This month, we’re all about learning to embrace challenges. So we consulted with our very own Director of PR and Owner of Lucky & In Love, Katherine Oyer, to get her expert opinion. And today we are breaking down five common wedding-planning mistakes and how you can learn from (and eventually avoid) them. Get those notepads ready, planners—you’ll be ready to tackle those mistakes in no time with our expert tips and tricks.
Failure to Communicate
Oftentimes, we’re so involved with (and such experts at) our own planning process, that we neglect to really break down the planning process for our clients from the start. Unfortunately, this can easily lead to putting out last-minute fires, unmet expectations and stressed out clients. I like to avoid this then, by developing a clear workflow and sharing that exact process with my clients from the beginning. Don’t be afraid to spell it out: let them know what steps you’ll be taking when, which steps you’ll expect them to take and how you will be communicating with them throughout. We recommend using the Aisle Planner Checklist to define your workflow and stay in touch with clients about the status of tasks. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry—so break down even the most tedious of tasks from the get-go. You can always scale back on communication if need be, but you can never go back in time to let your client know about something you forgot to tell them at the beginning of the process.
Taking on Too Much
This is probably one that resonates with every single planner and small business owner out there. Oftentimes as planners, we are the CEOs and founders of our business, and our drive and motivation to take on events is the only thing keeping our company afloat. Unfortunately, though, what starts as our good intentions to keep our company thriving can lead to us crashing and burning when we suddenly realize we’ve booked seven back-to-back weddings.
The best way to avoid this starts with honesty—honesty with yourself, honesty with your business goals, honesty with what you can and cannot accomplish. This will mean making sure you’ve mapped out your workflow and mapped out your annual business goals. As planners, we usually need to always focus on quality over quantity. So, maybe you have to turn down ten smaller weddings in order to make space for one really unbelievable wedding (with a sky-high budget to boot). Remember, knowing your end-game is half the battle of getting there, so don’t skip out on annual business evaluations, goal assessments and profit-and-loss sheets.
Not Allocating the Full Budget From the Start
We can’t stress this one enough. As planners, we should always allocate a full budget from the very start with cushion room. Overestimating is always (always, always, always) better than underestimating. No one likes talking numbers—it can be uncomfortable and can scare some couples off. But, you’re so much better off starting from a laying-it-all-on-table mindset than you are if you have to make a call every other week to let the couple know their budget has increased (yet again). Remember to include tips, as well, and—as a general rule of thumb—stay away from the “pay as you go and see how things add up” method. It can be seriously dicey.
Seeking Too Many Opinions
This can be a common, honest mistake with planners who are new to the business. Oftentimes, we want to make sure that everyone is happy, but our job as planners is to focus solely on the couple at hand. Don’t include additional family members or members of the wedding party unless you absolutely have to (i.e. the bride asks you to include her parents since they are paying, the groom wants his mom included on florals since that’s under her budget, etc.). Our sole focus, though, should always be on our couple. Trust me—they’ll be opinionated enough. You don’t want to then have ten other opinions to take into consideration as well. This can majorly slow down the planning process, not to mention cause rifts between family members and friends.
Waiting Too Long to Book Core Vendors
When it comes to booking vendors, it’s the earlier, the better. Always. Popular vendors can book out as far as 12 months (or more) in advance, and you don’t want to be the one to deliver the news to your bride that her dream photographer isn’t available because you waited too long to reach out. Reaching out to vendors should always be your first step. At the very least, you want to get your couple’s wedding on their radar. If you’re way too early, they’ll be the first let you know—at least you’ve started the process. Being too early is always better than being too late. And, remember, nothing is set in stone until you’ve signed the contract, so if you’re still shopping vendors, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to each person/company on your list to get an idea of who is getting booked up fast and who still has some wiggle room.
As planners, we’ve all made at least one…if not all five (raises hand) of the mistakes we’ve outlined above. But, as the years go on and you get more and more comfortable running your business, you’ll learn how to avoid them. The key usually lies in preparation and communication. Have any “You did what?!?” common-mistake stories we should hear? Share them with us in the comments section below.