#WeddingPreneurs Lounge: How to overcome challenges
Did you ever find yourself thinking “Why do I have to deal with this?” and complaining about your colleagues, your clients, and hating your job for those reasons? Did you ever find yourself thinking that you hate your job because of challenges you have to face every time you get hired by a client? It happened to me a lot of times in the past and I just wasn’t able to understand why. And now I see it with my coaching clients. They are going through the same journey, asking themselves a lot of questions and trying to figure out if they are a good fit for their business. And as soon as I hear them doubting about their career, I stop them and I ask them to put together a list with everything that they love about their job. That helps them realize that those challenges are an inevitable part of our job but they can be easily managed. That’s how a successful wedding entrepreneur runs the business!
Today we’ll take a look at some challenges that may come up when working with clients and other professionals, and how to overcome them.
Dealing with clients who don’t recognize your value
Couples don’t realize how important we are for them, how invaluable our assistance is during the planning and on their wedding day. But you shouldn’t be offended by that. Most of these couples are experiencing wedding planning for the first time, they’ve never been married before so they don’t know what to expect. Sometimes they even think that hiring a wedding planner is a huge waste of money because their best friend or their mothers or one of their bridesmaids can certainly handle the wedding day. I’m sure you heard this a lot: “Ours is just a simple celebration”, or “I already have an itinerary in place that they can easily follow”, or “I don’t think anything bad can happen, all of our vendors seem professional and they know what they’re doing”, “We just need you for a few hours”… They have no idea about the behind-the-scenes and the efforts and the hectic preparations during setup, coordinating with the DJ or the band during the reception. There are many different aspects that a wedding planner takes care of before and during a wedding, and couples don’t know about it.
I once invited a couple to “shadow” me at a wedding to see what I do behind the scenes during the day. They were on the fence when they first met me and they were trying to avoid a planner because they felt I was not necessary. They really liked me but they were not convinced. At the wedding, the groom-to-be gave up after the chairs were brought into the venue (it was about 2 hours after we had started setting up), while the bride-to-be committed to stay with me until the end. There were some tense moments with the bride’s cousin showing up with four more people who were not welcome at the wedding, the cake being delivered very late, and the DJ missing two songs from the playlist that both the bride and I had sent him in advance. Small details for me but these can ruin a wedding if the couple is not flexible enough. Good thing is, I had the entire playlist downloaded onto my phone (just in case) and the DJ was able to play those songs without any problem.
The bride-to-be who “shadowed” me was shocked. At the end of the night she said “I had no idea you are doing so much without people even seeing it. I could never imagine my mother doing all this. She wouldn’t know where to start from. I must have you at my wedding!” She signed the agreement the day after.
Solution: Take the time to educate your couples and explain very carefully what you can do for them. Sometimes it’s difficult for them to visualize because, again they don’t know what to expect but you need to be as detailed as possible in picturing the entire wedding day when you discuss details with them.
Dealing with unrealistic expectations
Today’s couples are used to see fantabulous celebrations on TV and on social media, mostly on Pinterest. When they meet with us they come with images from million-dollar weddings and they only have a budget which is a 10% of what those weddings cost. They clearly have no idea about wedding costs, they don’t know the difference between a folding chair and a Chiavari or Chameleon chair.
Their expectations are clearly unrealistic however, what are you going to do?
Solution: Don’t just tell them “Oh, you can’t do that.” You will create disappointment and they will not like you, some couples might even think you’re trying to steal their money because you’re telling them they should have a bigger budget. Maybe you’re right about that budget but, since they come to you as the wedding expert your job is to help them as much as you can. You need to educate them and clearly explain what goes into that type of wedding that they want and how you can help them have the wedding of their dreams with some tweaks and still fit their budget. Sometimes there’s not much to do but your job is to make them happy with great ideas and cost-effective alternatives. And, if they like your ideas you’re in business. How do you find ideas and solutions? You need to be constantly up to date with the latest trends, the best service providers in your area, and you have to be creative. Once you have all these in your experience you can provide stellar service to your clients. The reviews will be fabulous and more clients will connect with you!
Dealing with competition
Many of us talk about competition in a very bad way: we don’t like other professionals, they’re stealing our clients (which is not true: you’re not promoting and presenting well enough, that’s why clients select your competition), we don’t have a huge admiration for them or, even worse, we don’t like that they undercharge for their services in order to get the client.
This happens for two reasons: A) They are new in the industry and they need to start working; B) They are inexperienced and they don’t realize how much a business costs. Unfortunately, wedding couples become the victims because very often the inexperienced professionals don’t provide an excellent service and when couples realize that (during the wedding) it’s too late.
By undercharging and under delivering these professionals do a disservice. Not only to themselves but also to our industry because they set the bar (and the reputation) low. Clients will want to spend less and less for our services.
The problem is that, anybody can become a wedding planner. You just need business cards, an e-mail address and a phone number, and you’re ready to market yourself. How many times did you hear the new planners in town say: “I just got married six months ago and I loved planning so much that I decided to become a planner. My wedding planner didn’t do that well at my wedding and I know I can do better. She just charged me $500 for her services. If I start from $250. I can get new clients easily and I can make some experience quick.” I understand fees for wedding planners vary from state to state but here in Southern California you can’t hire anybody for $250. The lowest amount I heard about was $500 and that’s extremely low! It’s offensive for a professional wedding planner. You have a value – Make it count! And not only that, it’s not only the hours you put in for the planning and the research, and the wedding day. It’s all the expenses that you have to keep in mind for your business: office rent if you have one, utilities, business license, insurance, car, gas, an attorney if needed, etc. Make sure you include everything before you structure your levels of assistance and fees, or you will go out of business very soon because you don’t make enough money.
Solution: Educate your younger colleagues about the challenge of having a profitable business. It goes beyond the prettiness and the beautiful colors and the Instagram posts. It’s a lot of hard work, continuous education, efforts, long hours, trainings. If you have the time, be their mentor and take them under your wing. Teach them how to charge for their services appropriately, how to invest in their business, how to stay up to date by receiving continuous, professional education and trainings, how to provide excellent quality of service. This will benefit you as well because you both raise the bar higher in the industry. You will benefit because you will be seen as an expert, an authority in the field (wedding couples will want to work with you, and only you). The younger planner will benefit because she will learn to be a professional who can serve wedding couples without leaving them disappointed or even furious if something goes wrong. Our goal is to serve wedding couples and provide a memorable experience on their most special day. And we have to achieve this goal as a community in the wedding industry. Together.
Let me open a parenthesis here and talk about those situations when you find yourself working with inexperienced or unreliable vendors or service providers. I try to recommend my favorite vendors to all my couples whenever possible. However, if they come to me after booking their vendors chances are, I will be working with some vendors who might not be extremely reputable in the area. When something like that happens I charge my client a higher fee. Why? Because I know I will need to spend more time to educate, to assist, instruct and guide the vendor so that we (as a team) deliver what the couple hired us to do, which is: a perfect wedding celebration.
When couples tell you: “My friend from college will be the florist, she was very kind to offer this as her wedding gift…” you will need to educate them. Let them know that a professional florist will be a much better investment because she has experience in working with flowers, making the bouquet and all the centerpieces, selecting the right flowers, and keeping them in coolers until the wedding. One tip here: always ask the couple who their vendors will be before you send your quote or proposal. You want to know who you will be working with!
Dealing with emotions
I briefly touched on this a few weeks ago in another episode of The WeddingPreneurs Lounge (LINK). Many wedding planners don’t know how to handle the emotional aspect. They organize all types of events, mostly social and corporate, and they also do weddings but they don’t really get weddings because they don’t understand the relationship with the couple. Corporate events are strictly business events, while weddings are one-of-a-kind personal celebrations. There’s a lot more than the planning itself, there are family dynamics, emotional breakdowns, excitement, stress. A new chapter in the life of two individuals is going to start and it’s a huge deal.
Solution: As the wedding planner, feel these emotions, feel this personal connection with your clients. You must be there as more than a planner, you are their confidant, their advisor, their psychologist. If you can’t accept that type of relationship don’t be a wedding planner. Specialize in other social or corporate events. When people hear that I’m an event planner specializing in weddings they often tell me: “You must work with a lot of bridezillas!” Well, wrong… I never had to deal with a bridezilla on her wedding day. I think I had some brides who were more emotional than others and they were definitely good candidates for being a bridezilla but, on the wedding day, they felt relaxed and happy. They just told me: “With you here by my side I feel everything will be perfect. I know I’m in good hands!” And that’s exactly what you are required to do: keep them calm and run the show with a smile on your face! Emergencies will happen, difficult moments will happen but, if you’re a true professional, you’ll go through all these without any problem.
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Holistic Life Coach, Brain Fitness Coach, and Life-Work Balance Strategist for busy professionals. I blend well-being principles with neuroscience, biohacking, positive psychology, stress management, and mindfulness techniques to implement effective behavior changes.