This month, we’re focusing our efforts on humility, which—let’s face it—can sometimes be a bit hard. As business owners and wedding professionals who are tasked with keeping everything together at all times, admitting we’re wrong (or admitting we don’t, indeed, have it all together) can feel like admitting failure. BUT, we happen to think being wrong and failure are two completely different things…and we also happen to think there’s something honorable and admirable about being able to own up to our mistakes. Today, then, we’re talking dropping the ball, screwing the pooch, and crashing and burning—and, more importantly, how to best handle the situation when you do.
When You’ve Dropped The Ball
The mistake: We’ve all had those moments where we’ve simply forgotten to get something done. They may be few and far between, but, as wedding planners, we all can recall at least one cringe-worthy moment when our bride has asked where that extra place setting is or why a floral arrangement doesn’t include those last-minute succulents she asked for (remember???). As wedding planners, it’s our job to keep track of everything and to make sure every last one of our couple’s wishes is brought to fruition, which is why there’s no more embarrassing or downright humbling moment than realizing we’ve forgotten to take care of a design detail or follow up with a vendor.
The fix: When you find yourself realizing you’ve dropped the ball on something a couple has asked for, the first thing you have to do is own up to the mistake. Be transparent and honest—don’t make excuses or throw someone else under the bus—and then do everything in your power to reverse the mistake. If fixing your uh-oh is impossible at that point (i.e. the cake is already finalized and there are only 30 minutes until the reception starts), think of other niceties or services you can offer the couple to help make up for it (maybe you can offer them a small discount, give them a gift card for a date night, send them a bottle of champagne on their honeymoon, or even just write a nice handwritten letter after the wedding). As long as you’re straightforward about your mistake and earnest in your apology, and make a genuine effort to rectify the situation, your clients should be understanding—we’re all human, after all. If they’re simply not understanding or overreact to your mistake, remind yourself that there’s nothing you can do about that other than learn from this situation and not allow it to happen again. You can’t control people’s reactions—you can only control your own actions.
When You’ve Reacted Poorly
The mistake: With twenty people pulling us in twenty different directions at any given moment, emotions and tensions often run high in our industry. And, while being a perfect human who never overreacts sounds like a great idea, it’s not exactly plausible in a world where our entire job is ensuring large-scale events go off without a single hitch. Oftentimes, our own mistakes may not come in the form of making mistakes ourselves, but in the form of reacting poorly to the mistakes others make. We are advocates for our clients, which means we prefer to accept nothing short of perfection from vendors and others involved in bringing their event vision to life. This can be a double-edged sword, though—while having our clients’ backs is our job, it’s also our job to work well with other wedding professionals and vendors. So, when one of those professionals lets us down or drops the ball, our patience often wears thin and, if they happen to make that major mistake right as your fuse is nearing its end, they may end up getting the wedding planner wrath of the century (complete with fire-breathing dragons and all).
The fix: When you realize you’ve overreacted or reacted poorly to a professional situation, the best thing you can do is to pick up the phone and apologize—without any qualifiers or excuses. You don’t want to say, I’m sorry I screamed at you in front of all of those people, but the flowers you delivered were absolute crap (though you’re totally free to say this in your head as many times as you’d like, using much more colorful language than “crap”). Instead of using their mistake as a way of justifying your own, stick to what it is you did wrong. Apologize for your reaction, explain that it won’t happen again, let them know you’re hopeful that they’ll forgive you, and leave it at that.
When You’ve Miscommunicated
The mistake: Ah, the classic miscommunication. This can be anything from giving a couple the wrong pricing on an item to the super cringe-worthy moment when we realized we’ve sent the wrong email to the wrong person (especially if the email is talking about that person). We’re all human and, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we miscommunicate in minor ways multiple times a day—but it’s when our miscommunication negatively affects someone else that apologies are in order.
The fix: The best thing you can do in a situation where you’ve royally messed up is to avoid emails and texts and, instead, apologize over the phone or, even better, in person. Unless you’re an evil troll who lives in a dark dungeon and feeds on a daily smoothie of liquified human pain, chances are you don’t ever mean to hurt someone with your communication. Make it clear that you regret what you said and that your intentions were never, ever to hurt the person on the receiving end. Swallow your pride and accept the awkwardness of the situation, no matter how uncomfortable it may make you. I once had to apologize for calling a coworker an “idiot” in a group text which that coworker was on. I did consider moving to a remote island and living the rest of my days out with my manic thoughts and a volleyball named Wilson, but I soon realized I didn’t have the stamina nor the skin for long-term sun exposure. Instead, I swallowed my pride, picked up the phone and called the person, and explained that I never, ever should have said that and that I foolishly allowed my frustrations to get the best of me and (because a little humor never hurts) that I was clearly the idiot. What kind of a moron, after all, sends a group texting talking crap without checking to see who is on the group text first? Ha-ha.
Overall, admitting you’re wrong can be one of the most admirable things in the world—and we happen to think the universe could use a little more of it. Apologies can be awkward and difficult but remind yourself that everyone is human—everyone has under-priced an item on a budget, or screamed at a vendor when we shouldn’t have, or sent the wrong text to the wrong person. Use the opportunity to challenge yourself: how transparent, straightforward, and clear in your communication can you be? Mistakes are commonplace—they say nothing about who we are as people; it’s our reaction to those mistakes that defines our character.