Production: Keep calm & carry on
Our World | On 20, Sep 2011
As some of you may know, I recently became a Baldwin after marrying my fiancé on the 23rd July this year.
Certain expectations are present when an industry professional puts on an event, but this is not a one way street, whilst our guests may have expected something out of the ordinary from the day, I expected exceptional service from my suppliers – a luxury which I often take for granted when I operate under the umbrella of P&MM Live!
And this readers, is why, five weeks out, I cancelled my reception venue and started from scratch.
After trawling the internet, interrogating our creative development team and browsing all the extortionately priced wedding magazines I found my ‘perfect’ venue – a Grade II listed building set in the countryside of Northamptonshire. Or so I thought.
The Country house held its first wedding in 2009 and since then had decided to become the venue of choice within Northamptonshire. As their offering was a fairly new venture, standard information such as photos of the marquee were not available, however we were assured that everything would be delivered to the highest standard – especially the catering which the hall prided itself upon.
As the wedding drew closer, and details needed to be nailed down, responses from the venue became more infrequent. The proprietor had promised an open day for all brides who had booked their wedding, so they could see what they had actually paid for. Alas, the open day never happened, and we were told that they simply didn’t have time. At this point it was obvious that they were fire-fighting, and only had the capacity to deal with the most imminent wedding on their books.
On the 19th May I received a call to inform me that the caterer had ‘walked out’ after just one wedding. We never did get to the bottom of why, but based on our experience I can’t say I blame them!
Oh dear, this isn’t quite what I had expected…
On the 25th May, our engagement shots were taken at the hall – a perfect opportunity to scope out the venue, and plan the photography for the big day. On arrival I was shocked to see the yellow, un-kept lawns and moss covered lake – not the manicured grounds which had been sold to us initially!
The last straw (well almost)
Determined to make the best of the situation, I asked for a meeting with the owner. I had many points to discuss and clarify, but to save you the pain I endured; I will give you the brief highlights:
- No live music was allowed on the lawn during pre-dinner drinks because of potential complaints from the neighbours. This was a real sticking point for me, we simply wanted a jazz singer who would perform low key (and volume!) tracks. The owner’s response – “What do you think is more important to me, your one wedding, or jeopardising all our future weddings” – not what a bride wants to hear!
- The furniture, which had been a key selling point, had been changed downgraded. Response: “We don’t want the chairs to get scratched and ruined for our 2012 weddings”.
- After a heated and unproductive meeting I explained how uncomfortable I felt, the owner’s response – “perhaps we’re not the right venue for you”. 10 weeks out, I didn’t find this comment particularly helpful!
Now this really is the last straw…
A friend of ours attended a wedding at the venue, and after just two songs, the band were asked to leave the stage because they were too loud – the poor bride was left with no entertainment. This for me signalled the end of the disastrous relationship.
The key to a good supplier / client relationship is mutual respect and aiming for a win/win solution to all situations – those of you who are fans of Dragon’s Den may be familiar with Theo’s phrase “everybody should leave the party with a balloon”!
We decided to jump ship and work with people whom we could have this relationship with. We ended up erecting a beautiful marquee in the grounds of a local farm, using one of the best caterers in the business, and I’m delighted to say, the whole day was absolutely perfect.
So, the moral of this story, whether in personal or business situations, never be held to ransom by a supplier if the relationship is simply not working. Your suppliers need to feel as passionate about your event as you do, otherwise you will always feel frustrated and you will be the one leaving with a deflated balloon!