An unexpected thing happened when I started wedding planning: People lower their guard with wedding planners, and suddenly you’re treated like a therapist – or punching bag. Some of the sharply worded, irritable, or just plain mean treatment totally blew me away, or highly reactive behavior – like the bride who called me at 11pm on a Saturday night to tell me the photo of the prototype of her bouquet made her cry (after she tried to tell the florist the exact recipe to use, which of course wouldn’t look right because the bride wasn’t a florist!). Clearly, I needed to set boundaries with some brides, grooms, and family members and friends. Here’s how I did it.
Set Boundaries from the Beginning
The best way to do this is to set expectations and boundaries from the beginning – I mean from before the clients even hire you. You must set a sense of authority and expertise, and be clear that there are ground rules for communication, including office hours and a general good attitude when talking. I was a bride and I know how stressful it can be – but we’re not saving lives here: There’s no need to have an anxiety attack over whether or not the quartet can learn the exact arrangement of the pop song you want playing as you walk down the aisle.
Pick the Right Clients.
If potential clients don’t like your no-nonsense (but kind) attitude, they aren’t a good fit. You’re not a non-stop ‘yes man,’ you’re a voice of reason. If they want an enabler, they can go somewhere else.
Make it Legal!
Then, be sure your contract supports your boundaries, and lays in place parameters for how you communicate.
Once you start establishing your authority, your life will change, and your work will be more joyous, and your clients will be grateful for your support. To learn more about boundaries, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy planning!