Thursday, April 30, 2009

Jekyll and Hyde Vendors

From time to time, brides and grooms book what I call "Jekyll and Hyde vendors."  These are photographers, florists, videographers, DJs and banquet-hall managers who are sweet and accommodating prior to contract signing, but mean and self-serving after they've been given a deposit and booked.  We tend to run into "Jekyll and Hyde vendors" when we're booked for Wedding-Day-Direction, since in that instance usually service providers have been selected independent of us.  And we're usually able to pick them out even before seeing them in action as one of their distinct traits is a disdain for working with wedding planners.  Why might you ask are they afraid/resistant to working with a wedding planner?  Because it's the wedding planner's job to make sure they do their job and unfortunately providing exceptional service is not in the plans of a "Jekyll and Hyde vendor."

Without naming any names (although they don't deserve my discretion), I'll share a few short descriptions of my recent encounters:
  • The Uncouth Banquet-Hall Manager - This banquet-hall manager joyfully contacted and invited us to tour their facility as well as to become part of their list of preferred vendors.  Due to busy schedules we were reluctant to make an appointment quickly, nevertheless she was persistent enough to change my mind.  With that said, imagine how taken aback we were when we arrived for the appointment and it seemed as if she had forgotten or never invited us at all.  To add insult to injury, she couldn't help mocking the job of wedding planners and directly exclaiming that "they aren't really needed."  A few months later, after booking a new couple for Wedding-Day-Direction at this same venue, we were thrilled [sarcasm] to learn this person was the lead on their event.  The couple shared they had been bombarded with lots of wedding-planner bashing but didn't trust this banquet-hall manager to follow through.  Moreover, they were promised several amenities during their initial consultation with this banquet-hall manager only to find out 2 months before the wedding that none of the extras promised were actually included.  Finally, at the couple's tasting (to which the bride-to-be asked me to attend), the banquet-hall manager pretended to have never met me during the tour she set up and awkwardly avoided both me and the couple.  
  • The Begrudging Florist - After a lovely meeting, one of our full planning couples booked this florist (unfortunately before having met/booked us).  The couple was promised beautiful and innovative ideas to help set their wedding apart from others.  To their dismay, these beautiful and innovative ideas never came and they felt the need to book a 2nd florist.  The 1st florist was furious, refused to return their deposit and became extraordinarily difficult.  When the couple attempted to utilize some of his services in order to take advantage of the "credit" given (which was the deposit), the 1st florist failed to return any of their calls, set appointments but would not be present when the couple arrived and proclaimed that his prices for roses were now $15 per stem.  After using a great deal of patience and professionalism, I was able to negotiate and convince the 1st florist to provide the services requested.  However, upon arriving to the event, he became insanely jealous of the work he saw of the 2nd florist and had to be escorted out of the venue.
  • The Wastrel Photographer - This photographer was booked independently of us as well.  About 3 days prior to the wedding, the bride (being busy and swamped with last-minute details) decided she did not wish to speak with any vendors and that I should be their contact person going forward.  While I did not share this decision with the photographer, I called to introduce myself and ensure he had everything needed for a successful day of shooting.  His rebuttal went something like this: "First, I must let you know I feel very uncomfortable talking to a wedding planner.  I have been in this business for 40 years and have never spoken to a wedding planner and I feel very uncomfortable with you.  I have questions but they are questions you can not answer and if I don't speak to the bride she WILL NOT receive a good level of service."  Needless to say, I was flabbergasted.  But it got worse!  On the day of the wedding, he arrived to the reception site an hour AFTER the bride, groom and guests arrived.  He also spent half of the reception either MIA or casually walking around, without his camera, eating hors d'oeuvres and drinking.
Sometimes it may not always be possible to avoid these types of vendors.  However, here are three things you can do to minimize the chances of being bamboozled:
  1. Do extensive research on your vendors - - - Refrain from selecting your service providers from simply browsing wedding magazines or venue "preferred vendor lists."  Ask around.  And check the Better Business Bureau for reported misconduct.
  2. Ask for references - - - Request to see recent work and/or speak with at least 2 recent clients.
  3. Hire a reputable wedding planner before you book your vendors - - - A good wedding planner has developed working relationships with vendors whose work reflects their desired level of service.  He/she has not only seen their work but knows their work ethic, which is extremely important.  His/her experience is more valuable than you might think.

Rashana Anderson
Founder & Managing Director, The Bridal Party

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