Destination weddings in Ireland and DC/MD USA. Your Irish wedding planner – styling and coordination to die for weddings since 2006. Based in Dublin and Maryland.

Working As A Team: 10 Do’s & Don’ts Your Vendors Want You To Know

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Photo courtesy of 5th Photography

The wedding planning process can be a daunting one. Lots of details from flowers to hair accessories can be overwhelming for even the most organized Type A of brides or grooms. You’ve taken the first (excellent) step in hiring a wedding planner, and now you’re about to embark on the journey of planning your dream Irish wedding. But before you leave the port, let’s take a second to make sure our sails are in order!

The next few months will begin a series of partnerships. Not just the one you’re entering in legally in front of your friends and family in a beautifully appointed, world class venue, but rather a series of mini-partnerships with your vendors. You will get to know them better, and they you, and by the end of the day you will feel like they are your best friends on the planet. These are the people you will entrust with your day, that you will allow yourself to be vulnerable in front of, that you will allow into your personal space as you get ready, that will see you without makeup on or your hair done just right, that will calm your nerves if you need it, and that will be there to capture every tear, laugh, and moment of your special day. So it’s important to invest not just money into these people, but make an effort to cultivate a true partnership with them.

We asked wedding vendors what it’s like to go through the planning process with their clients. What part did they love? What makes them cringe? What are the secret pieces of information they wish clients knew in order to make the whole process go more smoothly, so ultimately they can deliver their best for their clients? Here is your definitive guide to working with your vendors and together creating your dream wedding day!


Working with your vendors, especially your wedding planner, is a lot like entering into a relationship: there needs to be honesty for it to work well. Wedding planners and vendors are not here to judge you; they are here because they truly care about giving you their best product or services and playing their part well in your big day. As a client it’s best to be honest with them:

  • About what you want — “Cluing us in on what you want helps us deliver on your wedding day,” says one vendor. “If you start off with one direction and end up hating it, tell us! It’s ok to change your mind and direction. Let us know so we can adjust while we have time!” You don’t need to be stuck with elements you hate on your wedding day. “If there is something you want, but you’re worried about what people will think, tell us! We have experience in just about everything weddings and we have ideas, options and solutions for you,” says Michelle Johnstone Clark. Remember, it’s not everyone else’s wedding; it’s yours. “We always tell couples at the start of the planning to write down the top 5 “must haves” for the day TO THEM (not to mum, MOH, Aunt Jane etc.) so if people start chiming in ideas or begin steamrolling over the couple, or the couple themselves gets overwhelmed with images and ideas, we can take a look back at this original list to remind yourselves what’s truly important to you,” advises Michelle. If it’s important to you it needs to be discussed and we can work out the details.
  • If there are conflicts between family members or guests — “No family is perfect and we’ve truly seen it all,” says one wedding photographer. “Knowing who doesn’t get along with who helps us position people for pictures so everyone looks happy and photographs well.”  Wedding planners can help seat people away from each other and mitigate disputes if need be to take the stress level off of you. This is part of our job!
  • About your comfort level — A wedding day can be an exhausting experience, and occasionally couples can peter out when it’s time to take photos. “I’m always trying to gauge comfort levels,” says Shane, a photographer. “If you are hungry, thirsty, cold, tired – whatever – its ok to say it.”
  • About your budget — This is probably the most important one, and most stressful. Keep an open line of communication with your planners and vendors throughout your planning process. If budgets change, we can adjust and swap out details or go for a different, more affordable version of what your original vision was that will still hit the notes and themes you were going for. Vendors, especially florists, can adjust pretty easily to suite a budget without sacrificing the design.

Your Mantra:  I will be honest with my wedding planner about every aspect of my wedding, including family issues, what I truly want, and the budget so they can best support me. I will be honest about what I love and hate with my vendors so they can have a clear understanding of what I want for my wedding.


Take the time to get to know your vendors and let them get to know you. “I need to build a rapport,” Shane says. “I need to see them face to face on Skype or whatever. I always do a better job when this happens. So simple but so effective!” Building a relationship with your vendors enables them to get to know your personalities, what you’re comfortable with, what you’re not, and more, which in turn will help them make better decisions when working on your wedding. Especially for a wedding planner, really take down any walls and view your planner as a friend, rather than hired help, and work together to achieve a common goal.

Your Mantra: I will take the time to get to know my planners and vendors, and let them know me better, and work with them as a team.


You’re on a budget. And you want the best deal you can get. But when planning your wedding, you must remember the old adage “You get what you pay for.”  Your budget and vision are going to be relative. When planning your wedding you need to remember details like the season and months in which you’re planning to host your wedding. For example, if you have a wedding planned for December, and you desperately want peonies and freesia in your bouquet (spring flowers), your florist is going to charge you higher because those flowers are going to have to be flown in from somewhere around the world where they are in season versus choosing flowers that grow in Ireland at that time. This is a cost that the florist is not trying to swindle you on; it’s simply a fact of logistics. If you vendor shop and find another florist who promises what you want for a super low price, be wary. I know of one instance (n the states) where a couple went with the cheapest bid for the florist and ended up with a bridal bouquet of spray-painted flowers because the ones she wanted were out of season. And it smelled horribly on top of looking obviously fake.

“Many couples don’t realize all that goes into the cost of producing flowers for a wedding,” says Sylvia, a florist. “The actual cost of the flowers, the time and effort spent over a year on emails and consultations, paying staff, time spent conditioning flowers before you even design, the list goes on.” In florals for one example, the conditioning process for your wedding flowers alone is quite involved. Sylvia explains: “The flowers arrive in boxes, some in water and some out. We cut all stems at an angle, quick dip them and hydrate for 24 hrs. Then we need to strip all leaves and thorns of all roses and other flowers and bottom of foliage so it is all pretty and ready to design with. This can take a full day, depending on how big the wedding is. Then the flowers are ready to design with.” Consider the time spent creating flower recipes for all of your designs, placing detailed orders with wholesalers and other vendors, sourcing containers and props if needed, and much more.

Your wedding alone is a collaborative effort involving multiple parts and hundreds of hours spent on design, research, order, and then actual product formation, so you want to invest in someone who’s knowledgeable and resourceful to get the elements correct. You want vendors that are paying attention to what you really want about each element and who can realistically deliver rather than someone who says “yes” to everything and gives you a low price to seal the deal.

I’m serious…..they were spray-painted….

Your Mantra: If I have to work within a tight budget, I will sit down and figure out what top 3 elements of my wedding are most important to me, and focus my budget on those elements, while scaling back on others to make up ground.


A matching, cohesive look for a wedding will always present well, but as a client you need to have some degree of flexibility and be realistic about matching things exactly. to. the. tee. Lamber de Bie, a seasoned florist in Kilkenny notes, “The one thing I do not like is when the bride comes with a piece of fabric in a specific color, for example a bridesmaid’s dress, and asks me to match that exact same color in the flowers. Of course I (and any good florist) can match the colors in theory, but there will most likely be a slight variance in tone.” He goes on to explain, “Flowers are natural products, and a few very sunny days or some slightly darker days might make the flower tone lighter or darker, so guaranteeing the 100% exact same color is difficult, if not impossible.”

As wedding planners we see this a lot with outdoor ceremonies. The fact is it rains in Ireland often, which is why it’s so beautiful here. But that means potential complications like mud, washed out roads, and slipper rocks for some outdoor ceremony locations that may tank your original plans. When it becomes a safety issue for you and your guests, we need to either switch around the schedule to work with a break in the weather or go to your Plan B.

Your Mantra: I will be realistic and flexible about elements in my wedding and wedding day, and defer to the expertise of my vendors.


There is such a thing as being too laid back. Although we all know Bridezilla, the “Narcoleptic Bride” can be equally frustrating. When beginning the planning process, begin brainstorming what you want and what you don’t want for your day. It doesn’t need to be terribly specific, but it’s best to have some sort of an idea or direction. If you have trouble, Waterlily Weddings is happy to work with you on the design and styling part of your wedding.

An easy answer to getting started is approaching the process like doing research. “The one thing I always say to any bride,” says Lambert, “is the more time they put into researching flowers, the more personal their wedding flowers become.” Elements in your wedding are expressions of yourselves: you as individuals, you as a couple, your journey together, what you stand for, etc. If you can think of your flowers, stationary, etc. in those terms, it will get you excited about the planning process.

The next step is sharing these ideas and content with your vendors. Some clients are better at writing out their vision, which works great with vendors. Some are better visually, so putting together mood boards and inspiration boards are an excellent resource. Some clients are fantastic about saying what they want, while others that don’t quite have that idea solidified yet find it easier to communicate what they don’t want. Whatever avenue you choose, the idea is to start communicating your ideas and feelings to your vendors and keep that line of communication open throughout the planning process.

Your Mantra:  I will make an effort to discuss with my partner what we envision for our wedding day, what we like and don’t like, and to communicate it to our vendors and wedding planner.


Mood boards, inspiration boards, Pinterest, etc. are all fantastic resources for planning your wedding. They let the couple conceptualize their vision, easily shares to all the vendors, and can be updated and adjusted easily along the way. But, there is a major offender in the world of boards. “There is such a thing as too many pins,” cautions Michelle. “Sometimes too many styling directions can be confusing and distracting for planners and vendors.” Instead, try viewing mood or inspiration boards as a way to help edit a collection of ideas down to one, cohesive, clear vision for you as a couple to stay on track and your vendors to go off of. At first the planning process will overwhelm you with images and ideas, and that’s normal. Take the time and have fun playing around with different directions on your own. But there will need to come a time where you sit down together, even with the help of your planner or designer, and work towards a focused theme or look. It is that board then that should be circulated among the vendors.

Your MantraI will focus what I really want and then create a board with those ideas and elements. If I get overwhelmed or burnt out, I will ask for help in the design and style process.


Related to above, there is also a thing about being too aggressive with your ideas. We love opinionated couples that know what they want, how they want it, and then it’s up to the the vendors to make it happen. But remember that you are hiring professionals who’ve done hundreds and thousands of weddings, who have literally seen it all, who through their experience knows what can work and what won’t, and who are here to walk you past the pitfalls. 

Sylvia notes, “It is really helpful when couples are clear on the color and design aesthetic they love, but it makes it a more enjoyable process for everyone when the couple put their full trust in you to design their wedding flowers.”  Some brides come in with a very specific idea that would work, but perhaps the vendor has another take that would work even better.  “Sometimes it’s better to contrast colors for bridesmaids dresses,” notes Lambert. “Instead of using an exact match, using different tones or other accent colors to really draw out the color in the dress might be a better fit for the overall look. This is something a good florist should be able to advise on.”

Although pictures are a great starting point, it’s better to view them as guidelines rather than rule. “I take different elements of bouquets and other designs they love and combine them to create a bespoke design,” says Sylvia.

And it’s not just about the elements of the wedding, but also on the wedding day itself. Especially in Ireland, when you’re dealing with weather, you absolutely 100% need to maintain a healthy dose of flexibility and TRUST US. If we tell you this can’t happen or we need to move the ceremony indoors, or we can’t use the amplifier outside because it’s a safety issue, we swear it’s because we really, really mean it.

Your Mantra: I hired these planners and vendors because they are knowledgeable in their areas, talented, and understand my vision. I will allow them the space to work creatively.


There is a method to the madness of wedding planning, and you hired a planner to help you get through the process. This means giving yourself over to the time table we suggest, which has taken into consideration everything you want, where, and how to go about best organizing it for all players involved. “Some brides get very excited about the planning (of course – so are we!) but they want to plan everything at once,” says Michelle. “Over the past ten years working in the wedding business, we really understand the flow and priority that has to be giving to the order in which you plan, ensuring the planning process to be as efficient and stress free as possible.” When couples insist on planning ten elements all at once, it tends to overwhelm the planning process and impedes the creative process from flowing through naturally.

Instead, trust in the time table and allow ideas to be developed. Allow artists to conceptualize what they can do for you. Forcing the issue imperils vendors from being able to provide their best possible service for you.

Your Mantra:  I will work under the guidance of my time table, and allow time for the creative process to take place naturally.


Don’t get offended if we don’t respond to emails immediately please!! We really try our best to get back to everyone as soon as we can! This goes for the vendors you’ll be working with as well! We receive your emails, we read them, we pay attention to them, we take notes, and we listen to you; we just can’t necessarily do it immediately is all! To help us work more efficiently and productively for you, keep in mind:

  • If we need quick responses on something, we’ll let you know, so please make every effort to get back to us quickly. It’s usually about something very important like paperwork and legal items when time might be an issue.
  • Try to consolidate your questions, comments, and ideas into more detailed emails we can look at all at once. When we receive 10+ smaller emails with little notes and pictures, it’s easy for these to get lost in our inbox!

Your Mantra: I will good about organizing my thoughts and ideas, and be patient to hear back from vendors.

10.  R-E-L-A-X  and E-N-J-O-Y

“The worst photographs are the ones where the bride or groom are nervous and agitated and really worked up,” says one photographer. As nervous as you may be, you have to remember to relax. “Emotions come through in photographs most of all,” he says. “A relaxed couple, enjoying themselves and being in the moment make the best, Pinterest-worthy pictures.” Shane points out, “Most clients come from overseas with a sense of excitement and anticipation. They are up for almost anything. They are looking for experiences. All of these emotions tie in together and make for unique images.”

Focus on enjoying the day. All of the details are in good hands, everyone is here to support you and be present with you on this special day. Give yourself the gift of taking it in and enjoying it, and the pictures will come organically.

Your Mantra: I will trust my vendors to accomplish my vision, and I will make every effort to relax and enjoy my wedding day.

Write out your mantras. Post them on the fridge. Remember that this is a partnership between you and your planner, and a team effort with your vendors who are excited to work with you. Happy planning!

Photo courtesy of 5th Photography

Special thanks to Lambert de Bie of Lambert de Bie Flowers, Sylvia Abraham of Bella Botanica Flowers, Shane O’Neill of Aspect Photography,, Michelle Johnstone Clark of Waterlily Weddings, and others who helped contribute to this post. 

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