LESSONS LEARNED: HOW TO PREVENT VENDOR MISHAPS FOR YOUR EVENT
It’s your worst nightmare: At the 11th hour of your event planning, something goes awry with your vendors. Someone cancels, gets lost, or no shows. Here’s my guide to working with the unplanned, unexpected, and downright wrong—AKA staying in the loop so your plan goes according to, well, plan!
Ok, so I’m not affiliated with @agwright1231 from the video above and was not involved in their planning… Not sure what the full story is but I truly hope the couple was able to get their money back and get a backup option for their wedding! It’s always so stressful when something big like this happens on your special day… Seriously, as someone who’s been part of tons of events, I can attest to how often these kinds of things can happen. Hopefully for them this was the only crazy thing from that day!
I’ve definitely seen my fair share of these vendor and event mishaps over the years, from tradeshow miscommunication and wedding problems to office-party stress and scheduling mistakes. It’s been an ongoing learning experience with the multivendor landscape, and as such one of the best reasons to seek out and invest in the pros for your event. These are my top takeaways for communication, logistics, and managing expectations!
Tip #1: Do Your Research, AKA Online Dating with Vendors
My top piece of advice when hiring event vendors whom you’ve never worked with: Do your research first! Don't just pick someone random because their price is in your budget. First, check their Google and Yelp reviews. Look critically at the feedback: Do you notice a pattern of vendor misbehavior? A repeated issue with timeliness or quality? What about positive patterns with great service, flexibility, and personalized touches? These can help you find a vendor style that works with your event plan.
I also love to take vendor recommendations from existing vendors. If you trust someone already, they’re a great reference for their network.
Next, check out their Instagram page. Scroll deep and see how their work has progressed, better or worse. Make sure you mesh with them in communication, á la the “online dating” approach. If you have a weird relationship from the get-go, it's likely to be a tough time during your months’ worth of planning together. As with a situation like the video above, the communication doesn't end: You may have to deal with trying to get a refund (not fun!).
Tip #2: Consider a Range of New and Seasoned Vendors
Something I love about the ever-shifting event world: There are so many specialists to fit your personality and vision… If you’ve got something unique, glam, ambitious, or creative on the brain, it’s become so much easier to source vendors to bring it to life. (Seriously, just say no to cookie-cutter parties.)
First up on that list of options is budget-ability. When it comes to pricing out experience, here’s my advice: You can always pay big bucks for top vendors, but there’s also a ton of affordable “little guys” that can make an equally stunning impact on a budget. You might be nervous to bring on a newbie for your event, but I promise these vendors can be totally worth your time and money… They’re eager to make a name for themselves and create something stunning!
Tip #3: Consider Day-Of Event Planning Support
One of the best ways to avoid any weird issues for your big party, start to finish: Hire an event planner. This person helps to manage your timeline and adds that extra level of professionalism and oversight. It’s easy to assume big parties just happen on their own, but trust me, they take a ton of prep and coordination!
That being said, I also totally understand that a full-service event planner isn’t in everyone’s budget. If this is you, you still have options! For example, getting married and need a little backup? Hire a day-of wedding coordinator to manage your vendor list, communications, and wedding-party responsibilities.
Tip #4: Over-Communicate with Your Pros
One of the most common mishaps for planning an event is to not have someone designated to track and communicate with vendors. Whether it’s you, a trusted friend, or an event planning professional, someone needs to make sure the companies you hire are all on the same page.
Once you’ve booked a caterer, photographer, bartender, or DJ, set up your communication timeline. This means setting the date, knowing your deposit policy, and determining when you’ll be checking in and providing information. Every vendor is different. Some have a souped-up reservation software with all the input fields you could imagine. Others are very manual, pen-and-paper types. Wherever their philosophy, it’s never a bad idea to call them up, talk to a real person, and confirm all your details—even up to the day they’re meant to show up.
I’ll say it again; This is another top reason to hire an event planner! It’s a huge relief to know someone holds all the responsibility for tracking, coordinating, and communicating with your vendors. If you’re ready to chat about options and visions, get in touch with Social Hall Productions this week ;)