Archive for May 28th, 2008

Ask Your Vendors The Jimi Hendrix Question: “Are You Experienced?”

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Fact Number 1: Most brides (and many of their moms) have very strong opinions as to what they do and don’t want at their weddings and receptions.
Fact Number 2: Most brides (and many of their moms) have never personally planned any event as big as one of today’s weddings.

It is precisely because the majority of brides and moms are both opinionated and inexperienced (which is a potentially volatile combination) that I posed the question which appears in the title of this entry.

As the two of you sort through venues, musicians, florists, decorators, cake bakers, limo services, calligraphers, photographers, videographers, et al, you will repeatedly be called upon to either (a.) agree with suggestions these wedding and party professionals have made, or (b.) over-rule their ideas.

Either option creates a dilemma for you. If you agree too easily (when – deep down – you don’t really agree), you’ll wind up with a wedding that reflects the pro’s personality more than your own. But – to arbitrarily disagree with a veteran’s suggestions is also risky.

Which is why you should get in the habit of asking everybody about their experience.

Some venues go through employees constantly, while others have the knack of hanging on to their best workers. By asking the chef how long the banquet captains have been at this particular hotel or restaurant, you can quickly get a pretty reliable idea of whether the staff at your event will be made up of “old pros” or “new kids.”

When visiting with a prospective bandleader, inquire how long the various musicians have worked together, how many songs they know, and how many weddings they’ve played as a unit. If your wedding has an ethnic component (like Jewish or Greek, for instance), ask pointed questions to ensure that the combo you choose knows as much of that style of music as you wish to hear.

When interviewing possible vendors, describe in detail your vision of the evening, then solicit their responses to your plans.

In general, I’d say that if a pro can’t give you a specific reason why not to use one of your ideas, then you should feel free to give it a go. But – in general – if your vendor does have a concrete objection (based on previous experience) to one of your preferences, then you should listen to them.

Run your ideas past all the vendors you are considering. Chances are good that you will hear some responses over and over again. If several different party professionals warn against certain ideas you have proposed, that is a very good sign that you might want to re-think your plans.

Surviving your wedding will give you volumes of experience. But for now, your party’s success depends on blending what you think with what your vendors know. Which is all the more reason for you to ask them – up front – what in their work history makes their opinions more valid than your own.

A wise pro always listens to the bride’s ideas. In turn, wise brides heed the experience of their chosen pros.