Wondering if you need some wedding planner policies in place? Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about newer wedding planners getting into some pretty seriously hot water with their clients. Oftentimes it’s like a train wreck—you can see it coming but you can’t look away. I only say this because I was there once too. And I remember those lessons quite vividly. That time I was cursed at by a bridesmaid. That time I had no extra table for a groom’s cake because I didn’t know I needed one—since my couple never completed their paperwork.
Wedding Planner Policies
That time I got roped into helping a bride organize her mountain of décor the night before her wedding. The time a bride had me assemble all of her centerpieces the day of the wedding. That time a gust of wind broke an expensive, beautifully decorated mirror that I had just set out. I’m not judging because I’ve been there—got the t-shirt and everything. But I want more for you. So today we’re going over why you need to have your policies and procedures in place.
What does a wedding planner do?
This should be a given, but in case you don’t have one yet, get a contract. A contract will help keep everyone on the same page regarding the major things like a concealing a wedding and payment terms. But oftentimes your contact doesn’t spell out your personal boundaries. And let’s be real—half the time your clients won’t even read the contract. This is where your policies and procedures come into play.
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Why You Need to Have Policies and Procedures in Place
When you dreamed of owning a wedding planner business, I bet you didn’t plan on also being someone’s personal assistant. If this is how you currently feel, then it’s time to put some boundaries in place. Your wedding planner policies and procedures serve that purpose. They spell out how your company is run and what clients can expect from you. For example, your contract won’t necessarily say, “We communicate via email M–F from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. We will not respond to any text messages until 10 days before your wedding,” but your policies and procedures can state it. Having your policies and procedures in place will help you stay in control at all times.
It also acts as an easy to find reference tool if any issues ever arise. Say your client wants to bring a friend to a meeting. Simply say, “please see my policies and procedures regarding my policy on bringing friends to our meetings.” Done. You don’t have to worry about whether or not they will be mad at you because this is how you run your business. It’s not personal. It’s just business.
When to Present Your Policies and Procedures
The best time to make your policies very clear is right in the beginning. I like to include them with my welcome packet, but you could also give them to clients when you deliver the contract. This way no one is in the dark about what you’ll tolerate at any point of the wedding process. As the wedding planner who owns the business, you set the boundaries—not the client.
A client should never tell who should sign the contract or what clauses they will agree to. It’s your business; therefore, you make the rules. Please remember this. Yes, it might mean saying goodbye to a client, but in the long run, you’ll be glad you stood your ground from the beginning—TRUST me. Having this document in hand will help you set expectations and boundaries from the first moment you sign a client.
Your policies and procedures will expand as you gain more experience. Try to make the language very short and to the point, without any fluff or pleasantries. There should be no “gray area” or loopholes here. Remember, these are your own personal core values, ethics, and boundaries. So as long as you don’t contradict your contract, no one can tell you how to run your business. Here are some ideas to include in your policies and procedures.
- Your working hours
- How you’d like communication to be received
- How you handle weekends, holidays, and personal emergencies
- How you handle payments, how they are scheduled, what happens if they are missed
- How you handle uncompleted paperwork
- How you handle abusive behavior
- Defining a vendor’s role and your role
- How you deal with vendors not responding to your emails
- How you handle friends attending meetings with your client
- How you handle personal items
- How you handle wedding night cleanup
- How you deal with personal hygiene
Most of the time, when a wedding planner gets into hot water, it’s because no strong, solid boundaries were in place to begin with. I’m a huge advocate for wedding planners creating strong boundaries early in their career. This will lead to better work-life balance and better client relationships. Creating your own wedding planner policies and procedures is a vital step you shouldn’t neglect. They will help you set expectations up front and help alleviate any unnecessary hurt feelings. If you are needing help with creating your own client policies, be sure to checkout our Hard to Write Emails + Policy Templates in the shop.