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Laura Hunt

Relationship Guide
May 2004:
When Hiring a Vendor, Feelings Matter!
by Claire Hatch
Claire Hatch, MSW is a licensed social worker and mediator who specializes in working with couples. She counsels people by phone around the world and in person in her Seattle area office.

Claire will be happy to answer your relationship questions in this column. Please send them to or call her at 425.823.2273.
Want more relationship help? Then The Bridal Sanity Workbook is for you. Claire shares wisdom from her pre-wedding counseling experience and her work with troubled marriages.

"When we met our photographer, we just knew he was the right one," said Joanne. "He made Kevin and me feel so relaxed. I could just picture him at the wedding, getting along with all the different personalities and putting everyone at ease."

Joanne is a wise bride. She didn't just consider the photographer's portfolio. She considered the way she felt when she was with him. If you have been engaged for any length of time, you probably have received a wealth of advice about hiring wedding professionals. You know you should look at samples of their work, get references, find out how many weddings they have handled. All of these steps are important. But for true peace of mind, I recommend you go one step further and consider the experience you have when you're talking to a vendor.

If that sounds a bit too touchy-feely for you, remember that the whole point of a wedding is the experience. That's why you plan for months. That's why you're spending all this money—so that the ritual of making your commitment will be a very special experience for you, your fiancé, and all of your loved ones.

If you're like most brides, there will come a moment when your wedding "takes on a life of its own" and you become obsessed with the 'things' that make up a wedding. They are important, of course. But the people who make up your wedding are even more important.

You've probably thought about how the officiant you choose will play a large role in setting the tone of your wedding. Or that your photographer's personality will have an effect on the mood of your guests. But the professionals who work behind the scenes will influence your experience more than you might expect. Just think how much time you will spend in meetings or on the phone with your caterer, your wedding planner, and your florist. Their personalities and their attitudes will have a lot to do with how much you enjoy your engagement, as well as the wedding itself.

Marian discovered that her florist helped her out with much more than the flowers.

"It was one of those days when I just hit the wall. When I got home, I had a message from my florist saying that some of the flowers I wanted were not available and would I call her to talk about substitutions. Great! In the state of mind I was in, that felt like a tragedy. But when I talked to her, she sounded so confident that she could create the same effect that I felt totally reassured. She said, 'I've never seen a bride who was dissatisfied with my work. When they walk in and see how beautiful the room looks, they just look so happy.' Her voice was so calm and kind that suddenly I felt better—about everything."

Linda had a very different experience with her wedding planner.

"We had made a phone date, but when I called her, she was in a restaurant downtown, in between meetings. There was a lot of hubbub in the background and she was talking a mile a minute. When I got off the phone, I told my fiancé that I thought she was more stressed than I was! And it was contagious!"

One time when you will really appreciate sensitivity is when you try on a gown.

"The woman I bought my gown from was a dear," said Allie. "When I went in for my last fitting, I had gained a little bit of weight. Every bride's nightmare! Not only did she make the dress look good, she made me feel like I was just going to look beautiful and a few pounds made absolutely no difference."

Karen is thankful that her fiancé was listening to his intuition when they hired a caterer.

"We were on the verge of putting down a deposit when Dave said, "You know, her portfolio is impressive and I'm sure the food would be great, but I don't get the feeling she really likes weddings. She just seems kind of impatient."

Karen thinks he was on to something. "And there are so many people who do this work because they really love weddings, why work with someone who doesn't?"

Karen is absolutely right. There are many wedding professionals who delight in weddings, respect your needs, and understand how important this time is for you. Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure you find them.
  1. Do I feel calmer when I'm talking with this professional? Or more anxious?
  2. Do I feel important? Respected?
  3. Do I feel understood?
  4. Do I feel like I have his full attention?
  5. Do I feel rushed?
  6. Is it easy to air all my concerns?

The way you feel when you're interviewing a professional is the way you will feel when you're working with her. Pay attention to your experience now and you can look forward to a wonderful wedding experience.

Read previous Relationship Guide articles

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