There are many conversations that go down between engaged couples and their wedding vendors, although those usually don't include talk about the shocking cost of wedding services, best ways to communicate, and (ugh) tipping. Unfortunately, these are among the things wedding vendors wish they could tell you, but usually don't. Couples and vendors alike avoid these topics because... well, it's downright awkward for everyone. But if we're being honest, everyone is thinking about these things. When I was a bride, I remember being floored by the costs of vendors, annoyed by how long it took to get responses, and totally perplexed about who to tip and how much. But then I became a day-of coordinator, and that all changed.
Now I have a bit of an inside scoop on the aspects of working with vendors that confused me most in the months leading up to my wedding, and I've made it my goal to share these insights with the couples I work with. There's no need for wedding services that are shrouded in mystery: the clearer and more open everyone is with each other, the easier it is for couples and vendors to happily work together. For this reason, I'm sharing a few things I've learned from a vendor's perspective that are important to keep in mind when dealing with wedding vendors. I promise they will help you have a better, more comfortable relationship with your vendors, and that's what you ultimately want to ensure a smooth wedding day.
1. "That sticker price is not what I'm taking home — promise!"
People frequently assume that because weddings are expensive events, vendors mark up their prices just because they can. The truth is most of them aren’t. For instance, photographers generally spend just as much time editing photos after the wedding as the time they spend at the wedding itself. Right there, you divide a photographer’s total fee in half to start determining their hourly rate. Then deduct the cost of travel and an assistant if applicable. Next, deduct business expenses like buying insurance, owning and tuning up expensive equipment, maintaining a website, and offering online viewing platforms for client pictures. Then deduct marketing costs for attending wedding shows, advertising, and more. Oh, and don't forget to deduct state and federal income taxes. Now their hourly wage is looking very different than it was before. The same math can be done for all wedding vendors. So if a vendor says that they can’t wiggle on price, then it’s because they truly can’t and still be a profitable business.
2. "You're not the only person I'm working with right now."
Wedding vendors love to make you feel like you’re the only couple in their world, because they love what they do and they love helping you. In fact, what brings me an incredible amount of job satisfaction is making couples feel like they have a right-hand woman they can turn to at any point in their wedding-planning process. However, despite their best efforts to make you feel like you're their only client, the reality is vendors are working with a number of clients and juggling multiple priorities. When emailing with vendors, it’s always helpful to group your questions into one or two emails rather than sending a number of one-off emails or texts. Sending dozens of emails makes it more difficult for a vendor to file all your emails away in a safe place, and keep track of all your information.
Another helpful piece of advice from wedding vendors is to include your full name, your partner's name, wedding date, and wedding location when emailing vendors initially. This helps them to keep all of your information organized right off the bat, and allows them to respond to you much sooner. When you remember vendors have a bunch of other emails coming into their inboxes in addition to yours, the easier you make it for them to be able to help you quickly and effectively.
3. "Yes, we accept tips."
Most vendors will say that tips are never expected, but always appreciated, and that is definitely true in many cases. However, it's important to learn which vendors to tip at a wedding. Waitstaff, bartenders, hairstylists, and makeup artists fall into a unique category, because it is standard to tip for these services no matter what the event or circumstance. If a gratuity is not explicitly included in the contract, then you should be prepared to tip on the day of the wedding. The one caveat to this is business owners who provide the service do not expect to be tipped (for example, the owner of a salon would not expect to be tipped, while a hairstylist working at the salon would). For all vendors, it is up to you to decide whether the vendor went above and beyond what was expected, decide on how much you want to tip, and then dole out your tips from there.
Wedding vendors generally won’t tell you these things because no one wants to talk about these super awkward topics, but by keeping these in mind, you are much more likely to have an awesome relationship with your vendors. They'll be your A-team and will see you right through your wedding from the months leading up to the day until the very last glass of champagne is downed on the dance floor.