OPEN THREAD: What do wedding vendors really think of feedback?


meggyfin
Got Feedback?
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I recently got married, and while I had some positive vendor experiences, I had a number that were less than ideal.

Before going and posting reviews online I have read through some posts on your site about reviews, negative reviews, etc. That said, I was wondering what people in the Offbeat Bride community — vendors and couples — thought about reviews and feedback…

* What is the best way to provide feedback?
* Do vendors even want feedback?
* Should we first email our vendors to let them know our thoughts, positive or negative?
* And should vendors proactively solicit feedback following a wedding? Do they care? (Or do they only care if it ends up online?)

-Kayla

Great questions! We know we have a lot of awesome vendors reading this. So speak up, guys…

What do you guys actually think of feedback, and what's the best way to give it?

  1. I appreciate honesty and I love feedback, good, bad or ugly!
    It helps me to grow as a person and a business professional.
    Feedback online is great for a small business person like me because I know a lot of people (myself included) will do some online searching and read reviews before considering someone.

    That being said however, some people are trolls. I don't feel that it's right to deter someone from leaving negative feedback. What is not right is leaving negative feedback for unfounded or unrealistic reasons.

    Especially if you are VERY specific about everything that you have to offer, what is expected of you and then you go off and complain. I had a client complain about their purchase (I am a photographer but I am also a crafter) that the size of her item wasn't 'over-sized' for *her* child (the size of the item was listed and 6 inches is pretty big for a flower) that it didn't look anything like the picture (which wasn't true seeing as how I sent her the one I photographed personally). I asked her on numerous occasions what she would like me to do to rectify this and rather than team up with me for a solution, she left me a bad review as a result. Some people will not be happy no matter what.

    However, if I have truly done you wrong in some way -or- I rocked your world, I want to know. If your experience with me was beyond horrendous, than yes I would appreciate if you came to me first to see what I could do to help make the experience better for you overall.

    Point being, please don't post your reviews when you're keyed up and emotional. Take a few days to think about it, how the overall experience was for you. If you weren't happy, reach out and say something. We can't fix our mistakes or better ourselves if we don't know what made you unhappy in the first place!

  2. As a bride, I definitely think vendors should know if they provided a less than satisfactory experience/product (or if they went above and beyond your expectations, but that's not really what this is about!). As a vendor, a bad review on a public website can kind of suck and feel like it comes out of the blue in some cases. The photographer I'm a contractor for sends out emails asking for reviews, that way we can hear honest feedback before having the hassle of a bad review online.

    Just this year, a bride we thought was awesome and we loved her wedding images came back to say she liked her photos, but didn't love them (she wasn't a fan of the editing). It was sad to hear, especially since she waited until 7 months after her wedding to say anything, but in the end our goal was to provide images she loved so by voicing her issues directly to us, it let us come up with a possible solution (we explained why we edited the way we did and offered to re-edit the entire wedding). A nicely worded email did so much more than a random review on a site like wedding wire could have, since it gave us the chance to have a good dialogue about the problem and remain on great terms with our bride from the start. We had a bad (3/5 star) review a few years ago and had the client just called, a lot of the issues would have been resolved VS us having to try to contact her multiple times to try and talk things over to no avail.

    That being said, if your vendor is a jerk about it, it's something an apology or refund can't cover/there is no way to resolve the issue, or it was a really awful/unforgivable mistake, definitely write a public review online. So many clients base their vendors off of two things it seems, reviews and referrals. If your baker didn't deliver the cake or your photographer sent an assistant instead of showing up themselves with no warning, those are really big issues that other potential clients should know about. When I send out lists of recommended vendors to clients, I frequently hear "Thank you, I've never had to do this before and I'm lost on who to hire" and that's how it is for so many engaged couples. Either they don't have friends who can help them with referrals or they're just kind of lost since wedding planning is a crazy process. That's where reviews are important. If you do have to sit down and write that negative review, definitely take your time, don't let anger or frustration take over. Personally I'm a fan of writing out a list and doing a few drafts so I can review it before posting, just to make sure I'm not rage-typing, haha. Writing a well written review (whether negative or positive) will look way more legit than ranting and hitting that "submit" button without thinking.

  3. This will be interesting. I was disappointed by our photos, my hair and make-up, my dress fitting and my ring. With the exception of my ring which we complained about (it was very obviously wrong) and is now fixed, we haven't done anything about the rest except consider redoing the photos (as in a whole new shoot with different hair, make-up and photographer). I'd like to ask our photographer for the raw images so someone else can edit them, but it feels really awkward.

    • HI! As a photographer, I wanted to give you some ideas on how you could approach things with your photos. First – take a good look at the photos your photographer has posted online. Is the editing style similar to what you got, or is it way off? If it's way off, that's a good place to start. If it's similar, you are likely to run into a "you hired me for this style" argument. Be honest – tell them you're disappointed with the photos, and would like to have them re-edited. If you're asking for a style change against what they are showing on their site, don't be surprised if they want to be paid to re-edit in a different style (if they're willing to at all). Most photographers I know aren't willing to give out RAW files, and asking for them is taken as a huge insult. I would definitely NOT start there. Just my $.02. Also – it doesn't hurt if you look at your photos and find some things you really love that you can bring up during your negotiations (expressions, posing, composition, etc). Make sure you aren't all attack and no love – unless you hate everything. And if that's the case – a re-edit isn't going to help. But for goodness sake – talk to them about it before posting a review. We're all human, and most of us are reasonable. But we act a lot differently when we want to make things right than we do when we feel we've been attacked. Good luck!! 🙂

      • I have to agree with this. I would mention it to the people who did your images. Although, it sounds like you had a lot of rather unfortunate experiences that day overall. So I have to wonder if getting your images re-edited would make you feel better when you were so UN-happy with your hair/make-up and dress?
        I don't say that to be crass, I just know that when *I* don't feel good and I have to have my picture taken, it's often reflected in those images and there is nothing that can change that.

        • I felt fine about my hair and make up on the day, I was fairly bridechilla about it and my hair just about lasted the photos. (funny(ish) story, a hair clip fell out of my hair and down my bra mid ceremony).
          The issue with the photos is not so much the style (that's not great but that's my fault for being too bridechilla about it), but that their framing and exposure are not very good. My brother in law is a semi professional photographer and he had to stop looking at our photos as they annoyed him too much. My favourite photo of the lot on one side there is a big space next to my husband and on the other half my bouquet is cropped out – this isn't an artistic effect, it is just a photo of us walking down a path holding hands. There are photos of all our guests with a big gap on one side. The horizon's are wonky. I am pale and the dress I wore was white but with contrasting panels, I just look like a big white blob. I showed our photographer this cute little arch by the church when we did a little walk around with them before the wedding and specificly pointed out how nice a photo it would be, they got a close up of us under it with no arch!

          I'm not intending to leave bad reviews, I wouldn't even know where to (although I actively don't recommend the above vendors to the newly engaged), I would just like some photos that look like a professional took after spending so much money on them.

          • That's awful! 🙁

            It's also some of my biggest fears! We spent a small fortune on our photographer and I am terrified that i'm going to hate them. Especially since I am a photographer myself…
            It's it's bad composition, than I would speak up and say something. Bad edits are one thing, bad framing and composition is another.
            I would leave a review if you can on Yelp or something. If your experience is as bad as I envision it to be in my head, I would want to know not to hire them. That's just my .5 though.

      • Why don't some photographers give out the raw files? Ours did which was great because while I liked the edits she did having the raw files as well meant that I can do whatever I like with them as well. For example, there's a great shot of us at the altar that had both our officiants in it but our one was making a bit of a weird face. So I re-cropped the photo to edit him out of that one. There were also some of the reception where we were the focus but something awesome was happening in the background so I could zoom and crop to have some more silly pictures of our friends. I'm just curious as to why so many photographers don't offer this as an option.

        • I think the reason is exactly that – because people will edit them until the photographer's style is no longer recognizable, and it would mess with their overall image. You would edit them to your liking and then post them on social media tagging the photog, and it could be totally different from what the photog usually does, so it's something they might not want to be assosiated with them… That's what I think, anyway… could be different for each photog though.

          • That seems like a reasonable answer. I just have this feeling like, I paid for them so I should get all of them to do with whatever I please. Then again, we didn't have our photographer do any fancy editing because we don't like when photos have a "style." So all we requested of her was remove red-eye, crop them nicely, delete any that are awful, and fix any weird lighting that happened.

        • ObsidianButterfly is pretty much on point. Photography, to most of us, isn't just about what we do in camera, but what we do in post. It represents our brand, and the final product is our art. There are some photogs that will give RAWS – usually the less established ones.

          The best analogy I've heard is that there's no way you would buy a book and then ask the author for her rough draft in case you like earlier versions better or wanted to do your own rewrite of the ending.

        • Yep! I only give out raw files to industry professionals as a professional courtesy and only if they ask. With the understanding that if it get's posted somewhere that it would state photography was by me and the editing done by them. Which isn't something happens on the regular.

          The images we provide our clients with are our absolute best work. It's amazing some of the transformations that can take place with a little tweaking here and there. Obviously a good photographer should strive to get it right in camera, however it almost always needs a little (sometimes a lot) of help.

          The last thing a photographer needs is someone taking a raw file, posting it as is because you, the client think it's nice looking or something.

          • " …posting it as is because you, the client think it's nice looking or something."

            But isn't the whole point of wedding photography to make sure the clients like the photos, whether they're raw or the edited? What if there are some raw ones they like even BETTER than the edited ones? Does it really matter since raw or edited it's all the work of the same photographer?

          • All clients should (in theory) absolutely love their images. Wedding or not, but especially if it's a wedding.

            Most photographers won't show their raw images to their clients, so (in all fairness) you wouldn't be able to make a comparison between the two anyway.

            The images you see on a persons website are most likely edited in some way. It could be minor tweaking, a massive overhaul, or somewhere in between.

            That's the look and feel that you're paying for. What's being presented to you at the end of the day.

            I personally don't like to over process my images because I feel that it takes away from the event or the person at hand.
            Notwithstanding the fact that photo shop can work some tiny, but incredible miracles.

            It can mean the difference between having a sunset that looks flat and boring or one that looks as magical in the image as it did when you witnessed it. A lot of that is based on exposure, as it's been drilled into my head to always expose for the dress to catch all those details.

            So suffice to say, it's not that your images suck in their raw format, they are usually much more pleasing to the general masses at hand after post processing.

            Also, it brings into question certain copyright issues. Such as clients posting a picture to Instagram and slapping on some tacky filter, but that's a whole other discussion.

        • In addition to what has already been said, a reason I've seen from many photographers (strictly an amateur here, but I read up on the craft a fair amount) is a pragmatic one. Most people lack the right software to even view RAW files. The photographers anticipate a slippery slope discussion if they provide RAW files to someone who lacks the tools to view them and then gets yelled at because the client can't view them. It seems to me that even from a technical standpoint handing out RAW files is a photographer's kobayashi maru.

  4. As a bride, I think the best way to give feedback is to give it directly to the vendor as well as reviewing them on wedding sites. Most of our vendors were totally awesome and I wanted to review them on wedding sites to generate more business for them. But I also sent thank you cards with tips to the really outstanding ones. Our only vendor we weren't terribly happy with was our DJ but since that's not something that can be rectified after the fact (not like photos or a ring which can be fixed) we didn't bother to contact him. We felt like it would just make us more upset to rehash all the things weren't happy with because there was literally nothing that could be done. We just didn't send him a card or tip and gave him an honest review on WeddingWire.
    As far as the reviews themselves I tried to be very factual, especially when describing anything negative. I didn't go and say "This DJ sucks!" I just stated that he didn't stick to what we'd agreed to and gave concrete examples. I also didn't just say things like "Our videographer is the best!" I gave examples of what he did that was awesome. I tried to imagine reading them from the perspective of a bride just starting to plan and what information would be the most helpful.

  5. As a vendor, I absolutely want to know if I did something to make you less than thrilled. It sucks to hear, but I want a chance to make it right, if at all possible. Here's the thing…. talk to us about it before posting a review if that review will be negative, especially if there's a chance we can do anything to fix it. You'll find we're much nicer and more cooperative if we haven't already been attacked. Think about it as a visit to a restaurant. If they mess up your order, you can take two roads: say something to get it fixed, and maybe even get a drink on the house…. or do nothing, then complain about it on Yelp. Please, for the love of all things, be the first person! 🙂

  6. I pretty much always read reviews before buying something or hiring someone. As a fellow bride who might be helped by your reviews, I would make the following requests:

    1. Check to see if you're the one in the wrong. Were you unhappy with your service/product because you didn't read the description or terms of service or something like that? If it was your mistake, don't blame the vendor in a review.
    2. Is it something that the vendor can still rectify (like the above examples of poorly edited photos or mis-crafted rings)? Try to reach out to the vendor to fix it before posting your review. Once you've done that, and given the vendor a chance to fix it, you can talk about how they handled it in your review. Vendors are human and make mistakes just like everyone else – give them a chance to make it right.
    3. When you do post your review (good or bad), use specific details, as someone else said before. I'm talking facts, not opinions. What exactly did the vendor do or not do? This may sound harsh, and I feel bad, but I honestly don't care how upset you were or that you hated your photographer. What I do want to know is if they only provided 100 images after promising 500, or if they got drunk and passed out, or if they insisted on a million posed portraits after you told them you wanted mostly candids.
    4. Edit your post for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Many people (myself included) don't take reviews as seriously if they're full of errors that most fifth graders could correct. Try your best to sound intelligent, and you're more likely to get your point across to both the vendor and other potential customers.

  7. I'm curious about a situation I currently find myself in with a vendor. I purchased a custom-sized dress from a seller on Etsy who had several hundred positive reviews, and when I received my dress, it was not only not made to the measurements that I sent, it was not well sewn and there were runs in the outer layer of fabric. I talked to the seller, we agreed that the best way to resolve it was to send it back, and then it sat in the post office for weeks after I ate the cost of return shipping (with no response from the seller). The dress I finally received is great (much better construction, no damage, actually fits), but the overall experience was not great. Yes, my problem got resolved, but the sellers communication needs to be worked on, and I feel like not actually getting the measurements correct the first time is a major problem, especially because it ended up being seven months between the order and the final (correctly sized) dress.

    The seller ended up asking me to provide feedback (I can't because he never marked the order as shipped, either time he shipped it), and I told him the negative things in a polite message and have received no response. I still can't leave a review at this time (and I think I likely never will be able to), but I feel like the bad experience needs to be told to future potential customers. Is that fair, or should I just accept that my issue did get dealt with and judge only the final product?

    • I think it's fair to review the whole experience and not just the final product.
      I had a similar experience with an Etsy seller who I purchased my necklace from for the wedding. It was a custom order which I understand take longer but when the item was marked as shipped and I hadn't received it a month later I inquired. I was told the seller's father had passed and things had gotten backed up which I understood. But then, when it still didn't arrive two weeks later I sent another message and was given another excuse. I finally did receive it three months after placing my order. Then, about two thirds of the way through my wedding reception, the clasp broke! My MOH saw the necklace sliding down my neck and grabbed it before it fell all the way off but there was nothing we could do to fix it. Thank goodness it happened later in the day because that necklace was literally the one thing that made my costume work! (Halloween wedding).
      When I reviewed the item I made sure to mention all the issues with shipping because I felt that people should know that they may have a long wait. I only wish I'd waited until after the wedding to review it because since the necklace broke after only about 10 hours of wear I would've given it a less favorably review altogether.

      • I also had an Etsy adventure. Opening a complaint with Etsy can work wonders, although I don't recommend it unless the issue is serious. A vendor shipped my bridesmaids's favors four months after the wedding. (I ordered them four months early.. it was a total of eight months). She also asked me to pay shipping twice as the first order was shipped to my billing address instead of my shipping address. I know not everyone moves when they get married, but certainly I can't be the only bride moving. Use the address I provided for shipping please. After I paid her the second time, the vendor dropped off the face the Earth for months and stopped answering my messages. Eventually I opened a complaint with Etsy. I marked it as "product not received". She messaged me the same day and I got my favors shortly thereafter. I was able to mark the case as "resolved" and she could carry on with her business. I felt sort of bad about opening that complaint, but ultimately I'm glad I did. I know that folks on Etsy are real people and are often pretty open about their personal reasons for failing to complete an order, but ultimately they are still running a business and taking your money. You do have a right to get the product you ordered or at least a refund.

  8. As an officiant, I absolutely want reviews. I don't have a "portfolio" like a baker or photographer would have, so reviews are the best way for a potential customer to get a sense of what I do and how I run things before they contact me.

    I do ask them to talk to me before they post a less-than-stellar review because I take my job very seriously. I feel that my couples are entrusting me with a huge part of their wedding day, and if something has gone wrong I will do whatever I can to rectify the issue, given the chance.

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