A great question came up the other day, posed by a bride-to-be. She had signed a contract with a venue who had a “Preferred Vendor List.” She has tried in vain to contact the caterer on the list. And, this caterer has not responded to her many, many phone calls. Can she ditch the vendor list and select her own caterer?
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To begin let’s talk about what a “preferred” vendor is. A preferred vendor list is a list of “preferred” wedding professionals that a vendor, typically the venue, outlines for its couples. The list can be compiled of all kinds of professionals including florists, caterers, bartenders, and even officiants.
But, there is a reason I have the term “preferred” in quotes. It’s a term of art as we lawyers say, which means its meaning may be different than you’d expect.
One would assume that these are professionals that venues have worked with before and recommend on that basis. But, who knows. Be sure to ask about who the vendors are, and how many times the venue has worked with them. Do some detective work. Some places just charge a fee to the vendor to get on their preferred list. The phrase “preferred” implies that the venue has had a positive prior experience with the vendor. But, again, it’s up to you to ask about the history there.
Remember – this blog is about practical, preventative measures that couples can take while planning a wedding. Can you sue for this later if you are duped by your vendor into hiring a terrible vendor? Possibly. But, let’s avoid that to every extent possible.
Now, before you sign the contract which includes a preferred vendor provision, look at what the precise language is. Are you required to hire a vendor that the venue must approve? Will your venue impose a fee if you use a vendor outside of the list? Or,is the list merely a suggestion? Read that fine print. And, as I always say, if you see something you don’t like, discuss it, before you sign. Always be ready to walk if it’s a deal breaker for you. In fact, if the venue will impose a fee if you hire a vendor outside of the list, I strongly recommend you at least have a conversation with the venue about the grounds for that policy. In fact, I might just walk away from that venue, especially since venues sometimes charge a fee to the “preferred” vendor.
Lastly, for the bride stuck with the non-responsive caterer, I hope she reviewed the contract before she signed. If the caterer is a suggestion and not a requirement, she can likely move on to a caterer that actually returns phone calls and wants her business. If not, then, it may be time for a tete a tete with the vendor.
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Photo Credit: A big ol’ thank you to Ms. Laura Ford of Laura Ford Photography. She was our wedding photographer and now I consider her a friend. She’s just fabulous. Her work as featured in this post and elsewhere speaks for itself, but I can assure you that she is equally lovely in personality too!
Check her out here: http://www.laurafordweddingphotographer.com; and https://www.facebook.com/LauraFord.Photographer.
Smart couples. Brilliant weddings. Meaningful lives.