Wedding Professionals Sometimes Aren't.

I've re-written this about five or six times because I'm trying to be diplomatic, but I'm just going to say it. Not every business connection is a good business connection.

When you're getting started in business it's tempting to just line yourself up with anyone who comes along with a nice pitch. "Hey, let's get together and put on a show!" It's flattering to be asked, but think first. Before you align yourself with someone, you need to make sure that this person is someone you would want to refer clients to, because the job they do is going to reflect well or poorly upon you if you were the one who sent a client to them. Watch out, and if something doesn't go well, or you start feeling like the type of business this other person is running isn't the type of business that you would want to be associated with, don't be afraid to "break up" with them. It will be awkward, but sometimes it's necessary.

If you're going to align yourself in any kind of a business relationship, you need to be sure that the person you're working with, referring business to, and generally endorsing, is someone who you want to be endorsing. There are many wedding pros who I have absolutely no qualms about referring people to, and others who I never would. I'm not going to refer to someone who I know undercuts other businesses in pricing, or who does other sketchy things like taking kickbacks for referrals or saying nasty things to clients about other pros (and word does get around if you do that.) If I hear the same complaints about a professional from multiple brides, there might be something to the story, so that makes me wary.

It's not just the business practices, either. I'm also going to steer clear of someone who acts like an idiot in their personal life and then puts videos up online to document their poor judgment. I'm not going to refer brides to someone who thinks it's cute to post videos of themselves getting drunk and cursing...Not the image I want to project for myself, my business, or for the businesses I want to deal with. In the same way that employers screen people by googling them, I will google people to see what come up, and if I react by saying "what are they thinking by posting that?" then I probably won't be sending business their way.

Protecting your professional reputation is important, and if the people you consider to be in your "circle" aren't what you aspire to be, your reputation will only suffer. Surround yourself with professionals who are actually professional, and who you admire and respect. Surround yourself with the people who can teach you what to do, not the people who teach you what NOT to do.

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

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