Welcome to my final wedding planning feature of 2015 here on Love My Dress.  I really hope you’ve enjoyed my honest series so far, we’ve certainly had some amazing feedback from our readers.  I’ll of course be back in 2016 and hope that I can provide you with more practical planning advice, support and top tips over the coming months.

Last year, one of my most popular features focused on the key ingredients to creating a successful wedding day and today, I wanted to expand on one of the most essential ingredients – a successful working relationship with your trusted team of wedding suppliers. After all, it’s these suppliers that are on the front line, enacting your plans, shaping your vision and providing you with much needed support along the way, which is why your ongoing relationship is vitally important.

Firstly, I should probably outline what I mean by successful! In a nutshell, it all starts with you! The basis of your relationship will inevitably be founded on those all-important initial interactions. So, if you simply spammed every supplier in Little Book for Brides with a generic email asking for prices and availability on your wedding day you’ve probably not started on a great foot. This is the wedding planning equivalent of introducing yourself to everyone at a party, telling them what a great job you have and then not listening when they’re talking about themselves!

If, however, you’ve taken the time to thoroughly research your wedding suppliers (and you might like to take a look at this feature for more information on this topic) and you’ve booked them because you love their style, their approach, their portfolio and everything about them then you’ve got a great foundation for a fabulous working relationship.  If this is the route you’ve taken, then the following guide will help you build on that solid foundation to ensure that when you wake up on the morning of your wedding, everyone is set for a happy, confident and utterly carefree day.The Key Ingredients To Building A Successful Working Relationship With Your Wedding Suppliers (Let's Talk Wedding Talk )

What you need to give to your suppliers

Trust, honesty & respect

This is something that every supplier is entitled to and, if you’ve chosen someone you think is great then you’re already halfway there. Enter into the relationship positively, expect that your supplier will fulfill their obligations to you and they’ll act in a professional and competent way. Trust their judgement and expertise, as they’ve got your best interests at heart. Respect their professionalism – most wedding suppliers’ lavish time and energy (both physical and emotional!) on their clients and will go out of their way to do their best and make sure they fulfil and even exceed their clients expectations.

Respect this and also respect their lives too – unexpected late night and evening phone calls won’t endear you to anyone! Do be sure to provide honest feedback and, if you don’t like something, can’t afford it, have changed your mind or simply aren’t that interested then be honest enough to tell your supplier. Don’t dance around decisions because to keep your wedding plans heading in the right direction, suppliers need to know what you want.

Communication

This is absolutely key because as amazing as many wedding suppliers are, psychic ability is rarely a strong point! They won’t know what you’re planning or what you want unless you tell them so keep them up-to-date and share key developments/ information…but don’t swamp them with daily updates! It’s important they know for example that Uncle Bob has a serious nut allergy or that you’ve decided to have your speeches before your dinner but, for example, the photographer probably doesn’t need to know what wine you’ve chosen for your main course and the hair and make-up artist doesn’t need to know your evening reception plans unless they’re staying throughout the day. Also, do remember that your suppliers may well be busy (and this is good because it means other people think they’re great too!) so they might not be in a position to respond to you immediately.

A clear and relevant brief

Suppliers want to give you what you want and they want to make you happy but, as you’ll have read in my previous point, they’re not mind readers so they need you to brief them. Be clear about what you expect (clear, not bossy), provide a concise brief and a summary or schedule in the final few weeks before your wedding. If you ensure all of this, there can be no misunderstandings and you won’t be panicking on the morning of your wedding worrying that you’ve not passed on a vital piece of information.

Some quality time

Like any relationship, you need to invest time in getting to know someone and giving them every opportunity to get to know you in return. If it’s possible, meet up with your suppliers or arrange a call with them. Seeing and hearing clients’ reactions to suggestions or plans really gives suppliers a great idea about you and your personalities. Take some time out for this and you’ll have a much more personal working relationship with them as a result.

Engagement

Being receptive to and engaged with new ideas should be a given but it’s surprising how many suppliers say that sometimes, clients seem ambivalent. Embrace the fact that your suppliers want to give you the best wedding day possible and, even if their ideas turn out not to be quite right, if you provide them with honest feedback the next proposal might be all kinds of brilliant so be positive and who knows what might happen!

Manners and ethics

Yes, you’re paying your suppliers to do a job but in the same way that you say thank you to the person who cuts your hair or to any other professional who provides a service, you should still say thank you! Trust me, a little appreciation goes a long way. Show your suppliers the love and you’ll be repaid tenfold! Similarly, remember that this work is someone’s livelihood so please pay invoices on time (or be honest if there’s a problem), abide by any signed contracts, acknowledge receipt of emails and respond to them! Also, if you ask a supplier to do something extra then accept that you may need to pay for the additional work.

In short, treat your working relationship with your suppliers as a partnership rather than an ‘I’m in charge, they do what I say’ style arrangement and, with that in mind, you should expect the following from your suppliers in return:

  • Your suppliers should always listen to your ideas and thoughts and take them into consideration when formulating plans.
  • Your suppliers should be in regular contact with you, meeting any deadlines that have been set and providing information in a timely manner.
  • Your suppliers should respect you and also provide you with honest feedback when it’s needed or requested.
  • Your suppliers should always do their job to the best of their ability.
  • Your suppliers should always keep client confidentiality in mind so your details should be stored securely, not passed on without your knowledge and anything sensitive should be handled appropriately.
  • Your suppliers should recommend other suppliers to you or propose ideas because they genuinely think that they’re fabulous and the right fit for you. They shouldn’t be pushing you towards things or people because of what they might receive if they do.
  • Your suppliers should abide by any signed contracts (and offer them to you in the first place!)

So, as you can see, developing great relationships is most certainly a two-way street and both you and your suppliers should be working towards similar goals in similar ways (after all, you’ve chosen them because you love their style right?). Yes, it’s a business relationship but a wedding isn’t a faceless transaction, it’s a human one full of emotions and connections so don’t treat it as something that doesn’t matter and, as the saying goes “the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra”.

Have a fantastic Christmas and a splendid New Year.

Love Kat x

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6 thoughts on The Key Ingredients To Building A Successful Working Relationship With Your Wedding Suppliers

  1. Hi Kat, I loved your posts in the lead up to my wedding and think you give useful advice for life and work in general, not just weddings, hence why I am still reading your posts even though I am now married! I just wanted to say that although the majority of our wedding suppliers were fantastic, we did find it a bit of a “one way street” with regards to communication with them. I spent a lot of time chasing people because they just wouldn’t answer the phone or respond to emails or would do so with one line, not actually answering several of the questions we had asked. This was actually the most stressful part of wedding planning – chasing people and often doing so while at work. In a professional job, I would say it’s best practice to at least acknowledge an email within 24 hrs even if you can’t answer all of the points. I think that certain wedding suppliers would help themselves a lot if they reciprocated the professionalism. Maybe you can do some etiquette tips for suppliers too!

    1. Hi Jo, thanks for taking the time to comment and share your personal experiences during your wedding planning. I just wanted to make sure that you have seen Katrina’s reply below. Massive congratulations on your recent wedding and here at Love My Dress, we love the fact that you are staying part of our lovely community. I’m sure there will be further opportunities for your to add to the discussion with your own experience, knowledge and wisdom :) xx

  2. Hi Jo,

    Thank you so much for your kind comments about my features for Love My Dress and I’m extremely flattered that you’re still reading them (congratulations on the wedding BTW!).

    I’m so sorry to hear that your relationship with some of your suppliers was a struggle and especially that this was the most stressful part of the lead up to your wedding. As a planner I know how you feel (I really do!) which is why I tried to include the section at the end for suppliers, after all the relationship is most certainly a two-way street. I’ll definitely take on board your feedback and will try and incorporate this into my features schedule for 2016.

    Kat x

  3. I also enjoy ‘dipping’ into love my dress occasionally now I’m married too. I had some amazing suppliers but sadly was let down in some instances despite (I think!) following the steps above. I think the advice above is sound and useful but it does work two ways.

    For example, being straightforward and honest. My florist refused to give a quote until they had done a consultation but refused to do a consultation until we had the bridesmaid dresses and colour scheme etc. Fair enough. I loved their work and thought they got booked up early so I paid the deposit. I was really disappointed when the quote included a very large ‘flat fee’ (circa 20% of the total bill) just for the honour of them doing the wedding that had never been mentioned on booking despite me asking for a guide on prices etc. I don’t think it was a coincidence that it was just a bit more than the deposit.

    There were other examples of suppliers not being as professional as we would have hoped which was disappointing. Nothing ruined our day, it was wonderful, but when I look back I still remember where we were let down. So I would ask that all suppliers remember the impact that they are having too and remember that most people will have never done this before so may need a steer or a nudge if necessary and to that they are relying on the suppliers to do what they say they will.

  4. I really disagree about contacting many supplies for quotes in the initial stages of planning. Doing so is not ‘spamming’, it is a necessary part of working out the lay of the land and assessing what is a reasonable amount of money to be charged for services. It is, in fact, part of the research you claim couples should do.

    If vendors were better about putting their package information on their website such a practice would not be called spamming. And I say that as a vendor myself.

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