What Planners Really Do Part One: Vendors
A wedding planner is a professional who helps design, organize and manage the event to make sure it meets the client’s expectations and runs as smooth as possible.
Yes, yes, you already know this, but HOW do they do it? Well, I am a wedding planner, and I can guarantee there is really no simple answer here.
One of the items we planners do behind the scenes is touching base with all the vendors. I do some recon work as well. I find out if the vendors are familiar with the ceremony or reception venue and if they’ve worked there previously. Some venues are easy to navigate, while others are massive properties with many event spaces, winding hallways and challenging loading docks. If a vendor is not familiar with the property and the planner knows the venue has a particularly complex loading process, we make the vendor aware, so we can schedule their arrival time accordingly.
Some venues don’t have the capacity to handle multiple vendor load-ins at one time. To prevent any type of conflicts, we must create a load-in/load-out schedule to send to the venue for review and then distribute to all the vendors. Scheduling can be especially difficult if the venue is having multiple events on the same day.
It’s also important to find out how big the vendor company is, and if it is local. I make sure every vendor has all the information necessary for a smooth setup, but I pay particularly close attention to those who are traveling from a distance. These vendors aren’t capable of quickly running back to their shop or warehouse to get any accidentally forgotten, unforeseen or last-minute items, so it’s important to make 100 percent sure they are aware of all our needs to prevent any unexpected issues.
Another task we handle is securing a certificate of insurance from each vendor, as well as any signed vendor agreements required by the venue. For liability purposes, most venues will not permit any uninsured vendors (including planners) onto their property. A venue wants to know that should a vendor accidentally damage a piece of their property, they can cover the cost of repair.
You may think acquiring a copy of insurance is easy, but it does come with its own set of challenges. First, planners must make sure they have the correct policy holder information and venue address to send to the vendor, who then pass it along to their insurance company. If the certificate returns with any errors (which, alas, does happen), it must be corrected, which can take an additional couple of days or even weeks.
Some venues require vendors to sign a “vendor agreement.” This is usually a very simple process, as the vendor only needs to sign and date the agreement. The challenge is receiving the agreement by the venue’s deadline. Planners know all too well that some vendors are much more responsive than others. Sometimes we have to nudge vendors to return this important piece of information, which takes us away from focusing on other important wedding-related tasks.
Lastly, planners have a running dialogue with the vendors (via Prepaired Message, phone calls and/or in-person meetings) and make sure the vendors have all the information they need to reach success. Such items include, but are not limited to: diagrams of each event space with detailed information about placement of rentals and guest seating counts, a load-in/load-out schedule, a map of the venue and loading dock, parking map and instructions, a detailed timeline, a portrait shot list for the photographers, pertinent vendor contact information, green room and bridal suite locations, hair/makeup schedule, the correct permits needed for décor (e.g. public assembly or fire permits), etc.
This is just a handful of things planners do behind the scenes that involve vendors. Hence why it’s so important for couples to have a planner! Handling vendor-related tasks is the “non-fun” part of the wedding-planning process, but one of the most important.
It’s the planner’s job to make sure everyone is on the same page and has all the information they need to be set up for success. And it’s the planner’s job to make sure the vendor understands what is expected of them before, during and after the wedding. Once everyone has a clear idea of the client’s vision, then and only then will the right team finally be in place.
For vendors to form the best team, though, they need to share the same work ethic and end game. If you happen to find vendors who share the same school of thought, you can rest assured your wedding is going to be a great success!
And since success takes time to achieve, the sooner we planners come on board, the better!
ENRICA NICOLI ALDINI
AMY AND STUART PHOTOGRAPHY