4 Wedding Vendor Red Flags

A wedding dress vendor working with a bride.

You want your wedding day to be perfect. You’ve been dreaming of it since childhood, and you know exactly what you want, from the style of your dress down to the flavor of the cake. The vision is so clear in your mind…you just need to find a vendor that will make it a reality!

Unfortunately, finding the right vendor can be a real struggle. Between professional-looking websites, Yelp reviews both good and bad, and recommendations from your loved ones, it can be hard to figure out which vendors are right for you and your big day. Most of the time, a vendor is talented and professional, and everything works out fine—but other times, your vendor choice can lead to disaster. If you want to avoid hiring a bad vendor, it’s important to watch for these red flags.

1. Tardiness

A wedding is a high-stress occasion. There’s a lot happening on all fronts, from the catering team setting up dinner to the wedding coordinator rounding up the bridal party. To accomplish everything smoothly, you need someone who is organized, detail-oriented, and on time. Always on time.

If your wedding planner, photographer, caterer, or any other vendor is late to a meeting with you, there’s a good chance they aren’t as organized as you would like them to be. Tardiness can really throw a wrench in your wedding day timeline, and that can mean major frustration for you and your guests! It’s best to avoid a vendor who can’t make their appointments on time.

Now, we all know that life happens, and sometimes being late is unavoidable. If you really, really love your vendor, it might be worth it to give them the benefit of the doubt. But if they seem to be habitually late (or if they’re late to your first meeting—always a bad sign), you might want to find someone else.

2. Biting Commentary

A baker frosting a wedding cake.

Another red flag you might come across is the vendor who wants to be “your friend”—or rather, your frenemy. This vendor has a tendency to trash talk anyone and everyone, from their competitors to their former clients. While this behavior may seem like sassy playfulness or a biting sense of humor, it’s really just a bad case of unprofessionalism.

Your wedding vendor should have a positive, can-do attitude while they’re on the job, and this means saying something nice or nothing at all. Think about it: if your vendor is bad-mouthing her fellow industry professionals, what kind of reputation will she have with venues, entertainment acts, or other folks she might be brokering deals with? No one wants to work with a Negative Nancy! Having one working on your wedding can add a sour note to the whole event.

3. An Unclear Contract

A woman looking at a wedding vendor contract in her home office.

Any contracts with your wedding vendors should serve one primary purpose: clearly state the details of your arrangement with the vendor. There should be no question about the terms of service, the policy for cancellations (from either party), or any other aspect of your working relationship. If you find yourself puzzling over a phrase in your contract, there should be red flags going up in your mind.

If you spot any parts of your contract that don’t make sense, make sure you alert your vendor immediately—and before you sign anything. Ideally, they’ll clarify the contract language and give you an adjusted copy to review and sign. However, if they refuse to update anything—or worse, refuse to explain it—you might have a scammer on your hands. It’s best to move on, and quickly!

4. No Contract

The only thing worse than a vendor with a bad contract is a vendor with no contract at all. As I mentioned, the whole point of a contract is to make sure everyone knows what’s expected of this working relationship. If there’s no contract, your vendor’s not officially on the hook for anything—and that means you don’t have a guarantee of any services.

There are many reasons why someone may want to work without a contract. Maybe they’re new to the industry and haven’t drafted one up yet. Maybe they’ve been working this way for decades. Maybe they’re a family member or friend and consider their services a favor and not a business transaction. But whatever the reason, I’m telling you now that moving without a contract is a recipe for disaster. Say it with me: no contract, no deal!

Choosing a wedding vendor is a big decision, as they will play a major role in your special day. If you want the wedding of your dreams, you need a team of great vendors at your side—and to get that team, you’ll need to make sure to steer clear of these red flags. If you heed these warnings, you’ll end up with a team of expert professionals who care about making your wedding amazing.

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