Get It In Writing

With each stage of your wedding planning, it is critical that you and your vendor reach a point of total agreement and understanding on what products and services you have purchased and expect to receive. The best way to achieve this is to

follow up each major conversation with a letter summarizing your understanding of what has been agreed. By “major” conversation, I mean one in which substantive decisions were reached.
Even when this conversation is the third such one you’ve had with that vendor, and the services agreed to have changed each time, you still want to follow the conversation with a formal, written representation of what you believe was discussed. In fact, it’s almost MORE important to write these formal letters when you’ve made changes to the plan than it is to do so for the original plan (but both are important).
Letters such as these are of benefit to both you and the vendor. You’ll be surprised at how often two people can participate in the same conversation and yet come away with differing impressions of what was said. Your written summary will help you to mentally review the conversation, elaborate on points you think need clarification, and provide specifics about your expectations. This results in less confusion on both sides and greatly increases the likelihood that the end result will please both you and your vendor.
A sample letter, to a catering manager, is provided below for you to edit and add to for your personal circumstances and for different types of vendors. You’ll notice that the letter includes several questions that may have occurred to the writer during the composition of the letter (but obviously not during the conversation that proceeded it). Once the answers to these questions has been ascertained, another letter, specifying the answers, will be necessary. Remember to keep your presentation friendly and professional.
The Date
Ms. Jane Doe
Director of Sales
Gorgeous Hot Springs Lodge
Beautiful, MT 59065
Dear Jane:
This letter is to confirm our conversation of last Wednesday, August 23rd, 2000. I am so pleased to be able to have Gorgeous Lodge catering the food at my wedding reception. My culinary experiences at the Lodge (in addition to the mouth-watering descriptions on your catering menus) fill me with great anticipation for an exceptional meal.
As we discussed, the reception food theme is “enough hors d’ oeuvres to make a meal.” The headcount will fall between 35 and 40 people. The items and amounts I ordered are listed below.
Garnished Vegetable Crudités Platter (serves 25)

___________1 Platter___________________________________38.00
Cold Poached Salmon Display (serves 35)
___________1 Display__________________________________70.00

Imported Cheese & Grape Display (serves 50)
___________1 Display_________________________________140.00
Assorted Finger Sandwiches

Smoked Duck w/ Peach Cashew Chutney

Maple Pecan Glazed Chicken

Smoked Turkey/Cranberry Walnut Cream Ch.

Peppered Buffalo Skewers

Baked Artichoke Spinach Parmesan (serves 25)

___________1 Dip Display______________________________40.00
Total Price:__________________________________________$588.00
Question: Do your hors d’ oeuvres prices include tax or will tax be added?
My understanding in talking to you was that your catering service includes:

  • tablecloths
  • napkins
  • plates
  • silverware
  • glasses
  • chaffing dishes for the hot items (2)
  • set up
  • clean up

Question: Do any of these involve an additional charge? If so, how much would it be?
Additionally, you suggested that a second table would be needed to display the buffet of hors d’ oeuvres, and we discussed getting about 10 extra chairs for guests to use during the reception (guests will stand during the actual ceremony). I’m wondering if it would also be possible to get two smaller tables, one for displaying the cake and one for gifts. Could we get tablecloths with these smaller tables as well?
If possible, I’d like to have the extra tables, tablecloths, and 10 chairs delivered during the afternoon of Friday, September 26th. We would then be able to utilize them during the rehearsal dinner as well as during the reception.
Question: Is there a charge for the use of extra tables, tablecloths, or chairs? If so, how much would it be per day?
Our timetable would then include the following:

Afternoon, Friday, September 22nd Delivery of ten (10) chairs, one (1) large buffet table, and two (2) smaller tables with tablecloths to Mt. View
Saturday, September 23rd, 5:30 p.m. Delivery and set up of buffet hors d’ oeuvres at Mt. View prior to wedding ceremony at 6:00
Late night, Saturday, September 23rd Clean up of buffet, tables, and chairs will take place when someone from Mt. View calls the Chico front desk to request it.
We also discussed the rental of two (2) silver table-top candelabras for decoration of the buffet table. I’d like to have two candelabras per buffet table, however, so in light of the necessity for a second buffet table, let’s increase the order to four candelabras. My understanding at this point is that the Chico Lodge obtains these items through Montana Party Time in Bozeman and passes the rental costs on to me.
Question: How much will the rental of four (4) silver table-top candelabras cost?

Please feel free to contact me if you want to discuss any of the information I’ve outlined above and when you have the answers to my various questions. I’ve enjoyed working with you and your co-workers at the Gorgeous Lodge and look forward to meeting you in late September.
Your Name Here