Monday, November 8, 2010

A Bad Vendor is a Bad Vendor

There really is no way around this concept.  If you are a bad vendor, you can't be anything else.  Now I'll clarify as to what I consider a "bad" vendor so that we aren't having too many ideas floating around but the main thing is, you can make excuses but bad is bad.

My biggest issue would be clients that book, then make excuses for these bad vendors.  You (client) need to understand that if there are issues with the quality of service in the beginning, there will be issues the entire time.  If you think it stressed you out while you were planning your wedding, wait til your wedding day when you are already stressed out enough.  I want people to expect more from their vendors.  This is a big day, a big deal and you are typically paying a decent amount of money, so expectations are expected. 

Things I've heard from Brides that absolutely make me want to cringe-

"I've booked a photographer, and they have great photos, they are just SO busy they don't have time to return calls"

"I've booked a cheap limo service, it really is a great deal.  They haven't sent a contract, even though I've asked for one a few times, but I can't pass up a good deal."

"I found this great catering company but they insist that they never have been asked to do a tasting before, so we aren't going to have one before our wedding day."

"I saw this band play at a local bar and their music is awesome but they claim they don't do contracts, they will just show up as requested, I'd feel better with a contract, but they said they never do them."

"You should meet this amazing makeup artist I found.  She's kind of short with me sometimes but she's so busy (because she's so good) that I totally understand she's just stressed."

"We did an engagement shoot with this photographer and she really didn't listen to us, or do the photos we wanted, but I'm hoping she will be better on our wedding day, she's been in the business so long, I know she'll do a great job."

Really people?  I have actually had these things said, out loud by grown adults that would probably never allow this type of bad service from any other type of vendor but for some reason on wedding days, people just get uncomfortable with confrontation.  Maybe it is because you already have SO much going on and you are just happy to have decisions made, but let me tell you, it will be something you'll regret in the long run. 

This is the most basic statement I can make
If service is bad at the start, it WILL NOT get better once you give someone a deposit, it WILL NOT get better as you get more nervous about your wedding day.  Deal with it now, while you can.

Am I saying to have insane expectations of your vendors.  Absolutely not.  There are time when a vendor is going to take a day longer to return your call than you wanted, or they might forget a small detail when they send you your contract.  These things are NOT what I'm referring to.  I'm referring to the quality of service you get, the care that they show, the respect that they give you.  I would rather work with a new, inexperienced, young vendor that is desperate to do a good job, than an expensive, high-end vendor who things that their reputation is what sells them so they don't bother with anything else. 

It isn't always bad but if I can tell you, a few of those brides that didn't take my advice to deal with their issues, had worse problems in the long run, that I then, fixed at the last minute all the while trying not to let them stress out about last minute difficulties.  Of course, that's my job, so if you have a planner, you should be safe but at the same time, if you have a planner and choose not to take their advice you are probably better off just not having a planner.

The limo company, that didn't send a contract....
Never showed up.

The rude makeup artist.......
Did the wrong colors/makeup application for the client.

The experienced photographer......
Missed all of the shots the couple had specifically asked for.

Not all of these incidents were with my clients.  Some were with friends who told me about their wedding issues after their wedding.  (Being a friend does not automatically make you a wedding client but being a wedding client does tend to make you a friend)

Not all of these issues ended poorly.  The catering company who "didn't do tastings" had wonderful food on her wedding day.  Although, the fact that they wouldn't do tastings just made her whole wedding planning process more stressful than it would have been had she just gone with a company that made her feel comfortable.

I'm not suggesting you become a Bridezilla.  That will work backwards in the sense that you will end up not being able to work with GOOD vendors because they won't want to deal with YOU being rude and awful to them.  (Side Note: No, I haven't ever worked with a Bridezilla, and I hate the term)

So, think now....are you making excuses for your bad vendor?  Are they causing you more stress than you would like from someone you are paying?  If so, reconsider.  Sometimes it is even better to lose your deposit with them, then it is to be worried that they won't do a good job.  Don't know how to manage that, email me, call me and I'll be happy to help you handle the situation.  I get emails on a weekly basis from people who aren't sure what to do about their bad vendor.  Sometimes the vendor isn't bad, the communication between the two of them is just mixed up and other times, I hope to think that I helped save them from a mini-crises on their wedding day by stopping a bad vendor before they made a mistake.

Good luck and Happy Planning!


  1. So very true, Brandi!! Great post :o)

  2. Great post - it's true - why let these people walk all over you when this is the biggest event of your life?! Agh! Huge pet peeve - thanks for putting it into words for the public to read!

  3. Great Post! It really comes comes to relationships and respect. If you had a friend who wanted to get together, yet every time you called they got back to you days or weeks (or never until you contacted them again), how certain would you be they would actually show up once you set a date? And what would you feel that friend thought as far as the importance of your friendship?

    But what's worse is we aren't talking about some selfish, irresponsible friend. When you hire a vendor, you are entering into a relationship with them. You are trusting them to do what they said they would they would do when you hired them.

    From a vendor standpoint this means communicating with the client to the extent where they have comfort and trust. It means clarifying detail so that what they envision manifests. To not do so is setting yourself up for an uneasy client from square one.

    And lastly...if you had that friend who did not have time/mutual respect for would call them on it and lay into them for being a selfish jerk. With a vendor, it should be to an even greater extent.

    It is a privilege for people to include us to be part of their lives on their wedding. If a vendor wants to act as the weakest link in the chain because the can't operate with common sense and courtesy, get out of the biz.

  4. Oh So true...

    I agree wholeheartedly with everything in your post and as the one who often has to make quick adjustments to my plans to make up for these 'bad' vendors, before they make every vendor at the wedding look bad, I think that every Client should be made to read this post.

  5. You make a true point about poor service.

    To the brides I'd say be clear about your expectations before you go vendor hunting. What do you expect around returned calls, deadlines, meetings, last minute issues? Think about this in advance & be willing to walk away if you sense trouble. A deal isn't a deal if it costs you emotional damage.

    To vendors I'd say I hear your frustration about unprofessional colleagues who can potentially damage your reputation and usually increase your stress and workload. They are at fault, but aren't you also part of the problem? When was the last time you had a performance conversation?

    My advice to you is: start having heart-felt, learning conversations with vendors who repeatedly disappoint. Doesn't have to be mean or confrontational. If fact, your best approach being curious about their experiences and actions.

    Sadly, there's little hope for improvement until brides and vendors become willing to skillfully speak their minds about professionalism.

  6. Great article. Your number one comment about the vendors not returning calls in a timely manner is the number one complaint I hear from my couples about a few of their vendors during my post-event consultation with them.

    It is important to note that there are few, if any contracts, that guarantee quality, client service after it has been signed. If the vendor takes their sweet time returning a Bride's very first inquiry call, odds are they will continue that habit throughout the wedding process.

    What I find peculiar is that those vendors that fail most miserably fulfilling their obligations, particularly on the wedding day, often escape relatively unscathed. The Bride might take the time to post a bad review here and there, but others will still continue to contract that same vendor, experience the same level of dissatisfaction, post a less than favorable review....and the circle continues on and on and on.

    In the end, for a Bride & Groom to avoid the possibility of added stress or dissapointment brought on by a wedding vendor of any kind, it is important to remember there is no substitution for doing your homework. The idea of checking references may seem old fashioned but it will still aid in the decision making process. That's a far better idea than being seduced by "a great deal."

  7. Love the post Brandi, I'm a wedding photographer and I make a point to tell every single client, that while my portfolio pictures may be everything you want, I can't get anything worth looking at without lots and lots of communication. My best work comes from the best relationships I develop with every one of my clients. Without exception. So hurried and rushed you can't talk with your photographer? Don't be surprised by very generic wedding images.

  8. Great truly makes a difference who you've developed the relationships with. You've got to spend the time getting to know each and every person that touches your event.

  9. I'm definitely the kind of non-confrontational person that finds myself in situations like these. I don't my wedding to fail but now that I read this post, it seems bound to happen if I don't demand what I deserve. My sister's the same way and her wedding ended up with horrible service from not just catering, but also their limo driver was late! I'd be taken care of in Florida, but I have to get married in Michigan (long story) and that's enough problems as it is.

  10. "Great post, very useful for a beginner like me"

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  12. Yes! Fantastic! I really liked this post, Brandi!

    I would also add that communication is the key — the very best way to make perfectly sure someone knows what you want and expect is simply to tell them! What’s the worst that can happen in situations like these — everything stays the same, right? BUT — think of the possible rewards: what if you simply tell that vendor “Hey… so, I was actually expecting X, Y, Z… are you able to help me with that?” You just might find yourself getting your way!

    “So… I was expecting a professional band to give me a contract. Can you help me with that?” “I was expecting a professional caterer to do a tasting for us. Can you help me with that?” “I was expecting a professional makeup artist would mock-up a makeup design for me. Can you help me with that?”

    Seems like it doesn’t much matter if they’ve been asked, before — they’re being asked now, aren’t they? A vendor worth their salt will most likely adjust to meet the needs of your event, regardless of what they “usually” do, and — Brandi’s right — better to lose your deposit than to worry on your wedding day. If you wanted to worry, you probably wouldn’t be hiring a “pro.”

  13. Excellent article! Great to hear from a planner. I couldn't agree more that there are usually red flags from the start. I think a lot of brides are clouded by positive online reviews and trying to 'check off' the next to do item. I'm in wedding entertainment and a client of ours had a photographer that didn't show up. I referred her to a site called Wedding Certified which resolves a lot of these vendor disputes. They helped her mediate the situation and got her money back, which is the best you can ask for in that case.

    ps. sorry im so late on this but this info should help couples planning their big day.