There was a collective hope that COVID would be over by this point in 2020 and the stress of postponements would be long gone. Even though we have more of a realistic look at what the next year may have in store for us, you’re not alone in feeling stressed or disheartened about the future.
Wedding vendors continue to bear the brunt of event restrictions, cancellations, and waning business, with some even forced to shut their doors permanently. If you’re planning a wedding in the midst of a pandemic (or have rescheduled), you know how tirelessly they’ve been working to ensure that your dream day goes off without a hitch.
So, what can you do to show your vendors some much-needed support as they continue to navigate the storm?
Don’t feel as if you have to make a grand gesture in order to wow your wedding team. Even the smallest details go a long way.
Kylie Carlson of The Wedding Academy notes that promotion is a wonderful tool, especially during these times. “Sharing your florist’s beautiful florals or showcasing your lovely wedding planner is truly invaluable. Tagging them in an Instagram story or reposting their work is essentially equivalent to a public referral, and you may secure them some future business.”
Jenny DeMarco of Jenny DeMarco Photography says, “If you had [a] pre-COVID wedding and haven't ordered your wedding album yet, now is a great time to do that with your wedding photographer. Purchasing prints and working with them to create your album is a great way to support their business during COVID and check that off your to-do list. You will have gorgeous prints and your book to share with your family and friends. If your wedding hasn't happened yet, you can add that album into your package now and also purchase prints from your engagement session for your home and as gifts for the holidays.”
According to Jamie O’Neill of The Bridal Finery: “One way our clients have been supportive throughout COVID-19 is by purchasing gift cards and ordering items through text and emails. During the stay at home, we have [had] many brides and family members of brides ordering gift cards and ordering items. Text messages of ‘What veil would you recommend for my dress?’ or ‘What earrings would you suggest for my dress?’ came pouring in. The brides trusted us and let us select what accessories we’d choose for their gown.”
Shannon Tarrant of WeddingVenueMap.com adds, “It's really been the tiny touches that mean the most. While we are really careful to not share too much about business challenges or the emotional roller coaster we are all on, some clients can just imagine how hard it has been for everyone. The text message with an uplifting quote or the card in the mail has always seemed to come on a day that I really needed it.”
“Client support is critical to saving local businesses and the industry as a whole. Being supportive may seem like a lot to ask when you are dealing with the disappointment, frustration, and discouragement that comes from having to postpone your wedding. However, working out payment terms, being flexible with your date, and cooperating to get through these unprecedented times could mean the difference between your vendors staying open or having to turn their back on their life’s work. If you can help your vendors weather the storm, they will be able to be there to support you at your event,” shares Aleya Harris of Flourish Marketing.
As Tarrant mentioned, your wedding vendors may be exceptionally transparent right now with updated policies and procedures, but many have continued to keep their personal lives and business struggles under wraps to keep a happy face for their clients.
As for Renée Sabo of Urban Soiree ®, her biggest wish is for consistent communication. “We are lucky that our clients have been working so seamlessly with us on the postponements and cancellations. I think I would just want them to continue to keep in mind that they need to include us and their entire vendor teams in their decision-making process and understand that vendors are juggling several different clients, so dates cannot be held for too long, and decisions still need to be made even though we are still unsure [of the] future. I would also want them to know that if this is still an issue next year, their teams are going to support them similarly to this year and not to be afraid of that.”
JoAnn Gregoli of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli says, “The best way that a client can support their suppliers is to reach out and ask if they need anything. Also, if anyone gets engaged, consider passing along your vendors to your friends and family. Keep in mind that all vendors can support micro weddings and parties.”
Additionally, Kristin Wilson of Our DJ Rocks advises, “With so many couples having postponed in the last 7-8 months, the best support we could ask for is reaching out to us before finalizing a new date with your venue and other vendors. It’s much easier for us to give a list of available dates and work with you than to have to give the unfortunate news that we’re unavailable for the only date you picked. Every vendor would rather keep the work on the books and the work for their team versus telling you they aren’t available, and now you’re looking at lost deposits, and sometimes even full payments.”
“We’ve been so thankful for the clients that have been flexible with rescheduling dates and especially those that have given us the creative freedom to rework some elements of their big day,” adds Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Event Services.
Nora Sheils of Bridal Bliss notes that it’s an added stressor with everyone being at-home, so giving your vendors a bit of grace can help more than you realize. “Knowing that your vendors aren’t just working to help you to replan but likely all of their summer clients [as well]. They’re doing all this while at home juggling schooling kids, dealing with a spouse working from home, and maintaining a household. Giving them a little leeway to take longer than normal to respond, and knowing that wedding pros want your wedding to happen as much as you do is the right attitude [to have].”
If you’ve already had a successful wedding with your hired vendors, don’t assume that it’s too late to support them. Reviews are oftentimes the lifeline for wedding pros, and it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
In order to really make the most of your review, Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group suggests: “We suggest couples really think about the service that was provided and how it helped them. We really work with our clients from start to finish, so we encourage couples to think back on the first conversation and initial planning phase all the way through to the travel arrangements and time spent in their destination, too. All of these factors play a part in our services, so it’s helpful for prospective clients to see the whole picture of what we provide.”
However, Juls Sharpley of Bubbles & Bowties warns against noting any financial details in your review. “Be careful of talking about the finances or a ‘deal’ that you may have gotten. As a planner, my business is service-based, and while I do have my gross revenue targets to hit, we're constantly changing pricing or doing things for different people at different price points for a multitude of reasons. Basically, the deal you got may not be the deal the next person gets, and it doesn't set that vendor up for success if you give a nod to the financial negotiations between you and the vendor. Also, reviews are there forever, and as a business grows and changes, so do pricing and negotiations!”
Your review should also be different across multiple platforms. Janice Carnevale of Bellwether Events adds, “You definitely want to make sure you are not copying and pasting the same review across different websites (WeddingWire, Google, Yelp) as Google will ding the value of the review if it is identical to others. Ask the vendor which platform would be most helpful to them. Right now, I have 78 WeddingWire reviews, but only one on Google, so that’s the platform I am looking to build up.”
Whichever route you choose, just know that offering your vendors any ounce of support right now is greatly appreciated. Uncertainty of the coming year is perhaps the biggest adversary to the wedding industry, so extending some positivity can brighten their spirits and even put them one step closer to staying afloat in the long run.
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.