OPEN THREAD: Why are some wedding vendors disrespectful to potential clients online?

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Snarky cross stitch from CatsPJsCreations.
Snarky cross stitch from CatsPJsCreations.

While Offbeat Bride's primary readership is folks planning their weddings, we also have thousands of readers who are our wedding industry colleagues — vendors like photographers, planners, dressmakers, and more. (So many more! Check the Offbeat Bride Vendor Guide for hundreds more…)

As a publication, we straddle the two groups. We serve couples planning their weddings, but we do business with the vendors who love working with those couples.

Or… vendors who mostly love working with those couples. I will say that over the years, I've been SHOCKED by how poorly some wedding vendors present themselves online. I'm talking about basic “don't be a jerk to potential clients” stuff here. On the Offbeat Bride Facebook page, there have been vendors who have mocked our readers' wedding themes (octopus weddings are weeeird, you guys) and who've been very outspoken in insulting other vendors' work. On the blog, we've had vendors who've shamed readers for having low budgets or not prioritizing things the vendor felt were important.

It's always weird for me, because it seems like just small business common sense: “don't be a dick where potential clients can see you.” It's happened frequently enough though that I've stopped being surprised by it, which is weird!

As someone in the middle, I don't have any answers here… but I'd love to hear from both couples and vendors: What have you seen from the other side that's been hurtful? How can Offbeat Bride support vendors and couples treating each other with more respect?

Comments on OPEN THREAD: Why are some wedding vendors disrespectful to potential clients online?

  1. We haven’t had a vendor be actively rude to us (yet), but what I have noticed are a few vendors just generally being..either very aloft or just flakey. We just finished picking a venue, and I ended up nixing one or two of them because they couldn’t be fussed to spell my name correctly in their follow-up e-mail (even though I made sure to mention my name so they could avoid such.)

    We’re currently working on videography and photography, and I’ve nixed a business for not only sounding too business like (I want to talk to a person, not a machine. If I’m not going to be able to talk and spend time with you comfortably, you aren’t being hired.), but because they made it REALLY obvious it’s a copy-and-paste job – if I put out a feeler because I’m looking for a videographer, I don’t need a paragraph and a half or more about why videography is so, so important and that I need to consider hiring one for a wedding, guys.

  2. I love that you’re talking about this.

    As I planned my wedding I visited a lot of forums and blogs. Even when I agreed with a vendor, if they were being snarky or rude I was immediately turned off. I’ve mostly seen photographers on forums and I’ve seen them just rip people’s wedding photos to shreds even when the bride/groom isn’t asking for critique but just sharing pictures they LIKE. And like you said, a huge target is budgets. Every small business runs their own way, but I feel like often not-quite-so-business-savvy vendors feel defensive about their own pricing and therefore need to tear down any other vendor who charges less, charges more, offers raw files, edits less, has a different style or WHATEVER.

    I think ultimately if vendors are going to post in forums they should feel free to share wisdom and even talk about what they do differently, but always in a positive light. If you ain’t got nothing nice to say, it’s better for business if you say nothing at all.

    • Photographer bullying is a thing! I’m glad to know you see their acting out as a red flag. I sure do! I’m a photographer, I believe in treating clients and peers right. Wedding photography is not just about the art, it’s about the art of kick ass relationships as well.

      • “Wedding photography is not just about the art, it’s about the art of kick ass relationships as well.”

        YES! I’d say this is true of most of wedding vendors… and even more broadly, lots of small businesses. I get that sometimes folks need to vent (work can be frustrating for anyone!), but it’s so weird to see folks bad-mouth potential clients…

        • YES! I’m a vendor (planning/coordination) and I still don’t understand the snark/judgment that comes from a lot of my peers. I know this is just another workday for us, but this is someone’s *wedding* fer chrissakes. If you can’t say something nice…

          • I do understand that it must be hard for a wedding professional, who is probably very knowledgeable and savvy about his or her job, to watch people make wedding decisions when they perhaps have never done anything like this before in their lives. And in that sense, Offbeat Bride does help, by giving people planning weddings an opportunity to learn more various wedding aspects before dealing with vendors–so we’re not going in totally blind. That said, it’s still unforgivable–and pointless–for professionals to be angry at potential clients for not knowing enough about the business. I was told off by a wedding-cake vendor for asking “dumb” questions and she pretty much told me she couldn’t work with me because I didn’t know enough about wedding cakes! I can’t imagine that’s a good business model.

  3. I wish I could say I didn’t know what you were talking about but I do. I’ve seen it especially with wedding DJs. I can’t afford a DJ and am going to use Spotify and I’ve seen DJ’s online talk about cheapskate couples and how their receptions suck and I feel like I can’t even talk about it online ever without someone mocking me. I think DJ’s are the bees knees but I still can’t afford one. I wish I could.

    • I WISH we had used Spotify or just made a seven hour playlist on my laptop. Our DJ was cheap by industry standards and seemed like a good idea until the wedding. He basically ignored everything we’d discussed in our meetings and started just doing his usually thing until I told him to cut the Top 40 and stick to our list. It’s been a month and a half and songs will come on the radio that prompt me to think “Hmm, that artists was on our list … he didn’t play them.”

    • I emailed a DJ to ask about his package because his price was close to our budget but still a little too much. His standard package included a few items we didnt want or need such a a kid candy toss (no kids invited to the wedding), a video screen with a video of photos of us the couple (which he will take hours to put together), and burned CD of the music. I asked if we didnt want these additional items, but just music and announcements could he work with the price. His response was dismissing me, telling me to find a DJ company since he does only one job a day and they might give better discounts. He also said ,”I have a degree in audio engineering, I’ve been a certified audio engineer for 30 years.” Instead of working with me, he was rude and threw his 30 years of experience back in my face (but he didnt learn customer service in those 30 years!) Other DJs were not rude in their responses but we decided to go with spotify and a friend in charge of the music. At least we have had a good experience with our venue, florist, and salons — Thank goodness!

      • That is ridiculous! We didn’t even ask for a discount and our DJ could have had the easiest night of work ever. We provided him with our cocktail hour and dinner playlists, like not just giving him a list of songs, we gave him a flash drive with the mp3s on it and in the proper order. We listed like seven genres we wanted to hear, seventeen specific songs, and even chose what songs we wanted to open at close the night. I really feel like he made it harder on himself by not getting into it or doing the necessary prep work. I think he thought that he could show up and do his normal thing and we would just go with it. He looked really surprised when I went up to the booth and said “Fade this out and do NOT under any circumstances play any more Top 40.” No tip for him!

        • Do DJ’s seriously just think they can play top 40 at a wedding when you’ve given them a setlist? That’s going to be something to consider for our medieval and metal themed wedding…

          • Not sure that all DJs do but ours certainly did. We had asked that he open the dancing with Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and he opened with “Shut Up and Dance With Me.” I actually don’t mind that song except for the fact that it saturated the radio in our area so I was sick of it, but it was more the fact that he blatantly ignored the very specific list we had given him. He had our list for four months prior to the wedding too so if what we wanted was outside of his usual realm he had plenty of time to source the songs we wanted and come up with a playlist.
            I think in the end it just wasn’t a good fit and I feel like we were had. He presented himself as being really flexible and totally behind our ideas but when it came down to it he tried to slip into his usual routine. So when picking a DJ make absolutely sure, have it put in the contract even, that they will play what you want to hear.

  4. I had a weird thought about why vendors might do this. Could it be some sort of weird reverse psychology trick? Is it sort of like a “I want to attract traditional clients who’ll pay out the nose for my services so to do that I will publicly make fun of non-traditional weddings and that way the people who are having a big expensive traditional wedding will think I’m cool and want to hire me.” I’m probably thinking too deeply about this but whether that’s the intent or not it may actually work that way in some instances.
    In some cases though I think vendors might get tripped out and not know how to handle a non-traditional wedding. They’re used to doing their thing and when they meet a couple who wants something different they might get anxious about it. Our DJ was obviously very used to just using his go to “wedding playlist” of Top 40, annoying dances like the cha-cha slide, and providing crazy lights and props. We didn’t want any of these things and even though he said he understood and was behind us 100% when it came down to the night we had to remind him to cut the Top 40 a few times and stick to our list.
    None of this excuses vendors from being snarky about other vendors work or about weddings. That is just no way to win clients … unless they’re doing my evil reverse psychology thing …

    • Even from a reverse psychology thing, I really do wonder if they think that’ll win them clients – and are the few clients they’d gain by being rude really be worth ostracizing not just offbeat brides, but kinder, nonjudgemental traditional brides?

    • The market a vendor is trying to reach is definitely a factor. If, for instance, you know you only want to cater to high end luxury clients, then there’s no real need to worry about losing the business of lower budget clients (because they’re not your market!), but then the question becomes, fine: you don’t care about alienating them, but do you really want to alienate them? As a business owner, does it ever make sense to insult non-clients online?

      Then again, I have seen the reverse here too: vendors who I think unintentionally dip into “offbeater-than-thou” language that alienates more traditional clientele. Like, it’s great that a vendor loves shooting punk couples… but that doesn’t mean a vendor really benefits from saying things like “Mainstream weddings FUCKING SUCK.”

      • I’ve seen a ton of photographers being very outspoken about ‘traditional’ wedding photographs their clients ask them for. Like ‘UGH WHEN CLIENTS ASK FOR A BLACK/WHITE PHOTO WITH ONE COLOR UGH SO UNORIGINAL AND DUMB’. Mostly on tumblr. It makes me very nervous to request certain poses and types of photographs because apparently you can be both ‘too weird’ and ‘not weird enough’.

    • I don’t think it’s that big a mystery. Vendors are people; people suck at acting like grown-ups on the internet.

      • Totally agree with this… but generally people are less sucky about acting like grown-ups when they have the potential to lose money over it. I mean, I know we’re all dicks online, but we’re also all self-serving money-grubbers… and it’s weird when the impulse to be a dick overpowers the impulse to make a buck.

  5. I think some wedding vendors act rude because they think “this is a one time client, it’s not likely they’ll be planning a second & third wedding. People will always get married, so there’ll always be a steady stream of new, one time clients.”

    • I agree, which I think is a shame. I run a small business contracting out circus performers – we don’t get a lot of repeat customers (there’s only so many times you’re going to need fire twirlers in your life), but I try to provide the best service I can because I want people to speak well of my business and recommend me to their friends and family. You might not need a pair of aerial artists more than once in your life, but your coworker/cousin/best friend’s niece might need one soon, and I hope that I’m the first person you think of calling!

      Plus, it’s a really lousy view to have – even if you’re dealing with weddings all the time, your clients aren’t! This is THE wedding for them, so all vendors should remember that even if this is just another job for them, this is a very special occasion for their client. I take a lot of pleasure in being a part of my client’s wedding magic.

  6. Honestly, I’m actually kind of happy when vendors show themselves to be jerks, because it warns people not to work with them. No one wants a surprise jerk vendor.

    Like the photographer from the budget post the other day who kept insisting that everyone was completely unrealistic and only the rate she charged was correct – her photos were beautiful, but I’d never work with her at this point.

  7. I will never, ever understand this. As a photographer trying to make ends meet I am always super careful about anything I say online, especially here where so many prospective clients could see it (case in point: this is my third draft of this comment). I’ve often wished that certain wedding vendors would get training in customer service and public relations. Reputation can make or break you in this business.

  8. I’m seeing a lot of comments from people on the client-side of the transaction. Having had a bit of experience on the vendor-side (I run a small business contracting out circus performers for special events), I would never badmouth a client, or a potential client publicly. That’s just a no-brainer. Planning a wedding should be an exciting, wonderful and memorable experience, and I want to be a part of creating that magic for my clients.

    The only thing that has really hurt on my side is when clients have tried to undervalue my work, or the work of my performers. This includes demanding I create a very large performance package just for them with very specific details (which often includes a lot of phone-calls to performers to check prices and availability), only to then turn around and say, “Thanks, but no thanks,” without offering any reason as to why the sudden lack of interest. Or sneering at the price of my performers, (“$500 for a burlesque performer! I could get my friend to perform for $100!”), or their abilities (“But the performers in Cirque du Soleil can suspend themselves in the air for half-an-hour just with their arm strength! Why can’t yours?!”).

    I will never badmouth a client or a potential client publicly because apart from bad business practices, it’s just not a nice way to live. But I would encourage all clients to remember that jerkish behaviour is not cool on either side.

  9. I’m a vendor, and I hate those vendors. Don’t blame us all :).

    I think the why can vary. Some vendors are having a hard time finding clients and they blame what they see as “cheapskate” couples. Some vendors probably think they can “shame” couples into buying services. For the traditional types, more offbeat weddings are akin to a violation of their beliefs.

    Stay away from those vendors. Don’t feed the trolls. Don’t pay them, either. Support the good ones and you’ll see the rude vendors slowly disappear…

  10. I have a photographer friend who vents on Facebook sometime, usually in relation to clients no calling no showing, or some other indication. I can see how some of that frustration would bleed over into other conversations, especially in scenarios where you might not be thinking of people as clients but instead as peers.

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