Wedding Event Decorator: Top 10 warning signs you should cut and run
November 5, 2012 § 5 Comments
This year has been the year of weddings. My man and I had our own, and were happy to be there for the unions between some of our closest friends.
The unifying perception of wedding planning is that the event is synonymous with “stress”. To that end, there are an abundance of options on planning weddings – whether it’s a full DIY, or an elaborate affair planned by a professional. In our case, we opted for a middle of the road option: someone to help with the “day of coordination”. That meant we would still plan the event, but a planner would help us execute our plan on our day. The vendor we went with, EventDecorator.com (not to be confused with Flourishes Event Decorating, LLC which we had no experiences with), required us to also go through them for event decor and rentals, which at the time was fine with us. They seemed professional and experienced enough.
As it turned out, the help we thought we would be getting from Event Decorator, ended up being the opposite. Our Event Decorator became the sole source of high stress and frustration leading up to our event. In the end, we made the difficult decision of having to ditch our day-of-coordination plan with only two months to go and essentially redid our planning on the fly – the definition of high wedding stress, but far better than the alternative. At least we would get what we wanted. In the end, we had an incredible day. Everything came together beautifully, thanks to our other vendors and the support of our wonderful friends and family.
I thought long and hard before writing this post – did I want to wade back into an event now past? In the end, I decided to write it with the hope that it could save someone else some of the pain we went through. So here it is. Our top ten list of warning signs that your vendor is not the one for you… and it may be better to cut your losses and walk… or run. The earlier the better usually, as in our case, we lost a sizeable chunk of change that would have been avoided had we paid attention to our gut feelings to begin with.
1. Your Event Decorator / vendor only addresses one of you and ignores the other.
When a vendor only addresses or speaks to one of you and dismisses input from your partner, it may be time to reconsider. From the start, someone who respects both of you as equals will respect you as a client. If you decide to have one person be the main point of contact or the final decision maker – that’s different – but a vendor shouldn’t start by acting on that assumption.
Our experience: From the start, my (now) husband’s opinion was ignored. We tried to give the benefit of the doubt thinking that perhaps it was a wedding industry thing. It was not. It was just our vendor. Apart from all of my husband’s questions and suggestions being overlooked and ignored, our repeated requests to include him in copy on emails going forward were not carried out time after time despite multiple reminders. Later, that same attitude and treatment expanded into how I was also dealt with. Also not good.
2. Your Event Decorator / vendor’s quote far exceeds your intended budget outside the bounds of reason.
A wedding planner is an expert in the wedding industry. What you should be able to expect is for them to have a sense of scale and proportion in terms of how much of a budget should reasonably go towards different aspects of the wedding (like flowers). Most planners, depending on your arrangement, will even work with you to generate your wedding budget with advice around how much you should expect to pay for each service.
Our experience: As we were planning our own day, we did the portioning ourselves based on research and advice received. We were open to shifting funds around to make things work. However, when the quote we received from our Event Decorator took up a third of the entire wedding budget, landing 2-3 times more than our anticipated floral and rentals budget, we were shocked. Particularly as the form we had filled out for Event Decorator included our wedding budget. Not a good sign. Rather, it’s a sign your vendor may not be paying attention to the details or to what you want. As a footnote – it shouldn’t matter what size budget you have. Some vendors will tell you upfront they only work with a certain sized wedding budget – that’s fine. Find someone who will work with yours.
3. Your Event Decorator / vendor handles differences of opinions, questions, and requests poorly.
It will be inevitable that you will have questions about your day, what you’re getting, as well as suggestions of new things you’re considering that you may want to add or remove. The important thing about any of that is the open conversation and discussion you’re able to have with your expert vendors. It’s fun to discuss and brainstorm. What you want is someone who is open to those conversations, questions, or requests. It makes for a very frustrating and stressful time when the opposite happens – and frankly, the wedding stops being your wedding.
Our experience: The first sign that Event Decorator was closed to questions or inputs was in the discussion of our quotation, and was the first of many closed discussions. I had questions about some items that seemed unnecessary, duplicated, or not adding the right proportion of value to our day compared to the price tag. This conversation (and all others of a similar nature) quickly become difficult, defensive and even aggressive. My fiance and I were blamed. Our budget was “impossible to work with”. Oddly, when we decided that we would regrettably not engage Event Decorator for our planning services and decor under those circumstances, the story was completely different and all of a sudden, there was room to discuss… what we wanted to begin with.
4. Your Event Decorator / vendor ignores your requests and repeated requests for details
This one is a no brainer. As you plan your day, you will need to confirm details. Those details should be confirmed as an on-going conversation. The closer you get to your day, the more responsive and frequent the conversations will be.
Our experience: Conversations around questions and requests were not possible as we never got replies to our emails. After an aggravating number of follow-ups, I was told my emails hadn’t been received. All of them. Other conversations where we expressed preferences around items like types of chairs and linens went completely ignored. It appeared our vendor had a clear idea of what she wanted for our day – which is okay, except that it wasn’t what we wanted and we’d also have to pay a lot more for it. That was not okay.
5. Your Event Decorator / vendor doesn’t appear to listen or worse, records details incorrectly… then blames you.
Again, a no brainer. If you asked for something specific, and if it was confirmed as doable, there should be no surprises.
Our experience: We discussed florals and our colours as part of our consultation. Our Event Decorator suggested I have a different bouquet than the rest of the wedding florals as I was debating between our colours selected (purple and red) and the colours I naturally gravitate towards (bright hues of reds, oranges, and yellow). The result was a record that we wanted orange and pink for ALL our florals. My attempts to confirm colours in the months leading up to the wedding were either ignored, or when finally addressed, met with disbelief, defensiveness, and denial. The claim was that I remembered wrong.
6. Your Event Decorator / vendor provides you misinformation
It’s always good to get a second or third opinion on what you want. Interview a few vendors outlining your specifications to avoid getting fed misinformation or overcharged.
Our experience: We had interviewed a few wedding planners, but because we decided to go with Event Decorator, we hadn’t interviewed any other florists. Amongst other things, when discussing the colour conflict and the different bridal bouquet, I received strong words around the outrageousness of my question. Of course my bridal bouquet could not be different than the other florals. It’d be too expensive. At the time, that made sense. Once we’d cancelled our services; however, we found that the opposite was actually true. Our new florist confirmed that if we really wanted a bridal bouquet that was different from all other florals, it’d be no problem to do at no additional charge. In the end, I didn’t need to pursue that option as she was able to design a gorgeous set of arrangements that incorporated both the vitality and colours we wanted. She’s at Botany Floral Studio by the way, if you want an absolutely fabulous florist. I really can’t say enough wonderful things about the talented, sweet, and creative Rachelle.
7. Your Event Decorator / vendor does not work or collaborate with you.
Part of the fun of planning a wedding is working with a fantastic group of creative people who are amazing at what they do to help make your vision come to life. Those that won’t negotiate, discuss, or entertain ideas that are not their own aren’t fun to work with.
Our experience: Outside of our initial consultation, no additional discussion was welcome or entertained by Event Decorator. It was a big disappointment, particularly as so many of our ideas and what would be possible crystallized as we got closer to our date. Our experience with our new florist and event rentals, on the other hand, were quite the opposite. So it stands to show: fantastic people are out there to work with. You’re never stuck.
8. Your Event Decorator / vendor isn’t willing to work with other vendors or refers to them in a rude way.
A hallmark of a great professional is one that works well with others and talks about others with a high level of respect. The first sign that this isn’t the case is a sign that the vendor’s arrogance or other negative attitude may come back to you at some point.
Our experience: A suggestion by one of our other vendors who also had rentals for us to coordinate and combine with our Event Decorator to save us costs resulted in a difficult phone conversation that our Event Decorator came back to me with. She brought the request to my attention, referring to my other vendor in a demeaning way, strongly suggesting the request to coordinate was unwelcome and not appropriate. What was apparent was the focus was not on what was best for my husband and I as clients.
9. Your Event Decorator / vendor does a bait and switch.
What is agreed upon at the time of booking should be honoured to completion of the event, barring a major unexpected circumstance… and should that happen, you, as clients, should be informed immediately.
Our experience: The reason we signed with Event Decorator was for the day of coordination services. A major driver of why we liked them was because their lead planner had extensive experience and good reviews. With less than 4 months to our event, I found out by chance that she wouldn’t be our planner anymore. It wasn’t a planned communication, but a “oh yeah, I’m not sure if you know, but I’m not going to be your planner”. I quickly found that our new planner had been an intern with Event Decorator the year before and had recently started her own business and was now a contractor with our vendor. That said, I wanted to be fair and asked Event Decorator about the switch. Of course, they didn’t mention anything about the difference in experience between planners nor did they explain the oversight in communication. The new planner herself was quite nice and at the time, we decided to give her a chance.
10. Your Event Decorator / vendor cancels a booking and gets the time of meeting wrong.
Things will come up, and it’s understandable when bookings can’t be fulfilled, that said, you should get proper notice, and the reason should be sound.
Our experience: The final straw that broke the camel’s back: our site visit. Due to the travel out of town required, we took pains to coordinate with all of our vendors and book all necessary appointments on the same weekend to optimize our time there. We booked two months in advance to ensure we’d get everyone. Then, with a week to go before the site visit, our Event Decorator emailed to say they could not accommodate our site visit booked on that fine April day at 11AM any longer as they had decided to accept a very large wedding request that would be on that weekend. We needed to move our date. As luck would have it, it was also one of the busiest months of my work schedule, and I was already working 90 hour weeks. I wasn’t about to replan our entire site visit with over 6 different vendors. If we hadn’t felt ignored and completely undervalued as clients before then, we definitely did after that. And what was worse – I’d confirmed twice that the site visit would be at 2PM, as our morning would be booked with other appointments. In other words, even the time Event Decorator had booked us in for was wrong. Of course when we brought it up, I was told the site visit had been just a goodwill gesture anyway.
By this point, we had two months to the wedding. We wouldn’t have the florals we wanted, the rentals we wanted, or the day-of-coordination planner we had booked, and we’d be paying a lot more for all of it. The site visit we had talked about for fourteen months and booked for two months was cancelled. Ironically, our planner was now our only source of stress – and high stress at that. We quit. Cancelled the contract. Found other vendors… and actually saved money doing it, even with the thousands we lost on the original deposit.
Our advice… avoid what happened to us. Go with your original gut. If it doesn’t feel right, even if you feel pressured to book because it feels like there’s no one else, don’t. It’s not worth it, and there will be other vendors.
Here are some of the ones who we worked with… and who worked with us:
- Christine @ Christine Bib Catering, food
- Rachelle @ Botany Floral Studio, florals
- Selena @ Hazlitt Rentals, vintage rentals
- Olivia @ I Do Wedding Cakes, cake
- Amina @ Still Motion Photography, photography
Finally, good luck with your day, and CONGRATULATIONS!