Congrats, you are engaged – (now what?)

On Issue 20, 2013

Wedding planning, inflation, the rotten economy and you

The holidays have been dubbed “engagement season” by the wedding industry, since the wed-biz has been a growth industry for the past few years, dozens of new businesses have popped up, each trying to grab their slice of the wedding pie (or cake, if you will.) Lots of these are small start-ups.

Many new ventures in the wedding arena have come up in the last few years, some without even a physical address. The good news is that because this new wedding businesses are hungry; it’s often easier to negotiate better rates and services for your money.

The bad news is that you must choose your location and suppliers even more carefully than ever, since you must assess a vendor’s likelihood of solvency by the time your wedding rolls around.  Sadly, these days tales abound of couples who are left high and dry when their venue or vendors shut their doors without warning, and often without refunding deposits despite their legal obligations to do so.
How do you assess a wedding vendor’s robustness?  Often you can’t, but you can hedge your bets in case the worst happens. DO they have an office, a business name, contact and contracts? Has any of the established vendors ever worked with them?  Do they have the necessary legal paperwork for operation? Venues are especially notorious with everyone converting their backyards into venues only for a neighbour to place an injunction just a week before your wedding and you have to get a new venue!  If you are making a substantial investment in a large event, you can reduce your risk of vendor failure by booking a location that is part of a larger company; that way, if a particular location goes burst, you might be able to recover your loss.

However, I don’t want to discourage couples from placing their trust in small business startups who come with the added advantage of offering unique options you can’t get from established businesses.  It’s often a matter of conscience; but is it worth to take additional financial risk? Those who are bold enough and solvent enough to start making wedding plans should be aware of the additional perils of working with some of these companies.

This is where something like wedding insurance which some company is planning to launch (even though I already regard it with some suspicion)  might actually serve a worthy purpose.  Of course, you’ll need to check the small print to make sure your wedding will be covered in the event of a vendor bankruptcy or disappearance….and just to be sure there’s a fine point put on it.

So if you have carefully selected your suppliers, How do you Respond to Suppliers Who Fall Below Expectations?

When hiring a Supplier, through contracts and discussions, expectations are created. As a bride or groom there is a level of confidence that you should have in your Supplier. The caterers will provide great food that won’t run out and that is at the right temperature, the flowers will be brilliant and correct, the timeline will go as planned and the DJ will have all the right songs. These are proper expectations, but what do you do if the food is cold, the bouquet is made from the wrong flowers or the DJ has forgotten to bring your first dance song?

First of all, much can be avoided by following certain steps;

  1. Interview several wedding Suppliers in each category and follow your gut as well as your budget
  2. Create a checklist for the day for each of the suppliers
  3. Make sure the supplier is completely clear and aware of your expectations in writing.
  4. Hire an Event Coordinator, “One who has done many weddings” if not for the whole planning, at least for the material day
  5. If you do not have an Event Coordinator appoint a specific person for each Supplier to make sure all is according to plan. It makes some guests feel like part of your wedding and can ease your mind.

Now if you have done what you can and expectations are still not met (let’s face it, none of us have a perfect work day everyday) the best thing is to take a big deep breath and a moment to calm before reacting. Decide before hand if you are the type of bride/groom that wants to know about situations as they arise or want to be kept out of the loop and just enjoy the day/evening.

Communicate to your suppliers or coordinator(s). The best way to approach a Supplier who has not met requirements is to ask what they can do to remedy the situation. Empower them. They already feel bad enough and being barked at will just make the situation worse. Suppliers understand that this is the most important day for you and that you are paying them, in general most will do whatever they can to fix the problem. Be realistic with your request in the situation. If the florist has created a bouquet of the wrong flowers and does not have the ones you requested and cannot get them, create an alternative with what is available.

While this can be very upsetting and disheartening for a bride/groom, its important to realize that the more time and energy spent on stressing and being angry the less time you will enjoy with your loved ones.

Reserve your sentiments till the wedding is over, usually after the honeymoon. Feedback to all Suppliers is always appreciated as it helps them grow and you feel better. If you are disappointed with the service express that. Ask for what you would like in exchange for your disappointment. They cannot replace the problems of the wedding day, but perhaps they can ease the pocket book or send you a gift or even flowers to your bridal party, etc. There is always a solution.

The most important thing at any wedding is that you enjoy while you are there, with family and friends. A Supplier will always do their utmost to provide the best service possible to you. No matter what, there has never been a wedding that has fallen apart to such a point that it ruined the day, at least not on my watch.

Finally, Even as we feel our budgets grow tighter, let us bear in mind that the best parts of any wedding are the bits you can’t buy: love, appreciation, and camaraderie.  May 2014 bring you many opportunities to create true wealth in all the ways that really matter.

Until next time, a sweet and long life to you all

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