Establishing Expectations (The Right Way) With Your Fellow Vendors

Working in the wedding and events industry involves crossing paths with many different personalities. On one hand, you’ll find creative partners that seem to get you and your thought process instantly. On the other hand, you’ll also find those who you have to work a little harder to get on the same page. 

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to protect your brand reputation as well as your clients’ interests. There simply isn’t any room for other vendors to impede your progress and put your event timeline at risk. Whether it’s a photographer who is perpetually late to respond or a caterer who pushes back on each and every decision, you must set clear expectations from the start to ensure the whole vendor team is prepared to support one another.

Fortunately, establishing expectations doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable conversation. Here are a few tips to help you draw clear boundaries without sacrificing your vendor relationships.

Adopt your client intake policies.

Think about the steps you take when setting expectations and boundaries with your clients. You have a clear and detailed contract that outlines your working agreement and, in some cases, you may also have an intake form to gather your clients’ information and have them answer certain questions that will help to form the event vision and timeline.

I recommend adopting these tactics with your vendor partners to set firm guidelines when it comes to working with you and your team. A simple contract and questionnaire can kick off the event planning process on the right foot by ensuring that everyone is on the same page from the start. This helps you to hold others accountable for their responsibilities and safeguards your own business from issues that arise on behalf of another vendor.

Do your research beforehand.

If you learn that you’ll be working with someone you haven’t partnered with before, a little bit of research can go a long way. Review their website and social media to get a look at precisely what they offer and what they do not. Read their FAQs to see the voice and messaging they use with their clients.

While you’re at it, take some time to sift through some of their reviews on third-party sites. Genuine feedback from past clients can help to prepare your expectations for how it will be to work together. The more you know about another vendor, the better you can tailor your expectations and set boundaries with them when the time comes.

Make insurance a priority.

Insurance is a lifesaver and can safeguard your business and your clients from mishaps that are out of your control. If you aren’t yet protected, make it your top priority to purchase event insurance this year. In addition to injury liability, insurance can also cover worst-case scenarios like weather-related cancellations, no-show vendors, fires, and other unexpected circumstances. Ultimately, insurance will help to protect you from costly errors made by other vendors.

However, I also recommend making insurance requisite for working with you. Knowing that every vendor on an event team is covered allows everyone to breathe easily and takes much of the pressure off of the client. While it might turn away certain clients or vendor partners who are prepared to accept the many risks of planning an event, you’ll elevate your brand image as the responsible, risk-free choice in the market. 

When you define clear expectations from the start, you save yourself the time and hassle of having to address issues later in the process. Set a good example for your creative partners and the planning process will run much smoother!


Dixie Bagley is the owner of The Farm in Rome, Georgia – a European farm estate with lodging set in the northwest Georgia mountains. The venue focuses on working with couples who want to give their guests a relaxed but thoughtful countryside weekend wedding experience. Having been in the wedding industry for 12 years, Dixie is a master of multi-tasking and wants to make everyone feel at ease. Dixie is an active entrepreneur in the wedding industry. In addition to owning and operating a venue, she also owns The Sweet Bar Bakery, Tillman Hangar, Dixie Events Planning and Business Consulting, and she holds a degree in exercise science from the American Council of Exercise and is launching her new initiative, The Southern Wedding Collective.

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