In a perfect world....
The wedding planner takes over the reins of your wedding, makes life better while also saving you time and money. From start to finish, they are supposed to give you the freedom and peace of mind to enjoy your special day. All vendors such as photographers, videographers, florists, DJ's etc. have been chosen that are a great fit for you and your style, do amazing work, are true professionals with good work ethics and provide a wedding experience second to none.
But in reality....
Many wedding/event planners require kickbacks from their preferred vendors. Anywhere between 5% to 20% of the contracted amount is expected to be paid back to the planner as a commission on the referral. In my experience 10% is the norm for photography referrals but this may be more with other vendors. I have even received a commission request from a cheeky wedding planner that didn't even refer my services and the couple found and booked me directly after doing their own research as their planner's 'preferred photographers' weren't a good match for them at all.
From the client’s perspective, this is a massive conflict of interest. Most high-quality vendors have no need to pay a commission for a referral; they have enough business on their own merit. High-quality vendors that choose to pay the commission will do it in lieu of offering the client a discount, or even charge the referral fee to the client by building it into the package.
It's an unfortunate situation and things need to change. Vendors aren't receiving full payment for work performed and the couple end up paying more for services, having a limited pool of preferred vendors who only provide kickbacks to the wedding planners/venues.
The title “Preferred Vendor” garners trust for a bride & groom.
When we hear a wedding planner, venue, coordinator or website use the term 'Preferred Vendor' in reference to wedding vendors, we assume that title was earned. There are many venues that have preferred wedding vendor lists that are genuinely and strictly focused on the quality of work of those included. Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar, Villa Bologna in Attard and The Westin in St Julians are just some of the venues that refer my services to their couples and require no financial gain for doing so. Unfortunately, this is not often always the case.
So what shall we do to stop this??
For vendors, don’t be a part of such agreements. These agreements are destroying the integrity of the wedding and event industry by eroding vendor ability to make a profit while providing high-quality products and services. By taking this stand I will be reducing the amount of referrals from some wedding planners but I hope to try to change the way of doing things and work with only true wedding professionals.
For couples, before hiring a wedding/event planner, or booking a venue, ask what preferred vendor policies they have, if any. If planners/venues require fees and commissions from vendors, don’t walk, but RUN THE OTHER WAY. Wedding planners/venues should be out to service you, the client, not their own self-interest.
Being fair & transparent and working with professionals on merit is the only way true to get rid of the ROT and give the wedding experience that couples deserve without having to pay the price.