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How To Work Well With Your Wedding Coordinator: Vendor Edition

I’ve offered advice for how brides can get the most of their relationship with their wedding coordinator, and I realized that I needed to share a “vendor” edition as well.  Every wedding planner goes through this at some point, whether s/he has been planning the wedding from the beginning or is coming in to execute and produce the day. How this relationship works differently from that of the client/planner is that this could be a mutually beneficial relationship after an event.  Having a great working relationship makes for great event flow and future event production. Brides (and grooms!):  here are some things that we as planners love that you might be able to facilitate:

Answer (or at least CHECK) your email. You cannot send a timeline through a phone call and I strongly doubt anyone is going to snail mail you one.  A few times I’ve heard of vendors coming to a wedding without a clue of what was to happen at the wedding because they did not receive the timeline or event packet.  Inexcusable.  Even though we put out a few of these every weekend, and know the general pieces of a wedding day,  we cannot do a wedding over. A  prepared wedding professional is a better wedding professional. If you have not received a timeline or communication by 2 weeks prior to the wedding, contact your client’s wedding planner or client.

Insufficient Funds.  It is really best that you handle all financial transactions prior to the wedding; I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job, but it makes it so much easier on the planner and client when this is handled prior to the event.  The Mother of the Bride is not scrambling to find a checkbook and as a planner, I’m not forced to chase my bride down during her wedding to handle your income.  That sounds harsh, and I’m sorry—but I’m a wedding planner, not a hostage negotiator.  Let me explain.  This happens more often that not: a couple finds a few things wrong with your service and decide to withhold payment and decide how they should be remedied.  The vendor and client appeals to the wedding planner, who is then stuck in the middle.  Note to brides: Make a point to have all of your final payments to your vendors two weeks prior to your wedding day.

There Is Only One Diva Allowed…And It’s Not You.  Once again, harsh, but you didn’t come here for puppies and rainbows.  We (as planners) totally get that your job is important.  Other vendors think their job is equally important as well.  Each has its argument as to why they rank higher on the totem pole: photographers produce the images that will last far beyond the wedding day once everything else has faded away; the floral designer produces the floral designs that create the ambience and experience during the event; the caterer provides the food for guests to enjoy at the heart of the event, and the DJ provides the entertainment to get everyone moving and excited.  I get it. I hear it often.  I, however, am not moved. If it makes you feel better, it’s my job to “be in charge” of all of you in your infinite importance, your contribution and the event.  I’m like a mother with her children: you’re all important, and I don’t deal well with temper tantrums.  We’re here as a team.  Let’s make it fabulous.  There is only one diva, and that’s the one in the white dress.

Chow Time.  If you require a hot meal, please put it in your contract.  I’ve seen vendors throw fits (please see above to ascertain how you think that was received) over being presented with a box lunch from the venue.  If this is a topic that is of major importance for you, please revisit it when you conduct any final meetings/consultations with the client.  Please never assume that the client has made arrangements for you or knows what you want, and please don’t assume that a meal will be a hot one.  Note to brides:  Please check the type of meal you are ordering with your caterer or venue.  Some venues will “offer” a vendor meal to you at a “discounted” rate, but it is not what the rest of your guests are eating, it’s a $20 sandwich, apple and a bag of chips.  If one of your vendors requires a hot meal, it is good etiquette to provide hot meals for all of your vendors.

If You Make Changes or Have Needs, Please Let Us Know…Please. It is not enough to tell the client. They will forget. I promise you—they have other things to deal with and that is the reason why they hire their wedding planner. If you find out that they have a wedding planner, it is common, professional courtesy that you update us with changes or needs in addition to (or at best, in lieu of) the client.  If you have things you need returned, moved, etc. during or after the event, please let us know ahead of time.  We want to maximize and enhance your service, but please recognize you are one of many vendors that will assist with the wedding day.  We are all but a thread in the fabric of the event, and one snag can cause the entire garment to fray.  Please let us know of any changes so that we can see how that will affect other vendors and the event as a whole.

These are just some ways that you can work best with your client’s wedding coordinator? Have great experiences to share?  I’d love to hear them…leave a comment!

How to Work Well with Your Wedding Coordinator

crane cottage wedding at jekyll island club on jekyll island

 

So, the day is finally here!

All the hard work, preparation, planning and hard work is about to pay off.  You’ve, in your infinite wisdom, hired a wedding coordinator to protect your investment and allow you to actually enjoy  your wedding day.  Here are some tips if you decide to work with a personal wedding coordinator:

 Assume s/he knows nothing!  If your wedding coordinator is coming in about a month prior to your wedding (as most should), s/he hasn’t been with you throughout your planning process and doesn’t know the details of your wedding. Take this time to bring them up to speed and leave nothing out:  share your vendor contracts, disputes, ideas and changes so that they are able take everyone’s needs into consideration when building the timeline and coordinating other vendors.  For example, a typical mishap that occurs when  couples forget that their vendors have requested a meal for the wedding day (hot or otherwise).  Believe it or not, this can change the entire course of the day, but could’ve been easily prevented with earlier preparation.

Tell the family secrets.  The same thing applies to any important family history your coordinator needs to be aware of. If your parents do not get along, it would be highly problematic to seat them together.  If your sister is prone to dramatic displays or your maid of honor has a peanut allergy, again—let your coordinator know as far in advance as possible.  What may seem little to you could ultimately disrupt well-laid plans that have been set.

Get your stuff together.  If you are incorporating many DIY projects or personal items into your decor, you need to have them assembled, labeled, numbered, etc.  at least one week prior to the wedding.  It’s not really fair to dump a box of various pieces on your coordinator and her staff expecting them to turn your mess into fabulous.  Here are some great examples:

  • If you are utilizing escort cards, have them alphabetized and boxed, ready to be laid out.  If you are offering different meal selections, use a colored place card (as opposed to a card that holds a graphic of the meal choice). This makes it easier for the caterer’s staff to visually see who gets what at the table.  Be sure to  provide your coordinator with a list of the table assignments for each person.  This helps her work with your guests quickly if they become lost or there is a question as to table settings.
  • There are some decorative items that can be scored from retailers to add a personal, unique touch to your wedding.  Remember to use Goo Gone to remove any stickers/adhesive, scuff marks, etc. We typically keep some in our kit for emergencies, but it works best when it has a chance to sit on whatever is going to be removed. 
  • If you are particular as to how some elements should be pieced together, provide an image of what it is you want as well as detailed instructions.  Otherwise, you may be disappointed with what the staff comes up with.

 

Decide who will have the last word.  When your coordinator works with you to build your timeline and event preparation documents, it will be assumed the details are final.  It can be extremely frustrating to arrive and begin working on what has been decided and agreed upon to have someone come along (your mother, bridesmaids, etc.) change the entire flow of things because they feel their way is better.  These unauthorized changes have the potential of throwing off several other vendors who are relying on your coordinator’s information (timelines, setup docs, etc.).  What may seem like a small change can affect several other vendors.  Make sure that you give your coordinator or someone else who knows the entire scope of the wedding final authority. 

 

I know I have lots of other wedding planner/coordinator friends out there—what are some of your tips for working well with your coordinating team?

Questions You Should Never Ask Your Future Wedding Planner

Wedding magazines and books always have these atrocious questions that they feel brides should ask their vendors. This has always perplexed me, as it’s coming from an unaffiliated third party.  I cannot tell you how we cringe at the questions we hear, and the looks on the faces of the poor couples that ask them—as they feel they are truly legitimate.

Wrong:  What were you doing before you became a wedding planner? (This may not be any of your business, and if your planner feels uncomfortable or offended, it’s not a good way to start your consultation).

Right:  What from your past experiences makes you a better planner?

Wrong:  Which was your favorite wedding? (That’s like asking a mother which is her favorite child)

Right:  What is your favorite part of the wedding day or what is your favorite part of the wedding planning process?

Wrong:  What was your most difficult wedding?  (You’re asking family secrets and are not yet part of the family.)

Right:  What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced during the wedding planning process or on the wedding day?

Wrong:  Give me five adjectives that describe yourself.  (This is not the Miss USA pageant. It is a business interview)

Right:  Tell us about your approach to the wedding day management or wedding planning process?

Wrong: What kind of discounts will you get us?

Right:  There is no right way to ask this.  Magazines and books leave you under the impression that your wedding planner or coordinator is a walking, talking Entertainment book—full of good info and discounts.  While most planners are always happy to extend any professional courtesies from other vendors to their clients, these courtesies are never guaranteed and are given at the discretion of the vendor.

Wrong:  Who is the best {insert vendor category here} or Who are your preferred vendors? (No good will ever come of this…)

Right: Which {vendor category} do you think is best suited to our style and budget? (Be prepared to get a general answer—if your planner offers vendor selection as a service, s/he may not divulge specific names without getting to know more about your wedding style…or being paid.)

Wrong:  Why  should we hire you over {your competitor}? (Again, no good will come of this.)

Right: Not really a right way to ask this.  (It is up to you to make decision who is best for you. It is the planner’s job to stand out with her charisma and experience and stand up for her business and her professionalism—not compete or compare herself to someone else so that you can bargain shop.)

 

There are other questions that are, for lack of a better word “questionable”, too.  The answers you think you want to hear may not have much stock:

Questionable Question:  How many weddings do you have you done?

Why It’s Questionable:  Just hearing a solid number will not help you make your decision because those numbers could be misleading.  For example, let’s say Planner A’s answer is 200.  Planner B’s answer is 25.  Does that make Planner A better than Planner B?  In your mind, does it determine that Planner A is more experienced?  What if I told you that Planner A, did indeed work 200 weddings; however, half were elopements, the others were coordinations, and a few full service planning.  What if you found out that Planner B’s 25 weddings were million dollar full service planning weddings full of details.  A better question would be to ask the scale of the weddings the planner has in her repertoire:  amount of guests, budgets, details, locations, etc.

Questionable Question:  What associations do you belong to?

Why It’s QuestionableBelieve it or not, the wedding planning industry is not a regulated one.  Any Barbie, Skipper or Ken can open up a wedding planning company provided they meet the guidelines of their state with operating a business.  Associations and trade groups have different bylaws, rules and education requirements, which makes it a bit inconsistent.  Depending on your location, local chapters of said organizations may be non-existent.  A far better question is to ask your planner about their continuing education and networking.

It will be very important for you to draw from what has been said, but also what has not been said.  Pick up on your planner’s tone, warmth, humor and /professionalism.  Do they put you at ease?  Do you feel like you are handing your wedding off to a professional who not only cares about your event, but your well being, too.  Have a conversation with your planner about your event—allow them to ask questions, offer insight and answer your inquiries. 

Brides—How did you know your planner was for you?

Planners—What do you feel are some great/awful questions?