on coordinating with vendors

Coordinating With Event Vendors

I like to think that events (of any kind) are about bringing people together. Even the process of planning an event usually brings people together – even if someone is planning an event on her own, she’s probably relying on at least one outside vendor or resource. Most of the events that I plan have multiple vendors. One of the main roles of the event planner is not just to decide which ones you will work with (which venue, which caterer, which band or entertainer), but then coordinate between them up to and during the event.

It’s helpful for all of the parties involved to have all of the relevant information. Logistics like arrival times and rental drop off need to be coordinated, but even less obvious things like seemingly small details should be shared. For example, if you have a color palette for your event, it’s helpful for many (if not all) of your vendors to know so they can coordinate their piece of the event appropriately. If your whole event color scheme relies on a pop of yellow, let your caterer know so they can find ways to include that pop of yellow in their serving pieces or trays. Or say you are hosting a plated dinner and are renting elegant square chargers – better make sure the caterer knows to use square plates for the courses, otherwise that standard round plate won’t sit on the square charger!

Sometimes coordinating with your vendors means making sure someone else doesn’t already have something covered before you order it on your own. I made this mistake at an event a few months ago. I was working with a florist that the hotel we were using recommended, specifically because the two vendors had worked together so frequently I knew that I could rely on my event coordinator at the hotel to help me make decisions on the products the florist (which was also an event decor and rental company) offered. But when I ordered arrangements for the bars in the ballroom, I neglected to check with the hotel that they didn’t already have florals that they would be putting out for us. In retrospect I should have caught this, because I had already asked the hotel about cocktail table arrangements and knew that they were providing complimentary orchids and candles for our use. Why not double check the bar arrangements, too?

The day of the event, I realized that the hotel had arrangements on the bar already and the ones I had ordered didn’t quite work. We were able to repurpose them for other parts of the event, but I could have easily saved a few hundred dollars by not ordering them at all.

My flower mistake isn’t the end of the world but I was definitely kicking myself for making a rookie mistake.

The moral of this story is to always err on the side of overcommunication between vendors, if you are able. Make sure you are sharing which vendors you are using with your various contacts, and sharing contact information if possible. For larger events, think about using a document that has everyone’s contact information and sharing it widely so if someone needs something and can’t get in touch with you, they can reach out to the vendor directly.

And in my case, had I shared the actual order or details from the order with my hotel contact, they would have told me I didn’t need to order those flowers. Alas!

Have you ever forgotten to connect a vendor or shared info? Leave a note in the comments!


  1. wendykate says:

    My mom ran a country club when I was a kid and I went into the industry post college and was there for years. Great advice for anyone having to deal with vendors.

  2. Rebecca Aftergood says:

    Great post Amanda! Those small details are so annoying to miss! Unfortunately they’re often the things you don’t even consider! I will try to be over-communicative from now on! :). Thanks!

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