No matter how seasoned a wedding planner is, they all have one or two stories about working with a bad wedding client. It’s almost like a right of passage. As though you can’t call yourself a real wedding planner unless you’ve been in the trenches of a train-wreck wedding and survived. These are the types of experiences that will make you a better planner, so remember that if you find yourself in a tricky situation. I pride myself in setting client boundaries early on, but even with that being said, I can still recall having two horrible brides. Had I seen the warning signs a little earlier, I might have been able to do a quick course correct.
A Bad Wedding Client
But sometimes you realize these things just a little too late and you have to chalk it up to “lessons learned” and tell yourself that next time will be different. Newer wedding planners have an even harder time seeing the warning signs, though. They are so hungry for new clients that things can get out of hand quickly. So today I’m going to share with you six clues that you might have a difficult client on your hands and how to avoid a bad experience.
They Micromanage Everything
A micromanager is a self-saboteur. This behavior won’t go well for either one of you. The client is micromanaging because they are too OCD or they don’t trust you. One of my nightmarish brides was a micromanager, and everything about that wedding was difficult and took twice as long to plan. My dollar per hour went way, way down and by the end of the wedding I felt used and abused.
They Do the Houdini
They sign the contract and pay you the retainer and then suddenly go MIA. They don’t respond to your emails, they don’t return to your calls—just gone, vanished. Or what might be even worse is they might only respond to half of your emails. It’s really hard to plan a wedding when you need time-sensitive information. If they reappear, they will want you to be at their beck and call to get things done.
The Budget Buster
They question your rates over and over. I believe a bride gets a one-time chance to challenge my fee. I get it, you don’t know if you don’t ask. But once I say, “sorry, no discounts” and explain my value, that’s it. After that, if a bride still asks me to lower my fee, I say, “no, thank you.” You are worth what you charge, and if they can’t see that, they aren’t a good fit for you. Because price isn’t really going to change their perceived value of you anyway.
They Have Unrealistic Expectations
This is probably one of the most common red flags. Oftentimes brides are confused about the scope of your actual job description and have unrealistic expectations about what you do. For example, when it comes to setup and breakdown of an event, a lot of brides have the impression that we will unload a whole U-Haul truck of décor or hang lights from trees. The best way to combat such unrealistic expectations is to provide a very clear understanding as to what your services include—and what they don’t. Check out our policy template if you need assistance.
This type of client asks you for more services than you two initially agreed upon. Now, it’s totally okay to ask for more services so long as they are paying for them. But when a client asks you to go to venue meetings or do a wedding design and they only purchased your wedding management package (which doesn’t include these things), it’s a warning sign of things to come. Do not go against your contact—ever. Make sure you are always being compensated for your time.
The Needy Client
They expect you to be available 24/7. Say no thanks to 8 pm calls and 1 am texts. You should not be at a client’s beck and call, ever. If they expect you to be available all hours of the day and night, run and run fast. This goes against the work-life balance you should be striving for as well as setting strong boundaries. Set your office hours and stick to them.
Now, if you get one of these bride types, all is not lost—there is still time to change how this might play out. Having a strong contract and an outline of your policies in place can really make a difference between having a bad wedding client and a good wedding client. Oftentimes when things are nipped in the bud, a positive outcome can result. If you’d like help developing your own personal policies, check out our pre-written template located in the shop.