The Event Planner’s Guide to Damage Control
QC tutor Regina Young is the owner and creative director of Meant2Be events, a top Arizona wedding planning firm that manages 30-40 weddings a year. This week, Regina provides insight to the most common event and wedding issues will arise in your career.
The reality is wedding planners have a really tough job. Even those of us who have been in the business for a while will tell you, we still get surprised with challenges we haven’t faced before from time to time. On one hand, it’s always important to take that scenario and do your best to grow from it, on the other hand there will be situations that will develop often—and not by any oversight of your own.
Those scenarios will play out and a variety of different ways, however, there are some common ones that you will see often. Sharing some things to look out for and how to will help you navigate the rough waters we take on as the “Captain of the Ship”. Hopefully you avoid Titanic-type outcomes!
We’ve heard all about Bridezilla. She’s hysterical, controlling, and completely panicked all of the time. She is the one who will text you at 2am worrying she picked the wrong wedding dress or questioning your commitment to her day.
The thing is a true Bridezilla is becoming as allusive as a unicorn. Sadly, they are being replaced with a far more difficult beast: Groomzilla.
The First Clue
He is the one that reaches out to you first, not her. You have to already know, he will be your main contact for the planning and your next nine months will be with him making the final decisions. You don’t have to “run” immediately from this one, but you do need to stand firm on your contracts, on your communications and create boundaries. In your best case you may deal with a condescending tone, worst case they threaten to sue.
A client conduct clause can be helpful in standing your ground. Your clients and their guests should be held to a standard of civility when communicating with you. We are wedding planners, not personal servants.
Most vendor and service provider categories in the wedding industry lack uniform standards which makes it hard sometimes to decipher the good, the bad, and the ugly. Service and quality are hard to quantify and there is little to no regulation, as well. Anyone can print a business card and call themselves an expert.
As a wedding planner, you are largely as good as the people you refer. In the end, you do not cater, photograph, or MC the event. You are behind the scenes as a producer.
The First Clue
Avoid people with no insurance or general business licenses. If they took their product or service seriously then they would legitimize their career. Consider that it’s not just their performance day of, it’s the performance during the full process. If they are slow to communicate and lack attention to detail, you are almost guaranteed to have to pull up their slack the day of.
Consider a vendor approval clause. On our agreements we state that all vendors must be approved or it is grounds for termination of our services with no refunds given. Yes, we are there to assist vendors, but not to babysit them. When you ask us to do that, you are then asking us to negate our duties outlined in this agreement which is unacceptable.
This is one of the few challenges on the list that weddings share in common with other events. Proper budgeting of a wedding is a difficult task, particularly when weighing everyone’s expectations. As a wedding planner, your job is to make sure the bride and groom get the best “bang for their buck.” Sites like Pinterest or Wedding shows on TV have created a real gap between fantasy and reality that most brides on some level will fall into head first.
The First Clue
Before you contract, be sure to have a “what’s your vision” conversation to get an idea what their dreams look like and better yet what it will cost. Once you get to the “what is your budget for this” and “who is contributing” conversation, you may find one of your major roles will be educator.
Always have a liability clause in your agreements. This doesn’t sound like the solution to this issue but let me explain…
A bride with inflated expectations on/after her wedding day may feel let down. Even though you explained to her that although her $900 centerpiece picture on Pinterest can be an inspiration for her $200 version, it will not be the same. You will want to create a clear line in what your role is and the outcome of what HER decisions were.
The truth is I could go on and on about the challenges you will face as an event planner. But the bottom line is, even with all of these bumps along the way, at the end of the day the vast majority of your time will be filled with people singing your praises and thanking you for making their day perfect!