Monday, June 6, 2011

I Am Not A Wedding Pimp

In the wedding world there are referrals, and there are kickback machines. Many vendors only refer to people who they have a "special relationship" with, meaning that they're getting a kickback from them. Either there's a markup in price that's passed along to the referring vendor, or they actively refer only to each other and just as actively tell clients NOT to hire anyone else.

I don't do that, and I don't work with people who expect me to let them bill the client so they can pad the balance due. I've told several planners (most of whom I've never heard of before) that they need to give me the client's email so that I can contact them directly.

If they won't, I won't work with them. If someone won't give me the bride's contact information, it's probably because the planner wants to send the clients the bill herself and add a little onto it for her trouble. I don't think so.

I'm not a wedding pimp who will take kickbacks or send clients to you for financial gain on my part. I get no cash or prizes for sending clients to other professionals. The only reason I give out someone's name is that I think they do good work.

So for people who want to call other professionals and ask to be put on their referral list, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Be polite. Don't tell me to put you on my list, ask to meet with me.

2. If all you have in your portfolio is photo shoots and no real weddings, I'll be reluctant to refer you. Photo shoots are one thing, working under the pressure of a real wedding is entirely different.

3. Be polite.

4. If you want me to check out your work, you'd better have a website. You'd be surprised how many people don't.

5. Be polite.

6. Did I mention that you should be polite? Remember that when you approach someone else you're asking for a favor, and people don't respond well to being ordered around by someone they don't know.

7. If you want to "work out a deal" where there's any kind of money being exchanged between us in exchange for referrals, it ain't gonna happen. Don't bother to call.

 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and


Anonymous said...

I'm totally with you on this one Kara. I have an aversion to greedy, skeevy people with zero manners.
cindy/cindy's cakery

Jennifer said...

My studio gets referred because I make the venue look good. Period. No kickbacks, no sweet deals.
If you refer a bride to another vendor, say a florist or photog, and she comes back to you and thanks you for the referral, then her trust in YOU has multiplied. That also works in reverse.
So, the venues that refer me hopefully can trust that I will treat their couples right, and make them look even better!
And amen on the website. if I can't research you at midnight in my underpants, then you're not worth referring. :)

Kara said...

Jennifer, that's EXACTLY right! I also tell people that the "benefit" that they get from working with certain professionals is that when they get referrals from them, the people they're referred to actually want to help them out. I have people I refer out to because they do good work, and if they refer clietns to me I make an effort to work them into my schedule. No $$$ gets passed out in the process.

Jenniffer said...

When I first started my business I was approached by a venue with a kickback proposal. I tried it for one cake and it did not work out well for me or the client. Now if you want to refer me, it's because you know the quality of product I produce.

Later, a wedding planner wanted a similar deal and I turned her down. I found out later that she was making the cakes herself and putting my name on the contract as the cake vendor. That situation came THIS close to ending in a lawsuit!

Ultimate Cake said...

Well said, Kara!