HOW TO: Your New Best Friends

As you celebrate your most important relationship, remember to nurture your new relationships, too - the ones with your vendors

SIGNING CONTRACTS, NEGOTIATING prices, consultations that seem like salespitches – all proof that planning your wedding can sometimes feel purely like a business deal, rather than anything even remotely related to love or happiness. But let us share a little secret: It doesn’t have to be this way.

When it comes to dealing with your vendors, you should take cues from precisely what you’re celebrating on your wedding day. Trust, respect and open communication have been critical to the success of the relationship between you and your fiancé, and they should factor into your relationships with your wedding vendors, too. If you click with the right vendor, not only will your wedding planning become a much more enjoyable experience; that vendor will be able to perform nuptial duties for you better and more efficiently than if you simply shake hands, fork over the contract, and assume they’ll show up on time on your Big Day.

Vendors Are People, Too

There’s no denying it: Your wedding is, in part, a business transaction. You are, after all, paying people to provide goods and services. At the same time, what’s at stake is nothing if not deeply personal, and every piece of the puzzle, from the invitations to the cake, relies on the actual people you’re including in that experience: your vendors. “The trick to getting an amazing wedding is just to be nice to people,” says Kendall Brown, owner of Eclatante Event Design in Philadelphia. “Before you get to having a personal relationship, it’s important to just treat people with respect.

Developing relationships with your vendors should feel much like trying to get to know someone you aren’t paying to provide a service. When it comes to interviewing potential vendors, “You want to feel when you first talk with somebody that that person cares,” says Eddie Bruce, a Philadelphia-based bandleader and owner of Eddie Bruce Music. When it comes to music, he says, “If you’re talking to a salesperson and not a bandleader, then it can’t develop from there. It needs to be an actual bandleader.” The same rule holds for vendors across the board. From your first interactions with them, you should have a sense that they want to get to know you better, too.

While it may not be critical that you’re besties with your stationer (though it certainly couldn’t hurt!), some vendor-client relationships are more significant than others because of their sheer duration. “If you don’t like your photographer, you’re talking about two years of misery,” says Sofia Negron, a Philadelphia photographer who schedules get-to-know-you sessions with couples prior to weddings, to help them warm up to the camera. “They’re dealing with that photographer from the time they book until they’ve gotten everything.”