When you hire your wedding vendors, you're so excited to work with these talented professionals that you never envision anything negative transpiring between you as you plan your big day -- these people are going to become your new best friends, after all.
Well, reality is often far different than those rosy expectations: From giving lackluster service to pushing your vision in the direction they see fit, vendors can give brides a great deal of grief... if you let them. If you're feeling unsatisfied with the people you've hired to bring your wedding dreams to life, take the following tips to respectfully and tactfully remedy the situation ASAP.
Speak Up When a Vendor Falls Short
If you've received poor service -- whether from a lack of attention or because you simply don't believe you're getting what the vendor promised -- it's time to have "the talk." Honesty is the best policy: You'd be surprised how many business people (owners) may not be aware that their representatives are not acting in a manner that reflects the company culture. Letting them know they are not meeting your expectations and why is helpful criticism and can pave the road to making what is wrong right again. If the owners themselves are not fulfilling your expectations, it may be helpful to seek out a subordinate in the company that can help you communicate your frustration.
If you have tried in good faith to get your point across and have not been responded to, then it is time to analyze what you expected. Hopefully the details of your relationship are clearly written in a contract. Contracts are important to outline the responsibilities of the person you are engaging in business with, as well as the expectations and perimeters of the deal. Refer to this document when giving feedback: Explain how the vendor has fallen short and give your suggestions for remedying the situation.
Always Keep an Eye on YOUR Vision
Brides can feel frustrated when vendors make suggestions that appear contrary to their desires, and even feel pushed in different directions, causing tension in the vendor-client relationship. Weddings are all about emotion and fulfilling vision; some vendors in the industry are artists and feel that this gives them license to push and influence. If you trust a vendor's taste and can identify with his or her style, then listen to what the person has to say. But then also think about his or her vision for your day and decide if it's for you -- listen, think, decide, don't leave any part of that process out.
It is easy to be influenced by a professional, but this is your very special day, so make sure your requests are heard. Get what you want. But, to do so, you'll need to know what you want -- and that means you need to do your homework. When you meet with vendors take pictures, pictures, pictures. Then, email the images with clear notes about how you are excited that you will be getting x,y and z. That way, there is no question of what you want and expect.
Make Sure You're Not Part of the Problem
As the big day gets closer, some brides start to panic and email and call their vendors incessantly. Then, they may get angry and feel like their vendors aren't doing their job if they're not responded to immediately. However, reasonable communication should be outlined up-front: Most vendors will have a staff to which you may be directed for basic communication. Emailing and calling your vendors several times a day with issues and questions that may be succinctly put into one correspondence is simply annoying -- and confusing, too. You are paying for a service or product and if you don't trust the individual you are doing business with to get back to you by the end of the day or by the next day, then there is either a communication problem on their end or you are neurotic. So, be reasonable. But if you truly feel like you are being ignored, then march to their office and find out why.
Break Up With Your Vendor, If Needed
Vendors who do not make you a priority do not deserve your business, plain and simple. If you are not being heard or you don't feel like you're receiving the type of service you are entitled to, dismiss the vendor. A direct but polite way in which to handle this is to say or write: "Unfortunately, there seems to be a breakdown in communication which has made me uncomfortable. As a result, I have decided to discontinue our business relationship immediately," or "Your company is not performing according to the details in our contract, therefore I am discontinuing the use of your services." Ask for either a full refund within 24 hours (read your contract) or let them know you will be disputing the credit card charge (if you are within your rights) or will be forced to seek further action, which you would rather avoid if possible.
Don't Try to Remedy Issues the Day of the Wedding
The big day has finally arrived. Months of planning and pre-event festivities have taken place and finally it is time to ENJOY the celebration! Remember that, outside of a few very close members of your bridal party, no one is intimately aware of the details involved. Even though you may know that something is a bit off, or even outright not what you asked for (and paid for), everything will look perfect to everyone else at the wedding.
Therefore, if you let this mistake bother you openly, then your reaction will be the detail that everyone will focus on and remember. Yes, there is always a chance that something may not go 100 percent according to plan. But today is the day to enjoy and celebrate, not to fixate on the fact that the menus may have been printed with ink a bit off-color or that there was no pineapple at the buffet and a substitution was made.
Speak Up If You're Not Satisfied
If you end up not receiving what you had agreed to, keep your calm and write an email to that vendor after your wedding. Be sure to read and re-read it before sending it off, editing out all emotion and keeping it strictly business. Let the vendor know you expected something other than what you received: they, he or she fell short of the deal and that you expect compensation of some sort or another. This can come in many forms: Some consumers simply want to know they have been heard and receive an apology; others are looking for monetary compensation in some sort of a refund. Be clear, straightforward and communicate about what you expect so the vendor knows that you are serious and will continue to state your case until you are heard.
In some cases, you may clearly have not received the benefit of your end of the bargain (that can be legally referenced by you vendor agreement): For example, perhaps you ordered fuchsia bridesmaids dresses and the company mistakenly sent you navy ones, and were unable to get you the correct ones you ordered in time for the wedding. The fact is, a legal professional will always suggest trying to work it out person to person, and it is always in both parties best interest to do so. But when it is clear that the wrong cannot be righted, for whatever reason, you are entitled to money back and it is within your right to seek legal action.
Vendors and brides-to-be: Please join me and leading wedding industry pros at the Luxe Hotels Wedding Event on Monday March 17 in Beverly Hills.