I know what you're thinking, “We're paying our vendors, shouldn't they already be giving us incredible service?” Yes, absolutely! But if you could get crying-happy-tears-behind-the-camera, family member level wedding service, wouldn't you want that?
As a wedding photographer myself, I can tell you the difference between getting my absolute professional service and holy-cow-I'd-go-to-the-moon-and-back-for-this-couple service – it's all about hospitality.
In the booking process, and leading up to the big day, there are particular moments and decisions that couples make that can seriously make a difference in how over-the-top I go for my clients, and they are much more simple than you would expect.
Feel free to do any or all of these things that make you feel comfortable, I can guarantee your vendors will be impressed, touched and responsive.
1. Send Them A Proper Invite
No easier way exists to make your vendor feel like a welcome guest as sending an official invitation. You probably made a suite that would amp up your friends and family about attending the beautiful event, let your vendors get excited to work the fabulous occasion.
2. Offer Them A Real Seat At A Table
I have horror stories where I was given a single chair – in the dark – four hours after dinner ended to scarf down my cold meal alone at a wedding. I also have instances where the couple put myself and my partner at the head table, I was absolutely touched. Guess who got quicker turnaround with extra finished photos?
When I find my name on the seating chart at a wedding, I am heart-warmed and quite frankly relieved. As a photographer, it helps to be near the action while I'm eating so I don't miss a beat. But more importantly, it makes me feel like a friend or family member, encouraging me to give my friend or family-level service.
When I have to ask the planner where I'm eating and I find out it's in “the back room behind the kitchen” I recognize I'm just a staff member. I'll give my most professional staff service – which is totally fine – but you came to this guide searching for “above and beyond” service, right?
3. Check That They've Eaten, And Offer Them A Drink
A little “Did you get something to eat?” goes a long way in my book. Even if I have already eaten, it shows that my clients care about my well being, even amongst all the chaos and whirlwind of emotions a wedding day brings.
Sometimes too, when you leave your vendors' meals in the hands of the caterer, planner or venue, that vendor doesn't get quite the service you would expect. I've been denied plates of food from caterers until well after the dinner ends numerous times (despite my contract stipulating otherwise). Checking that your vendors are not being forgotten can make-or-break their energy and happiness levels while they work through the rest of the night.
If you're opposed to the idea of your hired hands drinking on the job, we understand, but most professionals can still function after a toast (or more) of champagne. Chances are you're going to have a lot of booze leftover, so offer your vendors a drink! Honestly, I am well known for photographing longer than booked when I'm well fed and having a good time on the job.
4. Invite Your Vendors (& Their Partners) To Enjoy Other Wedding Events
Are you having an open-to-all welcome party? Or any other fabulous weekend wedding event? Hopefully one of the reasons you hired your planner, photographer, DJ or whoever is that you enjoy spending time together (they will be at your wedding after-all).
Extend a work-free invite to your other wedding events, not only will they be flattered to be included but the occasion will help them get to know you and your guests before the big day. Don't be offended if they turn down the offer either, sometimes even non-work evenings feel like “work”. The offer alone will charm them to boot.
5. Send A Thank You Card
When you work on those after-wedding thank you's, be sure to send a few out to those wonderful people who made your day happen.
How does this help your service if the day is already over? You never know when they may mail back some extra love.
6. Consider Tipping
Our rule of thumb (in the States) is to tip any vendors who work for a company – servers, technicians, bartenders, planner's assistants, second photographers, etc.
Beyond that, it doesn't hurt to tip more people if you have the budget to do so. As a solo photographer, I don't really expect to be tipped. When a client does tip me I am absolutely floored and more inclined to deliver photos quicker than the usual timeline (if I can) as a thank you.
7. Pay Them Before The Deadline
Asking for money at the end of the night, when the couple is dancing jubilantly with friends and family, is not a fun task. Save your vendors the awkward ask and yourself the party interruption by paying your vendors before the deadline. They'll work more comfortably knowing for sure they're getting paid.
8. Brag About Their Talents & Service
After all, you trust your vendors enough to hire them for your own wedding, your friends should too!
Brag about the vendors you've just booked to your engaged friends (and soon to be engaged friends). If your friends also hire your vendors before you get married, you can bet they'll be giving you some extra love on your wedding day.
After the wedding, send your fabulous vendors reviews they can use for their website, and tag them in your photos on social media.
You should always expect exceptional, professional service from the people you hire, even without these tips, but if you practice any of these hospitable behaviors you may find yourselves getting beyond luxury level service on your special day.
Need more vendor help and advice? Visit our planning section.