Ch-ch-ch-changes!

If you’re in the middle of your wedding planning, you’ll certainly agree that things change.  From the moment you get engaged until the moment you walk away from your reception, the details of your wedding day are likely to change plenty.

Changing your mind is totally normal.  But what happens when you pull a switcheroo and don’t tell your wedding vendors?

Or when you ask them to do something way beyond their contracted duties?

In my last blog, I talked about tipping only vendors who go above and beyond your expectations.

But what happens when your expectations end up being above and beyond what you – and they – agreed to?

It’s hard to say for sure.  It does depend on the vendor’s resources and time.  But from the planner’s perspective, when a lot of changes are made, especially very close to a wedding date, it creates a good amount of background chaos.

When you hire a new vendor within a week or two before your wedding day, we need to add them to all correspondence, timelines, and diagrams.  And make sure that they know exactly what they need to do, which is actually more difficult in many ways than just getting them into our timelines.  Even the best vendor added at the last minute will have a lot of confusion about what they need to do, when, and where.

And when you add new duties for your existing vendors, especially right before the wedding itself, they may not actually be able to do a good job with the duties you’ve already asked them to perform.

For example, let’s say you plan to put together your own centerpieces but realize the day before the wedding that it won’t be possible.  You ask your coordinator to do them instead.  She might be able to.  But it might be at the expense of hanging lights, or placing favors, or helping your groomsmen put on their boutonnieres, or making sure that the caterers are setting up in the right place, or just plain managing other bits and pieces of your day.  She might not have enough staff to make that change so close to the wedding day, or she might need to start working even earlier on your wedding day than she’s expected to (and a good coordinator will already be working a 10-12 hour day at least, so please don’t ask her to get there earlier!).  Let’s say that you have very basic centerpieces, and every one takes an average of 10 minutes to put together (the amount of time goes up as the complexity goes up, and a coordinator might not actually have the ability to execute something very complicated!).  If you have 10 tables, that’s 100 minutes – almost two hours – that your coordinator wasn’t expecting to need to spend on your centerpieces.  At minimum.

The same thing happens when you ask your florist to “just put together the flowers we bought” in addition to the ones she’s already bringing, your DJ to set up the dance floor lights you rented, or your caterers to set up place settings that you weren’t able to get your volunteers to do.  Or you add extra pieces to your tables, or extra decor to your ceremony.  Trust me, a good vendor team will do everything they can to make your wedding day amazing.  But if you’ve made a change or addition, they might not always be able to find enough hands, or enough time.

So this is my very special request: When changes to your wedding day vision happen (they will), please keep your affected vendors informed, as soon as they happen.  No matter how small and insignificant they seem.  Please don’t wait until the last minute to spring a change on your vendors, and expect that they can make it happen.  Please don’t balk if your vendors tell you that, because of the additional work you’ve added, they will need to hire more helpers at a higher cost.  And please don’t hold it against your vendors if they’re unable to make a last-second change happen the way you’d like.

I’ve been incredibly lucky that my brides have truly been amazingly communicative and reasonable, and my vendor teams have truly been amazingly talented and flexible.  But if you’re a bride who’s thinking of springing a last-second change on your vendors so that you don’t have to pay them extra (it happens), please reconsider.  And if you’re a bride who’s made a last-second change with her wedding and is wondering how to proceed, please contact your coordinator and all affected vendors to explain the situation as soon as possible, and be understanding and flexible of their reactions!

Oh yes, and if you do spring a last-second change on your vendors, please consider this a situation in which they’ve gone above and beyond, and tip them!

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