Economic Realities of 2009

Posted by rnewton on Jan 21, 2009

Well, it’s been a pretty tough year.  And we’ve just begun.  Vendors will go out of business this year.  Bottom line, if you have booked vendors you need to assess your exposure, and if you have not you need to move forward with an appropriate degree of caution.

Caution falls into two categories.  What is your financial exposure, and how can you minimize it.  And what is your logistical exposure?  It is a lot easier to replace a band than to move a wedding.

Some easy basics:  credit cards have safety built-ins (you will want to check with your cc company for specifics), and you might want to purchase wedding insurance.  Be leery of the vendor who promises you a significant discount (or tax-free purchase) if you provide a cash deposit – it’s possible that they have cash flow issues, and if they go out of business a receipt will not do you much good.  Read the local news, and keep in touch with your vendors.  Better yet, befriend them.  A couple years ago a client of mine was renting tuxedos from a well established formal wear store in New York.  A week before the wedding I received a call from the store’s manager – they would be going out of business the next week, I should have my client come in immediately.  Not only did my client get his tuxes, he was told that there was no point in returning them, they were his to keep.  It was a terrific outcome, it probably would have turned out very differently if it were not for the special relationship I had with this store.

You need to use the most caution with venues; both the financial and logistical exposure are high (“years in business” is not a guarantee, the aforementioned tux store had been in business since the 20’s.)  Major hotel chains are typically amongst the safest places to be.  Independent catering halls are potentially at risk, especially if a big piece of their business mix is corporate events.  Restaurants are also at risk this year, “it would have been such a nice rehearsal dinner, if only the restaurant didn’t go out of business.” (a related risk that I look at is the local Department of Health, which can shutter a restaurant on the spot.)

A risk unique to photography studios is that they could go out of business after your wedding yet before you have received the albums or digital pictures. You won’t want to waste time in getting the digital files.

There is of course more, and I will discuss the risks specific to types of vendors in future posts.  In the meantime, to take a quote from NYPD Blue’s Sgt. Esterhaus “Let’s be careful out there.”