Wedding Vendor List 101: Everything You Need to Know - The Lindsay Lucas - Wedding Venue Consultant
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Wedding Vendor List 101: Everything You Need to Know

Business Tips, Tricks, and Resources

The gorgeous interior at a wedding venue with a chandelier hanging from the ceiling

Running a wedding venue can come with huge challenges as you try to craft an incredible and professional experience for your clients. It’s your job to ensure that the happy couple gets all they need to have a flawless experience on their special day at your venue. One way to help with that is to offer them a preferred wedding vendor list.

It’s a great way to serve your clients a convenient, vetted list of every necessary wedding service. However, a wedding vendor list can be just as beneficial for you as it is for your clients. There is a real power that comes from partnering with powerhouse creatives when crafting a wedding vendor list. I’m going to explain it all and help you prepare your own world-class wedding venue list!

Types of Wedding Vendor Lists

There are three primary types of wedding vendor lists; recommended-preferred, preferred and required. Each type comes with its own stipulations, which are determined by your venue.

#1 – Recommended-Preferred Wedding Vendor List

This is the most relaxed version of a wedding vendor list. You’re essentially saying: here are our recommended vendors, but you’re more than welcome to bring in third parties within reason. 

You need to lay down some ground rules for third-party vendors to avoid liability. For example, you might require that one of the vendor types has a required vendor attached to it for whatever reason, i.e., you can choose from any vendor, but when it comes to bartenders, these are your ONLY options. This can apply to any service. As long as you stipulate it clearly in the contract, then you’re golden. Don’t be afraid to make this a hardline requirement, where if not met, the penalty results in the cancellation of the wedding. If you’ve set a required vendor for a particular category instead of all categories, you likely have a good reason.

Another element of allowing third-party vendors is to ensure that the clients furnish proof of liability from caterers to ensure that if something goes wrong, you’re legally protected. 

#2 – Preferred Wedding Wedding Vendor List

These are the vendors you know, like, and trust and that you’re confident in putting your name behind as you know they’ll do a great job. So as far as the client is concerned, this is who you’re endorsing. You’re not endorsing anyone outside the list; this is the best of the best!

Lindsay Lucas talking with a client and showing her something on an iPad as they sit on a wooden bench

#3 – Required Wedding Vendor List

This type of wedding vendor list is very black and white. Clients are provided a list of vendors that they have to use. Most of the time these lists will offer a few different options to choose from, but they can’t hire outside of the list. 

Don’t be afraid that using the required wedding vendor list method is going to lose your customers. If you provide quality options and educate the clients on why you’ve chosen these options, then you’ll find little resistance in the end. In fact, you’ll likely find them to be highly appreciative of the help!

Benefits of Having a Wedding Vendor List

There are many benefits to having a preferred wedding vendor list for both you and your clients. These are a few of the most important benefits of having your own vendor list:

#1 – Added Service

When your venue provides a wedding vendor list, you’re offering another layer to your services. You’re saving your clients time by cutting down the hours they might spend going down rabbit holes to find the ‘perfect’ vendor. Enhancing the client’s experience means they have a far easier time prepping for their wedding.

#2 – Trusted Community

When you’ve crafted this great wedding vendor list made up of people and businesses you know offer exceptional services, then you’ve got the bones for a flawless wedding. The risk of catastrophe decreases considerably when you’re surrounded by pre-chosen vendors who know what they’re doing 100%.

#3 – Strong Partnerships & B2B Relationships

A strong relationship between businesses and that trusted community aspect means that when things get rough, need advice, or you’re in a tight spot, you have people you can call. They might not always be able to help, but having options can genuinely make a huge difference. This has to be a 100/100 relationship. As you rely on them, they need to be able to rely on you as well! 

How To Manage a Wedding Vendor List

There are probably a ton of questions running through your head right now! How do I add people? When do I take people off? Do I need to notify them of these types of changes? How you achieve most of these is entirely up to you and how you run your business.

#1 – Adding Vendors

The first step you need to take in figuring out who’s on your vendor list is by writing down your requirements regarding what is important to you in a vendor partner. Then what you’ll do is choose your approach to vetting the vendor options. This can be anything from a tasting, tour, and examples of work. This could also include even having them work a wedding at your venue first.

The barrier to entry is crucial because you’re going for quality over quantity. Another great method is to have one-on-one meetings. This is to get to know them and take a deep dive into their online presence; especially, in terms of reviews and feedback. You want to be absolutely confident in them before you start recommending them to your clients.

Close-up shot of Lindsay Lucas and a client going over a booklet together

#2 – Removing Vendors

When it comes to removing vendors, it’s essential to understand this is bound to happen. Relationships sour, things can change, and whatever the reason might be shouldn’t matter as long as you’re doing what’s best for your clients and your venue. 

Reasons why you may need to remove a vendor include when they overstep, don’t deliver, go against your policies, or anything that goes against what you expect from a vendor. If expectations aren’t being met by an individual vendor, you need to move on to vendors who can meet expectations. 

In the event of changing vendors chosen by couples, you need to inform those couples of the situation so they’re aware of the issues. Contacting the actual vendor when severing ties is an optional aspect of removing a vendor. If you want to end on the best possible terms, go for it. If the situation was so severe that you don’t see the point, that is also acceptable. It just depends on you!

Finally, when removing a vendor, you’ve got the option of either revisiting the relationship later or blacklisting them all together. Things can always get ugly, so be prepared for anything, but this won’t be the case most of the time. Keep terminations as short and to the point as possible and work on email to keep a paper trail.

Notebooks and a pen laid on a wooden table next to a scented candle and a vase of flowers

How To Present a Wedding Vendor List

A wedding vendor list should be its own living document separate from your contract. You’ll want to have it professionally designed, or you can use a service like Canva to make a clean digital vendor list. The point is to make it look clean, easy to read, and accessible to your clients.

In terms of delivery, you can do this in various ways. For example, you can have it on your website, send it via email, place it in your client portal if you have one, or offer a physical copy. However, if you deliver a physical copy, don’t make this the only copy you provide – make sure they have a digital option to refer back to.

Lindsay Lucas smiles as she talks with a client holding a booklet

Tips for Crafting Your Very Own Wedding Vendor List

There are so many great ways to go about crafting your very own wedding vendor list, and these are some of the things we find most important.

#1 – Don’t Accept Money In Exchange For a Spot 

The last thing you want is your vendor list being compromised by tainted listings. Having a vendor purchase their way onto your preferred list dilutes the legitimacy of your recommendations. Furthermore, if that vendor doesn’t deliver, it can cost you far more than that listing made you!

#2 – Repackaged Kickbacks

Some vendors are going to insist on giving you referral fees. It’s entirely up to you to take those fees and do with them what you want. In some cases, it might be necessary to take vendors up on the offer considering they might be in a position to benefit more from you than you benefit from them. For example, large catering companies can do multiple events and weddings in a day. This is likely something you can’t do due to limited space. In this instance, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to claim the offered referral fee.

Suppose you don’t feel comfortable accepting the money. In that case, you can request the vendors to offer special discounts for your clients in place of what would have been a finders fee. Again, this benefits the clients and your reputation and credibility as a venue. It also deepens ties between you and your preferred vendors.

#3 – Responding to Requests

Having a wedding vendor list makes you extremely popular! As a result, businesses are going to come knocking to get on your exclusive list. They know it’s profitable, so they’ll be coming out of the woodworks left and right.

With such a massive influx of vendors, you need to set some ground rules regarding accepting people and even responding to their emails. 

  1. Don’t exceed 5-7 vendors per category. Even seven is pushing it slightly. 
  2. If there’s no effort in their initial email, don’t bother putting effort into responding.
  3. Should there be no links to past work, social media channels, website, etc – chuck it. 
  4. If you find someone who reaches out and customizes it or directly asks, ‘how can I be on the preferred vendor list?’ then have a document that stipulates how they can do precisely that, and send it to them. This doesn’t mean they’re in, but they know what steps to take to potentially earn their way onto the list.
  5. If you’re an aspiring or new vendor that’s about to break ground on your venue and you’ve not yet received enquiries, be prepared. It’s only a matter of time until you get hit and are bombarded with requests. However, once you start getting all those requests, do have a standard canned email response where you take an interest in their request but alert them that your attention is on the venue’s construction right now, and you’ll get back to them later.
  6. Building on that canned response, consider having a vendor meet and greet where all the interested vendors can attend. Here they can start the initial phase of getting their foot in the door to become a preferred vendor. While building the venue, you don’t have time to conduct tours and meetings with vendors for a place that doesn’t yet truly exist.
Macbook laid on a table with a cup of coffee beside it

Never over-extend yourself. Getting a vendor onto the list is a long process of meeting one another, ensuring it’s a right fit personally and professionally. You’ll be vetting them for weeks, if not months, to make sure they are worth recommending. Look for the best ways to manage your time and effectively respond and move forward with the process.

If you want to learn more about running a successful venue then be sure to check out my podcast with Kinsey Roberts. We have a blast talking about our own experiences and giving you tips and tricks to ensure your success as a venue. 

Final Thoughts

Managing a wedding vendor list can be lucrative for all parties involved. The key to running a successful vendors list is ensuring it’s populated with reputable vendors who you know can do the job! 

If you are looking for more guidance on successfully running your own wedding venue, be sure to check out my website for online courses and resources, or get in touch with me to make your dream a reality! I’ve been doing this for a long time and have loved helping people bring their venue to life. So let’s chat! Pull up a seat, I’ll grab the pitcher of sweet tea, and we’ll discuss how you can take your vision and turn it into a reality!

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Lindsay Lucas talking with a client with a booklet in hand; image overlaid with text that reads Wedding Vendor List 101: Everything You Need to Know
The wedding reception table set-up with gorgeous utensils, candles and floral centerpieces; image overlaid with text that reads Wedding Vendor List 101: Everything You Need to Know

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