An Open Letter to Wedding Vendors: Brides ARE NOT Out To Get You

I was inspired by this open letter to wedding bloggers on Hindsight Bride to woman up and write about a topic that has been bothering me lately. Some of you may see things my way and some of you may not – my purpose with this post was not to anger anyone but to start a discussion...

As many of you know, I belong to an online group for individuals in the wedding industry who support each other via Twitter (Are you following me? You should – I’m friggin’ delightful!). I have liked my experience with this community so far and have been really happy with the great advice, good contacts, and incredible support (especially when I found out that my dad had cancer and desperately needed people to do guests posts – I actually had to turn people away!) that I have found there. However, lately I have been noticing a trend amongst the more vendor-y types in the group that is disturbing me. It’s a little something that I like to call “The Brides Are Out To Get Me Syndrome” (or TBAOTGMS).

TBAOTGMS is the utter conviction of some wedding professionals that brides are trying to fuck them over. Specifically, that the bride is trying to work a deal and get them to slash their fees. I don’t know if TBAOTGMS has always been around or if it’s just been rearing its ugly head during the last couple of weeks but I think that it’s time that we found a cure. Because wedding vendors? Brides ARE NOT the enemy. And brides, vendors are not your slaves.

I’m going to use a specific issue that I ended up chiming in on (and this isn’t calling anyone out, it’s simply an example of some of the TBAOTGMS-type behavior that I’ve been witnessing lately) as an example. Basically, a wedding vendor got an email from a bride that said “Thank you for your time but I can’t afford you.” The vendor (very politely) asked for advice on handling this email. Should she write back and thank the bride for her honesty and point out that she offered flex packages for any budget or should she move on? This vendor got a flood of advice… most of it damning the bride and accusing her of trying to play vendors against each other in the hopes of scoring a killer discount.

I have to tell you (and I publicly wrote this to the vendor) – I just didn’t see that. What I saw was a really polite person who realized that she had spent enough time with someone that she owed them an honest answer about an unresolved issue. I thought that thanking the vendor for her time and being honest about why they weren’t hiring them was a really nice thing to do. Apparently though, I was in the minority. Everyone else was convinced that the bride was evil and trying to manipulate this vendor.

And that’s why I feel that I need to call out wedding vendors in today’s post.

Here’s the deal – not all brides are bad. Everyone has a budget and how they want to spend their money is not up to you. They have already discussed and decided their budget and how much they are willing to spend on each item. They know what things are most important to them. They just may not consider your service/product important enough to their wedding to justify the cost. IT’S NOT PERSONAL – it’s just a personal choice. You may be the best damn wedding planner on the planet but if a couple’s entire budget equals your fee – it ain’t gonna happen. Deal.

Here’s a perfect example. For my own upcoming wedding, the number one thing that I was willing to shell out money for was my wedding photographer. In fact, it was so important to me that I allotted a whopping 1/3 of my entire (meager) wedding budget to this service. When I went out sourcing potential vendors for my wedding photographer, I knew that I had a specific range to work with. I ended up falling in love with 5 vendors – 3 of which were simply waaay out of my price range. I adored them but couldn’t afford them. It didn’t matter how much I was dying to have them do my wedding or how I knew that their fee was totally reasonable for what they were offering (excellent quality + experience) – I just freaking could not afford them. So I had to “let them go.” Again, it was not personal – it was financial. Bartender, I may adore that champagne but I only have enough for a beer.

On the flip side, brides (and grooms) – secretively pitting one vendor against another in the hopes of a monetary gain on your end is inexcusably rude. Just be honest. Tell them that it is down to them and another vendor (no need to say who specifically) and ask them to tell you why you should sign on with them. Often, this will lead to a pleasant conversation and (after doing this with each vendor) you will be better able to see who you want to give your money to.

Also, asking for discounts is tacky – negotiating for a more personalized package is not. For example, when I interviewed my final two wedding photography choices, I reviewed the packages that they had available to me in my price range. In each package, I found something that I did not like/need so I asked them if they would be willing to work with me to change those. One said yes and one said no – guess which one I booked? Vendors are a business and are used to people wanting a deal or the best bang for their buck – asking them to work with you to get what you want and within your budget is no different than choosing the right package deal for you when renewing your cell phone service. Be respectful and honest and vendors will respond.

So wedding vendors, I need to know. Am I overreacting or have brides actually tried to screw you over so many times that you are now overly cautious? Brides (be honest), have any of you tried to pull one over on a vendor or are you appalled (as I was) that your politeness is being misconstrued as manipulation? In your opinion, how should brides and vendors handle differences in budget and services? I am really, really curious about this so please chime in and be brutally honest.