I’m going to tell you what a wedding kickback is, how its’ different from vendor discounts and handling fees, and our company’s stance on accepting them. Trust is at the foundation of an excellent professional relationship with anyone you hire for your wedding. Kickbacks can cloud an otherwise trusting relationship. Here’s why.
When I say kickback I mean when one company gets a payment from another company specifically for the referral of a client. Every now and then a wedding professional will come to us and say “hey, if you refer clients to us, we’ll give you $50 per client, or we’ll give you 10% of the booking fee.” It seemed attractive at first, but then again it just didn’t sit right. So, we decided, hey we just don’t do kickbacks. We’d love to send clients to you if it’s a good fit, and their happy experience with you is payment enough. In the same vein, if another wedding professional says they’ll only refer to us if we pay them a kickback, we also decline that. The reasons are the same with the added problem that our price strategy is very specific and geared to keep our price point accessible to as many couples as possible. We can’t give 10% to another wedding pro without charging the client another 10%. Charging 10% more is off the table for us, so these arrangements just aren’t an option for our business structure.
We also work with wedding pros that will offer to bring in rentals for their clients. For example, they can bring in lounge furniture, linens, or tables. That wedding professional or venue will say look we use these rental companies often, you can contact them directly for a price, or we can handle it for a fee. Whatever you prefer is fine. See how that’s different from a kickback. No weird feeling in my stomach from that.
What about vendor discounts? We have a transportation company that finds it so nice to work with a coordinator that they offer clients a discount if our clients let them know they are working with us when they book. We do send clients frequently to this wedding professional because most of our clients are trying to keep to a budget and they appreciate a discount. So, we do send clients based on this discount. However, the savings go straight to the client. Again my stomach feels fine with that.
So now that we are clear, we are not talking about handling fees or discounts. What we are talking about is kickbacks which may be called commissions, or maybe preferred vendor fees.
Is That Even Legal?
As a rule, this doesn’t sit well with our business, so we don’t do it. As a client, you should know whether this sort of arrangement exists between your professionals. Kickbacks are not illegal in this sense, and in cases where there is full disclosure, these arrangements may even be completely honest and transparent.
When I sit back and consider where that icky feeling is coming from I find that it goes against the very purpose of our service. We exist to provide exceptional coordination service to the couple so that they can focus on the wedding day and enjoy the celebration they have envisioned and planned. Kickbacks just don’t have a place in that mission. And in some ways, a kickback may sway me to prefer professionals based on my personal gain over their actual merit.
Relationships Over Kickbacks
We’ve worked with so many professionals in this industry that are talented, honest, hard-working and dedicated to their clients. I would never want to take a deal that would slant our coordinators’ opinions in favor of those that provided financial gain to the company. Instead, we look towards the future and our goal to keep providing this service in the long run. We believe that the strong relationships we have with our fellow wedding professionals will take us and our clients further than any nominal kickback for a client referral.
So there it is an honest opinion about kickbacks and their place in the wedding industry.