All great relationships are built on understanding. This applies to everyone, from your family to your boss. And now, your wedding day is near. If you build a great relationship with your wedding suppliers, then you’ll truly have a day you dreamed of. Where to start? Right here, with our good advice. Take a moment to think about everything you own, and the price you paid for it. Shoes, phone, clothes, car… the price never reflects just the cost of materials alone. There’s labour, taxes, designers, manufacturing costs, shipping… even electricity bills at the factory are part of the total cost.
The same goes for services. When you to go a restaurant, you pay for what’s on the menu, but those prices also include hourly wages for all the staff (from management and chefs to waiters and bartenders), as well as shipping the food to the restaurant, freezing and cooking. It’s quite an eye opener, if you think about it, really. Why are we telling you this? Because this exact scenario applies to your wedding suppliers. It takes looking beyond the price to see the true value of a service you’re receiving.
It’s a true fact of life that couples often watch their wedding budget far more closely than any other spending. Why is that? Usually because it’s the single biggest expense of their life so far, ranking right up there with putting a deposit on a house. And if other people are contributing money (like the parents), there’s all the more reason to track where it’s all going. Whether the budget is big or small, you’ll have the best wedding when it’s built on a great relationship with your wedding suppliers. Here are a few simple things you can do to make it happen.
Talk talk talk
There are just three simple scenarios here:
You know what you want.
You have no idea what you want.
Or you’re undecided between a few things.
Whichever type of couple you are, tell the supplier straight up. You’ll save yourself so much time and frustration if you’re upfront about this.
Picture this scenario: you already know you want red roses and purple tulips for your wedding. Great! If your florist knows beforehand, they’ll prepare for the meeting with the right suggestions, and you’ll have the whole thing wrapped up in no time. But if you don’t know what you want, then the florist will know to spend more time with you, show you all your options, and really give you the answers and support you need to make the right decision.
To continue on the same good path, tell them your expectations clearly, or ask for their advice if you’re not sure about something. You should agree together on things like delivery times, the time of arrival and departure (for suppliers staying with you throughout the day), and when payments are due. Anything specific you tell your supplier is very helpful, for example what songs you want playing or not playing at the reception. All this really helps the suppliers do a better job for you. If you can share your timings, that’s even better! If you are upfront about your expectations, you’ll never feel like you’re getting ‘ripped off’. Simple.
Don’t expect answers within seconds
Photo from Allida & Evan’s real wedding by DKPHOTO
There isn’t a single supplier who can stay in business by having just one client at a time. They simply couldn’t make a living this way. Even A-list party planners for gazillionaires in Hollywood are working on multiple events at a time. You are not the only client, and the supplier will answer your text, email or message when they can give you their best attention. That certainly won’t be when they’re in the middle of a meeting with another client.
Technology has created a world of urgency. When we send an email or text, we know the recipient receives it instantly, so we subconsciously expect to receive an answer instantly too. That’s why we get very impatient when several hours go by without a reply. If you have this reaction and you get upset when there’s no immediate answer, then remember it’s only technology affecting how you feel. Your supplier cares about your business and will reply as soon as they can. Don’t email or text them every 10 minutes, or leave multiple voicemail messages of increasing irateness. They simply aren’t taking your call because they can’t devote their full attention to your query at this very moment. You’d be far more upset if you felt you were being rushed off the phone and not given the attention you deserve.
The true value is behind the scenes
Your flowers will look beautiful because they’ll be hand picked and arranged just for you.
You’ll love your gorgeous and delicious cake because the baker will spend many hours baking and decorating it, then taking great care to get it to the venue in one piece.
The singer or band will blow everyone’s socks off because they’ll spend hours rehearsing the songs you requested, then loading all the equipment into the van, travelling, setting up, playing, then loading up again to leave. The DJ will be preparing the perfect playlist, and even testing the venue’s system on his own time.
This applies to practically every part of your wedding. So remember, you’re not strictly paying for eight centrepieces, or five songs, or one cake. There is much work and preparation that goes into each item, and that’s where the true value lies. Nothing would look the way you want if it was prepared by an amateur.
Your big day is their big day too
Photo from Fiona & Sean’s real wedding by Emma Russell Photography
Even though you may be one of a few (or many) clients, your suppliers know your wedding day is extra-special. They know if they don’t give you the attention you deserve, they’re putting their reputation on the line. They’ll go to great lengths to make you happy, as long as they have enough notice (if you want to make changes), and you are specific about what you want. Some suppliers also need adequate time after your wedding to polish up your order. This would be photographers, videographers, and even stationery printers who may be making your thank-you cards.
Pay on time
The wedding industry is a wonderful place to work, as long as customers pay on time. Being a wedding supplier is by no means a regular salary job – weddings happen every week, but not all payments come in as they should or in full.
Every supplier already has clear policies about deposits, refunds, and dates when the full payment is due so ask about all this and make sure to have the envelopes ready (and a trustworthy person to hang on to them).
Is haggling ok?
This is a fair question that comes up a lot.
The wedding industry is very competitive, so naturally there will be some differences in price. If you’ve found a supplier whose work you absolutely love, this is due to the quality they offer. Nobody can duplicate that. So asking them to do the same quality of work for the same price as a much inferior option… it’s not really the right thing to do.
Also, if a supplier works alone (celebrant, photographer, florist), every €50 you ask them to knock off their price makes a huge difference in their pocket. You’ll be far more successful negotiating where the biggest bulk of your wedding expenses goes (like your venue package, which is made up of many parts with some flexibility always available to personalise).
If you’re in the habit of asking for freebies, then by all means ask, but don’t expect a small business to agree. We’re just saying this to help you avoid disappointment. In today’s economy, only huge companies can afford to give away things for free to keep their brands competitive and their name visible. Small suppliers want to stay competitive too, but their business is founded on the love of what they do, not on turning over millions of dollars every year.
And finally, there is a better alternative to haggling. It’s called being honest about your budget. You could simply say to a supplier ‘I love your work, but I have allocated this amount to xyz. What can you do for me at that price?’ Most suppliers will find clever ways to adapt to your figure, even if it means scaling down a little, or doing things a bit differently. You’ll still get the quality you love at a price you can afford. And you should never be embarrassed to admit what you can afford to spend. Trust us, the suppliers have seen and heard it all.
Food and refreshments
Photo from real wedding by Michelle Prunty
Some suppliers will be with you all day, or for many hours. This would include your wedding planner, photographer, videographer, and your band/DJ. They will need food and drinks. It’s not easy to work in this industry with no fuel. You wouldn’t be very effective either if you were very hungry while surrounded by sumptuous food. The good news is, many venues include meals for suppliers in their packages already, or they’ll add them at a very small extra cost. After all, the suppliers have to eat and dash back to work, they’re not sitting down to eat four courses.
We recommend asking about this at the time of making your arrangements with the supplier, and make sure it’s included in your contract or agreement. A happy supplier will do great work for you.
Leave a good review, discuss a bad one first
If you’re happy with a service, do leave a review. Testimonials are hugely important, especially in the wedding industry. It is, after all, built on making special days the happiest they can be. If you can, include some specifics, like what you especially appreciated and how it made a difference.
And now, for the negative reviews. If there was no internet, and you weren’t happy, your only recourse would be to speak to the supplier directly.
With internet, leaving a negative review or a one-star rating when you haven’t tried to resolve the situation will still not change your situation, but it could affect the business more than it deserves. If you’d only called them first, chances are you could end up actually pleased with how they handle your complaint.
In customer service, a true worth of a company is in how they handle complaints. Believe us, no supplier wants to do a bad job that could affect your wedding day. Every photographer is on edge when they send that link to the freshly completed wedding album, worrying if the couple will like it. The cake maker hopes your wedding cake is exactly what you wanted. This list goes on and on. Talk to the suppliers if you’re unhappy, before you post anything online. It’s the right and polite thing to do.
So where does all this lead to?
Photo from Maya & Manuel’s real wedding by The Italian Wedding Event
To this one conclusion: love your suppliers and they’ll love you right back. The best weddings happen because people want the best for you, so build a great relationship with your wedding suppliers and let them deliver! Trust us, it will be worth it.
Main photo from Niamh & Jason’s real wedding by Emma Russell Photography
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If you think the bride should always have the last word, then Rachel is on your side! A devoted fan of everything quirky, unusual, colourful or crafty, she loves scouting WOL's real weddings for unique and fun touches. When not gazing at pictures, she's dispensing no-nonsense advice on everything from reception entrance songs to bridesmaid problems.