Paying Your Vendors

Hey y'all, it has been a long time since I wrote any content for this portion of the blog. I am not going to make any promises about being more consistent or adding to this frequently, but I do have a couple of posts on the queue so stay tuned. In this post, I want to discuss PAYMENT. Obviously, it is a major part of planning a wedding and making sure your vendors like you. I have posted similar posts in the past that protect you, but this one protects your vendor and is key to making sure they don't hate you in the end. I have a couple of points to make so bare with me. 

1. Discounts. This one is going to sting. 
IT IS NEVER OKAY TO ASK FOR A DISCOUNT. I am sorry, it sucks, but it's true. Your vendor may know you and offer you a discount or know your friend or colleague, but that is your vendors prerogative. Asking for a discount implies that you don't value your vendors' work and time, or think that they aren't worth what they cost. We set our rates competitively and based on our experience. When I started wedding planning, I didn't charge full price because I lacked experience but doing an even for free is off the table because I still put in well over a day's work into your event and whether you think it is fair or not, it is your choice to hire me. I am a person that has a tough time saying no. So when someone requests a discount, I have to weigh my time and rates against a (friendship?). That is not a position anyone should ever be put in. I have often heard "you get paid in exposure, " but exposure doesn't pay my mortgage or give me back the day I lost ironing tablecloths and lighting candles, it doesn't give me back the gas money driving to your event, and it doesn't even always pay. I made an agreement once to help plan a wedding for the "cost" of all the detail photographs from the couple's photographer, and that couple didn't pass on that information nor did they give me any photos of the event; so NO exposure does not pay. For an all-inclusive wedding planning package, I charge $3,000. I answer unlimited texts, make plans, I set up your wedding day, I find the missing drunk uncle passed out behind the venue, I wash the dishes when needed, I don't sit down, and I dress to blend in at your wedding (so no running shoes). In the off-season, I might offer a promo or a discount, and that is okay to ask about; "Do you ever have promos or seasonal pricing?". I am so open to that question, but DO NOT ask your vendor for a discount or assume you deserve one because you know them!!!!


2. Payment. 
Vendors are usually quite clear as to when you should pay them. My contracts state 50/50. 50% at booking and the rest the day before or day of your event. If your vendor hasn't told you, ask them. We miss things; we are human. We try not too but sometimes the conversation gets off track, and it's forgotten. JUST ASK, trust me it's not supposed to be free, they will appreciate you asking. Pay on time; you don't get to pay when you feel like, we have bills to pay, company expenses. If you haven't paid me when you are supposed to, it makes me question showing up when I am supposed to.... I will because I need those YELP reviews, but you are a sucky person. 


3. Your End of the Bargain. 
If your vendor requests something in return for a discount like asking you for a review or photos or whatever it may be you need to hold up your end of the bargain. I didn't think that it was a big deal until I started wedding planning but being kind to your vendors makes it a lot easier to go the extra mile for you. If you don't hold up your end of the bargain, like cancel something without telling me, I can't fix it, and your event will suffer. If you say "I'm sending you 300 candles for the wedding", and then fail to send them on the wedding day without telling me - you likely won't have candles on your wedding day. If there is something you agreed on for your event, and you don't come through, that's not on me I will do my best to fix it, but I can't guarantee anything.

4. Know your Rights. 
It is okay to ask questions and it is encouraged. Request a reference, check out the portfolio, and decide if the price they offer is what you feel you want to pay. No one is forcing you to hire a particular vendor. Also, read Before You Book and Contracts before booking any vendor it will protect you. 

Paying your vendors and communicating means your day goes as planned. Everyone is happy, and no one is taken advantage of. I am FINALLY okay with losing out on an event because I am unwilling to flex my prices, and vendors, if you're reading this - KNOW YOUR WORTH. 

Contracts

In wedding planning, you will come across a few of contracts and it is crucial to keep them all. When Wilson and I canceled our wedding we had to cancel our vendors. Most of them were happy to oblige, but we had one that was not so much. 

We canceled our wedding six months in advance and most return policies are an average of three months prior although they can swing either way. Our venue was very forgiving and gave us a full refund within 24 hours. Refunds went the same for all except our catering. We sent them an email explaining the situation and that we wouldn't wouldn't need their services and at first they seemed happy to assist us. We waited a few weeks and still had no money back and no further word from them. Wilson sent an email and they were vague in their reply and still offered nothing. I looked a little further into the situation and found the contract we signed in our early correspondence. As it turns out, the company was stealing from us. Their contract stated that we could receive a full refund within 24 hours of cancellation and they were in violation of their contract. I was able to use their contract against them, along with social media and the threat of legal execution to get our money back but without the contract, I would have never known about my rights. 

Contracts protect both you and the vendor and it is imperative that you stick to them. Contracts are legal documents that must be adhered to by both parties otherwise someone suffers. In all walks of life, you will come across contracts but my wedding is the first time I came across a situation where I was glad I kept it around. 

Before You Book

When planning a wedding, you never think about the 'what if I have to cancel' question, and you shouldn't have to. Planning your wedding should be fun and exciting. When I was planning my wedding, I booked vendors early in the game so that I could mark things off my list without any other thought about it. I never expected to have to cancel catering and a venue but when I did, I was glad I kept a few very important documents. Among saving documents, you also need to check cancellation policies. I have compiled a list of things to check before you book and keep afterward. 

Cancellation policies:
Understandably, not a popular thing to check because no one thinks their wedding will have anything happen to it; but it is best just to be sure in case. Most vendors are very understanding and gracious with cancellations but it is best just to be sure before you book. 

Emails:
If you're like me and appreciate having an empty email inbox, it would be helpful for you to either print off all of your emails or keep them in a separate folder safe from the delete button. Venue emails, correspondence between caterers, every email that has to do with the wedding; except maybe the annoying ones you get from going to wedding shows,

Contracts:
Every piece of paper you have signed for a booking must be kept in a safe place. This piece of paper will become your best friend in case of any issues. Contracts are vital for both your protection and your vendor. If your vendor becomes tough to deal with you can resort back to this piece of paper because it is a legal document and both you and your vendor will be held to that if it becomes a bigger issue. 

Receipts:
It is, in a lot of cases, difficult to refund you for anything without a receipt. In most situations, they have to put the money back on the exact tender you used, when you paid, for their books to balance. I have recently started working in retail again and many people do not seem to understand the difficulty of not having a receipt. Whether they have a copy or not it is your responsibility to keep these items safe. 

Contact information:
It will save you a lot of trouble if you maintain a list of names and numbers of people you deal with along the way. This will prevent you from having to track down every person you dealt with. It is easier to know who you spoke with rather than having to explain it to multiple people until you get what you need. 

I suggest a binder or a folder to keep all of these papers and documents safe and together, I am obsessed with page protectors for receipts and contracts. They can also be helpful for planning. Don't get yourself down with thinking of the negatives but if you need to change venues for some reason you will be happy you covered your bases.