Post # 1
My fiance and I have chosen a venue that we *love* and have put down a fairly large deposit, so changing the venue isn’t an option. And we’re quite happy with the venue – but NOT its exclusive vendors. We are required to use the venue’s caterer, florist, and linen rental company. And I just want to throttle these people!
With the caterer – I’ve talked to them multiple times. The way their menus are organized is really confusing. Rather than just paying $xx/person, they also include staffing charges. So, we have to pay $x/hr for each bartender, $y/hr for each chef, $z/hr for each server, etc. It makes the food charges lower, but it also makes the overall cost next to impossible to calculate. I’ve told them the issues I’m having, and after each discussion, they just email me the exact same (confusing) material again.
With the florist – After my initial contact, I waited about two weeks before I called and emailed them again, and finally heard back from them. I arranged a meeting with them last Monday and very explicitly spelled out that I needed to meet with them on Monday because my out-of-town Maid/Matron of Honor was going to be in town, and I wanted her involvement with the flowers. We got there, and they had no pictures, no estimate, no nothing. He just asked me a bunch of questions (that could have easily been answered over the phone) and said his assistant would get back to me within 2 days. That was 8 days ago. And the meeting was a complete waste of time for my Maid/Matron of Honor.
With the linen company – After I explained our preferences (our colors, round 10-person tables), they sent me a super-abbreviated price list that didn’t even include the appropriately-sized tables. Making the information on their (freakishly expensive) price list totally worthless to me.
My questions: How do I deal with these vendors when my business is already guaranteed? They obviously have no incentive to impress me and earn my business, since I’m required to either use them or DIY (and DIY isn’t even an option for the catering). Should I complain to the venue? Should I just get pushier about getting them to return emails and calls? Should I meet with them in-person? Should I just tell them “Look, I have $xxx to spend on [food/flowers/linens]. Figure out something that will work.” and then complain to the venue if they fall short? Help me, hive!
Post # 3
Hi, sorry to hear about your troubles! We’re in a similar situation with our caterer (except they are awesome), with having to pay “service charges” for servers/chef, etc.
Here’s what I did with the caterer:
I looked over the menu and picked up a mock menu (from apps to dessert), and told her our estimated guestlist. She was then able to send me a detailed estimate of the server charges based on the foods I picked (i.e., they will need more servers for a plated dinner, vs. a buffet, and more servers if you pick passed appetizers instead of stationary). Maybe if you were specific like that, they would be more specific in return.
Otherwise, I would complain to the venue. One hopes that they were the exclusive vendors because of their superior service – maybe the venue doesn’t know that their preferred vendors are slacking!
Hope this helps 🙂
Post # 4
Your situation isn’t that much different than others who book a vendor and place an unrefundable deposit. So in that sense, most people are just “stuck” with them once they sign with them (unless of course they are willing to lose a deposit). I think we all hope to be treated well by the vendor and be pleased with them during the whole process and not get the whole “don’t bother me” vibe once they have our money. I would definitely be pushier put polite with them and express to them your concerns and needs. Yes, your business is “guaranteed”, but if they care about their company, they will not want an unsatisfied customer to be spreading bad words about them. Make sure they understand that you want to be able to give them a good recommendation after all is said and done. If it doesn’t get better, I would complain to your venue, they should be able to help.
Post # 5
Your wedding 10 months away, but even though the vendors are guessing that they have lots of time, they should try to give a good impression and gain your confidence. Get your venue coordinator/manager involved and find out who the catering manager answers to. Someone at the venue cares about bringing in business and customer service, so get them involved. Whoever is the one who cares about signed contracts and making people happy, talk to them. Tell them about the nonresponsiveness and waste of time meeting incidents, and figure out who has a sympathetic ear to you. They need to be more hands on in getting their vendors in line. With so many wedding review sites, they know they will lose some business with even one bad review. Be organized and persistent. Do you have the type of venue that gets busy during the approaching holidays? If it doesn’t get better in a few months, you might consider hiring a planner to deal with the bs for you.
Post # 6
Keep in mind that if you say BEFORE booking ” I already have vendor x,y,and z chosen ” ( even if you don’t yet ) …… you’ll be amazed at how those rules can be bent. I am a photographer and have had a bride just say ” We already have a photographer and need to use her , can you make an exception for us ? ” . They did.
You can get around silly rules like this.
Post # 7
You know what ….. in your case …… you’ve tried to work with their vendors. I would go back to the wedding contact at your location and tell them about the difficulty you are having and ask if they might be able to make exceptions on the vendors.
Post # 8
If you weren’t told until after you put down a deposit that these vendors are required, then it’s the venue’s fault for not giving you the proper information. Out of curiosity, I would see what type of legal help you can get since they were not honest with you and it could be considered a breach of contract in that case. Most venues that have exclusive or preferred vendors will say up front that these are required. Even if they don’t, that is something you should ask before booking them.
Post # 9
If it gets bad, the venue doesn’t know that you’re unwilling to lose your deposit… If you tell your venue person that your experiences with their exclusive vendors has been so bad that you’re reconsidering your options, they might be able to either bend the rules, or get their exclusive vendors to shape up. If you give the venue and the vendors the impression that you’re locked in and not willing to walk away, they don’t have as much incentive to help you.
Post # 10
I echo worcesterbride.
But also keep in mind that you are 10 months out, the other vendors may be focusing on the “here and now”, unfortunately.
Post # 11
If I understand right ……. she DID know about the exclusive vendors up front. She would have been ok with the vendors IF she was getting a good response. She isn’t getting a good responsde and would not like to open things up to other vendors.
Post # 12
I hear ya! We put our deposit down so we can’t change either, and we have to use them for food, liquor, tables and chairs, and linens. I had to start getting pushy to get them to return calls and emails. Maybe a little bitchy?! Tell them what you want, and that you want a set price soon so that you can get the money.
Post # 13
@Rosie Girl – Yeah, I think I’m going to go with the “a bit more bitchy” approach. It’s just so ridiculous, though – when we were looking at venues, all of them were talking about how fantastic their exclusive vendors were, like they were doing us a favor by creating a monopoly. Having *preferred* vendors is one thing, because that’s giving a recommendation without issuing a requirement. But this whole *exclusive* vendor concept is crap!