It’s every bride and groom’s worst nightmare – a last minute crisis when a supplier you’ve had your heart set on suddenly can’t be there for your wedding.
As a supplier myself, I totally get it. I also know those last few weeks before your wedding are busy, stressful and the LAST thing you need is to be let down by one of your suppliers.
All is not lost.
There are things you can do, and ways of handling the situation:
- You get what you pay for – so before you book a ‘too good to be true’ supplier who’s charging half of what others do, think really carefully. Good, experienced suppliers may charge more – but you’re paying for reliability, great communication and the peace of mind that comes with experience.
- Deposits and agreements in writing – always make sure your booking is in writing with dates confirmed and any deposits paid as soon as your supplier asks. Most won’t reserve your date without a deposit – and being ‘pencilled in’ is NEVER confirmation of your booking. Putting off payment of a deposit can lose you that first-choice supplier.
- Insurance. Most wedding insurance will cover your deposit for a supplier who’s let you down, plus any additional costs incurred by having to hire someone else at the last minute. It’s a no-brainer if you’re spending anything more than a couple of grand on your wedding.
A cautionary tale (true story)
In my experience, the number one reason for emails beginning with ‘another supplier let me down’ is that a booking wasn’t made or secured.
There’s often a gap between any initial enquiry with a supplier and the actual order being placed. As a wedding stationery designer this is something I see a LOT. The bride and groom will begin planning their stationery in January: sharing ideas, deciding colours, and receiving a quote. Many don’t appreciate that suppliers get REALLY busy during wedding season.
Only once a deposit has been paid is your booking secure. This applies to photographers, designers (cakes, stationery, flowers etc.)
I’m also very aware that good suppliers very rarely let anyone down – they run a tight ship with a trusted booking system and calendar. With regular communications, a deposit process and a reputation to uphold, it’s hugely important NOT to let a customer down.
So often brides who’ve been let down have tried to get something dirt cheap – ie on ebay or from a new supplier whose business hasn’t stood the test of time – the classic example is a ‘hobbyist’ stationer with a full time job who thought the occasional wedding order would bring in extra pocket money at weekends… and then changed their minds. So when you tell me another supplier let you down, I also wonder if you are looking for something on the cheap.
So I’m wary of any email with ‘another supplier let me down’. In many cases it’s not the supplier’s fault, but a misunderstanding blamed on the other supplier.
The moral of that little story is, don’t tell a supplier that someone else ‘let you down’. It doesn’t achieve anything – any supplier will try and help you if they have any last minute availability, regardless.
When you find yourselves in that heartbreaking situation of a supplier letting you down, there are still things you can do to fix the problem. Don’t panic – follow our advice to get your dream wedding back on track:
Contact your wedding insurance company first of all. Where expensive suppliers are concerned and you need a replacement but don’t have the cash, see how quickly you can make a claim and book someone else.
Back up plans
Most suppliers have a network of contemporaries – photographers they’ve worked with in the past, florist friends who’ve worked together, or stationers who’ve passed on work to each other at busy times of the season. Photographers especially will often have a back up plan, second shooter or friend they can call on in emergencies. Even venues are often part of a chain or linked group of hotels or locations, which can be useful if one has something go horribly wrong.
Ask your supplier really early on – ideally before you sign any contract – about their back up plans in case of emergency.
Stay calm. Getting angry with a supplier at this stage won’t help. If you can, ask your original supplier if they know anyone else.
Maintaining that relationship will help you in the long run – so keep emotions at bay and focus on problem solving – with your original supplier if at all possible. The calmer you are, the more helpful they’re going to be.
Ask your other suppliers for recommendations too. Most have a local network from wedding fairs or styled shoots who they know well and trust, and they could ask around for you. Miracles do happen – sometimes they just need a little faith to get the ball rolling!
If your venue cancels on you, it’s a major disaster. But the failure of any other supplier shouldn’t stop you getting married.
At the end of the day, your marriage is way more important than your wedding – so do your very, very best to focus on that. If your dress doesn’t arrive, buy something amazing online. If your photographer leaves you at the altar, your guests will capture the moments for you. If your florist is struck by lightning, – flower shop!
The stress of planning a wedding, especially the last few weeks of bringing everything together, can be overwhelming. It’s totally understandable that any supplier cancellation will cause tears and despair – but don’t let it break you.
Choose a calming, practical person to turn to when disaster strikes: your partner, your dad or best friend. Ask for their help in coming up with a solution – can you DIY the table plan, skip out on the cake, or dash to the flower market at 4am the day before your wedding? Do you even need to?
Remember, you’ll still make those promises to each other and end the day with rings on your fingers. That’s what’s important.
Tiree Dawson Photography | Typical Type | Holker Hall | Rowleys Catering | Nina Marika | Aimee Chorley Make up | Daniel Gray Hairdressers | Valerie Ann’s Windermere | Gooseberry Moon | Mears Ghyll Bridal | Poppy Pickering