If you've been following me for a while, you know that I don't shy away from sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly. Especially in the wedding industry. Today, I'm going to talk about a few of the most common wedding planner problems (and I'm bringing these to you as a wedding business coach for over a decade).
YES, it really has been that long. *sigh*
Today, I'm not only going to share some of the biggest problems that wedding planners face, but I'm also going to talk about why they are problems in the first place (some of them are sneaky!). More importantly, I'm going to share what you need to do so you DON'T face these problems.
But before I dive into all of the wedding planner problems we face, can we talk about the good stuff for a second?
Being a wedding planner can be incredibly rewarding and throughout my career, I have had more *pinch me* moments than I can count.
If you are in the first few years of your own wedding planning business, The Planner's Playbook is here! If you are looking for straight-to-the-point advice from an industry vet (with over a decade of coaching experience in the wedding industry), join us inside The Planner's Playbook!
All right–now let's talk about those wedding planner problems.
Wedding Planner Problem #1: Scope Creep.
Scope Creep can be tricky. At first, it might feel less like a problem and more like you are just going “above and beyond”. Ultimately, scope creep is when you're taking on work you were not hired to do. This can be because your customer asked you to, or because someone else in the industry told you “it's what everyone does”. You make your own rules though – so feel free to ignore this advice.
Why scope creep is a bigger wedding planner problem than you realize
Oftentimes, scope creep starts small. Scope creep has huge problem potential though.
The kind of problem that can turn your hourly wage into $4/hour… and has you answering your cellphone at midnight. Do you really want that?
Hell no you don't!
Let's be honest, most of our customers don't know everything that wedding planners do and don't do, so they might not even realize they're asking ridiculous requests.
Let's always assume they just don't know any better rather than assume the worst.
This leads to questions like, “Can you cut the cake and serve it to my guests?”
Or, “Can you single-handedly dismantle my ceremony arch and set it up over my sweetheart table before the reception?”
Because what might have started as you being a people pleaser and trying to just say yes to everything, ends with clients walking all over you because you never say no to work that isn't under your jurisdiction.
Listen, if it isn't part of your contract, you didn't charge for it. You are running a business and you can't work for free. I also want to acknowledge that I know how hard this is. None of us became wedding planners to say no all the time. Most of us are either people pleasers or are in recovery after people-pleasing burnout. You're not in this alone, so keep reading for ways to avoid this feeling altogether.
How to avoid scope creep as a wedding planner
Here's my motto (and as the ladies in my mastermind will tell you, I say it over and over again): Clients are entitled to ask but they are not entitled to get what they ask for.
We need to stop being afraid to set boundaries. As wedding planners, we need to say no confidently when something falls outside of what our customers have contracted us to do. Or, at least give them a price of what it would cost to add their request to your task list.
This is my secret hack to never saying no. Most things are possible, but there is usually a price.
The first step to avoiding scope creep is having a solid contract. If you don't feel confident enforcing your contract, you need a new one. Your clients will respect firm boundaries – especially when they are in place from the beginning.
And the next time a customer asks for something outside of your contracted scope of work, let them know the cost to add it to your services. Or, if it's something you are not comfortable with at all (please never move a wedding cake!), guide them towards the right person to ask. There's always a way to avoid saying “no”.
Wedding Planner Problem #2: Too Many Opinions.
Millennials run everything by committee, right? And although it seems so harmless to ask your ten closest friends for their opinions, it can take the joy out of wedding planning really fast. This is multiplied even more when you are dealing with other people who are paying (like the parents!). It's easy for a wedding to quickly become everybody else's business but the couples.
Why too many opinions becomes a wedding planner problem
When there are too many people to answer to, not only is it annoying, it creates additional confusion in the wedding planning process.
Something your couple was so excited about the day before might need a second look after they've added in extra opinions. The more people who are involved, the more changes there will be. The more changes, the more mistakes are inevitable.
And let's be honest, it's impossible to please everyone. So someone, hopefully not the bride and groom, will end up with upset feelings or dealing with somebody else's upset feelings. Not what you want to deal with as a wedding planner–you already have enough shit to deal with.
How to avoid other people's opinions becoming YOUR problem
I'm going to divert back to your contract again. In your contract, create a section where it's noted who the final decision maker will be. If the parents are paying and they want the final say, make sure that is clear before you start working with them. If the parents are paying, but ultimately the wedding couple has the final say, make sure you have that in your contract. You need to have clear communication with whoever the final decision maker is to ensure nothing is missed.
And by the way – if you don't have a contract yet, you need to check out Legally Set. Her contract templates are PERFECT for wedding businesses just starting out. Make sure to check out the bundles to save some money!
Wedding Planner Problem #3: Unprofessional Wedding Vendors.
Listen, I bet you never thought you'd have to babysit grown-ass adult business owners, but guess what? It's (kind of) part of your job now.
I know. WTF.
Some vendors are not as professional as they originally seem. You might find yourself policing dress codes, schedules, and more. I probably don't need to tell you why unprofessional vendors are a problem – in fact, if you've been in the business for a while, you probably have a list of examples that have sprung to mind already, but it creates a huge headache for you when people are unreachable and unprofessional.
Simple tasks that would take an hour can drag on for days and weeks.
Am I painting a picture?
Most of us are not paid by the hour, and dealing with unresponsive vendors can quickly leave us working for free. It doesn't take long before this gets old.
How to avoid unprofessional vendor problems
I hope that it goes without saying that you want to be careful who you refer in the first place. Most of our customers will place a lot of trust in our referrals.
In fact, the longer you are in business you might even consider requiring that your clients hire from your preferred vendor list. If a vendor is acting unprofessionally after you've booked them, have a firm conversation about expectations. Ideally, follow it up in writing so you have some documentation as well.
Maybe they're just overworked and overwhelmed. Or perhaps they've got something going on personally. I always try to lead with empathy where I can. Ask: what can I do to make this easier for you?
But sometimes, people are just unequipped to be business owners. And it's not because they have something going on or they're just burnt out… it's because they're a hot mess.
If it doesn't resolve, you're well within your right not to work with them again. In most cases, that's exactly what I recommend you do.
Wedding Planner Problem #4: Unruly Guests
From bad-minded groomsmen (yes, I've been prank called and hit on) to breaking up fights, sometimes guests can get a little out of control and make your job super difficult on a wedding day.
You want things to go seamlessly, but that can be difficult when there's a cranky or drunk guest who's acting inappropriate, rude, and sometimes even violent.
This should never be something you have to deal with, but unfortunately, it is. So how can we get ahead of it and figure out the best course of action before we're put in an uncomfortable situation?
Dealing with Unruly Guests as a Wedding Planner
My first piece of advice is to add a non-negotiable clause in your contract about guest behavior and abuse. You and your team need to have the right to walk out of a wedding if you're being threatened, harassed, or verbally abused. You deserve to work in a safe environment and should not settle for anything less.
Navigating Problems as a Wedding Planner
Now listen, I just want to say before I wrap things up, that sometimes we can do everything right and still end up with a problem on our hands. It's part of what we do as wedding planners. Other than the tips I've laid out here, the next best piece of advice I have is to find yourself a community of like-minded people who get it. Find people you can bounce ideas off of and planners dedicated to improving their craft together.
If you don't have a community of wedding planner BFF's yet, I want to invite you one more time to join me inside The Planner's Playbook.
On top of all the resources inside to help you better your wedding planning business, fostering community is kind of my secret sauce. With 14 years in the wedding industry, I've really learned to grow and leverage the power of my network so I'm including a community component inside the Planner's Playbook. If you are excited to connect with fellow wedding planners working toward the same dreams as you are, then join us inside now! And cheers to way fewer wedding planner problems in your future!
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