Is It Ever OK to Break Up With a Wedding Vendor?

Breaking up is hard to do, but sometimes it's necessary. Having trouble with a wedding vendor? Here's when it's OK to part ways and how to do it gracefully.

By Kathleen Wong

catered dinner at wedding
Photo by B Jones Photography

So, you spent hours (probably days) researching which wedding vendors could make your wedding dreams a reality. But now as you get closer to the wedding, you’re finding yourself second-guessing your decision. Whether they aren’t living up to your expectations or drop the ball with increasing consistency, you may want a way out of a relationship with a vendor. Breaking up with anyone is awkward, and a signed contract definitely doesn’t help. Here’s how to gracefully part ways with a vendor so that you don’t end up getting screwed.

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What merits a breakup with a vendor?

In some cases, it takes some time to realize that you and your vendor are just not on the same page—and will never get there. Ending things with a vendor is messy and risky, though, so you should only do it if absolutely necessary. In other words, it’s ill-advised to keep booking vendors and then simply changing your mind. In fact, we staunchly recommend against that strategy.

It’s up to you as a customer to figure out what you want and be upfront about expectations as you meet with vendors. Assuming that you’ve attempted to communicate clearly and make it work with your vendor, here are some legit reasons to break up with them.

INLINE KenzieRaePhotography 1080x720 Carley&Elizabeth Photo Credit // Kenzie Rae Photography

Your photos are consistently unflattering.

After sharing your vision with your photographer and taking some test or engagement photos, you open the file to realize that the photos were not what you had in mind. OK, deep breaths. If, after some back and forth on editing and style, your photographer continues to deliver unflattering photos of you, it may be time to reconsider. Wedding photographers are expensive and these are the people you’re trusting to create those lasting physical memories of your day. Don’t feel like you should keep a photographer for the wedding if you most likely won’t like what they produce.

Your band or DJ is condescending.

When you choose a wedding DJ or band, you usually choose them for a particular style or type of experience. However, that doesn’t mean you relinquish all creative control of the music at your reception. Any professional musician or DJ knows that part of working a wedding means catering to the couple's musical tastes.

If you bring a list of song requests to your DJ or band and they react in an unsavory or condescending way, part ways. Your wedding is supposed to be fun and if your DJ is making you feel bad over your music choices, it’s a bit of a buzzkill. Even if your wedding entertainment agrees to play the songs, if it’s left a bad taste in your mouth, you may feel uncomfortable during your reception. Better to move on than have your favorite songs tainted by a negative experience.

Your hair and makeup aren’t matching your vision.

Like your wedding attire, you likely spent a long time researching, perusing, pinning, and picking your wedding day hair and makeup looks. If, after one or more test runs, your makeup artist or hairstylist can’t deliver—and by this we mean is way off—you may need to restart your search. You want to look and feel your best on your wedding day, whether that means a total glamourized version of you or a barely-there no-makeup-makeup look. Don’t risk hating your final look. If you don’t like it the day-of, you probably won’t like the photos either.

Your planner is MIA.

If you hired a wedding planner or day-of coordinator, it’s probably because you expected him or her to handle and plan in the areas that you needed more support. So, if that person is consistently late to appointments, is impossible to reach, or straight-up misses meetings, then it’s probably time to move on to a new one. Staying with a flaky planner is most likely going to make the wedding planning process much more stressful. Kind of defeats the purpose of a planner, right?

Your caterer won’t adhere to dietary restrictions.

It’s not uncommon to host a wedding with a guest list full of dietary restrictions and special food requirements. Now, obviously you should be upfront with your caterer about expectations in this regard before booking. However, if more guests than you anticipated have special diets or if your caterer said they could accommodate and now refuses, you’re in a bad situation. This one is tricky because ideally, you vetted caterers who specialized in special diets or dietary restrictions. That said, you can’t necessarily assume everyone’s needs ahead of receiving their meal enclosure cards.

Your vendor isn’t inclusive.

This may be obvious to you, but even the best vendors sometimes don’t align with what you consider the best values. If you overhear your vendor say something discriminatory or offensive about you, other clients, or even in a general sense, terminate the contract. There is no reason to tolerate inappropriate or ignorant behavior or speech. Similarly, if you find out about instances in which your vendor discriminated against other couples or individuals, bring it to the table and part ways if you feel it’s necessary.

How To Break Up With a Wedding Vendor

After thoughtful consideration—and we really mean thoughtful—you and your SO finally decide that it’s best to go your separate ways from a wedding vendor. Here’s what to keep in mind when you break up with your wedding vendor—and how to go about it with grace and tact.

Re-read your contract.

So you and your vendor have had several talks and it’s just not going to work out. What now? Before you bring up anything to your vendor, take a careful read over your contract. Most vendors have dealt with cancellations before and their cancellation policy is most likely outlined in the contract. You want to be well-versed in what you signed up for ahead of the conversation.

Talk in person.

Time to rip off the bandaid. Pick up the phone or meet with them in person to let them know how you’re feeling about working with them. Don’t chicken out and do this over email or text. An in-person discussion is much more productive (and frankly, mature). When you do get a chance to talk, don’t take things personally and try not to let things get heated. Offer constructive and friendly feedback and let them know that while this is the last thing you wanted, you’re going to need to end the contract.

Get the termination in writing.

Before you leave the in-person discussion, be sure to establish a next step to get the official termination in writing. While we hope that the cancellation goes smoothly, you never know what could happen. A statement in writing signed by both parties is essentially your second contract that upholds whatever termination agreement you come to. Even an email correspondence or recap of your meeting is critical in case things go south and you need proof of when you cancelled the contract.

INLINE LensesAndLaughterPhotography 1080x720 Jess&Brian Photo Credit // Lenses And Laughter Photography

Don’t ghost.

We know it’s tempting but whatever you do, don’t just disappear on the vendor and never return their calls! It may sound dramatic to you (hopefully it does!), but it happens. Not only does this create bad blood but it could also create extra stress down the line for you, including the stress of the financial sort. If you don’t uphold your end of a contract—whether that’s not making appointments or even skipping payments—your vendor could take legal action, depending on your contract.

Prepare to take a hit.

The hard truth of breaking up with a wedding vendor is that it will probably cost you. Depending on your contract, you’re most likely not entitled to get your money back and you may even need to pay more or the full sum of the contracted rate. You may get lucky if the breakup is due to negligence on your vendor’s part, but if it’s really about aesthetics or opposing personalities, expect to eat the costs.

No matter what, we highly discourage ending a vendor relationship unless absolutely necessary. There are a handful of other routes you can take before cutting a contract short and potentially ruining a relationship. However, if you feel like you need to do it, then do it—tactfully. Breaking up with anyone is unpleasant, but in the long-run, you’ll be happy you did it.

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