Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Building Relationships with Wedding Vendors

Matt recently got an e-mail from Cathy and Cory, the owners of the bed and breakfast where we held our wedding reception (and generally sprawled out for our entire wedding weekend). Here's an excerpt:
The winter was nice and peaceful and relaxing. But now we are starting up with our weekend retreats again that will keep us busy until summer. Cathy is the race director for the 2nd Annual Allenspark Run Like the Wind 5K and 10K. It’s on your anniversary weekend – July 17th, 2010 – so if you guys are in the area come on up and run the race. Hope all is well!
I adore Cathy and Cory. Seriously. We couldn't have had the same wedding without them. When we were stressing about how to compost all our plates, cups, and utensils, they said, "Don't worry about. We've already contacted the right people." When we were stressed about whether our guests would be able to park along the state road in front of the B&B, they said, "Don't worry about it. We'll contact the local police." When we told them we had 80 guests, which was more than they could accommodate with their existing chairs, they said, "Don't worry about it. We'll borrow some from a local B&B."

The list goes on. They let us borrow tons of white Christmas lights for decoration. They lent us their coolers so we could keep our ceremony drinks cool. They bent over backwards to work with us and help us plan the right wedding for us.

When we arrived a few days before the wedding to drop off a bunch of stuff (which they willingly stored for free), it felt like I was pulling into the driveway of a relative. It felt like we were coming home. The kind of peace, acceptance, and friendliness we felt from Cathy and Cory was exactly what we needed on the eve of a major life transition. They grounded us.

When I think back about our relationship with them, I wonder how we did it. How did we move from a vendor relationship to a friendship? I hope that Matt and I continue to build such relationships as we progress through life together.

Of course there was a huge dose of luck, but here are the very concrete things we did to cultivate an awesome relationship with our reception venue:
  1. We ventured off the beaten path. Cathy and Cory had hosted weddings at their lodge before (although I think it was just one--if my memory is working properly). Although I'm sure they continue to be utterly and completely amazing hosts to any wedding that comes their way, I think they were willing to help us more because they didn't have to do it every weekend.
  2. We went out of our way to build a relationship. For example, we volunteered to help them in their garden one Saturday (and we took them out to lunch before digging in). By spending quality time together, we were able to get to know each other.
  3. We showed appreciation whenever possible. It's so easy to think nice things about people, but it's an entirely different story to verbalize those comments and to do it regularly.

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Davanie said...

I was a camp counselor at the Girl Scout camp in Allenspark - great location- I miss those ponderosa pines!

Sounds like you had amazing people to work with at your venue. Ours are kind of new to the game- open for less than a year. I imagine reputation is pretty important to those in small towns where news tends to spread quickly. I'm looking forward to supporting them and making sure they stick around for years.
Yes, "show appreciation whenever possible" - thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

My partner and I are working with a budget of around $2,00 or so as well, and I was wondering how you possibly met the budget with 80 people staying there. Did each of your guests pay to stay seperately and you paid for the venue? We can't seem to find any venues that are even remotely close to our budget!

Sara E. Cotner said...

@ Anonymous: Each guest paid separately to stay there, and we used their money to pay the inn. We had one of our friends be in charge of collecting the $50-$70 from each guest for two nights of accommodations. We ended up having more people stay there than we anticipated so we had an extra $110. Hope that answers your question!

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