Wedvice: Taking Care of Business [Literally]!!

Modern-inspired Tabletop setting, scroll to the bottom for oodles and poodles more of fun. Okay, not poodles… but serious oodles! :)

Prompted by Abbie’s comment to my welcome post, I want to give you a little bit of advice on your vendors. Now, I already went through how to pick ‘em, but this is more about how to treat them and take care of them on your wedding day.

Assuming you followed the guidelines and that you are absolutely head-over-heels for each person you’ve hired to be a part of your wedding day dream team, the questions arise of how to treat them once you’ve got them there! Here’s a few quick tips on the main topics.

1. Food! Yes, feed your vendors. Any vendor that is working with you for the duration of the day should be fed. Your venue or caterer should offer you a discount for vendor meals. If they do so, ensure that what the vendors will be eating is a HOT meal, served fresh. You would be shocked at how many of the upscale hotels feel cold sandwiches to vendors at a price tag that is astronomical for the plate. After a long day’s work [with still more ahead], vendors deserve to be fed something delicious. Just like your guests!

Who to feed: Coordinator [of course!], Photographer, Videographer, DJ, to name a few. As I mentioned, anyone working 5+ consecutive hours for you.

What to feed: Please, please don’t skimp on this! The difference between a hot meal and a cold one- to you, the one footing the bill, is about $10 per vendor. The difference between a hot meal and a cold one to your vendors… literally priceless. Don’t let the hotel sell you on their cold sandwiches and [day-old] pasta sides. We don’t love that, and it’s enough of a bummer that I’ve been at weddings where vendors [including myself] will go and buy themselves dinner because the “sandwich box” just ain’t workin.

Where to feed: Please, don’t set up a table for us inside the reception room. It makes us feel unprofessional. I know personally that I am NOT a fan of eating in front of the guests while I work. Typically we eat in the cocktail area, or the patio, or any area that will keep us secluded enough to chat about our jobs, get to know one another, but still keep an eye or ear on the party. Don’t worry- we’re gone for about 20 minutes, tops!

2. Tips. There are many traditions and assumptions and questions about the world of tipping your vendors. Do you tip everyone? What if you DON’T tip them? Will they hate you? Do they expect a tip and why? Honestly, just remember one key thing: tips are to be rewarded based on merit. If you’re out at a restaurant and your server is a hard worker, you tip them generously. If he’s not so great, you skimp a bit more. It’s human nature. And we all know that there are “okay” vendors and “GREAT” vendors. You may not know what you’ve got booked until you’re in it with them, on the big day.

Who to tip: The old rule states that you tip employees and NOT business owners. Since, in this day and age, 90% of the industry is self-employed, I believe this is where the confusion comes from. Tip who worked hard. Tip who you’d like to give generously to. If it was the photographer and you know you got a great deal on them, go ahead. If the catering staff kept the water glasses filled and the chocolate covered strawberries flowing, give them a group tip. If your coordinator- or their assistant- was down on the floor under tables organizing your items and packing, unpacking, always being a step ahead, reward them for it. You may or may not notice this on the big day. A good idea may be to ask one member of your wedding party to keep notice. If they’re aware, they’ll tell you the truth.

What to tip: When you’re dining, anywhere from 15% to 20% is tip-ical [couldn’t resist]. In the wedding world, it seems that tips- based on merit- go in scales of appreciation. $50, $100, $200. Truly, it’s up to you and your wallets. Yes, it’s based on the amount you paid for their services but even if you paid $6,000 for your photographer you’re not going to give them $1000 in tip. At least, I don’t think you will. Do what feels right in your heart and wallet. My advice would be to set aside a chunk of money, $1000 to $1500, for tipping your vendors and then take a moment near the end of the night to talk and distribute the tips personally.

When to tip: At the night’s end! As they say, it’s not over ‘til it’s over! You want to ensure that you are in fact tipping based on the service you got. A vendor that doesn’t “check out” with you at the end of their night shouldn’t get a tip anyway [leaving without telling you is a HUGE no no]. So, likely they’ll let you know when their contract is up. If that’s so, it buys you a minute to talk with your spouse and stuff into a small envelope a tip for that vendor. That way you know if you’re pleased completely or not, and you can accompany a heart-felt tip with a hug, and send them on their way.

3. Reviews. Ladies and gentleman- review your vendors. I can’t say it enough. This industry [and my personal business] is based off of word of mouth. What you say matters. I realize that it’s easy to get swept up in the post-wedding madness. Allow yourself to. That’s just fine! It’s expected and we want that for you. Take your honeymoon. Open your gifts. Take a month! But, before you forget, review your vendors. Be honest and candid, and post them everywhere.

Who to review: Your coordinator. Your catering staff. Your venue. Your officiant. Your musicians. Your photographer [behavior, and update the review once they’ve blogged some teasers, and then again once you’ve seen their work in it’s entirety]. Your videographer [behavrios, and update the review once you’ve seen their work in it’s entirety.]. Everyone. Everyone. Everyone can get reviewed.

What to review: If you’ve done as I suggested above- had a friend or family member watching your vendors throughout the day, this may prove easier. But, review your interactions with them. Were they warm? Were they prepared? Were they “there for you” on the day-of? A stress adder or reducer? Did they listen to your direction? Were you ultimately pleased with their services? A rule of thumb is to state the rejoice or complaint and then back it up with a why [5-paragraph essay style… fact, support, support support. Repeat.].

When to review: Any time after the wedding up until 6 months afterwards. Sure, you can review later than six months, but you may loose some of your fresh feelings about the vendors you ultimately would love to glowingly review. Try to sit down and take the time to do this in chunks- it’ll feel a bit like thank you cards [but will honestly mean more to your vendor than any thank you card to your guests] but if you can get through it, they will not only be vitally helpful to your vendors’ businesses, but are becoming increasingly popular for up-and-coming brides to depend on for their own special day.

How to review: Whatever is easiest for you is perfectly fine. Does the grading system make you the most comfortable? Give your photographer an A and your venue a B. Be HONEST, above all else. Candor in this world is worth it’s weight in gold. Again, ensure that you’re giving YOUR opinion and reason for your specific review [especially if it’s extremely bad or extremely good]. You can grade on a scale from 1 to 10. You can come up with whatever system you’re comfortable with, as long as you make it known prior to your reviews.

Where to review: there are tons and tons of places these days online to review. A couple biggies, I know for me, include HERE- at Elizabeth Anne Designs, ProjectWedding.com and WeddingWire.com. Also, a lot of people turn to theknot.com forum area [for local wedding boards] to post their reviews of local vendors. If you’re planning a wedding, I’ll bet you’ve gleaned advice or wisdom from someone on the internet somewhere. Post ‘em there! You never know who it will help.

Now, as I said, these are just a FEW quick tips from the trade. If these prompt more questions- please send them my way! I’ll be here every week. Seriously! I’d love to know how I can continue to help all of you readers! Please enjoy the pictures below as a personal treat- from me to you- for reading the entirety of this post!!

What started my mind swirling for this FAB table [ultra fab, if I do say so myself] was really a trip to downtown Los Angeles. I immediately fell in love with this hip, modern damask cocoa brown fabric. The pattern feels so young and fun. I had to make a second trip to downtown when I realized that my obsession with the thick, bold black-and-white striped satin would not die. The two were meant to be! Besides, who doesn’t L.O.V.E. a fun color paired with black and white? I know I do!

I picked a few fun black and white ribbons and utilized them all over- but my favorite was this diagonal stripe. These favors were modern “chinese to go” boxes of mini wafer cookies and chocolate spread [yum], packaged conveniently with a plastic knife for instant enjoyment. The monogram, which I whipped up very quickly, was inspired by the vintage-feel typeface, and incorporated all of our colors together in such a lovely manner!

The second favor- on the plate- was a skewer of traditional black licorice bits. I adore this idea and cannot get over it! Utilizing the brown, black and white pieces, we skewered them, wrapped ’em in plastic and tied both ends with a oh-so-cute black and white ribbon. As they rest atop the brown napkin and white square plate, they are the perfect welcome present to any guest!

The actual floor-length linen was a black matte satin. The striped fabric was used as a table topper, and the runner was placed in the middle. The idea behind the florals was an organic collection of modern white-glass vases in funky shapes. Thanks, Ikea! I still love these! We added in funky brown wooden pods to give the arrangements texture and interest- and of course that lovely pop of brown that I knew we needed! BIG thanks to The Treasured Petal for consistency in “Fabulous 101”. She deserves a degree!!

I’m sure you were all DYING to see the inside of that first favor box. Shebang! Here it is. :) You know I just about died when I found this classy toile tissue paper complete with scalloped edging. It was thee perfect compliment to my already amazing favors. I love how the brown was brought in with the chocolate dip!

Another close-up for you. The skewers were probably my favorite detail of the day. And make no mistake- I absolutely FREAKED OUT when I saw that Martha had put something similar in a recent mag. See here for excitement.

All in all- this table setting was one of my most favorite, colors wise. I adore the hip pairing of black and brown, and adding the contrast of white is always a must. It’s simple, modern, elegant, unique, unforgettable… everything a wedding should be!

You know the people who I couldn’t have done it without:

Kristin Brancaleone and The Treasured Petal

Jonilyn at Jonilyn Photography

The entire cast and crew over at Elegant Design Specialty Linens

And my fave contact of all, my boy Lidan at Signature Party Rentals!!

Hope you enjoyed the view from your side!