Photo: MiBelle Photography

Photo Credit: MiBelle Photography

When one interviews potential wedding and event supply partners, checks out their credentials, referrals and work and finally “clicks” with them and is ready to hire them, there is one final gauntlet I suggest the interviewee complete.  I suggest that you have a conversation about the event supplier’s  belief structure in professional conduct the day of the wedding or event.  This includes the individual you are hiring as well as their volunteers and staff.  These particular items are rarely  – if ever – included in service contracts and yet, they are paramount to being at the core center of the caliber of service you are contracting and should expect.   Here are some items for discussion, followed by our own Code of Conduct to all Santa Barbara Wine Country Weddings & Events clientele:

  1.   What will you and your staff be wearing the day of my event?
  2.   How many breaks do you take and when?
  3.   Where do you take your breaks and meals?
  4.   What is your philosophy on vendors taking their meals – should they go before guests or after?
  5.   Where do you or your staff smoke?
  6.    What do you do if you see another event service provider dining or smoking in front of guests?
  7.    How do you handle conflict with guests , should drama arise?
  8.    Do you or your staff feel it is alright to partake in the bar or alcohol while working – or on breaks during your contracted time?
  9.   How do you communicate with your fellow staff members during an event?  (example:  do you use two way radios, text, ear piece two way radios, etc.)

Here is what you can expect from staff and volunteers of Santa Barbara Wine Country Weddings & Events “day of” for any event for which we are contracted:

Attire:  Professional, clean, pressed and polished.  Our signature look is all black with pearls.  We also match the “tone” (stylistically) of the wedding.  If none is given, or even if it is very casual, we are still in our signature  all black with pearls classic attire.   If we are working an event outside during a 100 degree day, we generally forego the suits and wear sunscreen and an appropriate sun hat during set up.  When guests start arriving, we will remove the hat, unless heatstroke threatens the well-being of our team.

Breaks:  Generally speaking, we rarely take any.  When we do, it is a our meal break , and even that is about a 5-10 minute break where we try and re-energize with some food and water in a very short time.  We are more often than not on our feet hours before the guests start arriving, having put in an entire day’s worth of work before the event even starts.  When the guests start arriving, there is no time for a break, as it only becomes more intense.  Our first “real” break is generally after guests  are seated to dinner and we have a moment to get caught up.  However, because we are always working 20-30 minutes ahead of the timeline (in order to prepare for the timelined events), our breaks are sometimes non-existent. The integrity of the event always comes first.

We strongly believe that any breaks by any event supply partner need to be taken out of guest view.  This includes meals, cigarette breaks and resting.  It is completely unacceptable to sit down with guests for meals – even if a vendor meal has been ordered for a vendor.  This goes back to our Nordstrom training, that of worldclass hospitality leaders, international entertainment/hospitality leader model Disney,  as well as just basic professionalism and manners.  We will kindly ask any other event partners who are eating or breaking in front of guest view to observe the same standard.

As far as timing for meal breaks for event service providers, our philosophy is this:  the event should not revolve around the event suppliers.  It is about the client and their guests.  Asking the kitchen, staff or caterer to make special exceptions for each vendor based on their unique timing needs for their own meals takes away from the service and quality intended for the paying client and their guests.  Consequently, we ask all suppliers to wait until after guests have eaten – or at invitation of the kitchen- before they take their meal.  If this presents a problem, we feel all event supply partners are grown up enough (or should be) to plan in advance and should plan on bringing their own meal that they can eat at a time more suitable for them, and not make the entire event revolve around their meal time needs for their service.

Handling Conflict:  Conflict that escalates into drama is extremely rare at our events;  that said, if a conflict is arising that is blatantly irreverent, illegal , or disruptive, we will approach the  individual(s) and ask them to stop.  We do this with a witness from the client’s side as well as our own staff and a representative from the venue.  If the behavior continues and addressing it must be taken to the next level, we notify our client, the venue representative,  and call law enforcement.

Drinking Alcohol While Working:  It is never acceptable to drink alcohol – not even on a “break”- during contracted hours and duties for a wedding or event.  Even if the client has invited the coordinator or event supplier with an open, generous heart.  When we are contracted for service duties, we take our level of service – and safety for the guests and ourselves – very seriously.  We hear about stories all the time where the wedding coordinator helped himself/herself to drinks at the bar, or sat down on a break with a glass of wine, which seems harmless enough.  However, alcohol impairs judgment and safety.   We have been contracted to make critical decisions, ensure a safe event and seamless experience for our clients, their guests, and fellow event supply partners.

Communication With Our Staff Day of the Event:  Our number one rule is discretion.  And what devices we use depend largely on the venue and what type of technology / connection  is available and most reliable.  Generally, we have two-way radios with an ear piece that we can use.  Sometimes we use texting.  If we must use open two-way radios, we have a code that we give that requires each other to step away from guests or event partners if a sensitive conversation or update needs to happen.  It is unacceptable for any client or guest to hear behind-the-scenes communications (or as I call it, “the underpants” of the event).  In the case where we are in clear line of sight with each other during crucial moments like the wedding processional and recessional, we have pre-designated hand signals to each other so the quiet dignity of the moment is preserved for all.

l-r: SBWCWE Kerry Lee Dickey with happy wedding couple clients at private estate wedding

Photo Credit: Santa Barbara Wine Country Weddings & Events | l-r: SBWCWE Kerry Lee Dickey with happy wedding couple clients at private estate wedding