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Building All-Star Vendor Teams Through Generous Leadership

Photo courtesy Samantha James and Rhiannon Bosse

As event planners, we put a lot of time, energy, and effort into attracting our ideal clients. We spend countless hours developing relationships within our creative community, touring venues, blogging, and working on our social media. When our clients finally hire us, they are relying on our ability to build and lead their vendor team and are entrusting us with one of their most important, memorable, and expensive celebrations.

I strive to be a warm, thoughtful, and generous team leader. My goal is for each member of the vendor team to bring their A-game and work together to serve our client’s best interest.


1. Over Communicate

Clear and timely communication is critical to a smooth planning process. I want my teams to know that there are no stupid questions and over-communication is encouraged. I will go the extra mile to ensure my partners feel heard and respected throughout the planning process. My hope is that when I lead with this spirit, everyone will put their best foot forward!

2. Set the Team Up for Success

Once I’ve determined my couple’s desired order of events and day-of flow, I create a foundational timeline to build upon with my creative partners. First, I schedule individual planning and timeline review calls with the catering manager, photographer, videographer, floral designer, and entertainment vendors. I make sure they have an opportunity to request small schedule adjustments that will help them deliver the expected result.

I want to know that Photographer Bob needs 30 minutes to shoot the ‘first look’ compared to Photographer Jen that only needs 15. It’s important to be flexible and accommodating when it’s in the best interest of our clients. My ultimate goal is to set all parties up to do their best work.

Pro Tip: Try to get your vendor teams tipped! I have created a Gratuities Guide which is saved as a template in my ‘Notes’ section in Aisle Planner. Once we are in the final month of planning, I make sure to email it to my clients and add it to my notes.

3. Create Opportunities for Connection

Often times I’ll spend a year or more with my clients. I get to know them, so I can plan and design a highly personalized experience that is a reflection of their unique personalities and priorities. Getting this face time with my couples leading up to their wedding builds excitement and anticipation. I know what they do for fun and if they prefer to “Netflix & Chill” or go on a run to relieve stress. I know their favorite songs and what they order at their local restaurants.

In contrast, my vendor partners often have limited interactions with these couples. In my planning calls with vendors, I try to share what I’ve learned about the couple. This helps create a deeper connection for everyone involved. If my groom recently lost a parent to illness, I want the photographer and DJ to know so they can approach with sensitivity.

4. Connect the Team Digitally

I have started looking for ways to connect my vendor teams to each other (and to the couple) in the months leading up to the wedding. If I can get my hands on an engagement photo, I will post an image on Instagram including a little teaser about the upcoming wedding. I then tag my future vendor partners so they can “Insta-stalk” each other.

The week of, I send a team email and cc the whole vendor team so they are connected pre-wedding. I include the latest draft of the timeline, parking instructions, pertinent day-of details, and a copy/paste vendor credit list. I also ask the team to please tag me in the caption and image on social media posts.

5. Credit Your Vendor Team in the Caption and Image

I make an effort to generously credit my vendor teams by tagging them in the caption AND the image! These tags give public credit and acknowledge the hard work of the team, while also creating notifications and virtual connections. If someone makes the effort to tag me as requested, I make sure to like and comment on the photo to give them an engagement bump. It’s my way of saying thank you!

Pro Tip: If my vendor partners fail to tag me as requested, I remove them from my preferred vendor list (or they never make it on it). I see it as a lack of generosity. And, after all of the genuine effort I have put in to care for them, I’m not having it. Whenever I get cold emails from vendors that want to start a relationship with me, I run over to their Instagram and website to see if they are generous creditors!

About the Author

Jessica Carillo
Jessica Carillo

Jessica Carrillo is the Owner of Art & Soul Events, a Southern California based Wedding and Event Planning Company. She specializes in designing artsy & soulful weddings in unconventional venues for her bold, rebellious, and creative couples. She founded LA Wedding Vendors & Creatives and she is also a Leader for the Los Angeles chapter of The Rising Tide Society. When she's not hosting a meet-up or teaching a Pinterest class you might find her at a concert, comedy show, boozy brunch, pilates class, or on a Disney Adventure with her 4-year-old daughter.

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