The more I think about wedding planning, the more I think about the many intricate layers involved of putting one day, one very special day, together.
One of the many intricacies is working with people. Understanding, negotiating with and having clear communication with of suppliers. Qualities that not all of us are used to and not all of us possess!
One of the things I’ve learnt is the importance of looking after your wedding suppliers. I can hear you thinking, well I’m paying them, isn’t that enough? My honest answer, no. Looking after your suppliers and enabling them to give their all to you on your wedding day, requires more than your cash.
From, ensuring that they have a full understanding of your expectations and that you have a full understanding of theirs, mutual respect, pre-planning, communicating well, and if relevant, ensuring they are fed and watered on the day.
Cinematographer Tony Slater, Fully Circle Wedding Films and Rupa Photography capturing a groom on film. Photo by Steve Shipman.
Looking after your suppliers from start to finish means they will do so much better for you if they feel like they are looked after.
Today we are joined again by ex-lawyer, people management guru and wedding planner; Meghan of Extraordinary Days. Sharing some great insights on how to build brilliant working relationships with your wedding suppliers so they can deliver the absolute best for your wedding day.
Hit it Meghan!
Choosing your favourite wedding suppliers is undoubtedly a huge step. This process should be fun and straightforward, but it isn’t always.
There are a lot of moving parts and parties that need a lot of constant communication and sometimes, it’s just hard.
Hair and Make up artist Boe Wright of Botias making sure the Bride’s hair is perfect. Photography | Rupa Photography
Yes, you have hired people to work for you on your wedding day and probably paid them a lot, but ultimately the quality of the communication and how those people are feeling emotionally and physically on the day, do impact the atmosphere and products delivered on your wedding day.
What I mean is, for example, your photographer who undoubtedly wants to do a stellar job for you, can only do so much if he/she isn’t told what details are important to you to be captured on film beforehand or, if he/she is left starving all day. Wedding suppliers are only human.
So, before we get started on some tips on how to best work with suppliers, I would like to start with a few guiding principles:
Wedding Suppliers Do:
Wedding planner Meghan Fay, Extraordinary Days and assistant hard at work laying a table. Photography Steven Shipman
Want to make couples happy: There is no florist who doesn’t hold their breath when a bride sees her wedding flowers for the first time, no photographer who wouldn’t spend a day in angst if a client hated their photos and no wedding planner I know who doesn’t have sleepless nights in the weeks leading up to their couples’ weddings. In general, wedding suppliers care a lot about things going right for you on what they know is an incredibly personal, life-changing, and can-only-be-done-once day. So, remember, your wedding day really does matter to the people you are hiring.
Wedding Suppliers Are:
Running a business: However, just because wedding suppliers care so much doesn’t mean they can always cut prices; they have bills to pay too. So, niggling over every penny isn’t the best route. To some extent, you will get what you pay for. (Nu Bride: Yes always be upfront about costs, budget restraints, before any work commences. This is so you can both manage budgets and expectations, so you don’t feel like you are being ‘ripped off’ and they don’t feel like you don’t value their service).
Wedding Suppliers Sometimes:
Have a lot of weddings and couples to please. Different suppliers have different numbers of weddings to manage, but in general, suppliers have very full email inboxes, dozens and dozens of questions a week, and hundreds of wedding details to remember. So, it’s best to make your information clear and concise!
So how can you use this information to your advantage, to make sure you get the best out of your supplier?
Cinematographer Tony Slater, Full Circle Wedding Films creating a wedding video. Photography Steve Shipman.
It’s easier said than done.
You start planning and think, “how hard can it be?” Then, quickly you’ve got piles of paper work and dozens of computer files. The key is to create the following documents, use technology to help you and where possible, update your suppliers frequently.
Wedding Planner Meghan Fay of Extraordinary Days completing a wedding set-up. Photography Ben Wetherall
Arguably the most important item for your suppliers, is a full running order / timetable of your wedding day. You could do this simply in a Microsoft Word document.
Start from the moment your hair and make-up artist arrives and end when the last supplier leaves. Make sure to include the arrival and departure times of each supplier.
Don’t forget to include when the sunsets to ensure you have enough time for naturally lit photographs! (Nu Bride: Good tip Meghan!)
This “day order” should be thought out and drafted from the moment you begin your planning. It helps ensure that each of your suppliers have enough time to set-up and cleanup.
Share it with your suppliers each time you meet and ask them to review it, looking for potential problems. It’s amazing how many problems this simple step could prevent, notably band sound-check times (they need an hour on average).
Hair and Make up artist Boe Wright of Botias perfecting the Bride’s make-up | Rupa Photography
In Microsoft Excel or similar, list all of your suppliers, their contact information, and their arrival and departure times. (Nu Bride: Another great tip! It’s easy to lose information in a sea of emails and business cards in wedding goody bags! )
Then, share this information with your suppliers. Sometimes suppliers will contact each other to manage logistics of the day, saving you time and headaches. For example, a marquee and lighting designer may work together on set-up timings. or a cake designer and florist may coordinate fresh flowers for your cake.
Wedding planner Meghan Fay of Extraordinary Days, helping a groom get ready | Rupa Photography
Microsoft Excel is the perfect place to keep your budget. Include a column for your estimated costs and your actual costs (once you have accepted quotes).
In a separate Excel document, input payments that have been made and those that are pending.
Then carefully put payment due dates into your calendar, with notifications set at least 48 hours before so that you aren’t late. (Nu Bride: Another great tip, it’s hard to keep on track with deposits and balance deadlines. Some suppliers are great at sending reminders, but ultimately you have signed a contract, it is your responsibility to ensure they are paid on time).
Wedding planner, assistants, photographer, and other suppliers briefing before the beginning of the day. Good communication is vital | Photo by Steven Shipman
Create a guest list in Microsoft Excel and keep track of your guest numbers, RSVPs, dietary restrictions, and perhaps any special requests, such as high-chairs or wheelchair access needed for your caterer/ venue.
Start collecting those guest postal addresses! (Nu Bride: Gosh Meghan, I hated doing this, so long and boring. lol! But so necessary!) But, before you do, ask your stationer what format they would like them in (e.g., word, excel) because some are picky and you don’t want to get stuck redoing it.
Close to the wedding date you will need to create a table plan for your caterer / venue. I highly recommend using Perfect Table Plan. In addition to guest names, ask your caterer / venue, the types of notes they would like directly on your table plan, such as male/female (if you are giving separate favours out), dietary restrictions, or high-chairs etc.
Your Visual Inspiration
Simon, Euphoric Flowers | Photo by Rupa Photography
It’s true, a picture is worth a thousand words and photos more helpful than ever, when working with your wedding suppliers! Save your favourite wedding photos to a secret Pinterest board so you can easily share it and take it to supplier meetings.
(Nu Bride: To add, use Pinterest / magazines as guidance for your ideas, your supplier is an expert in their field, they will know how to create something perfect for you, incorporating your personality, your venue, likes and most importantly what your budget will allow)
A Wedding To-Do List
There is going to be a lot to do for this fab wedding you are planning so having a good system for managing your tasks is vital. My all time favourite system is Trello . It is an app that can be put on every device you have and it syncs automatically, making it perfect for endless stream of wedding to-do’s that crop up in your head.
My biggest tip here is to make a separate to-do list for each supplier so that you can note questions and specific action items relating to each supplier. Have a meeting with your florist? Well, every question you have for her will be right at your finger tips.
Nu Bride: Now if you’ve got to the end of this section and you’re feeling completely overwhelmed, that’s completely normal. There are over 5000 decisions to make per wedding, it’s absolutely going to feel overwhelming. So don’t feel you have to tackle this ALL in one go. Break it down one-by-one into achievable tasks, at achievable time frames for you. But make it easy for yourself and delegate!
Ask motivated friends and family to help. If you know someone that’s a spreadsheet queen, ask them to conjure something up for you, or find a useful template online. Or you could even ask them to be the main contact for some of your suppliers of you find it difficult. You don’t have to do all of this yourself and of course you may also have the option of hiring a wedding planner so they can do all this for you!
Tune in for Part 2 of working with wedding suppliers with Meghan later this week where we tackle communication!