Tomorrow we’re going to talk a bit about the APW Vendor Directory, which has been growing like a (super awesome) weed. In getting that ready, I realized that I’d never taken time out to talk to you guys about the APW Sanity Pledge that all APW advertisers have to take, and why we created it. The APW Sanity pledge is about vendors promising to treat clients like people and not walking dollar signs, and it’s about vendors respecting your wedding for exactly what it is, not what anyone else thinks it should be. But today we decided to kick it up a notch, and I asked Elizabeth of Lowe House Events (along with all of the APW Sponsors) to help us create a Reverse Sanity Pledge, detailing how you guys can continue to change the wedding industry by being awesome clients. And let me be clear, APW-ers are famous for being The Most Awesome Clients, and we want that to continue to flourish.
This week, we’ve talked a fair amount about the way the Wedding Industry is problematic. We’ve talked about the pressure to Buy All The Things, and a call from a well known person in the wedding industry for wedding blogs to stop focusing so damn much on The Stuff and instead focus on the reason you have a wedding in the first place: two amazing people joining their lives.
APW was built on the idea that a wedding is two people committing their lives to each other, and it doesn’t have to cost a cent (or, a cent over the cost of a marriage license, if that’s in the cards for you). But APW was also built on the idea that most of us are spending some money on our wedding, and we should use that money to be conscious consumers. That how we spend our money is more important than how much. That we should use our dollars to be LGBTQ allies. That one of the simplest and most powerful ways we can change the world is by voting with our money.
So. In an effort to help you be the change, we made an APW sanity pledge that every single person who advertises with us has to sign. That means when you use your dollars to book an APW vendor, you’re voting for a non-manipulative, affirming, LGTBQ friendly version of the industry. And not only do our advertisers have to sign it, but it’s legally binding. So if you flag them as being in violation of the pledge, we can pull their advertising. We’re hoping it changes this corner of the wedding industry bit by bit.
All APW-approved vendors, agree that:
… A wedding is an awesome party, but it’s the marriage that really matters.
… It takes two people to get married. It’s not all about the bride (and sometimes there isn’t a bride to begin with).
… We support LGBTQ couples\’ right to marry, and we are delighted to work with them.
… We don’t charge a premium just because we heard the word “wedding.”
… We will be upfront and fair about our pricing. We won’t surprise you with a secret fee because you want frosting on the cake, not just the cake.
… You don’t have to have cake at your wedding.
… However you decided to tie the knot, we’re on your team.
… Weddings come in all different shapes/sizes/colors/budgets/etc., but as long as you two end up married to each other, it will have been a successful wedding.
But I’ve been thinking about it, and I decided that if APW sponsors are committing to being awesome vendors, it’s equally important that APW readers re-commit to continue being the worlds most awesome clients. (Seriously, you guys are absolutely famous for being the best clients in the world of weddings.) So I did some talking with sponsors about the problems they have with (non-APW) clients, as small independent business owners. I was slightly shocked by some of the stories I heard. Because here is the thing: we all know there is a universe of people in the wedding industry that use the word “wedding” as an excuse to behave like total jackasses (that’s a technical term, there). But I was scandalized to learn that there are clients who use the word wedding to behave badly. I heard stories from photographers of people cold calling them and saying, “I know you’re over-priced because it’s a wedding, so I want 75% off.” And the photographers thinking, “Lady, I’ve got to feed my kid this month but thank you.” So, I decided it was time for us to come up with a reader pledge, and with help from Lowe House Events, did just that.
The Reverse Sanity Pledge is about how to support independent businesses that share your values by being a kick-ass client. (And trust me, small business owners always notice when you’re nice to them. I’m speaking in the first person here.) So without further ado, The Reverse Sanity Pledge:
As APW readers, we agree that:
…We will trust the vendors we choose to hire. We understand: they are professionals; the advice they give us is based on their experience and expertise; and they have our best interests at heart.
… We will hire vendors because we love their work and are excited to work with them specifically. We won’t ask or expect a vendor to duplicate the style of work of another vendor.
… We will ask our vendors questions when we don’t understand something fully. Clarity makes the experience better for everyone.
… We will communicate clearly with our vendors, and provide them with the information that they ask for in a timely fashion, as it’s going to help them do the jobs we’ve hired them to do to the best of their ability.
… Our vendors are (for the most part) small business owners who both need and deserve to make a living wage. Knowing this, we won’t ask for reduced pricing without the expectation of reduced services.
… Our vendors are human, and sometimes will need to take breaks and sit down in the middle of a long and often physically strenuous work day. They also need to be fed meals, consisting of real food in reasonable portions, at reasonable times.
… We will not treat our vendors like “the help,” but will treat them like the professionals, and the people, that they are.
… We will make all payments on time, in the method requested.
… We know that the best “tip” that we can give to vendors we love are testimonials and referrals.
So let’s shake this idea I’ve been hearing all over the wedding blog-o-sphere that things just are what they are, and they can’t change them. If APW stands for one thing, it’s making the change you think needs to happen in the world. Make that change with your dollars. Invest them in people who share your values, and then value the heck out of those people.
Because nothing feels quite as awesome as mutual respect.