Advice from our Lead Designer and Wedding Industry Veteran, Domonie:
Most of us in the wedding industry work to provide the best value and best quality for the bride. But there are some for whom priorities are a little different – a dirty little secret if you will.
This dirty little secret is kickbacks – and they come in several different forms. Regardless of the form, they are not in the best interest of the bride.
Here at Wild Rose Events & Floral Design (WRE), our 25+ years in the industry have provided us with experience in dealing with these ‘kickbacks’ and how to avoid them. We have compiled a list of what to look for and how to avoid being scammed into using lower quality vendors! We believe you deserve nothing less than the best and to be protected from the worst on your wedding day.
Form 1. Many venues and planners have a preferred vendor list – this is good, but some vendors may or may not be the best option for you. When venues or planners only recommend those who pay to be recommended that reduces the value of the endorsement by the venue. In these cases it is a flat rate to be on the list and this may seem to give the venue merit since they, in essence, advertise for the vendor. But often these vendors are just those willing to pay and not chosen on the quality of their work. Quality venues, planners and vendors all benefit from recommending the best service or product provider for their client in the end and don’t need a kickback. Take recommendations from wedding professionals, these are very helpful, but also do your own research to insure you get the best service and product for your dollar.
Form 2: In more insidious situations the venue or planner actually requires that a vendor pay a percentage of their sales to the venue or planner. In some cases this is as much as 30%! This expense must be covered somehow, either by passing along the expense through higher prices to the bride or by reducing expenses in other areas resulting in less quality service and/or product. Often, if the bride wishes to bring in her own vendors, she must pay a fee to the venue to do so, the venue wants to recoup that lost kickback revenue. (*Note: many venues charge a fee for bringing in your own caterer or bar service – this is a different issue I will address below.) Again, quality venues, planners and vendors not only offer a superior product and/or service, they are honest and allow their works to speak for themselves without having to take a cut from other vendors.
Form 3: Bride Gathers – There are several “businesses” trying to jump on what they consider to be the gravy train. But SURPRISE! They are not an actual wedding vendor! They are jumping in trying to get brides to join their website or come to their event where they can charge vendors to have access to the bride. They provide no real service to the bride as they only connect the brides to vendors willing to pay a fee or percentage; a so-called ‘middle man’. They are not a necessary element to the industry as they do not fill a real need. Word of mouth, professional recommendations and honest Google or Facebook reviews are a great way to find quality vendors!
How to protect yourself:
Ask vendors, venues, and friends – who they know and recommend. (Do your own research – every bride’s needs are different! i.e. Google and Facebook Reviews)
Ask your venue choices if they have a vendor list and if the vendors pay to be on it.
Ask your venues if they have an open vendor policy – meaning can you bring in your own vendors without paying a fee. (It is perfectly acceptable and actually important to restrict to vendors that provide proof of business liability insurance as it protects everyone)
In addition to the above, there are many great bridal shows and open houses that allow you to see the quality of work from many vendors all at one time. This also allows you to interact with the vendor to see if they are a good fit for you! BONUS: You can often times enter in to drawings to win great prizes and you may walk away with some great swag!
We are fortunate to work with quality vendors whose reputations speak for themselves. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for top-notch recommendations. No kickbacks, scouts honor!
Happy Planning 🙂
*Many venues restrict caterer and bartender choices, and/or charge a fee to bring in your own. This is often because of issues of liability and extra work – if a bartender over serves and the worst happens it can put the venue in a position of being in a lawsuit regarding whether they were liable or not. This is expensive – so it is in everyone’s best interest that the bar vendor be of sterling quality and have all the right licenses, certificates and insurance. With catering there is also liability risks with food service and issues when the caterer does not clean up and leaves a large mess for the venue to address. There are often kickbacks in these areas as well – but many venues, who do not do kickbacks, do restrict in these categories for the listed reasons.