sabrina cadini on things that wedding couples don't like about planners and how to fix them on the weddingpreneurs lounge

Wedding Planning Success Lounge: What couples don’t like about wedding planners

sabrina cadini explaining what couples don't like about wedding planners and how to fix them on the wedding planning success lounge

After meeting all sorts of couples, designing and planning weddings for many years, I collected a lot of feedback from potential and actual clients, and from surveys in regards to what they think about wedding planners. Many couples – you probably already realized this – think that our job is not that important. They know they should hire a professional but they’re always on the fence because, after all, they don’t really know what a wedding planner does that they can’t do themselves. As a result, they either decide to hire someone who is less expensive than others because they want to save money, or they just get help from family and friends thinking “I don’t really need another person involved with my wedding.”

Wrong!

Many couples I interviewed and surveyed over the past few years admitted they had experienced some challenges when meeting with planners and today i’m sharing the top complaints here.

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Price

Couples don’t realize about the time, the efforts, the dedication, the passion, the sweat, the support we put into their weddings. It’s far more than a few hours but, if nobody tells them what it takes to be a wedding planner and what we can do for them, they will never know.
Sometimes couples call me asking if I can just show up at their wedding and take care of the details, they have a low budget and they can only afford $200-300. That’s not going to happen with me: I’m more than an executive assistant and I can’t put my reputation at risk just showing up. I need more time to get to know about their vision, I need to know about their expectations, I need to connect with their vendor team, I need to be familiar with the venue, rules and restrictions, I have to be in charge of the planning, schedule the setup, etc. I need to do a great job and I need to have a plan for this.
Of course, couples can find young, aspiring planners who can do whatever is needed for a few hours and be compensated for almost nothing. But, be very careful when you’re starting the business and you set your prices. You need to pay bills: rent and utilities if you have a studio or if you work from home, education (this includes course and / or attendance at industry conferences to be up to date with trends and best practices), association memberships, liability insurance, business license, etc.
Bottom line: Always make sure that you educate your couples and you clearly show them how many hours you will work for them, how much your involvement will be from start to finish, even if it’s only a “day-of” assistance. My day-of assistance starts two weeks before the wedding (and it’s barely enough to get to know about the couple, their style, their vision, and provide stellar service by putting together all the details for them.)
Once they understand your value they won’t complain about your prices anymore. They will realize that the investment is worth it 100% and they want to have you involved with their celebration.
If you’re competing with other planners and couples are undecided because they would like to go with the least expensive option, I tell them that it should not be the only factor when selecting the right professional. They should keep in mind other aspects: knowledge, experience, personality, services offered, they should consider value and service. If your “competitors” are charging less and they provide less and they don’t have experience and maybe they’re still learning at the wedding, then it’s a waste of money for the couple. They’re paying for something that might not give the desired results.

No response

I hear this all the time when I meet prospective clients. “The other planners I contacted haven’t called me back yet, but you returned my call after two hours and you’re number one in my list at the moment.”
A lead is gold and you don’t want to waste any time to respond because couples nowadays are not patient, they don’t have the time to wait, they expect a response immediately. Even if you don’t have the time or the information available to get back to them, just send them a quick message saying “Thank you for contacting me or your — company name —. I’m working at a wedding or at an event but I’ll respond to you later today or tomorrow. I would love to know more about your wedding and hopefully we’ll be working together on your celebration!”
Let them know that you received their email or call and you’re interested in their business. It’s very, very important! Couples will quickly move on to the next professional on the list if they don’t hear from you. And even if you’re not the right fit couples will most likely keep you in mind for their friends and family in the future. You responded to their call or email quickly and you showed professionalism.
Another thing that I would like to point out here: Try to answer your phone every time you receive a call. Some of my colleagues don’t respond if they don’t recognize the number… Well, that might be a potential client! Don’t miss that opportunity!
Some of my coaching clients ask if they should set up auto-responders on their email. I have mixed feelings about auto-responders. They are a great help but I don’t use them, they don’t look personal in my opinion. If I were a bride and I received an auto response like “Thank you for contacting us, we’re in the middle of a setup or meeting with a client or unable to respond to your email, we’ll get back to you as soon as possible” I wouldn’t feel important enough, I would feel like one in a million and you don’t have time for me. I think you should take the time to respond personally and, again, just a quick message to let them know that you will respond to them ASAP.

Overpowering personality

A lot of wedding couples tell me about their initial meetings with other planners and how they’re often disappointed with the results. They don’t feel heard, they don’t feel their vision is understood, and it’s hard for them to create a connection. That’s why many of them book me: I love to listen to their story and their dreams. It’s not about creating a celebration that you like, it’s about making their vision come to life. They need help from someone who has the experience and the ability to make it happen flawlessly. That’s where you come in as the planner and you can give them suggestions. Learn to listen more. And more. And more.
I was talking with a coaching client last week and she told me about this couple who hired her for full-service assistance and they have that expectation that we see very often nowadays: a multi-million dollar wedding for $20,000. She felt in a difficult position because she knew it can’t be done but at the same time she knew she needed to do something. I told her: “Just be polite and tell your clients what can and what cannot be done, provide excellent alternatives that are close to their vision and they can be within their budget.” Again: it’s not about the planner’s dream and expectations, we’re there to make our clients’ dreams come true.
Another complaint that I hear from couples is that they met with planners who are too pushy and they try to convince them to add details or other elements that are not a reflection of their personality. Or, even worse, convince them to spend more on luxury details (specialty linens, chairs, decor). And do you know why? Because the planner wants to have the wedding published on an upscale magazine and get the attention in the industry. Don’t ever do that. You don’t want your couples to go in debt by spending more than they can afford on their wedding day because of you. Your job is to make them happy, provide the best ideas for a memorable celebration. Yes, you can definitely suggest some great and unique ideas to make their wedding look even more fabulous, but stay within their budget. If you think a couple can afford something extra then yes, suggest that, but don’t do it just for your own interest.

Different plans

This applies to planners who own their own company, who are in charge of everything regarding designing and planning, they don’t have a team, and they only have assistants who help on the wedding day.
Sometimes this type of planner meets the client, gets booked and then assigns the client to an associate without saying anything to the couple. I think this is very unethical and very disrespectful. If the client calls your company because they heard great things about you and eventually signs the agreement with you, it’s because they want to work with you. If you need to assign the couple to one of your team members you have to be very clear about this BEFORE they decide to hire you. Sometimes I assign couples to my junior coordinators when the wedding is small and maybe I have another big celebration booked on the same date. However, I immediately inform the couple (before even discussing my services and my fees) that I will be the one planning and my junior coordinator will take care of the rehearsal and the wedding day. If they’re OK with that we meet with my junior coordinator, they see if they like her, and decide to start working together. Again, they will appreciate your honesty and transparency for communicating this to them before they make the decision to hire you, your company.

~~~ LEAVE A COMMENT ~~~ Have you ever received a complaint from one of your clients? What was the reason?

~~~ TAKE ACTION ~~~ Always think like your customers! Make a quick analysis of your last 5-10 weddings and ask yourself: Did I provide the best services and the best vendors to my clients? Did I listen to them? Did I suggest the best solutions to them, or were they influenced by my personal interests? This will help you provide a better service next time a couple books you (and you might win even more leads by being a true professional!)

Let’s connect, you and I! Schedule your FREE Clarity Call HERE and start elevating your business so there will be no more complaints or undecided brides and grooms – I can’t wait to get to know you and help you in your business!

 

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