Preferred Vendor Lists From Venues and Wedding Planners – Be Careful!

Uncover the truth about preferred vendor lists from venues and wedding planners in our latest video. Be in the know before you go! We’re spilling the tea on what you need to be careful about when choosing your dream team. Let’s ensure your big day is surrounded by the right expertise.

Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Ralph Deal from Ralph Deal Photography. In this video we’re going to discuss preferred vendor lists, which can be a great resource sometimes, and that sometimes is what you want to watch out for. Alright, let’s get started. 

Let me start by saying that the title preferred vendor garner’s trust for a bride and groom. When we hear a venue or coordinator use the term preferred vendor in reference to wedding vendors, we assume that that title was earned right. Unfortunately, this is often not the case and it most negatively affects you the client. Many preferred vendor lists are a pay to play game. If you want to be on that list, you’re required to pay a fee to the venue or coordinator or website for that privilege.

For wedding venues and coordinators, oftentimes, the quality of the vendor is a consideration after the fee is paid. However, for most website directories, the quality of work is not a factor. There are a small number of preferred wedding vendor lists and directories that are genuinely and strictly focused on the quality of work of those included. For example, I’m a preferred vendor at to Philadelphia venues and I don’t pay anyone or provide a kickback for that privilege.

My recommendation is ask the venue or coordinator if a fee is required from the vendor to be considered a preferred vendor at that venue. If so, don’t trust the list at face value. Some of the vendors on the list may still be great at what they do, but do your research and due diligence. Many wedding and event planners require kickbacks.

In an ideal world, a wedding planner makes your life better while also saving you money.

From design to execution, they give you the freedom to enjoy your event while also raising the overall production value. In addition, vendors such as photographers and videographers, who love working with truly great coordinators and planners offer discounts which helped offset the cost of the planner. In reality, many wedding planners require kickbacks from their preferred vendors, anywhere between 5% to 20% of the contracted amount is expected to be paid back to the planner as a commission on the referral.

From the clients perspective, this is a massive conflict of interest. In the end, the client loses by either paying a higher price than they normally would have or by simply having to choose from a preferred vendors list compiled of vendors that are doing subpar work. 

And finally, how do you protect yourself?

For clients before hiring a wedding planner or booking a venue ask what preferred vendor policies they have, if any at all. If planners or the venue require fees and commissions from vendors don’t walk but run the other way. Planners and venues should be able to serve as you the client, not their own self interest.

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