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Posts Tagged ‘experience’

You want to establish a genuine, authentic relationship with your client.

You want them to know that you support their decisions, that you’ll guide them in the right direction, and that their event is a top priority.

They’ll share many personal secrets, and fairytale wishes with you.

You guard this intimate information, never thinking of spilling the beans.

 Your duty is to be their confidante, to be the non-judgmental sounding board.  

So, when you’re going through your own personal crisis {pregnancy, moving, staffing issues, client drama}, how much do you share, if at all?

It’s a fine line that many wedding vendors get trapped crossing.

And once you go down that road of sharing, there’s NO TURNING BACK.

You can’t take back the comment you made in passing about a vendor that gave you a raw deal, or the bridesmaid that was a complete bitch, or the flake client that won’t pay their balance.

It’s crucial that you develop a professional and friendly relationship, but that you make a pact with yourself, and your staff as to where to draw the line.

Do you really want your client to know where you live? Where you like to hang out, and let your hair down?

Time and Place is the best advice to follow.

Be Authentic, and Bite Your Tongue.

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This category of Smarty Pants Bride is starting to get really, really old.

Seriously, if you’ve already:

  1. Researched EVERY possible vendor, and received quotes…
  2. Created an air-tight timeline of your ceremony and reception…
  3. Mastered all the tricks of the trade…

Why are you even chatting with us? Clearly, you’ve got it all under control.

And we all know – EVERYTHING runs like clockwork at a wedding.

There’s never any timeline errors, snafus or bridal party melt-downs.

Just remember this…

We live in a REALITY BASED world, not the puffy cloud formation that you’ve created that cushions all of your Wedding Day plans.

Get Real.

If you want a professional, then TREAT us as such.

If you want to hire a step ‘n’ fetch – ask the catering or venue staff.

Our role is that little piece that Holds It All Together.

You know, the one that makes everything happen smoothly?

Bringing your vision to life doesn’t happen at the snap of your fingers.

Unless of course, you really do have a Fairy Godmother.

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It can be difficult to talk a client down from a decision that they’re excited about.

No matter how stupid it seems to you. They want what they want, when they want it.

And if it sounds like a Real Deal, well they’re even more likely to jump on it!

As a wedding vendor, you just have to learn to deal with it.

A recent client asked for my opinion on booking a band for her wedding reception.

She’d seen a band playing live at a local indoor venue, and instantly fell in love.

She approached them to inquire if they played weddings, and would be available for her wedding reception.

They said ‘Yes!’, and that for 3 hours of play, the total cost would $500. This was for a 5 piece band.

So, I asked about their experience, references and pricing.

The answers she provided were somewhat frightening.

  • They’d never played a wedding before.
  • They were unfamiliar with the duties of an MC, but had stated that would be part of the overall cost.
  • They didn’t seem concerned with the sound quality while playing an outdoor backyard reception.
  • They just threw a price out, to see if she’d bite. {which she did}

She thought it ALL sounded good. I wanted to be kind, but also for her to see the true reality.

I asked her point blank, ‘Do you want to be the Guinea Pig wedding for this band?

 She seemed a bit perplexed.

So, I just reiterated that they could provide no references, no guarantee of sound quality.  No nothing really.

She was already sold on the band though, so my only advice to her was quite literally……Buyer Beware.

  • Be sure you have a solid contract that includes a clause that if the booking is not fulfilled in full, as outlined, that there is room for a partial refund.
  • Confirm that they can guarantee a back-up or plan B if one of their band members becomes ill or lost.
  • Outline your expectations of their behavior, and interaction with guests.
  • Verify if you need a permit from the city for outdoor entertainment.
  • Do not pay for their services in full before your wedding day.

The last thing you need is a stumbling vocalist, a drummer who hits on your bridesmaids, and the police showing up to ‘shut down’ the festivities due to excessive noise complaints.

Fingers crossed for this reception.

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Let’s set the scene…………

Both sets of parents are bitterly divorced, and remarried. There are step-siblings, step-cousins and step-grandparents.

Let’s face it – you feel like you’ve stepped in something, and you want to lose it, fast!

The dynamic of a family can be its greatest strength, or biggest downfall.

For your personal sanity, try to put it in perspective. You’ll be around this dysfunctional clan for a maximum of 12 hours {fingers crossed}.

Best approach?

  • Kill them with kindness  
  • Keep really busy {who says the presents don’t need to be rearranged?}
  • Smile and nod, while biting your tongue {this is a learned skill}

Most important? Don’t work a wedding solo.

You’ll need to play ‘Tag, you’re it!’ with a team member. Getting some downtime to effectively deal with the onslaught of complaints, drunk guests and tireless questions about when the cake’s going to be cut is a must.

~Special Note to the Brides~

Please don’t throw us under the bus.

If you know your Dad is gruff as hell, and isn’t a ‘people person’, we’d appreciate a heads up.

Every family experiences emotional highs + lows during a wedding celebration.

We’re used to dealing with high stress situations, and can mitigate even the touchiest situation.

So, do yourself a favor. Don’t take their ‘complaints’ or ‘concerns’ as gospel.  

We always have your best interests at heart, and aren’t interested in stirring the pot.

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Lesson #3 from the Wedding Industry Trenches

Sometimes even the best intentions can backfire. We all want to make the client happy, and take pride in knowing our work is top notch and appreciated.

But there seems to always be that one client each wedding season. No matter what we do, how far we go, it just isn’t good enough.

Here’s a personal story, from a Fantastic Florist, who recently dealt with this exact client. It’s made him really think about how to counteract these types of situations, with civility.

I had an initial consult with this bride to be about 4 months before her May wedding date. May is a busy month to begin with, and this was another Saturday wedding that I added to my roster to accommodate her.  

She presented her ideas & wants. Most were quite elaborate, included huge pieces to adorn the arch, stringed petal pieces for the aisle, and large displays of flowers for each guest table, of which there were 10. She also had 4 bridesmaids, 4 groomsmen, 2 flower girls & a ring bearer. Pretty standard sized wedding party.

The clincher? Her budget was $600. And she was adamant about not going over one penny.

Now, I’ve worked with budgets this small before, and always take the time to educate the bride on the overall cost of flowers in general, and the pieces that she’s gung ho about.

I put together some great ideas to capture the mood she wanted, but using flowers that were much less cost, than say roses or orchids.

She was somewhat abrasive, a bit pissed off, but this is pretty normal when you break the news that all their wants don’t fit their budget. One item that was completely tossed out was the stringed petal pieces for the aisle. She decided to do something with tulle instead.

Within a week she sent in a deposit to hold the date. I didn’t think anything more about it.

I ordered the flowers a week before the wedding, and went to work on other event orders.

I received a call from this bride to be, in tears, 5 days before her big day.

She hadn’t been able to locate enough tulle at a fabric store in the blush pink she wanted, and was looking for some advice. I felt really bad for her, and offered to supply a complimentary runner, to dress up the aisle. She was elated!

The flower arrangements turned out beautifully, and I dropped them off, completed the set-up of the larger pieces, and displayed the aisle runner the day of the wedding. The presentation was really stylish, and I knew the bride would be pleased with how everything turned out.

At least that’s what I thought.

The following Tuesday, I received a handwritten note, that was FULL of insults + petty threats. It really took me aback, and shook me to the core.

She stated that the aisle runner was of poor quality, and not the color I’d promised {I’d only ever said white}, she wondered why her bouquet only had 8 additional stems of flowers beyond that of the bridesmaids, why was there only 1 bag of petals for both flower girls, and on and on.

I certainly wasn’t going to respond in a handwritten note – so I sent a polite email, reviewing what the original order was, what the contract contained, and that they aisle runner had been a complimentary item.

She responded with an email message that said:

 “I know important people. I will submit reviews, post on message boards, and blog all about this. Unless, of course, you provide me with some kind of refund.”

This blew me away. Never have I been ‘threatened’ before. I thought long & hard about the situation, and at first blamed myself. But, then it dawned on me. This was classic Bitch Bullying Behavior.

Even if I remedied the situation with some kind of refund, or whatever – this was the type of disgruntled client that would blog, review & the like in spite anyway.

I politely sent her a final email, stating that the contract had been fulfilled, that I was saddened by her words and innuendo, and that I wished her & her new husband the very best.

And you know what? I’ve never heard from her again. Nor did she EVER do any reviews, blog posts, etc.

It took me standing up for what I’d done {providing a quality product & a complimentary service}, to end the bully mentality. I’m now more confident after dealing with the situation head-on.

Lesson Learned:

  • Kill them with kindness, but keep your own self respect. Take a step back, and let them make the next move.
  •  Stick to the facts, and remove the emotion. Veil threats are just plain ugly. Don’t give into them.
  • Always remember – You are a business owner. You know in your gut if you failed in presentation or product delivery. If that’s not the case, don’t let bully behavior create self doubt.
  • Hash it out with another trusted vendor, and get some feedback.

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Lesson #2 from the Wedding Industry Trenches

Careful what you pay for.

What do you do when your client’s contract isn’t fulfilled by another vendor, the day of the wedding?

This puts you in a difficult position, makes you feel like a bit of a tattle tale, but your loyalty lies with your client.

Here’s a personal Vendor story, from a Coordinator in Seclusion:

Even with all her preparedness, she had no idea what was really in store for her.

‘My client, a brilliant & detailed couple, had paid many extra fees at their chosen venue .

It’s a highly regarded, and sought after space, due to its ‘blank canvas’ appeal. I was very excited to work at the space, given I’d only heard fabulous things – and seen gorgeous pictures of past weddings.

Here’s how the Wedding Day went down…

What transpired upon my arrival was stunning. To say the least.

I arrived promptly @ 2pm, to help the event assistant my client had paid additional $ for. Her décor was rather intricate {hanging 30 paper lanterns, large soft seating lounge area, personalized linens, signature photo area}.

She’d also paid for the use of a digital camera, projection system, sound system, etc.

The entire layout had been planned by her + the staff, and she’d asked me to provide supervision for the larger décor jobs. She wanted to make sure the layout was done to spec.

Upon my arrival, I was confronted by a Venue Manager who stated that the Event Assistant would only be available for 1 hour, and that putting all the hanging lanterns together in clusters, tying them with fishing line, and taking them down at the end of the evening {from a 20 foot ceiling}, would be my responsibility.

She stated that the Bride + Groom hadn’t paid for that.  

Wow. Talk about shock. I’ve planned & coordinated over 25 weddings, at all different kinds of venues, and never have I been so shabbily treated.

It was however, perfect preparation for the rest of the evening.

The venue provided my client with 2 Part Time staff for the evening, who were continually overwhelmed with all of the technical aspects of the evening {though this venue BOASTS about its capabilities}.

They were unable to get the slide showing going at the appropriate time, the digital camera projection screen didn’t function the entire evening, and the sound system went in & out several times.

In fact, the venue staff were out of sight for most of the evening, tucking themselves away in the kitchen eating whatever they could {including cupcakes not yet on display}, and even drinking a beer.

I was completely flabbergasted. I’ve never seen behavior like this before.

 All the last minute details of the wedding were completed just in the nick of time, mostly due to the quick & swift action of the caterer, who assisted with multiple aspects of décor…. no questions asked.

I mean, we’re all working this event to make the client’s wedding day special, right?

The icing on the cake?

The venue staff insisted I ‘sign off’ on the final checklist of services provided for the bride + groom.  I reviewed it with a fine tooth comb, and found that they had charged for multiple technical items, décor assistance, and additional staff – none of which were provided. I asked for a full copy of the ‘checklist contract’, and signed with a notation that an updated addendum would follow.

I forwarded a copy of the checklist to my clients a week after their wedding. They were able to resolve all of the issues with the venue, after requesting an in–house meeting with a manager.  

My due diligence resulted in a lovely, unexpected tip in the mail. Now that felt great!’

Lesson Learned

  • Even contracts can’t completely protect you on the day of the wedding. Be prepared for whatever can be thrown at you, or scenario that could go wrong. 
  • Assume that the outside help provided will be of little to no assistance. This will give you a greater sense of control from the beginning.
  • Make sure you & your client have ALL the facts straight about the contracts they have signed.
  • Be an advocate for the client, and a team player with the other vendors. It’s your client’s wedding day, not a trial run.
  • Report back to your client about the issues unresolved, and have them review their contract. Just do it AFTER their wedding!!

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We understand a Bride’s wish to save some dough, and get the best deal possible.

But a quick note of advice….You get what you pay for.

Do you want a professional planner so you can sleep at night and keep your sanity……. or,

Do you want to hire a hack based on a cheap price , who’s planning experience is that of a hobbyist?

We’re sure you can guess who will get the job done, and exceed even your crazy expectation level.

Remember the three R’s  :: Research {vendors}, Return {on investment}, Reality {check}.

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