Bridal Affairs

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

WILL THE REAL VENDOR PLEASE STAND UP

In this ever growing industry known as “the wedding industry”, there are, among us, thieves, liars and “wannabes” It isn’t easy or obvious to know who they are- even to those of us who know what to look for. How then, I ask, is the bride supposed to discern what is truth and what is fiction, fairy tale or out and out wrong information? Perhaps, I can shed a little light on this subject, though I am by no means an expert.
Let’s start with the vendor web site. Building the site is easy. You get a domain name, you put photos, credentials, prices, packages, etc on the site for those who come to it for information. But, where does that information come from? You may be shocked to find that some of it is stolen- word for word or photo by photo from someone else’s experience, credentials or photos. Have you ever wondered why many reputable photographers use a watermark or other system on their site so that you can’t copy and paste it anywhere you want? Have you gone in search of a planner only to find strangely similar wording, packages, or even spelling errors on more than one site. Here are just a few “victims” of these impostors that permeate the industry. There are many, many more.
“this lady feels mine are so good..NOT only does she copy wording pretty much full circle, but she made the same mistakes I did. “ Samantha Goldberg- celebrity wedding planner
“I’ve had people steal text and source code from my site as well. They think somehow it will magically get them to the top of the Google search results.” Kenneth Stillman- videographer
“…and there have been a multitude of people, coordinators and companies we have seen recently and over the years who have mimicked & duplicated our designs, and called them their own. But don’t be fooled. If you market yourself as a company that creates custom items, it’s not really custom if you steal the creativity and look of another company’s work. It may look similar but the quality is far different. Shame on you for marketing under false pretenses.” Stella Campese- Campanelli- Owner, For The Modern Bride: invitations and accessories
Then there are the “thrill seekers”. Everyone gets caught up in the process when they are planning their own wedding. No doubt about it, planning a wedding is fun and exciting. But, for some, planning their own wedding or being in a friend’s wedding, somehow makes them feel they are now experts and should become “wedding planners”. THIS IS A DIRTY JOB! It requires years of experience, trial and error and know- how. You don’t just wake up one day and decide that you can plan weddings. And, taking an on line or community college course doesn’t make it magically happen either. 
If photography is your hobby, that is wonderful. Take candid photos for friends’ weddings. But, leave the taking of someone’s “once in a lifetime” to the professionals. Just because you can focus and click, doesn’t make you a photographer. I love to cook, but I would never dream of touting myself as a caterer. Neither, does a banquet manager have the right to tell you not to hire a planner because they have one “on site”. These people don’t care what happens before the wedding, at the hotel or after dinner is served. Another area that brides get taken is florists. Some claim to be designers. Some claim to be planners. Some buy from a local wholesaler or the grocery store and claim to be- FLORISTS. This is the kind of thinking that is hurting the industry as a whole. Qualified, experienced vendors are not hard to find, in any price range. The old adage “You get what you pay for” couldn’t ring more true than here. Will you shortchange yourself, put the most expensive and important day of your life at risk, by price shopping and inexperience? Brides- stay off the message boards for recommendations and cheap alternatives to the real thing. In the end, you may be sorry. There are reputable agencies and resources for you to find out whether a vendor is legit. And, use your own good judgment. Meet them, talk to them. Decide for yourself if they are a fit.
“Reality” TV is not reality. These are scripted shows using real people. And, for most of the “experts” on these shows, the thrill of their 15 minutes of fame and the almighty dollar is the catalyst for their appearance. Some even finance the production for personal gain. Have you ever seen how they behave to other vendors? Have you wondered at the end of a show “who did those flowers” or “where was that wedding”. It is easy to get caught up in the glamor and the celebrity of these weddings. But, it is not real life. It is TV. When you go in search of vendors for your wedding, ask the questions- “will you be there on my wedding day?”, ” how long do you stay at my wedding?”, “what can I expect from you after my wedding?”, “do you have a contract?”. Ask about what the venue provides. Ask the florist if they provide pick up of rented vases. Ask the photographer how many people will be shooting the wedding and when you can expect to see you photos after the wedding. Ask the planner if it is they that will be at your wedding or an assistant, how long they stay at the wedding and what is included in the “package”. Ask your vendors for references and research their experience with other vendors they say they have worked with.  Find out from other professionals, and not just other brides, what their opinion is of someone you are considering hiring.  And, don’t believe everything you see on TV.
Sadly, I could go on about this subject forever. Every day I see or hear something that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I cringe at some of the nonsense that goes on and how many people with no integrity are spoiling the industry- and particular, targeted vendors besides. Let’s face it, there is only so much business to go around. Leave it to those who really know what they are doing. Hire people that you can trust, that have been doing it fairly and above board. Your wedding is too important to waste time and money, or worse, have it ruined by an amateur. This is not to say that someone starting out is not qualified. Everyone has to start somewhere. But, be careful. Taste the food, talk to someone who has worked with that person. See the photographs they have taken and the finished product. Know who you are hiring. Remember, the internet is a good place to start. But, real communication with a real person is essential for the success of such an important day. And, if this is something you “like” to do or do as a hobby- don’t quit your day job.

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