How — and When — It's Appropriate to Fire a Wedding Vendor

No one wants to do it, but here's how to handle the situation if things get ugly

Updated 01/21/17

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There are so many things that are beautiful about weddings flower walls, veils, your seven-tier cake — but what happens when planning gets ugly? If a wedding vendor is not living up to your standards, getting testy with you or simply giving you bad vibes, you may want to adios the relationship. But not so fast: Just because you're ready to say goodbye doesn't mean the vendor will be so willing to walk away. Here's everything you need to know about what to do if you're ready to say "you're fired."

Fire-able Offenses
Just like a 9-to-5 job, only serious offenses are cause for cutting the cord. "Lack of communication is a cardinal sin in event planning," Marisa Flores, owner and lead planner of The Event Ninjas, says. She adds that if your vendor isn't making an effort to answer your questions completely in a timely manner, it's a major red flag.

But don't just go off your memory — make sure that everyone is on the same page about what is due when. "We recommend including a timeline of deadlines in the scope of work of your contract to ensure your vendors meet key milestones," Flores says. "It helps set/manage expectations and gives you grounds if important deadlines are missed or ignored. If a situation escalates, it won't be enough to say the vendor took three weeks to answer a question. You'll need to point to key incidents that have negatively impacted the overall wedding planning process."

Another major no-no? Shady recommendations or not having your back, experts say. "Anything from recommending vendors that do not fit your style to only recommending vendors they receive kickbacks from is not working in your best interest," Flores says.

How to Fix the Problem
Once you've ID'd an issue, you shouldn't immediately go postal — try to see if the relationship can be repaired. "Be direct and open to giving your vendor a chance to course correct," Flores says. "A vendor won't know you're unhappy unless you calmly and directly communicate what's wrong. Also, you chose the vendor for a reason and most likely paid a deposit so it's worth it to take the time to communicate your needs and frustrations. So much gets lost in translation on text or email these days. If there is a problem with a vendor, I recommend picking up the phone or meeting face-to-face first, then follow-up with an email [documenting] the conversation and next steps. Most issues can be solved with a conversation giving the vendor an opportunity to correct actions and regain trust."

When You Really Have to Give Them the Ax
If you've had a conversation during which you presented reasonable concerns and still haven't seen strides from the vendor to remedy the solution, it might be time to say "Bye, Felicia." So how do you go about it? "Your contract is key," Flores says. "Ensure it includes a refund/cancellation policy. If you are terminating an agreement with a wedding planner, you want to make sure you have all the information you need to move forward with other contracted vendors before your terminate a contract. In most cases you will lose your deposit if it is non-refundable. If egregious errors, such as stealing money, are made or services are completely not rendered, you should consult a legal professional. But if it's a matter of style and communication, you may have to cut your losses before it's too late to find and start the process over with another vendor."

There are a few other things to keep in mind, Flores says, including making sure you have another wedding vendor in mind to fill the role (you don't want to end up without flowers or an empty DJ station, of course). Also, remember this old school rule: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. "If you make a decision to terminate a vendor, cut your losses and part ways respectfully," Flores says. "Do yourself a favor and don't bad mouth the vendor to other vendors. It's just not worth it. The wedding industry is small and people talk. It can create an uncomfortable situation if [another] vendor thinks you'll bad mouth them if they make a mistake...You want everyone on your wedding team to feel relaxed and empowered to do the best job for you."

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