Wedding Vendors: Stay In Your Lane

09/15/2017 04:05 pm ET Updated Sep 15, 2017

Ever heard that saying “Jack of all trades, master of none”?

Sure you have.

If you haven’t, it basically means that someone is doing a whole bunch of stuff at a below average level, instead of just focusing on a being good at one thing.

Images by Berit

In a world where customer service is frequently more important to consumers than anything else, there is a pressure felt by many who provide services to be able to handle everything. But you wouldn’t call a plumber to fix your car, so why would you ask your DJ to officiate your wedding?

You shouldn’t.

Between the increasing prices of weddings, combined with the flood of wedding websites lying to couples about the real costs, many vendors are offering multiple services through one company…and many couples see this as the ultimate way to save money.

While we’re throwing out sayings, here’s another one:

“You get what you pay for.”

And if you paid a DJ to officiate your wedding, you better make sure the marriage is actually legal.

Along with the pressure to offer everything to couples, many vendors feel that what other vendors do is easy and so they can do it too and make more money. Meanwhile, these vendors are sabotaging the industry from the inside out by supporting the notion that anyone can be a planner/photographer/ DJ, etc. These jobs might look easy, but that’s only because they are being done by professionals with actual real life experience.

If the job looks hard, it means that vendor isn’t good at doing their job.

Images by Berit

Countless times, my couples will tell me versions of “I never thought of that” during the wedding planning process. Well, of course not. Why would they? This isn’t their job. It’s mine. Just because there are hundreds of wedding planning templates available on Pinterest, doesn’t mean anyone can download them and be a wedding planner.

“After all, what could possibly be the difference between Bob Party Bus handling your day of logistics and a wedding planner who was charging a higher price?”

And just because it looks easy, doesn’t mean it actually is.

“Day of Coordination” services are a popular option with some vendors, including a few that constantly ask me “when are we working together?” The answer to that, by the way, is never. While it is rare for my company to handle Day Of “Month Of” services outside of a full planning package, we do receive a fair number of inquiries for it. These services are also included in our full planning packages and it’s basically the logistic handling, rehearsal and wedding day attending, portion of my job.

But now other vendors, including transportation companies, are offering these services as “add-ons”. The couple throws down a negligible amount of money, usually between $500-$1,000, to purchase these services from Limos R Us and thinks they got a great deal. After all, what could possibly be the difference between Bob Party Bus handling your day of logistics and a wedding planner who was charging a higher price?

A wedding planner. That’s the difference.

Images by Berit

Venue coordinators are guilty of this too. Plenty of venues have what I call “planner pushback” because they have dealt with an onslaught of pretend planners that had no idea what they were doing and only made their jobs more difficult. This is so true that for years I have introduced myself to new venues (and vendors) as “not that planner” just so we can start off on the right foot.

Yet still, there are venues that will flat out tell couples that a wedding planner is not necessary because they are just that damn fantastic handle everything. I know this because I have had this said to my clients…while I was standing right there. I have had venue coordinators call my clients and tell them that they didn’t need me.

Think about it: a venue, that you are paying tens of thousands of dollars to, has the nerve to question how you spend your money in other aspects of your wedding. That is what is happening when a venue coordinator does this.

The whole “you don’t need a planner because we have an on-site coordinator” is such a popular lie, so much so that I am asked, in nearly every consultation, what the difference is between what they do and what I do. To sum up: everything. The venue coordinator coordinates the venue. The wedding coordinator coordinates, the wedding.

Some companies have added a “wedding coordinator” to their company for couples looking for these services. However, I have yet to come across a single company that has an actual wedding planner on board instead of a random employee posing as one. Some companies simply employ the owner’s wife as the “in house wedding planner”.

Cute.

Images by Berit

Certain vendors do have more than one service offered that is beneficial to engaged couples. For instance, there are photography studios that have in-house cinematography services. Photo and video teams have to partner on the day of the wedding and if I can book my clients with one company for both, I am going to do that 100% of the time.

The same can be said for stylists on the day of the wedding. While I am often approached by freelance hair and make-up artists, I need to work with a full team that can handle all of the services together. The hair and make up team sets the timing up for the rest of the day. For that, and many other reasons, I need them all to be on the same team.

Some planners and florists offer in-house rentals, which can also save a couple some dollars. But there are plenty of these vendors offering “in-house” and then renting from an outside source and increasing the price to increase their pay. A couple should let the florist or planner handle the rentals, but if they aren’t truly in-house, then options need to be given.

Images by Berit

When it comes to lighting, many venues have actual lighting fixtures available for couples to use. If it’s basic lighting such as a wall wash, typically a music vendor can offer that…but anything past that? Get a lighting designer. Too often I will hear from music vendors (the same ones offering wedding planning services for 5 cents) about their lighting capabilities. Sorry, but, if I want lighting design, I’m hiring a lighting designer.

See how that works?

There is more that goes into being a wedding planner than planning your own wedding. I would never attempt to be a DJ or a photographer. It’s more than just pressing a button or adding some filters. While I have basic knowledge of music and cameras, I have way too much respect for those that do these things for a living to ever offer these services.

There is an investment of both time and money put into all of the wedding industry jobs and it is borderline insulting to claim you can do it all. If it was easy, everyone would do it…

…and they would do it well.

Images by Berit
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