All throughout August, we’re focusing on embracing challenge and, as planners responsible for the ins and outs of the biggest day of our couples’ lives, we often have plenty of challenges to embrace. Though we’d all prefer a smooth-as-ever planning process, when we’re faced with challenges, we’re given the opportunity to grow, learn and adjust our process. So, pour yourself a glass of wine and read on. By the time you’re through, you’ll be ready to start embracing those everyday annoyances like a seasoned pro.
The Challenge: Needy Clients
As planners, we’re often our clients’ go-to source for advice and opinions during the planning process. But, while it’s our job to be there for our clients, sometimes the line between business and personal can get blurred, leaving you with an onslaught of late-night emails, weekend texts or unexpected Facetime calls.
Embracing it: First off, remind yourself how awesome it is to have the job you have. You get to connect with people during the most exciting time of their lives. If clients are becoming needy, it’s most likely just because the excitement and nerves are getting to them. Secondly, remind yourself that needy clients aren’t going away anytime soon—you’ll deal with them as long as you’re a wedding planner. So, take the opportunity to fine-tune your communication skills so that you can seamlessly handle these situations in the future.
The best way to ensure your clients know when they should and should not contact you is to set the expectations from the get-go. Let them know what to expect and when (i.e. “I’ll send you an update email twice a week outlining exactly where we are…”). Let them know they’re free to contact you as they need, but that you prefer X, Y, and Z methods of communication and won’t be able to answer late-night phone calls or unscheduled Facetime requests. We love using Aisle Planner’s checklist to communicate your process with clients—that way, they can keep an eye on the checklist rather than constantly texting or emailing you for updates. Also, keep in mind your clients’ needs and communicate accordingly. Chances are, an out-of-town couple planning a destination wedding is going to want more updates than a couple that lives in the area, as they’ll want to feel like have a hand in the planning process from afar. Be proactive about your communication with out-of-town couples—answer questions before they ask them.
Remember: Be clear from the very beginning and look closely at the precedents you’re setting. If you start answering late-night emails regularly, your clients may think that’s the best way to get ahold of you, and the pattern will continue, simply because they don’t realize it’s a burden on you.
The Challenge: Last-Minute Requests
We’ve all been there. It’s the night before the wedding and your bride suddenly wants anemone instead of peonies, or wants to add a custom cocktail bar to the reception.
Embracing it: The way you handle last-minute requests has to do mainly with your ability to accommodate them. Sometimes, it can be pretty empowering to create something from nothing at the very last minute. So, maybe your couple decided they want a live band instead of the DJ they booked and, maybe you happen to have a connection with a great local band. If you’re able to accommodate their request without putting a heavy strain on yourself or your relationships with vendors, then we recommend doing your best to accommodate it. Your couple with be endlessly grateful for the last-minute magic you pulled off, and they’ll likely tell that story time and time again—making for a killer testimonial for your business.
That being said, it’s not your responsibility to be a miracle worker (though we often are), so if the request is simply not doable, let your client know this in the nicest way possible. Try to meet them in the middle if you can—maybe you can’t get that custom dessert bar they suddenly want, but instead you can set up a s’mores section near the venue’s fire pits. Offer alternatives to their ask and see if you can land on something that’s workable. When you take an honest shot at accommodating last-minute requests, you’ll feel pretty empowered and proud of yourself. Don’t look at is as an unaware client being demanding—look at it as an opportunity to challenge yourself and see just what you’re capable of pulling off on a moment’s notice.
The Challenge: Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen
This is one we face all too often as planners. Suddenly, you’re running the color palette by your bride’s mom, her mom’s best friend and every single one of her bridesmaids. While everyone likely has good intentions, too many cooks in the kitchen can significantly slow down and inhibit the planning process.
Embracing it: You have to remember that your sole focus as a planner is your couple, and their opinion should be the one you really hone in on. I find that it helps to set expectations for from the get-go and ask that they bring no more than two extra people along to meetings, tastings and site visits. That being said, you’ll likely always have that couple who insists on bringing along a large group of family and friends. When that happens, set the tone for the meeting (or tasting or venue scouting) by letting everyone know how happy you are they could come but that you’ll mainly be focusing on your couple’s needs during the time you’re all together, as it’s their big day. Also, if you have a shy bride or groom who’s having a hard time speaking their mind in front of their outspoken parents or maid of honor, encourage them to speak up and help them find their voice. They’ll thank you for it later.
Overall, when it comes down to it, embracing challenges has a lot to do with changing your mindset and the way you view that challenge. Instead of looking at challenges as annoyances, try looking at them as an opportunity to grow as a business owner and a planner. Have any wedding-planning or small-business challenges you’ve faced and embraced lately? Share them with us in the comments section below. We’d love to hear all about your experiences!