Post # 1
Does anyone know of a tactful way to ask my planner if she has a commission structure with her recommended vendors? Honestly, she’s a great planner and I really like her, but we’re already paying her a lot as is. I’m starting to suspect that the vendors I’m getting through her are marking things up on my bill to pay her referral commissions, which I’d really not be okay with — especially if it’s undisclosed to me.
If they want to pay her commissions, I’m fine with that – but if that’s the case, they need to pay it; I’m not willing to have those fees passed along to me behind my back when I’m already paying her thousands of dollars.
Maybe I’m being paranoid, but small things are adding up to point that way. Rather than saving me money with discounts with her vendor relationships, quotes I’ve gotten from her vendors are higher than the ones advertised on their websites, and she really pushes for me to go with them. It could just be that she’s suggesting them because she’s worked with them and knows that they are great, but my gut feeling is that she may have some financial stake in my choosing them.
Considering that we hired her hoping that she’d save us money by knowing the ins and outs of the industry (and told her so at the interview), markups really weren’t in our plan when we hired her. We didn’t think that we needed to ask at the interview because she’s ABC certified, but upon checking the website it simply says that their planners are ‘strongly discouraged’ from participating in kickbacks, not that it is forbidden.
Is there a way for me to ask her if she’s doing this, or is this something I should have specified up front and now the moment has passed? Is there anything I can do? Is there a way for me to set that expectation gracefully while keeping my working relationship with her?
This topic was modified 5 years, 8 months ago by .
This topic was modified 5 years, 8 months ago by .
Post # 2
If you really suspect this, I’d probably call the vendor and ask for a quote – make up a name and wedding date. If it’s surprisingly lower, I would ask her. Say a friend of yours is using them too and got a way lower quote.
Post # 3
Try asking her why she’s recommending these people, and privately ask the vendors why the price you’re being quoted is higher than the price on their websites. That might get you the answer. If not, ask your coordinator straight up if she gets a commission off of certain people– you have the right to know!
Post # 4
In my planner’s contract, it specifically calls out that she doesn’t receive kickbacks. Does your contract say anything? Also, do you pay the vendors through her or directly to them? I’m paying my vendors directly so there’s no way for her to receive a kickback unless the vendors were to pay her directly.
When she pushes a vendor, I’d ask for specifics on why she likes them.
Post # 5
Thanks, topeonyornottopeony. I checked my contract and it doesn’t say anything about referral fees in either direction. I was considering doing it in a more roundabout way by just asking for transparency with all referral fees when interviewing vendors. Since I found out that my venue quietly charges a fee to some of the vendors, it wouldn’t look like I was directly asking if my planner is charging a fee, but it would (hopefully) come out when I asked if my planner is too.
Post # 6
Oh no… what a bad feeling to have about your planner. I feel like if you just come out and ask either the vendor or her, they have every reason not to tell you the truth because they are doing such a bad and duplicitous thing. The “made up quote” idea does not sit quite right with me either, though. This might be more trouble than you’re willing to go to, but you could try calling vendors in the same price bracket and seeing what they charge. This probably isn’t going to help much if it’s a referral charge of a couple hundred bucks, because I imagine prices will fluctuate by that much even among vendors in the same bracket, but if every other vendor in your range is charging say in the range of $5k and the ones your planner is recommending are charging $7-8k, it will be easy to pin down what’s going on.
Post # 7
one of the things that convinced me to hire my planner was because she could help me stay within my budget. she could negotiate with vendors better than me, and pass the savings on to me. I was under the impression that that’s one of the main reasons why people hire them.
Post # 8
- Wedding: November 2014 - Nazareth Hall
I work as an event designer and planner and we do receive “kickbacks” so to speak from certain vendors. Some like to pay in cash, others like to exchange services. My videographer at my wedding was free from referrals my Mother-In-Law gave to them. She wanted no cash, just for her kids to have nice wedding videos. That being said, I have never, nor do I know of anyone who will raise their prices to cover a kickback. We do them because we are grateful for the business being brought to us that we may not have had otherwise.
Post # 9
I’m pretty sure I cracked the case here without needing to directly ask. Instead, I called the caterer that we’ve been consulting with and made it about the venue, since I knew that my venue charged the caterer a fee that got passed onto me without the caterer mentioning it. I explained that I need 100% transparency about any and all vendor fees that they are paying that impact my fees, and I need them in writing. The caterer was great about it and explained that the only vendor fees that would weigh into my bill would be the venue, guaranteed, and that was only because they had no room for negotiation on it with the venue. Five minutes later, I got an email with my ‘updated’ catering quote – with the food cost lowered by 20% with no explanation as to why.
My guess is that rather than throwing my planner who they have a relationship with directly under the bus or lying in ink, they figured their best bet would be to quietly un-pad her fee from the quote.
Again, circumstancial evidence – but I’m watching her now. Fellow brides, I would recommend that you add this transparency clause to your dealings with your vendors to make sure nothing shady happens! 😉
Post # 10
omg thats so sketchy!! Good for you for following your gut, you just saved yourself 20% 🙂
Post # 13
Just talk to her honestly :). The house I chose, starlight tent beach style night wedding only had one venue in the city I am having mine. It just happend that my wedding planner has comission from them. I knew this before signing the contract because it was listed on their offical page and like other bees suggested, ask for a quota from the venue. Mine costed 1200 to hire orginally because she is the company founder, but she only charged me 8500 if I chose to have it there. She offered automatically but I would have asked if she didn’t. Don’t be scared ! in my case we saved almost 4 grand.