Six Ways To Get The Best Out of your Wedding Suppliers
This year we’re shooting a wedding in Kent for a couple where the groom is a professional lighting technician for a major events company that travels the world. He was super keen to show that his wedding vendors would be treated like VIP backstage crew at his wedding as he “knows what it’s like to be treated like dirt” at an event.
As well as showing himself to be clearly an all-round super-awesome guy; by saying this he got us thinking – what exactly is the best way of treating your wedding suppliers to get them 1000% on board? We’ve put together an insider’s guide for sure-fire ways of getting the absolute best from your hired professionals on your wedding day – ultimately getting you more than your money’s-worth!
Now of course any wedding professional worth their salt should be giving 110% at every wedding anyway – after all it’s their job and they’re being paid for it – but sometimes ‘being paid’ isn’t enough to ensure that your wedding vendors are physically able to do their jobs. What we mean is, your wedding DJ may have the intention to give 110% but if he is told the wrong time to arrive, not given appropriate access, and then told he is going to be fed but isn’t – he understandably won’t be able to perform at the top of his game compared to if all these things weren’t an issue.
Our awesome groom also got us thinking and we came to realise that weddings and corporate events/shows actually have a lot in common, but unfortunately the level of organisation isn’t always as good as in the corporate world. And if you’re organising a wedding for the first time ever with no experience in events or hospitality – no one can blame you!
Following this line of reasoning we’ve combined our extensive experience in both the wedding and events industries to compile a list of best-practice tips & tricks for you to get the most out of your wedding suppliers…
1. Know What You Want Your Wedding to Look Like and Communicate That to Your Vendors
Even if you’re not having a ‘themed’ wedding (Aladdin themed wedding anyone?). You’re still going to have a ‘feel’ to your wedding – for example you might want a fun irreverent silly day of laughter, or you may want it to be more classical and romantic? Once you know what kind of wedding you want, you’re in a position to hire wedding suppliers that are a good fit for that vision – and once you’ve hired them, make sure you communicate this to them. Nothing’s worse than the whacky over-the-top DJ at your romantic castle wedding, or the stern boring toastmaster officiating your ‘banter’ fuelled and laughter-filled wedding reception.
If you’re struggling to imagine what your wedding should be like, think of 5 words you would want guests to say about your wedding after the event – and let these guide you…
2. Don’t Let ‘Budget’ Be Your Only Consideration
It’s easier said than done, but unless you are really struggling on budget, the ‘price’ of your wedding supplier should not be in the top three factors for consideration. We suggest these instead:
- Do I ‘love’ their product/style/offerings?
- If you don’t ‘love’ their products or service, then you won’t love their offering at your wedding.
- If you can’t find any supplier you even ‘like’, then consider if that service is really important to you anyway? Just because it’s tradition, doesn’t mean you have to have it!
- Are they a good fit for my wedding?
- We mentioned above communicating what you want your wedding to look and feel like to your suppliers, but in the first instance you should consider if they are a good fit before even hiring them. If you’ve got a laid back chilled out wedding day planned, don’t hire the photographer or videographer who is going to be in your face all day. If you have a fun action-packed day ahead, don’t hire the stuffy old photographer or DJ who might be better suited to a more sedate affair!
- Also, it’s important you ‘click’ personally – if you like them and the way they present themselves and run their business then it’s far more likely they will provide the service you expect and desire on your wedding day.
- Are they good value for money??
- And no, this isn’t the same as price! What we mean by this is: “are they offering a service comprehensive enough to justify the price (whatever that price might be)”.
- For example, you might be able to find the dance floor £50 cheaper elsewhere, but is it the same quality and standard (and clean) as the one your DJ can provide (which will arrive with the DJ so no issues on timings)? Sure, there is a photographer who is £400 cheaper, but if the more expensive one you love is offering deluxe Italian leather albums, a second shooter, timeline meeting, and all-day coverage for that extra money – then it’s a far better value than the slightly cheaper but bare-bones option!
If you ‘are’ really struggling on budget and can’t hire the vendors you want – only the ones you can afford, then perhaps consider moving the wedding date back until you can have the wedding you want? Not just the one you can afford right now…
Bonus Tip: Consider talking to photographers who will consider taking some payment after the wedding date. That extra pay check or two can be the difference between the photographer who you want to beautifully capture your day – or the plan B…
3. Dealing with Vendors who have bespoke Pricing:
Firstly, this can be a bit of a minefield as unfortunately the old trend of leading with cheap prices only to have extensive up-sales/unknown pricing creep in is still alive and kicking. Indeed ‘bespoke’ pricing was a huge buzzword in the industry but is thankfully dying away now as many wedding suppliers have come to realise it creates more problems than it solves – what if the budget changes? What if you want extra services? What if there is included something you no longer need? Many couples try to solve this by looking for ‘packages’ but these can be just as bad as in this instance it’s not the wedding supplier’s fault if the package they sell doesn’t contain something you may later assume to have been included…
For example, when hiring a florist they may give you an initial quote but then your needs/desires change and you’ll end up going back endlessly for re-quotes. This is extremely time consuming and painful for florists as it’s not really their fault that your budget doesn’t match the market rate of the products you eventually want to include. We know florists who ended up returning deposits to clients because after the 11th or 12th re-quote they were just unable to deal with that client anymore as the original scope had changed so much…
So… Once you have decided what vendors you want to book, and what your budget for that service is, be clear in communicating that with them when you hire them. Always ensure a contract is in place where possible, and check that it outlines all the services/products you know you will want. 99% of the time, if you followed point 2 of the section above relating to booking a supplier who you gel with, and found a supplier who was a good fit for your wedding, you’ll be in a much better position to trust their ability to honestly and faithfully quote and supply your wedding service for you. Which leads us to point 4…
4. Once You’ve Researched and Hired The Best For Your Wedding – Trust Them To Do Their Job
Most people are not part-time professional DJs, chefs, florists, photographers or bakers all in one (as much as they think they might be!). For this reason it’s important that once you have hired professionals who fit the style of your wedding day, and whom you trust, that you let them get on with their jobs. Micro-managing wedding suppliers is not only a bad idea because it stifles their ability to actually get on with that job, but is a sure way of getting their back up – something not conducive to getting them to perform their 110%!
Examples of what we mean:
- Giving your DJ an extensive list of songs they ‘must’ play will make it increasingly difficult for them to roll with the punches and match the tempo and atmosphere of your wedding guests and party.
- Walking your photographer around the tables of the wedding reception telling them what photos to take (and what lenses not to use) isn’t really the best use of your time on your wedding day, and is something they should already know how to do.
- Hampering your Make-Up-Artist by not trusting their judgement over the products/approach to creating your perfect look on your wedding day is more likely to stifle their ability to deliver a premium service than it is to guarantee you the precise results you want.
Obviously you should be giving your wedding suppliers strong direction as to what you want (in line with the wedding style you want – as mentioned above), but micro-managing them before or during the wedding means you’re not taking advantage of their years of professional experience – quite the opposite!
5. Keep All Your Vendors In The Loop
Once you’ve set up a master timeline – make sure to send it to ALL your wedding suppliers
It may seem overkill to send the timeline of the whole day to the florist, MUA, or DJ when they won’t be there the whole day… But when the florist doesn’t realise that delivering the flowers late means the bride won’t have them for the getting ready bridal portraits; or when the MUA doesn’t understand that taking lots of their own photos when bride is already late means the photographer won’t be able to now get across to the venue to take pictures of the groom and his best man; or the DJ doesn’t know that the photographer’s coverage stops at a certain time so can’t put off the first dance and bouquet toss for an hour or two for whatever reason… It all really matters to your wedding day. We could give an endless list of examples where wedding suppliers unwittingly got in each other’s way, but for the fact they didn’t know the master plan…
You can avoid a whole host of problems by simply sending the master timeline to all your vendors and requesting they respect it – after all you’re giving them valuable information that allows them to do their job!
Once you’ve set up a master timeline – make sure to send it to ALL your wedding suppliers
No that’s not a typo – this is such an important point we’ve written it again. IT’S THAT IMPORTANT.
Share Wedding Supplier contact details with all the other suppliers
Similar to the point above, there’s no harm in sharing the contact/business name and number of each supplier with all the rest. Usually your venue requests and requires this so it’s not much effort to send this list on to all the other suppliers as well. This helps with a whole host of issues and allows your professionals to work on your behalf so you don’t have to micro-manage and work hard on your wedding day.
Wedding Cake is late? The caterer may be the first to notice and take care of it. Wedding flowers are missing? Your photographer may notice and be able to find out there was another box the groomsmen didn’t see under the first one. Dance Floor or lighting is missing? Your DJ will be able to sort that one for you before you even notice a difference…
6. Treat your vendors like guests who have backstage passes.
U-Boat Captain: “I don’t want any nasty soggy chips. I want mine ‘crisp’, und light brown…”
Captain Mainwaring: “If I say you’ll eat soggy chips, you’ll eat soggy chips!
– Dad’s Army – The Deadly Attachment
We’re not saying that you should accept unreasonable demands from your wedding suppliers, we’ve talked before about wedding photographers expecting expensive meals on top of their contracted fees and our disagreement with that practice (see link below), but happy wedding suppliers who are taken care of are the key to a successful event.
CLICK HERE for more info on what to consider when booking your wedding photographer (and whether you should feed them)
If you don’t ensure your wedding suppliers have appropriate venue access and time to set up, or a decent place to sit and eat if they are there all day, then clearly you’re not going to get the best out of them. Rushed, stressed, hungry wedding suppliers who are busting for the loo clearly won’t be in a position to deliver their best performance
Feeding your wedding suppliers: Whilst your venue should be taking care of the details (or at least ensuring you are armed with information to do so), a few points on feeding your wedding suppliers if you choose to do so.
- Firstly, they will need somewhere to sit and eat, even if they have brought their own food. At one big notorious Kent wedding venue we were once told that absolutely the only place available for us to sit and eat was outside at an uncovered picnic bench in the pouring rain. It was only when we explained we would leave and return due to our expensive equipment that a space was ‘magically’ found by the bar which apparently didn’t exist before…
- If they choose to eat where they are working (like the DJ, or Band when setting up) they’ll still need cutlery!
- Check for dietary requirements. It may be that your wedding photographer, wedding videographer, Wedding DJ, wedding singer, or band include a diabetic or a vegetarian, or someone who requires certain meals based on religion. Whilst they should communicate this to you, it’s important that you both ask them and also check that the caterer is fully aware.
- Don’t let your venue or caterers treat your suppliers like second-class-citizens because they are deemed ‘merely staff’. Remember, you have invited these human beings to your big party, and whilst they have a job to do they are not ‘scum of the earth’ to be hidden away and thought of last. For example:
- Your suppliers need not be the last to eat – and whilst this may sound strange do bear in mind that feeding your DJ, MC, photographer, and videographer before the guests ensures they are ready and prepped for action once the meal is over and the festivities or speeches begin.
- Furthermore, photographers and videographers will likely have been working non-stop without a break for up to 7 or 8 hours – they will be hungrier than anyone else and won’t appreciate waiting for a meal which will need to be scoffed down quickly in order to be ready for the wedding speeches! This is the precise reason we bring our own food regardless of whether we are told it is being provided (which we make a point of not asking for), in order to maintain an appropriate level of service for our clients.
- On more than one occasion we (and other vendors with us such as the Toastmaster, DJ, Singer, etc…) have been offered cake or food from buffet in the evening, or offered drinks from the bar, only for the waiting staff to insist that we all move out from the party area to the kitchen away from the ‘real guests’ to eat that slice of cake. This may make sense to them until they realise how rotten and ungrateful it looks of wedding suppliers who accept a slice of cake only to run away with them and hide in the kitchen! Sure, if wedding suppliers are on the dance floor busting a move that’s not acceptable, but when wedding clients offer drinks on the bar tab or slices of cake to their wedding suppliers, it’s a heartfelt gesture the clients want to see being enjoyed…
Treating your wedding suppliers with respect, giving them the tools to do their job in the form of information and communication, and then letting them get on with their job for you are sure fire ways of having them supply the best possible service they can for you on your big wedding day. If you treat them appropriately and with respect, you will be delighted with the fantastic job they will do for you and your wedding guests.
Long Time Wedding Veteran and All Round Nice Guy Wedding Photographer Mykey Day
Your Wedding Day will never be as important to anyone else as it is to you, but trust us when we say – your wedding will be crucially important to us as well! Please browse our website for examples of our work, and we look forward to making your wedding photographs special too.