What are the qualities you look for in a vendor in order to consider them 'preferred'?
A team of preferred vendors that work well together is critical to the success of an event. Event Pros talked to us about their process for vetting vendors and the importance of building relationships with them.
When looking for vendors to collaborate with on our weddings and events we look for many things, but our first step is someone who supports love above hate.
At Jove Meyer Events we prioritize working with the best in the business, and we focus on collaborating with fellow small businesses, primarily owned and operated by women, people of color and queer people. When looking for vendors to collaborate with on our weddings and events we look for many things, but our first step is someone who supports love above hate, which is why all of our vendors must read, sign and promise to uphold our Ally Pledge. We believe hate has no place in the business of love.
Above human rights and equality we are looking for vendors who are talented, hard working, creative, passionate and committed to their craft. We want to work with fellow creatives who take their job seriously, who are fully involved in the process and who show up to every meeting and the event excited to collaborate. Working with vendors is a two way road, it is a relationship we are building and I want to be sure my collaborators are as invested and excited about the event as I am, so we can create magic together.
Responsiveness is key in building and maintaining relationships, a preferred vendor responds quickly and clearly. A preferred vendor is one I trust, and trust is earned over time and through experiences. A preferred vendor is one who says and shows they want to collaborate, and they follow through. A preferred vendor is organized, honest and is ready to dive in and help make the event a success, as a team.
Creativity is also a key factor for me, I seek out vendors who push the boundaries and work outside of the traditional mold of weddings and events. Passion is also key, working with someone who loves what they do shows, and it makes all of the difference!
Owner | Creative Director
Jove Meyer Events, Brooklyn, NY
The power of networking is how I built my business and I will sing it till the day I retire.
I am constantly getting emails from vendors new to the area (or ones just trying to bulk up their wedding business) introducing themselves and asking me to add them to my preferred vendor list. This almost never works because 1. I have benches full of other vendors in their same category who I know and trust and would recommend over this generic email, and 2. I have never met them!
Meeting fellow vendors in-person is a HUGE advantage! That way you’re not just showing up on wedding day meeting them for the first time (which yes, this does happen and we make it work), but when you already have a rapport with that person. The day is so much more fun with fellow vendors you know and trust, the couple can see that you’re having fun as a vendor team, and I feel like they can relax more because of it.
Every time I get a generic, “Hi, I’m so-and-so and want to be put on your preferred vendor list” my reply is always the same. “Hi so-and-so! Thank you for reaching out and introducing yourself. I would love the opportunity to actually meet you so I can put a face with a name. I regularly attend our local networking groups such as WIPA, NACE and ILEA. Are you planning on attending one of those upcoming meetings? If so, I would love to meet you there and it would give you the opportunity to meet not just me, but lots of other amazing wedding professionals as well! Hope to see you there!”
Network, network, network. I need to see you. I need to know you’re involved in our wedding community and want to contribute. I need to know you are hungry. Sending me an email tells me nothing about who you are, what you’re passionate about, or how you interact with people.
The power of networking is how I built my business and I will sing it till the day I retire. There are SO many ways to get involved in your local wedding community. Get out there and be known.
New Creations Weddings, Kirkland, WA
I like to try to work with new vendors on networking events or styleshoots first to see how we work together.
“We’d like to be on your preferred vendor list” is often an email or call we receive. I’m sure it’s hard on both sides. It’s hard being a new vendor figuring out how to get “in” with certain vendors, as well as vendors have their established “teams” of vendors they work with often and trust.
When I was starting off I’d send loads of treats out to vendors I wanted to work with. I had it in my marketing budget to send 6 boxes of cookies to 6 different vendors each month. If you send a treat, they HAVE to reply… that’s just southern etiquette. Shockingly, it worked a good amount of the time. I built lots of my relationships over sending a $50 box of cookies.
As a vendor on the other side. I do think a sussie (a small gift, given for no particular occasion other than love and friendship, usually not wrapped) sent to the office does catch our attention! I like to try to work with new vendors on networking events or styleshoots first to see how we work together and then hopefully, we can start a relationship!
Pearl Events Austin, Austin, TX
I like to team up with people who have the same work ethics as I do.
When searching for a vendor, I make sure we are like-minded, ethical and talented of course. They need to be flexible and accommodating and just 100 percent. I like to team up with people who have the same work ethics as I do – that’s very important to me.
I avoid vendors who are high maintenance and cause problems for the team. Every vendor is an extension of my team and we must work as a collaborative collective to get the job done.
Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli, New York City, NY
In order to be a preferred vendor, it’s all about building the relationship and how you work together.
I always try them out on myself first. If I come across a new cookie vendor I buy them for my family and friends and ask for honest feedback. I like to see how the process goes from ordering, to delivery/pick up, communication and the quality of the service or product.
In order to be a preferred vendor, it’s all about building the relationship and how you work together. It takes time to find your people but when you do it’s amazing. I can rely on my preferred vendors to deliver an exceptional product or service every time.
They also have to respond in a timely manner. Communication is key. I come up with some crazy event ideas and I need my vendors to tell me realistically what they can do. It’s all about team work and trust. Having vendors I can trust and not hand hold makes my work easier and in turn they know I have their backs!
Founder and Lead Planner
WE Events, Chicago, IL
We look for our vendor relationships to be built on mutual trust, respect and honesty, integrity, along with overall quality of product...
We look for our vendor relationships to be built on mutual trust, respect and honesty, integrity, along with overall quality of product, rate of response time, and dependability. A preferred vendor is someone who has met all of these requirements and we have worked with on several projects over the years.
A ‘friendor’ is a vendor we want to hang with in our down time. We can call them when we are in a tight bind and they would do the same should they find themselves in the same situation.
Owner | Creative Director
Innovative Party Planners, Baltimore, Maryland
My vendor choices reflect on me and frequently I have to choose the best person for the job, not necessarily the person who I like the most.
This is an incredible question and a subject I spend a great deal of energy discussing with prospective clients. You’re right to touch on the tricky balance between vendors who are excellent at their jobs and people who are genuine friends. So much experience and consideration goes into choosing a vendor for a client from the clients needs to my high expectations. It’s a struggle and unfortunately, sometimes people’s feeling and egos gets bruised.
This is a current topic as my company has scaled up dramatically in the last several years and my needs, standards and expectations have changed. I expect a tremendous amount from my strategic partnerships, if I am going to trust my clients to their care and services, they need to show up with their very best – every day. My expectations extend far beyond the event day. It encompasses planning, excellence in craft, creativity, organization, pricing, communication, fairness and respect. My vendor choices reflect on me and frequently I have to choose the best person for the job, not necessarily the person who I like the most or with whom I have the longest relationship.
I wish clients understood that the true value of hiring a seasoned planner is tapping into their vendor relationships and benefiting from the experience and expectations they have earned and honed over years.
Florie Huppert Design,
We reach out to venues especially to see if they have worked with the specific vendor and what their experience was like.
We actually go through a vetting process with all new vendors we work with. We like to essentially interview them. We like to find out what sets them apart from other vendors, how they work with others, who their ideal client is, what budget ranges they generally work with, etc.
We also reach out to our local vendor community to get reviews and recommendations on new vendors. We reach out to venues especially to see if they have worked with the specific vendor and what their experience was like. We love vendors that have professionalism, who are organized, and great communication. The worst thing for a planner is trying to chase down client vendors and waiting on them for communication.
It’s super important that the vendor teams we work with are enjoyable to work with, will provide the best quality of work for our client, and create an enjoyable planning process with us for the client.
When our vendor dream team works well with us, it not only makes our job easier, but it makes it more enjoyable and stress free for the client.
EVL Events, Ellicottville, NY
When I am vetting a new AV team I am looking at "Are they aware of our events?"
When we support Speakers, Coaches and Experts the vendors we tend to rely heavily on are AV and tech teams, especially now that we run and produce Virtual Live events and create studios from scratch. When I am vetting a new AV team I am looking at “Are they aware of our events?” Since we specialize in sales and enrollment 1 and 3 day events, there is a certain rhythm and flow to our events that are different than a corporate event or wedding. The AV team needs to be able to be fluid and flexible. Yes we have a Run of Show however our clients are also taking cues from the audience and may move things around in the moment.
I also love it when my AV team can be in the experience with us. For example, (pre-covid) when we were live in person, the client had us bring in a “surprise and delight” for the audience of ice cream bars. It was the middle of the session and as we were passing out the ice cream my AV team played the Ice Cream truck song, without me suggesting or prompting them. They were in the moment with us. I LOVE having partners like this!
Owner & Certified Event Producer™
Grace And Ease Productions, Inc, Sacramento, CA
It's through trial and error where I've finally learned the type of professionals I work best with.
After being in the industry for over 10 years, I’ve come across an array of vendors from all categories. It’s through trial and error where I’ve finally learned the type of professionals I work best with.
Designed Dream’s preferred list is composed of vendors who truly care for their clientele. Whether it’s a small gig or a large project; they will 100% always put their heart and soul into creating the client’s vision. Attentiveness and flexibility are also great indicators of the lengths a vendor will go, in order to accommodate the client’s needs. I know from experience how challenging and stressful last minute changes are for clients, so to have vendors by my side to alleviate those worries, is critical.
It is also important to have fellow vendors be completely transparent with their services and contracts. We aim to provide seamless experiences and recommending trusted vendors who are communicative and clear helps build a team of collaborative professionals for the client.
Designed Dream Events, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I like to work with vendors that I can trust.
As a planner we are the first line of defense. We have many moving parts and having a solid vendor team behind you is critical. I always say if you don’t care about the $40k event, how will you ever make it to the 7 figure events?
I like to work with vendors that I can trust. Trust to do the job to the highest capacity. I need you to care just as much as I do. I need the relationship to be transparent and open. I have countless hours with clients reviewing details and I expect to hand that off to the vendor selected and know without a doubt that they will execute at the highest capacity.
Principal Designer + Planner
Michelle Norwood Events, New Orleans, LA
I definitely want vendors on my preferred vendor list that work well with my coordinators, other vendors and the venues.
When vetting vendors I typically look for vendors who give excellent customer service. I definitely want vendors on my preferred vendor list that works well with my coordinators, other vendors and the venues. They must be punctual, professional and team oriented.
In order to put a vendor on my preferred vendors list this is my process:
They must first work with us at least three times. Second, we must be able to monitor their customer and vendor interaction.
The Kreative Firm, Fredricksburg, VA
I look for Vendors that have good work ethics like myself.
I want to make sure that all the vendors we choose work together as one unit to make it easy for everyone and memorable for the couple.
AR Weddings N Events, Walnut Creek, CA
I am looking for long term partners who are an extension to my team.
Vendors who understand that event parameters can change on a dime and are able to work with me to help offer that flexibility to my client.
Paradigm Events, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Their reputation – reliability – professionalism – quality of product - then the relationship we created over time.