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There is an estimated 1000 wedding venues in Virginia alone. There are 52,000 weddings each year and on average 10 vendors will service each wedding. Our local wedding industry provides an estimated 520,000 jobs annually! This creates incredible opportunities and the need for structure to manage and maintain fair policies and practices that protect brides, grooms, guests, vendors & venues.

Engaged couples have more options that ever before and they expect more. Couples want to know more about the business operations behind the beautiful venue, stunning views, styled shoots and friendly staff. Fair Practices Venues are rising to the top as a priority in the selection process. Brides & grooms want to know that their wedding investment is protected by venues and vendors who adhere to a higher standard of business ethics. Wedding venues and vendors are helping us spread the word about why it is so important to find and hire Fair Practices providers. This message is impacting brides & grooms on the search for a better, smarter, more fulfilling way to select wedding services.

Fair Practices Venues Value Vendor Relationships
  • Professional vendors are vital to the success of weddings & special events. Fair Practices Venues understand the value of their vendor relationships and maintain a professional vendors only policy. Amateurs allowed to work weddings place the venue, vendors, clients and guests in risk of increased safety violations, work ethic infractions, customer service failure and contract violations. New wedding professionals keep our industry innovative and thriving, they should be supported and expected to invest in the same basic business standards as seasoned professionals: state business license, liability insurance and register their business in the business background checks system for increased accountability.
  • Fair Practices Venues require that all booked clients submit a list of their booked vendors no later than two months prior to the wedding. This allows the venue advanced knowledge of any potential hazards that could occur from vendors they have never worked with or do not have current license and insurance on file. The venue is in a unique position to help encourage far more productive safety measures by requiring only a few small policy changes to their standards of practice. These small requests are not a problem for professional, dedicated, serious wedding vendors to comply with. Additionally, these policies ensure that our hard working professional wedding industry businesses are hired more often and lose less jobs because an amateurs was hired.
  • Venues that have lax management of the vendors who work weddings at their venue increase event liability by accommodating unregulated vendors, reduce safety by allowing unaccountable, unlicensed, uninsured vendors to have the same access and opportunity as vendors who do protect wedding and event clients by investing in business licenses, insurance, business education.
Fair Practices Venues DO NOT Charge Hidden Fees.
  • Venues that force couples or event clients to hire certain vendors and then charges these vendors a percentage of their fees for each wedding they book at the venue is not a Fair Practices Venues. This practice is unethical, most often kept hidden from clients and encourages a referral relationship based on the exchange of money rather than the performance of the vendor.
  • Venues that that attempt to appear competitive in pricing by hiding fees in mandatory services are not Fair Practices compliant. For example, some venues appear have very good, competitive or even lower rates than other, similar local options. In reality these venues have exclusive relationships with a DJ for example, event clients must hire that service which is allowed to charge an unreasonably high fee, much of that fee is paid to the venue to offset the published venue rental rate. This hidden fee is not disclosed to clients. This is an egregious violation of ethics meant to undercut venues offering transparent fees and rate structure. This also prohibits talented vendors from working at the venue because of the exclusive agreement.
  • Fair Practices Venues do not force vendors to pay annual fees to be placed on a preferred vendor list. Making vendors pay to be on a preferred vendor list undermines the value of the vendors and how essential they are to the production, design and overall success of every wedding and event. Forcing vendors to pay a fee to be listed on a preferred vendor list creates a system of pay for play rather than referrals based on talent, integrity, experience, ability, professionalism and dependability. Venues that use their relationships with clients to force fees from vendors creates a false sense of security with the client assuming the preferred vendor list is based on talent, when in reality each vendor space is for sale.
  • Fair Practices Venues do not allow 3rd parties to enforce fees and regulations onto the vendors allowed to work at the venue. For example, venues may have a relationship with a wedding planner. While the venue does not directly charge the vendors, the venue allows a wedding planner to dictate who will have the ability to connect with the clients who have booked the venue. This creates a potential for extortion tactics by 3rd party. If you allow a 3rd party total access to the clients who book your venue and allow that person to force fees from vendors in order to access your booked clients then you are violating Fair Practices.
  • Fair Practices Venues do not force vendors to advertise in booklets or venue promotional printed material to be listed on the preferred vendor list or to be guaranteed referrals from the venue. These booklets are over priced and offer a mediocre impact from booked brides & grooms rarely resulting in  bookings for the paid advertisers. Additionally, in order to pay for the booklet advertising quota, more vendors are added to cover printing costs, not in an effort to create more value for the client. This damages the original preferred vendors by adding any additional vendors willing to pay to meet the advertising quota. The advertising rates vary allowing some vendors to pay $800 for a small ads and some to pay as much as $3500 for an ad – these fees find their way into the billing cost for clients. If the vendor wants to be referred by other venues who use the booklet advertising method a vendor could be charged thousands of dollars per venue which leads to higher costs for couples. This is an abhorrent policy that is so damaging to both the venue and all vendors that it should be rejected by all event venues as one of the worst business practices in the wedding industry.
Fair Practices Venues do not have policies that interfere with vendors ability to fulfill contractual obligations.
Some vendors will only work one wedding on any given day. Some vendors must work multiple weddings in a day (caterers, florists, cakes, decor, rentals). Venues that do not allow reasonable access for vendor prep or do not uphold the access promised in their contracts create incredible hardships for vendors and may leave them in breach of contract. The policy for vendor set up and tear down should be clearly stated in contracts and venue policy documents. The time frame and policy may vary for each venue as every venue is unique.
Fair Practices Venues do not put couples, guests or vendors at risk with lax policies on safety.
This includes leaving untrained or inadequate staff in charge of the venue during events. The safety of vendors is as important as the guests and clients. It is important to make sure vendors will have reasonable access and safe ability to provide their services without risking their well being or damaging their equipment.
Fair Practices Venues do not allow business bullying, bashing or slander.
The moment a wedding industry business begins to slander another business in an effort to discredit or damage that businesses reputation all Fair Practice Venues and Vendors should end the conversation and report it to VAWE Network for appropriate action. We provide free mentoring and a mediation board to help resolve conflicts that arise among wedding industry business owners. If someone is violating Fair Practices policies please encourage that business to take advantage of these programs. Harassment, bullying, blacklisting, business bashing and slander should never be tolerated as it can lead to heated conflict at weddings and special events where feuding vendors can create inappropriate and unnecessary distractions or worse.
Venue owners or management will not require vendors to perform duties outside of their contractual obligations for the client
For example a venue will not request that the photographer stay to help clean up the venue after the wedding or the caterer to assist with tearing down tables and chairs belonging to the venue unless this is part of their contractual duties. A venue should not use the ploy of potential leads and referrals in order to get vendors to perform venue duties during or after the event. If the venue needs additional help or support at the event, an offer of compensation should be made. A vendor should not feel obligated to assist with venue duties because the venue is demanding or requiring it in exchange for being listed on a preferred vendor list or under the threat of not being allowed to work at the venue in the future.
Fair Practices Venues will report contract violations
Fair Practices Violations or Ethics Violations to the VAWE Network Wedding Work History for documentation and follow up. Reports will be followed up in a fair and unbiased manor by compiling facts not feelings. The factual information will be reviewed and suggestions & programs for improvement will be provided to the vendor. If more is required our impartial mediation board may get involved to assist with disputes between client and business or business to business.
Venue staff and management should never be abusive to vendors
Venue staff and management should not allow anyone else to be abusive toward vendors. After the death of a caterer at a Fairfax wedding this year we must improve our our policies and safety measures for all wedding guests and staff.  We want all of our small business owners to feel safe and secure at weddings – and to make it home to their families afterward.
Maintain business licenses as required by state and liability insurance.
Maintain business licenses as required by state and liability insurance. The moment you begin requiring fees in exchange for service your clients depend on you to be an expert. The cost of a business license and liability insurance is a small investment that distinguishes an amateur from a serious professional.
Fair Practices Vendors are never late to events and never call in sick or no show a wedding
Fair Practices Vendors are never late to events and never call in sick or no show a wedding. If you have an emergency you must make accommodations by getting a professional stand in for you or have a back up plan outlined in your contract. Every weekend we have reports of late vendors, not by minutes but by hours. One late vendor has a negative impact on the entire wedding. It is unacceptable and happens far too often.
Provide written contracts to all clients at the moment of commitment of service.
Provide written contracts to all clients at the moment of commitment of service. Contracts provide clear expectations of services provided, they are customized for each clients and take inventory of the unique features & demands for their wedding. For example, if you charge travel fees for weddings booked at venues outside your service area this must be made clear to the client in the signed, dated contract.
Maintain up to date equipment, vehicle, tools of the trade.
Work as a team with all wedding professionals hired to service the event.
Communicate properly with the client providing multiple ways for the clients to contact the vendor
Communicate properly with the client providing multiple ways for the clients to contact the vendor. Prompt response time is essential, communication response should be immediate via email and within 24 hours for a phone call. There should be an emergency contact instructions provided. This includes communication with your wedding colleagues who may need to contact you on behalf of your mutual client.
Vendors must support the wedding venue by adhering to venue policy.
Vendors must support the wedding venue by adhering to venue policy. Venues create hundreds of wedding industry jobs each year and they need our support.
Vendors must have professionally trained staff
Vendors must have professionally trained staff. Friends showing up to fulfill contracted duties is not a professional option. We know that many wedding professionals run family owned businesses  but trained staff is not option. Adding untrained friends and family to your staff creates increased safety issues and liability. If you bring staff to a wedding you are guaranteeing that they have been properly trained to manage specific duties.
Vendors should have knowledge of the venues where they are hired to provide services.
Vendors should have knowledge of the venues where they are hired to provide services. Site visits are a must prior to providing contracted services for a venue the vendor is not familiar with. Without site visits a vendor can arrive to a variety of unexpected issues that impede a professional performance. For example, a cake vendor arriving at a venue to find out they must take the 80 pound cake 2 blocks away because there is no onsite parking may not have a cart for transport. A DJ may arrive to a venue to find out there are not enough outlets and the DJ does not have extension cords. A caterer could arrive to find out the venue does not have a kitchen area with sinks, only counter space for food prep. There are too many unknown variables and unnecessary risks taken by vendors that do not have proper knowledge of the venues where they commit to provide services – a site visit eliminates these risks.
Vendors should have professional appearance at each event.
Vendors should have professional appearance at each event. This varies based on the vendor, one may wear a suit another may wear polo shirts and khakis with professional branding. Regardless of the style of dress one should appear polished, clean and professional.
Vendors should not ever take items from the venue, other vendors set up or stations without consent
Vendors should not ever take items from the venue, other vendors set up or stations without consent. If you arrive unprepared to an event you may disrupt the other vendors or cause their services to appear less professional. For example, a caterer arriving to a venue without enough ice cannot simply assume the wedding planner will fix problem by leaving to retrieve the missing item. They should not go to the bartender and take their supplies. This could create a mediocre experience from both services. You must be prepared and cannot create hardship for those around you who are prepared.
Vendors should not have friends or children at professional events.
Vendors should not have friends or children at professional events. If you are contracted to provide professional services you should not bring your children as this could increase liability for the venue, client and other vendors. Inviting friends to tag along to weddings is inappropriate, can create distractions or increase liability.
Vendors should not drink alcohol or become otherwise impaired during events.
Vendors should not eat during the ceremony and reception except for the designated times established for vendors.
Vendors should not eat during the ceremony and reception except for the designated times established for vendors. Many times drinks are offered during these celebrations, if you are hired as a professional to provide services at the wedding it is inappropriate to consume alcohol during work hours. If you are invited to stay once your duties are fulfilled and you are off the clock please use your discretion on this issue.
Vendors should know every vendor working their upcoming booked weddings and begin connecting prior to the event for a better effort of teamwork
Vendors should know every vendor working their upcoming booked weddings and begin connecting prior to the event for a better effort of teamwork. This can be accomplished easily by registering your clients in the Wedding In A Box program and registering your booked weddings in the Wedding Work History program. We can do all the legwork and update you on who has been hired for the weddings you have booked. This is so important to the success of upcoming events, creating a stronger wedding community and a more effective referral network for Fair Practices Vendors.
Vendors should never be abusive toward venue staff.
Vendors should never agree to provide services to a client only to resell that service to another vendor at a higher amount.
Vendors should never agree to provide services to a client only to resell that service to another vendor at a higher amount. For example, if a DJ books a wedding on a date he is already booked knowing he can’t accommodate that client, then resells that booking to a less qualified DJ that charges less for services, this is an ethics violation as it deceives the client. The client booked a services based on trusting that provider and felt confident in that vendor. Reselling bookings is dishonest.

One of the best ways to protect your wedding investment is by hiring a Fair Practices Venue or Vendor.

Business owners who adhere to Fair Practices can offer a far superior experience for clients and guests. Fair Practices businesses reduce the potential liability and increase the safety of these events. Please look for the Fair Practices logo before you hire a business for your wedding.

Need to Report a Fair Practice Violation?