationships benefit you, the couple getting married.

Ok, enough of that

Till next time

Lisa

BTW, I am the ONLY co-ordinator on all the preferred lists of the Ritz-Carlton/Dana Point, St Regis/Monarch Beach, Hyatt HB & NB,  Marriott NB

www.lisasimpsonweddings.com

714 305 7112

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