This week I had two disturbing conversations. One bride told me that they had booked a rental home in Maui and it turned out to be fraudulent. Unfortunately, they lost a couple of thousand dollars. Another bride told me that she booked with a coordinator who asked for a $1000 deposit and then never got back to her. She is having difficulty getting in touch with her and has lost her money as well.
These type of conversations really make me sad. For the most part, people in Maui are very gracious and loving. Tourism is our largest economic factor and we welcome people onto our island so that they can enjoy it and it helps Maui too. One bad apple in the bunch – or in these cases two – really can turn people off to coming to Maui. This is NOT the norm with our family and friends who do business on the island. What can we do about this?
The best way to avoid these types of situations is to do your research. Check with your family and friends for suggestions and referrals. With reviews all over the web, check them out and see what people are saying about the companies you are thinking of doing business with. Be careful as not to judge too hard on some reviews – look at many to get a true feeling of what the company is like. There are people who wish to complain no matter how hard you try to please and accommodate them. If you see one review that is not as stellar as the rest – listen to your heart and see what the majority are saying. The wedding vendors we know – including other coordinators – are here to make your wedding stress free and they want to get to know you and work with you.
When you contact a coordinator (I will keep this blog to coordinators as they will secure the rest of your vendors for you), first find out if they are available for your date and the time you would like your ceremony. Then, BEFORE you book, ask them for 3 references. If a coordinator doesn’t agree to provide names and contact information to you – that’s another clear sign to move on. Do call the references and see what they have to say. People will be more honest with you over the phone then when they put something in writing. They may have been happy with the services but there may have been one thing that did bother them. That “thing” may be very important to you and may put up a red flag about that coordinator. Do ask the people if there was one thing you could have changed what would it have been.
Now that you have done your research and have spoken to references, it’s your turn to interview the coordinator. They may have stellar reviews and the references can’t say enough about them but that still doesn’t mean you are going to click with them. You want to see if their way of thinking is the way you are thinking. Not to be mean but maybe you just can’t get use to their accent, or they are way too formal or way too casual. This is your big day and you need to feel comfortable with them because you are going to put your trust into them doing the job you expect them to. Have a paper with all of your important questions written down so that you don’t forget everything. If the answers are not what you are hoping for – move on. There are many coordinators in any place that you want to be married in so you do not have to settle. Believe me, I don’t want to lose clients but I also like to feel that we will get along well.
When you have narrowed your list down to 2 or three coordinators that you are interested in, do interview more than one so you can compare and see which makes you feel that it’s a good match. Don’t interview more then 3 as it will just start confusing you when you need to make the decision. Most coordinators are good at making you feel welcomed – this is our job. The answers to your questions are the most important to help your decision. I would usually recommend interviewing your 2 top choices so it would be easier to choose the right one for you.
Once you find the coordinator who fits your description of one that you would like – book them. Chances are that if you like them so will many others and their schedules will fill up rapidly. In Maui, we do book from six months to one year in advance. It’s a bit shorter time then off island. However, we all have dates that are open every month and would be happy to reserve one for you. It’s always wise to ask!
Please don’t work with any coordinator who expects payment in full before the services are rendered. A partial deposit is acceptable and in most cases expected. At Maui Aloha Weddings we will ask for a Save the Date wedding deposit of $100. 15 days before your wedding, we will ask for 50% as that is the time that we will begin to pay your vendors. We have wonderful working relationships with our vendors so we will ask them to save the date for us and they will. We do not pay them until right before the ceremony or the day of the ceremony. Your balance is due the day of your ceremony.
We hope that this helps and will possibly avoid what I have been hearing this week. Whether you are hiring a coordinator or booking a rental, most of these rules apply to all destination vendors.
We wish you happy times with your vendors in Maui and don’t forget – Please interview us!