Thursday, August 27, 2009
The Hostess Answers Last Week's Challenge: Wedding Vendor Attire
I enjoyed reading the comments on last week's post on event vendor etiquette:
A recent Blushing letter from a member of the clergy reads in part
Thinking back on the episode of the wedding photographer in shorts and flip-flops, he did have some sense of protocol because we had a conversation before the ceremony about when, where, and what the appropriate times were for taking pictures during the ceremony. Tapping into that sense of protocol might lead me to say something like, "Do you need a room where you can change clothes before the ceremony begins?" Now of course that wouldn't have been the case but it might be a reminder that what's appropriate for a wedding includes more than taking pictures with flash during the ceremony.
Perhaps what I could use from you, or your blog readers, or anyone with a sense of style as well as a sense of humor and persuasion would be gentle reminders that can be brought up in a conversation either pre- or post-ceremony that might lead one to think twice about what they are going wear to a wedding or funeral the next time around. Having a couple suggestions up my sleeve would probably serve me a lot better than succumbing to the temptation of pointing at hairy white knees and saying, "What the hell?!" Or worse.
Events are a business like any other, and wedding vendors are a service industry. Do not be afraid to be crystal clear on your requirements and manage expectations thoroughly from the first wedding meeting, if not withe the photographers, then with the event planner. Make a list of everything you want to discuss and include, "The photographer/ florist/ caterer/ whathaveyou needs to be neatly dressed in ________ and clean shaven. If they are not, they will be sent home to change and my payment prorated accordingly." Make sure this is written into the contract and initialed by both parties before any money changes hands. While you hope you would not have to say that, I had a wedding photographer who turned up looking fine for the church and then fell apart into a rumpled sweaty mess as the reception progressed. Be clear that will not be acceptable either.
Whether in a corporate environment, in my home, or an event, I believe it is important to draw employees of any kind a clear box in which they succeed and excel up front, rather than expect them to guess or sort out your expectations over time. While good sense should prevail in matters of attire, not all have the same points of reference to the term "well dressed." Allow yourself to be defined by perfect clarity and when there is a failure, understand that you or your planner are where the buck stops and you bear responsibility in the issue in many cases so be patient and resourceful in finding a hasty solution.
If after all your efforts you are not rewarded with vendors in a coat and tie, it will help you to consider the situation up front and how you will handle it. I know brides who would have sent the photographer home. I was not in this camp when it came down to it: I did not want to waste those precious few hours arguing about the unsuitability of the photographers latter-evening clothing. He was fine in the church which is what really mattered to me, and life and weddings are just too short, but that is only one opinion.