Picture this: A young bride comes to your studio for a consultation. You two really hit it off and she books on the spot—hooray! You get her vision and she couldn’t be sweeter. The two of you meet a couple of times, make all the choices for her big day…things could not be more smooth! Then the wedding day arrives…and everything—EVERYTHING goes wrong.
You are mortified. The bride is beyond pissed and says you ruined her wedding day. You feel terrible, and refund her money. Think the damage is over? Think again.
Sure, the mistake cost you the profits and you have now paid for the materials out-of-pocket (you refunded all her money). You are in the red. But what else did it cost you?
Bridesmaids. Two out of three bridesmaids will get married in the next couple of years. They certainly won’t use you now!
Guests. Think about it—100+ people just saw you fail. At least one of them will be involved in a wedding in the foreseeable future, perhaps a parent of a bride or groom, or the bride and groom themselves. They will be sure NOT to call you.
The venue. There is no better way to kick yourself off a preferred vendor list, or prevent yourself from getting on the list in the first place.
The other vendors. There are lots of gossipers in this industry, so you better believe they will talk.
All the people the above mentioned will tell. Let’s face it, people love drama and they love to share drama. What do you think the topic around the water cooler at work will be for many of the guests the following Monday?
Let’s look at it from a numbers perspective. The following is just an example to give you a gut-check:
Loss of revenue from your client $2000
Loss of two bridesmaids hiring you $4000
Loss of a guest’s wedding $2000
Loss of venue referrals for one year $20,000
Loss of other vendors referring you for one year $20,000
Loss due to damaged reputation $20,000 +
TOTAL LOST POTENTIAL INCOME FROM ONE MISTAKE $68,000 +
Now that you are about to swallow three Tums, take a deep breath—this was just a story! For some, this is real. For others, it’s a reoccurring nightmare. We’ve all made mistakes and yes, how you handle them makes a huge difference, but the untold story of a mistake will continue to plague for a while.
How to prevent mistakes:
No one is perfect, but most mistakes can be prevented! Here’s our tips for a near-perfect wedding process:
Have a contract and make every bride sign it. Contracts are your saving grace in many cases. Bakers can have an allergy clause, florists can provide a substitution policy, and photographers can have a weather strategy. Without a contract, you are opening yourself up to issues, headaches and potential lawsuits.
Create a timeline for each wedding. Create a template timeline that details what contacts need to be made with your client and when, when to order product, when to create, when to arrive the day of the wedding, when to deliver the product, etc.
Create a Day-of check sheet. Be sure not to leave the studio without a knife, extra lens, or icing! Oh, or the product the bride ordered. J
Communicate via email. Ever heard the term, CYA (Cover Your Assets)? I cannot preach enough—document, document, document!! I tell my brides if they want to make any changes (outside of the consultation), to email me. Questions? Email me. Why you ask? Because then you have a paper trail. She cannot come back to you and say, “But I told you to make my bouquet red—this is white!!” without you being about to verify it.
Have her sign a final order. Again, document, document, document!! Have everything printed in black and white and have her sign it. Include locations and the addresses, arrival times and any and all details (and I do mean ALL. If you are to place her votive candles around the centerpiece then document it on here so there is proof. If she mentions to you that she will provide her own votive candles but you are NOT placing them, document that, too. From experience, this will come back on you if you do not). If you are a baker, sketch the cake on this form. She needs to sign and date it, you sign and date it, then make a copy for her to take with her so everyone is on the same page.
Take pictures. If you are a photographer, this is a given, but if you are any other wedding professional, you need to take pictures of the finished, final product at the time of delivery to your client.
Ask her for color swatches. I have one question for you: What shade is coral? Now you get my point. Coral to me isn’t the same as it is to you, or your client, not to mention there are 10 variations of one color.
Provide her with sketches, pictures, or mock ups. Bakers can sketch the cake. Florists can design a mock-up and photograph it. Photographers and stationers can provide examples.
Educate your client. Brides are not just planning a wedding, they are graduating from college, buying a home and job-hunting. The last thing they have time to figure out on their own is what flowers come in what shades and what time of the year. Be a resource for your bride, guide her along like you are her best friend wedding planner and educate her!
Train your assistants well. Make sure anyone helping you knows exactly what to do. Have a detailed list of instructions, especially if you will not be present.
What are some things you do in your business to prevent mistakes? Please share your comments, we would love to hear!