Before you brush this off as something you'll improve “once things slow down a bit,” I'm here to bring you a harsh reality: if you don't have a strong onboarding workflow for your wedding planning clients, things might never “slow down” again (and not in the good way – where you are sipping margaritas on the beach watching all your Honeybook notifications come in). Without a strong wedding planner onboarding sequence, it's easy to turn into that gif of a cat typing ferociously on a keyboard. I do NOT want that for you.
So today, I'm going to share with you five things you need to include in your onboarding workflow (as a wedding planner!). I know engagement season is slowly coming to an end, and your inbox is (hopefully) filled with couples eager to work with you and ready to book. You know I will always be straight with you – the time to work on your onboarding workflow is NOW.
If you are really looking to up your client experience as a wedding planner, you can grab the entire 50+ page guide all about onboarding new clients as a wedding planner here. I'm a little biased, but I highly recommend it.
I did not hold back.
Not only will it share what your wedding planner onboarding sequence should include (which I'm sharing a bit of below!), but it dives deep into eight step signature process for onboarding (complete with everything you should ask in your onboarding questionnaire – from a seasoned wedding planner!). You'll be able to stop second guessing yourself and launch your shiny new onboarding workflow in just a few hours!
Enough small talk – let's talk about the 5 things you need to create the best wedding planner onboarding experience!
1. Affirming Their Purchase
You just booked an ideal client that can definitely afford you, so do you really need to affirm their purchase? The answer is a resounding yes, friend. Whether your client just parted with $1,000 or $50,000, they are investing in an experience that feels less “tangible” than something like their wedding photographer or their florist. It can be harder to “see” what you do or what working with you will be like. And yet, they are trusting you to plan their wedding. When they sign the contract and place their deposit, we need to make sure we are making the most of that short window.
I share two strategies (and a ton of examples) inside my onboarding guide, but I will share one of them now to help get your creative juices flowing. Create a quick win. After they book with you, ideally through the power of automation with a tool like Honeybook, give them something to do that they can check off their list quickly and feel like they are getting started (without you dropping everything you are doing – of course).
2. Clearing the Path from Overwhelm
Whether your client is organized or not, everyone appreciates knowing what the next step is. As part of your wedding planner onboarding workflow, you need to devise something that works for couples that are excited to get started right away and something that also works for couples who may want a little extra help getting started. I talked a little bit about giving your clients something to do when I talked about affirming the purchase (quick wins can save your butt sometimes!), but I want to go a little deeper now.
Throughout the onboarding stage (which I like to spread out over 30 days – in case you are curious about the timeline!), you will want to have a few touchpoints (I like to think of these as scheduled check-ins) and at least one milestone. Have a goal for the first 30 days for your client. What are they responsible for? Importing their guest list? Getting a better idea of their budget? Uploading contracts of vendors already booked?
Give them something to do, and then let them complete the task. This way, you get breathing room while you find a place to add your new client into your planning workflow and avoid any “what's next” questions for at least a little while!
Remember, it's easy for their eagerness to throw a wrench into your process. The purpose of a strong onboarding sequence is so that you can set (and keep) the tone. Let's talk about that next!
3. Communicating Boundaries + Setting Expectations
Whether you are okay with being texted at 11 pm on a Friday night (or you respond to emails within 5-7 business days), everybody has boundaries. There is no better time to tell your client what your boundaries are so that you can enforce them from the start.
Not only do you need to set firm boundaries in your wedding planner onboarding workflow, you also need to remind your clients what THEY are responsible for. It's not enough to have it in your contract. I'm sure you have figured out that people don't read (if you are lucky – they skim). Just as important as setting your own boundaries, you must ensure that if you need something from them, you set those expectations from the start!
4. Gathering Information
If you are a new wedding planner, this is probably the step you are the most and least familiar with. You likely know you should ask your clients some questions before you jump into planning their wedding, but it can be hard to know what to ask. And in what order. And how often.
Questionnaires can be a great way to systemize this part of the process, but I want to caution you from asking too much information upfront. You can always ask for clarification and dive in deeper once you get a better idea of what your client is looking for. Sending them 80+ questions as soon as they sign the contract is a fast way to get them to think “wait… aren't wedding planners supposed to make things easier?”
Inside my onboarding guide, I share a questionnaire devised from my decade as a luxury wedding planner in Connecticut. For the sake of this blog post, I want to encourage you to ask yourself: what information do you need to get started? and what have they started without you (i.e., booked a venue, found a florist, etc.)?
5. An Element of Surprise + Delight
Last but not least, don't get so caught up in the process that you forget to take a step back and find a way to surprise and delight your new customers. I hope they are a dream and you really enjoy working with them. Remember, the experience SHOULD be fun! That's part of the value you are providing as their wedding planner. If they wanted to stress out the whole time, they wouldn't have hired you. I want to encourage you to really think about how you can love on your customers for this final step of the onboarding process (although this hopefully won’t be the last time you will surprise and delight your customers!).
While I encourage you to get creative here, that doesn't mean it has to be complicated. Sometimes just being “unexpectedly helpful” by sending them a quick email or calling them on the phone to say, “I saw this and thought of you” or “I know you were looking for this, and I found it on sale” can go a long way in making your client feel excited for what is to come.
OK, That Was a Lot! Let's Recap My 5 Wedding Planner Onboarding Essentials
If you are wondering what to do after your client signs the contract and pays their deposit, here are 5 things your onboarding sequence should include:
- Affirming Their Purchase
- Clearing the Path from Overwhelm
- Communicating Boundaries + Setting Expectations
- Gathering Information
- An Element of Surprise + Delight
Need a little extra guidance? While you can purchase my step-by-step onboarding guide for wedding planners here (what you saw in this blog post was just a taste!), the real magic happens inside my membership for wedding planners looking to elevate their wedding business: Check out the Planner's Playbook!
Ready to Elevate Your Wedding Planning Business?
The onboarding stage is a CRITICAL part of your client experience, but it's not the only stage that matters. With weddings, there are NO do-overs, friend. If you're looking to take your wedding planning business up a notch (and since you read until the end – I think you do!), I would love to invite you to join me inside The Planner's Playbook. This is my new coaching experience for wedding planners who are ready to plan, design, and coordinate high-end weddings like a pro! Ready to become a Playbooker?
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