Empower Them: managing your vendor database

It’s time again for another EMPOWER THEM weekly tip, giving wedding planners like you another quick tip on a task you can delegate to your interns and apprentices.

Remember, these tasks help them gain real-world experience, learn new skills and empower them by better understanding the business side of the events industry.

What makes a GREAT wedding planner?


Someone who’s got GREAT relationships with their vendors.  After all, these are the people you work with day in, day out, year after year, right?

The last thing you want is to get a reputation of not returning phone calls or emails in a timely manner or being a firm that’s hard to work with.

TASK: have them manage your vendor database

here’s how…

First off, have you built a vendor database? 

It’s okay if you don’t have one yet…wedding planners are always go-go-going, it’s hard to stop the hamster wheel and build these critical systems/processes to make your life easier.  Trust me, I know.


As a wedding planner for 12 years, I don’t think I slowed down to build ours until year 7 or so…SHOCKING, I know!

But once we built it, man oh man, did things really start to take off from there. 

  • our company and team was a well-oiled machine
  • we had a process for when we’d get a new vendor inquiry email
  • we finally had a list of who our preferred vendors are
  • we had it written down where our entire team could access it easily, without relying on it all by memory.

This is a GREAT task for your apprentices, building one for your firm.  We’ve found Excel is the best software to use to build this but if you know Microsoft Access or already have an event planning software that does this, go for it.

The Simplifiers vendor database - The Apprentice Program

The Simplifiers vendor database looks like this…oops, pretend we didn’t just share this with the world.

Here’s how we did it:

  1. build an excel spreadsheet where each tab (at bottom left) is for a different category (ex: venues, florists, caterers, photographers, etc)
  2. on the sheet, create columns at the top for: NAME, CONTACT, PHONE, EMAIL, WEBSITE, NOTES
  3. take all of the weddings/events you’ve produced in the last 1-2 years and plug these vendors into your database. Pull the data from your client’s budget spreadsheet, timeline or production schedule and plug it in.
  4. have your apprentices ask the wedding planner who worked that wedding what their general vibe was on this vendor…would you work with them again? Were they quick to respond to emails?  Did they hit deadlines?  Did the client have a good experience working with them?  Was their product/service a good value vs. price?  Write down these notes in a brief, succinct way, to keep database manageable.
  5. if there are vendors that you WOULD NOT RECOMMEND or would never work with again, make a note of them at the bottom of your spreadsheet (see pic above) and WHY…either color code it or place all of these vendors in a separate tab all to its own and say why, noting which event you had a bad experience with them and who the lead planner was…that way, you have a point of reference as to why they are tagged as a NO-GO.
  6. make a separate section for NEW VENDORS – people you’ve never worked with before. That way, once you do work with them, it’ll be easy to cut/paste the data over into the appropriate sheet.
  7. Obviously, this is an internal document…make sure to put at the top of every tab/sheet the following: DO NOT DISTRIBUTE – INTERNAL DOCUMENT ONLY! – CONFIDENTIAL

NOTE: resist the urge to just send your clients this vendor list…you are the wedding planner and they hired you for a reason: to weed out who the best vendors are in town for them to work with.  Most brides don’t want to have to do this legwork…simply, give them a recommendation of 3-5 vendors per category, based on their top 5 most important details, budget and vision for the style of wedding they are having. 

I repeat, don’t send the entire spreadsheet.

Also, you don’t want a document that has your confidential notes and your logo sent out in the public, especially the NO-GO vendor notes.  That would be bad news bears.

  1. Save this spreadsheet in Google Drive or Dropbox and share it with your employees only. If you share it with your interns, make sure you remove them after their internship is completed with your firm…again, this is an internal document for your firm only.
  2. Last but not least, consider tapping into the International Special Events Society (ISES) online member database to pull any additional contact info you might need on certain vendors. If they are a member of ISES, it’s likely they are a reputable vendor who is trusted in the events industry in your city and around the world.

Realize that once the database is built, this is an ongoing project…one that every planner, every employee and every apprentice should contribute to.

TIP: update the vendor database after every wedding

After each and every wedding your firm produces, make it a required step for the wedding planner to go in and update the vendor database on all the vendors he/she just worked with last weekend…updating any contact info and/or notes about that vendor into the database.

Just ten minutes every week, that’s all it takes.  I promise.

what skills the apprentice learns:

  • vendor relations

  • database management

  • creating Excel spreadsheets


Looking for a training solution for your interns?

Look no further.  We are gearing up for the Fall semester now, signing on wedding planning firms that interested in giving their interns The Apprentice Program training.  It’s a 6-week onboarding course that helps you teach your team the critical topics of wedding planning and how to think fast on their feet via online spark videos, eLearning tools and more.  And it’s just $75/intern (valued at $2000!)

Apply today for access to The Apprentice Program curriculum, helping you become a better mentor for your team and save you time.  Start anytime.  Try the first week of training for FREE and see if it’s a fit for you and your team.  Just mention this code (GIMME1FREE) when applying online. Easy peasy, simple.

Let’s do this.





 your Undercover Superhero

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