Planning for a wedding or other special event can be – well, pretty overwhelming at times! If we are honest with ourselves, even the most organized person can start to crumble if they feel overwhelmed in the amount of information they are receiving, whether this be at work, at home, or even planning your wedding day. Below I have compiled just a few tips to assist in making your planning and communication process a little bit easier – or at the very least – much more streamlined for you!
- Emails – Please, please, please do your best to stay on top of vendor emails. As someone who works in the self employment and entrepreneurship world, I can tell you that there is a bit of a misconception that your vendors are available 24/7 and at the drop of a hat. For me, I am terrible about instituting office hours for my clients, and I will likely respond the same day that you send me an inquiry as I know the competitive nature of the bridal industry, and I understand that brides begin their wedding search for professionals almost instantaneously from the date of the engagement (sometimes this is 6-14 months before the wedding). But, with that being said, appointments fill up quickly. Many vendors accept only one event per date, and with an unlimited amount of brides, and a finite amount of vendors, you can understand just how quickly dates can fill up. Always be prompt with correspondence. I cannot tell you how many times I have a bride that connects and forgets to reach out right away, a few months later she will reconnect to officially book and the date will be filled by another client, stay on top of your emails because it will make your life much easier!
- Emails (again) – Please be sure to follow-up with your vendors. As mentioned above, dates fill up rather quickly for weddings and other events, so if you should receive rates from your wedding pro, and decide due to travel fee (as an example) this vendor is beyond your budget’s reach, let the vendor know that you appreciate their time but you will be moving forward with a different vendor at this time. As a vendor, it is absolutely a bummer to receive a note like this but it’s all part of doing business and we greatly appreciate the time you took to follow-up! This also ensures that another client can be given the opportunity to book that date, and the vendor is not waiting on your decision. Again, the market is competitive and chances are there is a waitlist of other clients waiting on their date. I know my booking process is first come, first serve. And unless a client books with a signed contract, paid deposit, and list of clients that meets my minimum service requirement for hair and makeup, the date is not secure and it goes to the next bride that does complete this criteria. I know this sounds a little cut-throat, and I am always super accommodating for my clients, so while MANY vendors have a policy such as this in place, we are usually happy to help you with a whatever your needs may be. Be open with where you are in the planning process and we will happily help.
- Contracts – Always get a contract, never just take it on good faith that your vendor can deliver everything you ever dreamed of simply because he/she said so. Contracts are important because it lays out your expectations as a consumer, and the vendor’s expectations as a service provider. READ THE FINE PRINT. Some vendors have punctuality clauses, parking and additional travel fees if their is a parking ramp or other necessary parking, the list can go on. So to save yourself and the vendor an awkward conversation about the $30 parking meter – always read the fine print. It saves both of you some undo confusion.
- Emails (yup, once again) – Email is the absolute best way to communicate with your vendor. Many vendors have rather informal policies for communication, but from experience, go with emails. Utilizing a professional email thread ensures that you can always refer back to any information that may be unclear – say you cannot remember what time you discussed your photographer arriving on-site – if you have corresponded solely with email, this will make sorting out the information much easier than digging through old texts and Facebook messages or DMs on Instagram. Trust me, email is best. Even when I chat on the phone with my clients, I send over a synopsis of the phone conversation to ensure that we are both on the same page with everything that was discussed as it is SO EASY to forget a few small details. We are all human, so moral of the story – make your life easier, and make the vendor’s life easier – always opt for the email.
- Ask Questions – Always ask questions. Drawing assumptions about what you infer a policy to be, or you assume that a vendor will be able to supply an item creates confusion and undue stress for yourself. For myself, I love working with vendors that are clear communicators and are able to lay out (very clearly) any needed information when addressed with a question. However, I caution you to be very professional when approaching questions and polite. As a small business owner, I always think to myself “If I received this email as a vendor, how would I infer the tone and message? Would I find the message offensive and struggle with how to respond?” Much like any other customer service interaction, remember that the person you are questioning about a policy is just that, a person. So I always recommend reading your email twice before pressing send – this may sound silly but because you cannot communicate tone within a print image or text, it’s always best to never leave room to “Read between the lines” so to speak. Plus, it’s easy to take things personally as a client, but also as a vendor. Remember, if you ask a question and I vendor says that he/she apologizes, but that is not included in the package – don’t take it personally – it’s just a policy. Conversely, I also have to remind myself (as do other vendors in the industry) that when a client asks a question, I too cannot take it too personally. For many brides, this is their first and only wedding, so the booking processes are brand-new. As a vendor, lets all use that same advice and read the email atleast twice before pressing send.
- Grammar and Spell Check – This goes out to the clients and vendors – HAHA. Little known fact about me, but I have a phobia of sending out an ill-composed booking and information email. I know, this sounds silly, but I also know that as a consumer I respect professionals that take the time to use punctuation, spell check, and grammar. So as a vendor, I hold myself to that same standard that I would expect as a consumer. The same goes as a vendor, I love when a client takes the time to use proper spelling and carefully crafts their emails. This will ensure that the vendor (and the client) feel great about the business transaction that is about to take place, and in-turn the client-servicer relationship will be strengthened. Trust me, a little spell check goes a long way!
- Addressing the Vendor and Crafting Your Emails – I am an over communicator. I have a tendency to tell a story about grabbing coffee that results in a brief interjection about how my dog likes to play in the snow, and then return back to the story about getting coffee. Guys, we are all so very guilty of this quirk from time to time – and once you work with me for your trial you will see that I love to tell you stories and entertain you. However, while it’s totally fine to chat and giggle, and get lost in the conversation when chatting face to face, take extra care to craft your vendor emails to address any questions that you have. I personally enjoy when clients send a bullet list of what they are wondering, this makes it easy to respond to each question, comment, concern directly and leaves no room for confusion. Do yourself a favor and write down (on a sticky note or other scratch paper) what questions you have before crafting the email, then when you are rereading it for tone and spelling (see what I did there? 😉 ) also check off the questions that you wrote down as you find them in the body of the email, this ensures all of your questions will get answered. Also, a reminder that you are taking to a person, so addressing the vendor and introducing yourself (especially when you are first connecting) is wonderful. If your email address is “ILikeLipstick123@happy.com” and the first message sent is “Hey, how much do you charge for wedding pictures?” the vendor will probably have to take a moment to distinguish if you are a person or spam bot. Instead, I suggest using verbiage such as “Hello Carmen! I found you via (social media/website/etc.) and I love your photography style. My name is Shelly and I am getting married February 26th, 2021 and I was hoping you could send me your pricing and package details for wedding photography, we will be getting married in Duluth MN. (Also insert any other details you find pertinent.) Thank you, Shelly (with phone number and email address)” This clearly lays out what information you are seeking, and it helps the vendor feel good about your correspondence and with you so that they can give you the most thorough information with regard to your event.
Finally, be you! When you are communicating with a vendor, be yourself. Take time to carefully craft your message and use thoughtfulness, but let yourself sparkle and shine! Vendors want to know your love story, or the story of the event we are working with you on. Share away! Maybe you are planning a weekend retreat for your closest gal pals and want to hire a caterer, we as vendors love to know the backstory that you’ve been getting mimosas by the lake for the past 7 years during the third weekend of July simply to reconnect and recharge – we love hearing that your high school sweetheart proposed after eight years under the stars where you went to your first football game. We are in the vendor market because we love YOU. Your day, the way we tailor our services, the vision you have, it’s about you and we are so blessed and proud you have selected us to be part of your day so share your story and what makes you unique! We love that, truly!
I hope you have found this little blog post helpful or insightful, and I truly hope it helps you in composing correspondence with your vendors for whatever occasion it may be. Planning an event for the first time, especially trusting someone that you have not previously worked with, can be a little nerve racking, but rest assured that we are here to guide you every step of the way, and help make your event so successful! Best of luck securing those vendors, and I will see you in the next post!