10 things NOT to do when inquiring with wedding vendors!

Tis the season for engagements…

Anything But Gray Events has complied tons of feedback, pet peeves, and downright no no’s from dozens of wedding vendors in the Los Angeles market to help newly engaged couples book vendors smarter and more effectively. Brace yourself for some honest truth!

geometric engagement ring
Julie Shuford Photography

Facebook and Instagram are flooded with photos of newly betrothed couples who are excited but also equally as confused/terrified about where and how to start with their wedding planning process. This, of course, includes finding the right wedding vendors to bring their nuptial dreams to life! Fear not! Anything But Gray Events is here to walk you through the 10 Things NOT to do when inquiring wedding vendors!

#10 – Don’t plan too many years in advance!

While many couples are anxious about rushing the process, the same goes for planning TOO far in advance. Typically, you should be searching for wedding vendors in the same year you are looking to wed. Reaching out to wedding vendors years in advance of your desired wedding date will not yield the results you are hoping for. While many couples think planning years in advance helps, it actually can hinder. Availability, pricing, and business practices change from year to year. The general rule is to book a wedding planner and venue within 12 to 16 months of your wedding date then proceed to other wedding vendors. Using your wedding planner’s recommended venue and vendor list is always a helpful place to start when building your wedding dream team!

#9 – Don’t ask for services in exchange for “exposure”.

Aurelia D’Amore Photography

For any 90’s kids out there, you probably remember the computer game, The Oregon Trail. If not, let me recap for you. In the game, you are emersed in the experience of being a wagon migrating settler on the Oregon Trail. In it, you experience a range of unpleasant and historically accurate situations including illnesses the will ultimately kill you! Cholera, Typhoid Fever, Dysentery, and of course, EXPOSURE! With the influx of the “Influencer” community on social media, requests for services in exchange for exposure are at an all-time high. While it is indeed wonderful that you, as an “Influencer”, have millions of followers, to be completely honest, wedding vendors don’t really care. Business owners deserve to be paid for their experience, goods, and services. Period! Promises of future business and possible income because of social media posts don’t pay our bills and business overhead! If you would ask your landlord the same thing, they would probably laugh in your face. Please do not ask wedding vendors to exchange their experience, time, talents, goods and services for exposure. It’s frankly insulting.

#8- Don’t use limiting language.

placesetting on colorful table
Jenny Quicksall Photography

When reaching out to wedding vendors through their contact forms, please don’t use phrases like, “It’s just a wedding of 150 guests” or “We are just looking for 2 hours of photography for our wedding”. While it can sound like a simple slip, the word ‘just’ is limiting by definition. Meaning, it implies to a vendor that you do not value their knowledge of services they provide or expertise within their own fields. Using the word ‘just’ does not make the services you are requesting any less important, valid, and necessary. If a photographer offers wedding packages of 8, 10, and 12 hours, there is a good chance your event will fall within one of those three options, because, after all, they are the expert. Asking for ‘just‘ 2 hours of their services goes against what they offering and are willing to accept with a client. Trust the experienced professional to know how long, how much, and to what extent of time, services, and requirements it will take to do the job you are hiring them to do.

#7 – Don’t omit the requested information.

Mary Costa Photography

In this day and age, every professional wedding vendor will have a website complete with a contact form for potential clients to get in touch with them. While it can seem more convenient to use DMs through social media or simply write them a direct email, using their contact form located on their website is how most vendors best prefer to be contacted and respond best to inquiries. The contact form is to help collect the needed information from a potential client to be able to properly grasp the scope of the wedding needs in question. Again, there is a reason that vendors have contact forms. We want you to use them! Omitting or being vague with the information requested like the wedding date, wedding venue, guest count, budget, ect. does not give a wedding vendor the proper information they need to help you as a potential client! Help us, help you! Being honest and truthful is key. Saying your wedding is a birthday party or family reunion doesn’t help anyone either. While there might be some questions you don’t yet have the answers to yet in your wedding planning process, it is important to share your details fully and honestly to get the best results. Omitting information on contact forms only results in slower response times and additional back and forth dialogue.

Jenn Emerling Photography

#6 – Don’t ask us to play copy cat!

We, as wedding vendors, know you are using Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram to find wedding inspiration and wedding vendors. That is totally cool and we encourage it! Search away!! Understanding what you like or don’t like is an excellent way to begin your wedding planning process. What is not cool is asking vendors to copy other vendors’ work. Sending photos of other vendors’ work and asking for a carbon copy is a professional no no.

Laura Ford Photography

See, what you might not know, is in the tight-knit Los Angeles wedding vendor community, we really all know each other. And when I say know each other, I mean are friends. Seriously! Some of my best friends are all wedding planners in LA. Whether it’s a florist, DJ, videographer, dress designer, invitation designer, makeup artist, or photographer, there is a really good chance your wedding vendors each other (and their work)!

Aurelia D’Amore Photography

I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten emails from other LA wedding planners (friends) who tell me their clients sent them a photo of a wedding I designed and planned and asked them to copy it. When it comes down to it, do your research and trust your wedding vendors. Hire professional wedding vendors in each category because you like their business, what they have created in the past, AND then as a human being. Trust that they will create something amazing and personalized to YOUR wedding, not someone else’. Trying to bid vendors against each other either in price or style will never yield the results you want. If you are hiring the right wedding vendor for your wedding, they won’t need to copy anyone else’s work, because their work will be exactly what you are looking for!

#5 – Don’t ask for a package price for a custom result.

This can be seen as a tricky one. Everything has a price, right? Yes, it does. But just like you never ask a woman how old she is or asking a man if he is having a mid-life crisis, you don’t ask for a vendor for a price out of nowhere with no additional information given. 90% of all wedding vendors I polled create customized service proposals for potential clients based on their wedding specifics and needs.

Planning January wedding of 250 guests in two locations is going to be a very different price than a wedding of 25 guests at an Airbnb in the middle of the Joshua Tree in August. Two completely different weddings. Two completely different costs due to the specifics. The larger guest count in the offseason might actually end up being less costly than the smaller wedding in the hottest month of the year. Specifics matter! Asking for a package price for a custom result just doesn’t translate. Understand, most of the time, for most wedding vendors, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all package to offer as no two weddings (or couples) are alike.

Julie Shuford Photography

What does that mean exactly? As a wedding planner, I make a point of reading wedding blogs and forums on social media as part of my on-going educational process. One of the main complaints/questions from brides and grooms has to do with pricing. “Why don’t wedding vendors list their pricing on their websites?”. The answer is simple, hiring a wedding vendor is not like ordering a Big Mac at Mcdonald’s.

Without detailed information from a potential client, there is no way a vendor can quote them for their particular wedding services. Also, by not listing our pricing, it encourages connection and discussion. We want to get to know who you are your fiance are, your needs, and how we can BEST help you achieve your wedding dreams. While it can be hard, remember to seem the value of the services and the person behind them, not just a sticker price.

Peterson Design & Photography

#4 – Don’t forget to have a budget in mind.

Responding to a wedding vendor’s contact form under “What is your budget” with “no idea what our budget is” and then saying the proposal is “over our budget” does not compute! ‘Budget’ is not a scary word. We all have budgets regardless of how much money we have in our bank accounts. Using the phrase “on a budget” also does not translate to an exact amount as everyone’s idea of “on a budget” is different. To a billionaire, a $500,000 car could be “on a budget”. It’s all relative. The definition of the word budget is, “an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time”.

Mary Costa Photography

If you think you have a budget in mind for something, say what your budget is. A wedding vendor will be able to help you navigate if your budget is a realistic amount for the services you are requesting and the services they offer. In addition, they will be happy to educate you on the average cost of the services you are looking for and break down the reasoning behind it.

Wedding vendors understand that while this may be your first wedding, it’s not ours. We know pricing can be daunting when you are just beginning your wedding planning process. Perhaps your “budget” and industry standards are not aligning and either the expectations or budget need to be adjusted. A seasoned wedding professional with years of experience will (and should) have a higher cost than someone with less experience. “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.” – Red Adair

Visuals by Arpit

#3- Don’t try and pit vendors against each other.

This is the face I make when I see or hear about this happening! It’s ain’t pretty, people! This is probably best explained with a scenario….

Victoria Gold Photography

Let’s say you have reached out to 2 wedding photographers and love both of their portfolios and them as a human but are stuck on who to hire. One photographer is charging about $150 less than the other photographer. Really, in the long run, a drop in the bucket. Picking the best wedding vendor for the job is a smarter choice than thinking you can pit one against enough other for price. This is NOT Walmart’s price match! Please do not email one photographer and tell them the other is willing to offer the SAME services for $150 less and ask them to comply. In the end, two wedding vendors are never truly, “the same”. Who different photographers, with two different visions, experiences, and skillsets are going to give you a different result.

Amy Gray Photography

Yes, in both cases they will be receive wedding photos, but from two different points of view. Trying to compare apples to apples with a hundred and a half dollars in-between is not the best way to make an informed decision. Who is your gut saying is the better choice to photograph your special day? The difference in price could come down to so many important but specific factors. How much insurance do they hold? How often they get new equipment? How far they have to travel to your event? Will there be lots of retouching involved? How many years have they been in business? How many weddings have they shot? How many weddings have they shot at your specific venue? How many assistants they need to hire to accomplish it. The list goes on and on. Don’t be afraid to ask all of those questions. Any wedding vendor would be happy to discuss the specifics of their services. Trying to pit us against each other doesn’t equate.

Ruby Street Wedding Tablescape
Mary Costa Photography

#2 – Don’t go fishing!

Seasoned wedding professionals have all been in a situation with a potential couple who are fishing for as much information as they can get before they sign a contract and put down a deposit. We know when you are doing it, so please, just don’t even try it. While wedding vendors encourage you to meet or video/phone chat with a narrowed down list of vendors in each category, do not overuse that offer. It’s frowned upon to meeting with endless amounts of wedding vendors in each category in the hopes of picking their brains without contracting their services. This also happens digitally with endless emails of questions before you have even hired us. Our time is just as valuable as yours is.

menu card on maroon napkin on dining table
Villa Visuals

Now, before you freak about that last paragraph, to be clear, I am not referring to having a consult with a couple of wedding vendors in each category! That you should do definitely do. There is a perfect wedding vendor for everyone and it’s important to make a strong connection with each one. What I am referring to goes much farther.

Jenn Emerling Photography

If you are meeting with 10+ wedding planners with a list of rapid-fire questions, vendor requests, and endless scenarios – you are fishing! Going into an in-person meeting with a vendor knowing full well you have no intention of hiring them but simply want to get as much insight from them as you can is simply unkind. We live in LA people! Getting in your car, driving across town, valet parking, ordering an iced coffee or kale salad and chatting for an hour takes someone’s time, effort, and money. Be respectful and only meet with wedding vendors you are seriously considering hiring before finding the perfect one(s) for you!

#1 – Don’t ghost us!

By far, the number #1 complaint from all wedding vendors that I polled for this blog post was about ghosting. If you are not familiar, ghosting is defined as: “the practice of ending a personal or professional relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.”

confetti bride and groom
Laura Ford Photography

The long and short of it is, please don’t ghost wedding vendors. We know you are reviewing at many vendors at a time. That is completely understandable and honestly, encouraged. We know that you may not end up wanting to hire us. That is completely acceptable. What is not appreciated is abruptly ending communication and avoiding letting us know you have decided to go in a different direction. I can tell you from personal experience, I customized each proposal I send out for every couple I have a consultation with. It can take between 1-3 hours depending on the event details on top of the 1-hour video consultation time.

Monica Linda Photography

As wedding vendors, we put a lot of time and effort into consultations, crafting detailed service proposals, researching your event needs, and following up with prospective couples. All we ask in return is that you communicate back. Listen, we know confrontation is hard. No one wants to have to tell a wedding vendor that they are not going to hire them. It’s not fun, but it’s the right thing to do. By being courteous and letting us know you are not interested, you are showing us the same professionalism and respect that we showed you. Not ghosting is the “be kind and rewind” of the new decade! It takes approximately 6 seconds to write an email response. Please, don’t ghost us.

  1. Thank you!

    • Holly Gray says:

      You are most welcome, Alistair! The goal is to help educate couples on the best ways to inquire and interact with wedding vendors so that everyone gets the information they need for a successful, professional relationship and ultimately, amazing event results!

  2. Great post Holly! This is full of very valuable advice. I will be sharing it on my own blog at InvitationMaven.com!

    • Holly Gray says:

      I am so glad you enjoyed it, Marlene. Education for our clients is very important and something we can all do more of. Thank you for sharing it and tagging us.

  3. Carla Kayes says:

    This is awesome! Thank you!!

  4. So well written!

  5. Lori Mark says:

    Brutally honest Holly!! This is great stuff!!!

  6. Jacob Oliver says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful article and sharing. God bless you.!

  7. It really helped when you talked about wedding vendors and how to know it’s time to start looking for one. Recently, my fiance and I decided we want to get married next year during the fall! We’re very excited to start planning our wedding, so we’ll be sure to follow your tips! Thanks for the advice on how we must start looking for vendors within the same year we plan on getting married.

    • Holly Gray says:

      Wishing you and your fiance the best, Eli! Thanks for reading our blog.

  8. Mia Evans says:

    Thanks for helping me understand that a planner and the venue have to be booked within 12 to 16 months before the date of the wedding. I will share this information with my best friend who just got engaged earlier this month. And she also mentioned that she is going to look for a specific Indian wedding venue, because they wanted to be more traditional since both of them are Indians. This means that they have to find a place that they like as early as now so that it will be available for the date that they are targeting.

  9. Millie Hue says:

    Thanks for pointing out that we should book a wedding venue at least 12 to 16 months in advance as a general rule. My partner and I have to find a place to book as early as now, because we want to get married in the spring of 2024. And we do not want to postpone it anymore because of being in a relationship for six years now.

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