One of my favorite sayings is, “You can’t please everyone.” So true. And yet, as event planners, we want to so badly. Or, we are tired of having these expectations thrust upon us but wearily try to do so anyways; regardless, what needs to be done in these situations is to manage expectations with wedding planning clients. And that means from the very beginning.
Have a rock solid contract to help manage expectations from the start
I know it’s pricey to hire a lawyer to write your contract, but DO IT! A solid contract will protect you from litigious people who may overreact and point their finger at you if a mishap occurs, even if it’s not your fault. Not only does it manage expectations, it can save you from negative reviews and even foolhardy attempts at litigation. And compare notes with other planners and wedding vendors, too! Be sure you know what pitfalls you need to pre-empt, what verbiage is appropriate, and what lingo is required in your state. (And while I’ll give some contractual advice here in the blog, always run everything past a legal expert first!)
In your proposal, enumerate EXACTLY what you do. For example, a moderately priced full wedding planner should not be going to every single wedding dress shopping trip – that could take days! I noted on my proposal that I attended one FITTING to learn how to bustle the dress. Be as crisp as possible, and discuss with your prospective clients so you can get off on the right foot from before they even book you.
Often, clients are so overwhelmed with paperwork and contracts from vendors, they don’t read everything. So be sure to discuss with them first, at the proposal phase; again, at your first meeting; and remind them along the way – in an emotionally intelligent fashion – what you do and don’t do. At your final meeting, it’s really smart to ask them to send someone to you at the wedding to discuss anything they want fixed or addressed at the wedding. Tell them that you need to be empowered with knowledge at the event to do your job to its best – you are not a mind reader. (This allows you to avoid the passive-aggressive list of complaints on the following Tuesday. I got one of those once – with ridiculous ‘issues’ that had nothing to do with me – and vowed, never again!)
How do I keep Pinterest from warping my client’s expectations?
Don’t let Pinterest highjack your work! In person, discuss with wedding planning clients how fantastical and ornate design vignettes they see on Pinterest can take hours to setup. In your contract, you’ll have verbiage that states you handle standard set up only – and list them: “escort cards, ceremony programs, and guest book” – finite, crisp, clear. Do they have a few family photos they want set out? Fine. What about menus at each table setting? Maybe – possibly the caterer can do it, one way or another, you can figure that out. But set up multiple levels, platters, and 5 different desserts? Nope! In your contract (I’ve done this – but again, check with your lawyer), you can alert the couple that you reserve the right to elect to bring on board another assistant or designer to implement their setup if you decide it’s beyond your contracted duties.
Remember, you’re not all things to all people…You’re providing ONE service and can’t stretch like Elastigirl to do the jobs of many! Having crisp paperwork to set the tone will easily manage expectations.
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