It happens to the best of us. You’re vibing with a venue, a photographer, or a florist and then suddenly they vanish. You are staring at your phone waiting for a text back or checking the spam folder to see if you somehow missed their reply. What to do when a vendor ghosts depends entirely on the status of your relationship and time of year. I spoke with a professional wedding planner about what to do.
If a vendor ghosts you before or after you have signed a contract, give them a few days to respond before you worry. The summer season can be an incredibly busy time for most wedding professionals, especially. If you need a response urgently, you should follow up after 48 hours without a response. What you do next will depend on whether you have a signed contract or not.
Here’s how you should proceed based on the status of your relationship with a vendor.
If you do not have a contract yet
Generally, if you don’t have a signed contract with a vendor yet, you’re still in the courtship phase of your business relationship. If they are not getting back to you in a timely manner, follow up once or twice (allowing for 24-72 hours in between depending on how urgently you need a response) and then move on to a new vendor.
If you’re extremely early on in your planning, it’s not unusual for a vendor to prioritize current clients and they may need up to a week to get back to you with a quote or a response. Ultimately, it’s your money and your event so if you feel like the business isn’t meeting your expectations by taking several weeks to get back to you, move on until you find a better fit.
Don’t count a vendor as on your team officially until after you’ve signed a contract and paid a deposit. Until you do this they are free to book someone else on your date.
I talked to Emmanuelle Escandar of EEE Events for her advice. Here’s what the professional says about finding the right vendor:
Do your research on your vendors before signing the contracts. Make sure you always have a signed agreement. Your wedding day is a very personal day so make sure your vendors are a good fit for you personally.Emmanuelle Escandar, Event Planner and Owner of EEE Events
Signs of a good wedding vendor
When you’re communicating with potential businesses, how do you know which is the right one? Besides personality fit, you want a vendor who is going to take your business seriously and communicate with your in a professional and timely manner.
Here’s what a professional event planner has to say:
Personally, I let couples know when they will hear from me next, how often we’ll have meetings and touch-base.Emmanuelle Escandar, Event Planner and Owner of EEE Events
It’s definitely a good sign if a vendor is setting your expectations of when you’ll hear from them each step of the way. After all, you don’t get married everyday so you might be unsure of what’s normal. The vendors work on multiple weddings a year and have probably worked on hundreds or thousands over the course of their career. They’re more informed, but also a little more relaxed about getting it right.
Do you get monthly updates from a florist before your wedding? Probably not. It’s more likely that you talk to them once after you’ve signed the contract to let them know when they can deliver the flowers and that’s it. If you’re unsure, ask any potential vendors when you should hear from them throughout the process and what the key milestones of the project are.
If you’ve already signed a contract with the vendor
The situation no couple wants to be in is when a vendor you’ve signed and paid for, starts to make you nervous about delivering their services. How you respond will ultimately depend on how much time has passed and where you are in your planning.
Here’s advice from a professional planner:
If a vendor starts to ghost you, be sure to get everything in writing. And I mean, emails. Texts are better than nothing but emails are best. Depending on how far along you are in your payments, and how much you’ve paid in totality, you may want to pursue this legally at the end.Emmanuelle Escandar, Event Planner and Owner of EEE Events
You’ll want to make sure your follow up game is strong. Consistently contact them at least three times before threatening legal action. And allow for a reasonable amount of time to pass before you follow up. Express urgency and concern that you haven’t heard back from them yet.
What this looks like in practice could be 48 hours if you’re getting close to your wedding date or a key milestone. Or it could mean waiting a week or two before following up again if you have many months or a year before your wedding. If you’re getting close to your wedding date, you should start researching a new vendor.
For example, if a seamstress is working on alterations for your dress and was supposed to let you know within the next week when to pick it up, how you respond will depend on when your wedding is. Six+ months away? You can give her a few days or a week to respond. If your wedding is next month, don’t wait more than 48 hours before you follow up again and start making phone calls or a personal visit to see what’s going on. And if you don’t have any luck getting in contact, get yourself to a store where you can buy an off the rack dress in your size that doesn’t need alterations.
Why is my wedding vendor ghosting me?
There are a few reasons why a vendor isn’t getting back to you that have nothing to do with you. Here are some common reasons why a vendor doesn’t respond to your message right away.
They are busy
During wedding season, it can get extremely busy for most professionals. That doesn’t mean they don’t owe you a response but try to give them some grace if they don’t respond to you within 24-48 hours if your request is not urgent.
They are dealing with an urgent issue
A good vendor will drop everything else they are doing to deal with a time sensitive crisis with one of their clients. For example, if a wedding planner has a wedding happening next week that suddenly needs a new reception location, you can bet that they will be less reachable until that crisis is resolved. You’d want the same level of attention for an issue that arises for your big day (and hopefully nothing like that does) so wait a beat before getting upset.
They are on vacation
This one personally irks me too. If you’re dealing with a professional and paying for their services, they should inform you of any upcoming vacation plans or at least put an auto-responder on their email to let you know when they will return to work. This is standard practice in the corporate world where I’ve spent most of my career. Unfortunately, a lot of service professionals from real estate to weddings aren’t used to this practice.
It can be anxiety inducing when you ask a question to have it go unanswered but if your wedding isn’t happening in the next month, a week or two of no response is not going to wreck your plans.
They are dealing with a personal crisis
You never know what’s going on in someone’s personal life so don’t jump to conclusions that they’re just ignoring you. They could be struggling with something at home that’s temporarily requiring their attention and will get back to you when they’re ready and able to respond.
There is a business crisis
Now we’re getting into the things you’re afraid of when a vendor doesn’t respond. While it’s rare, and not something you should actively worry about in advance, it does happen that a vendor goes bankrupt, sells their business, or suffers damage like a fire. They will eventually get back to you with what’s going on.
It is certainly a bummer and potentially concerning depending on how far out you are from your wedding date if you need to rebook your venue, photographer, or other essential wedding service. In the case of any emergency, you still have rights as a customer but try to be understanding if it was something truly out of the vendor’s control.
Read through your contract and hold your vendor accountable to any cancellation clauses outlined. You will in most scenarios get a full refund of any payments you’ve made so you can book someone new.
They are an unreliable communicator
This is another unfortunate trait to discover after you’ve already booked a vendor. This may or may not be a deal breaker depending on the service and your expectations.
For most vendors, you won’t hear from them multiple times between booking them and your wedding. You should absolutely hear from them a few weeks before your wedding day as a final confirmation that plans are still in place for their services. And you might need to check in with them yourself to do that. For example, if you booked your DJ six months ago, it’s a good idea to follow up a month before your wedding to make sure they have the date, time, and address and are still confirmed. But if you’re following up every month for an update, that’s unnecessary.
If you’re working with a planner or designer or caterer who should be communicating with you regularly to make key decisions about your wedding and they’re not getting back to you, this might be more of an issue. You don’t want to miss out on booking something you need because the vendor isn’t able to make time for you.
There’s a cultural difference
In many countries it is completely normal not to hear a prompt response back according to American standards of promptness. And if you’re from the city but getting married in a rural area, the pace of communications might be slower than you’re used to. You may need to be a little patient in your planning.
Keep your spirits high if you find yourself in a scenario where a vendor is ghosting you. Follow the tips above and you’ll make it through the wedding planning process in no time. Looking for other brides to commiserate with? Check out our exclusive Facebook group Bold On a Budget Weddings.