7 Mistakes To Avoid Before Hiring A Wedding Vendor
By now you may have already attended a few weddings. You may have even helped plan your BFF's wedding and feel you are a master at wedding planning. Most couples like yourself are pretty savvy and up to speed with the basics of wedding planning. For the most part you know where to find vendors and inspiration and have a good idea of what your wedding will look like. Right?
The part you may not be as familiar with is vetting and contracting your ideal wedding vendor. It can be a tough process to make sure your vendors have all you want. Better yet, you have to make sure their contracts state what they are offering you. You don't want to wait until your wedding day to figure out if you hired the right vendor or not.
Here are 7 mistakes couples make before hiring a wedding vendor that we want you to avoid.
Mistake #1: Not fully reading or understanding the contract.
If you are on a budget the last thing you want to do is waste money because you did not read your wedding contract fully. A contract is meant to ensure the vendor is protected and in the event they don't live up to their end of the deal, you have it in writing. A wedding vendor contract should always lists the key things they are providing to you. Things like what room within a venue will you have? How many hours is your vendor working that day? What types of flowers will your Florist use? What type of alcohol will your bar have? Sure these seem like obvious things. However, what you think to be obvious and what is actually on the contract can be completely different.
One thing I cannot stress is making sure every single verbal promised is in writing. I can brag all day long about how I can bring zebras to your cocktail hour. Unless that is written in your contract, be ready for a battle.
Mistake #2: Not Asking For Discounts Properly
One thing that I find very problematic is thinking that you can negotiate pricing with vendors. Some vendors may indulge you, but for the most part it's really a bad practice to come to the table asking for a discount. This is why I say this:
You know your budget and know what you are able to afford right? If so, contacting wedding vendors within your price range is the best option verses asking those who are above your budget for service and then ask them for a discount.
If you really love a vendor, love their work, and have heard amazing things about them, why would you then want to hire them and devalue the work you love by asking for a discount. It's a slap in the face honestly. It's like going to your favorite department store, seeing this incredible suit, trying it on and it fits to perfection, and then asking the employee for a discount. Wait? What? How?
In some cases I do understand why a discount can be asked. Example: Most Florist cannot give you an exact price without first understanding your vision. You can state that you are having 150 people at your wedding , but that still doesn't allow them to give a quote. What type of flowers do you like? Do you want high or low centerpieces? Is everyone sitting at round tables? Do you want hanging installations? Once they know that, they will give you a quote and that quote may be above what you initially thought. Then I recommend asking them if there is flexibility in pricing or alternatives to give you the same effect at a lower price. Remember, if you aren't paying for the flowers, the vendor is and that's not fair if it's your wedding.
Mistake #3: Thinking There Is A One Size Fits All
If you had a friend get married, most often you will ask them for recommendations. The problem with recommendations is that couples feel whatever that vendor did for your friend, they can do the exact same thing for you. Not everything is standard practices and what was offered to your friend may not be offered to you. Also keep in mind that unless you talk to your friend about how much they paid, you cannot think it automatically comes with the service.
Did you know most DJs do not include music during cocktail hour and that it's additional? Were you aware most venues charge you for a ceremony? Did you know you can incur a fee from all vendors if you go past the contracted time? Are you aware that your venue's insurance doesn't cover anything broken by you or your guests? None of these things are standard so make sure you talk to your wedding vendors.
Mistake #4: Not Budgeting For Tax And Gratuity
One of the biggest sticker shocks for couples is how much tax and gratuity is. Yes you must pay taxes on hiring vendors and booking venues. There are no waivers for this. Most DC wedding venues charge you 24% service charge and 10% sales tax. If you have a food and beverage price of $18,000, your final bill is not $18K. When you add your bill plus tax and fees, you are looking at $24,120 for your DC wedding bill.
Another thing to understand for those planning destination weddings or booking a vendor that does not live in your wedding location is travel costs. Vendors do not pay to fly themselves to your wedding and book their hotel out of pocket. Travel fees is in addition to their regular fee. This can add hundreds to a few thousand to your wedding budget.
Mistake #5: Forgetting That You Are Responsible for Cancellations
All wedding contracts should come with a cancellation policy that outlines what happens if either party cancels. As a couple you must be fully aware or what you are responsible for if you cancel your wedding. As unfortunate as that may be, vendors are blocking off your date and not taking on any other business.
If you do cancel your wedding are you responsible for paying the rest of the vendor fee? Would you get any money back? How should you inform a vendor about cancellation? What situations will warrant a cancellation? All of these questions should be answered in your contract.
Mistake #6: Bypassing The Need For A Planner
Yes I am 100% bias on this one, but I'm going to explain why I say this. I was recently at a workshop where the host brought up two brides in the midst of planning their wedding. One bride did not have a DC Wedding Planner or a DC Wedding Coordinator. She stated that the venue and some vendors would help her set everything up.
Now I didn't have a problem with what she said until she told us she did not know what the Venue Coordinator was actually going to do. That told me that she didn't read her contract nor did the venue outline this for her to make a wise decision to determine if she needed to hire a planner.
The other problem with this scenario is that there is no one who is going to orchestrate all of this. If you want a stage with pipe and drape and the company tells you it's going to take them 5 hours to do this, when are the other vendors allowed to come in? Who is making sure the venue has tables in place for the linen company to place the linen. Will the linen be in place before the Florist gets their to set the centerpieces? All of this needs to be outlined and if you are doing this on your own, when do you have time to get ready for your wedding?
Mistake #7: Hiring A Vendor And Doing Their Job
Yes I know this sounds odd, but it happens more times than you can imagine. A couple hires someone and then begins to go around them by doing things verses letting the vendor do it. Not only does this confuse the vendor, but you as the couple are wasting money on someone you are not effectively using.
We had a couple who hired us to plan their wedding from start to finish. A part of the service was finding them the right venue. We took their wish list and began to create a list of venues that met their needs. They decided to book their own venue without our knowledge. Totally OK, but when you reduce your budget and book a venue that doesn't come with food and beverage we have a problem. You are now in a situation where you are paying thousands of dollars for a venue and then having to find a catering company to pay even more to provide food and beverage. It's not a wise decision when you are trying to save money. In fact you will end up spending more than what your reduce budget allows.
There is nothing more cost effective than allowing vendors to effectively do their job.