As you well know, the wedding industry is a high-pressure environment with couples anxious to provide their guests with the best possible event while also creating memories that they will cherish forever.
No matter how long you have been in the industry, that pressure can and does transfer onto you as you strive for excellence at every opportunity to not only reach the expectations of each couple you work with, but also to boost your profile and credibility as a business in the process.
There are 10 things, however, that really irk brides and can have a huge impact on their view (and consequent reviews) of your business.
Avoid these, and you will be putting your best foot forward to become a well-respected and highly recommended wedding supplier.
These are the things brides hate, so avoid them to boost your business reputation and increase your bookings.
Not returning phone calls
No matter how busy you are or how many weddings you are juggling at any given time, each bride wants to feel like you are there just for her.
Failing to return their phone calls, particularly as the wedding day gets closer, will have a devastating impact on your relationship before the big day as the bride will feel like you don’t care and can become agitated about it.
Calls from brides who are just beginning their wedding planning and are seeking out vendor options will quickly move onto a more responsive supplier if you fail to return their calls.
Even if you are busy and cannot fully commit to resolving the issue at hand or looking into their enquiry right at that moment, simply give them a quick call to explain that you have received their message and you can then suggest an appropriate time for you to call back, where they can have your undivided and focused attention and you can work through it together.
Getting their names wrong
When you are dealing with multiple couples each week, it can be hard to keep track of who’s who. Something like calling a Mary, Marie, can be laughed off and quickly apologised for being a slip of the tongue.
But calling Mary, Stephanie. Well, that is not only cringe-worthy but could actually offend your bride.
There is a simple fix for this. Spend one minute before each meeting briefly going over emails or notes from previous discussions with the couple and this will get you focused.
If you have done this and you end up having a mental blank halfway through the conversation (we’ve all been there), avoid saying their names until it is mentioned by one of them. Or, you can try one of the oldest tricks in the book and ask them to spell their names for you. You could say something like, “Now, just so my records are accurate, can you please spell your names out for me.”
Unless their parents are paying for the wedding or the couple have deep pockets and expense is not a concern, chances are they have worked out how much they can afford to spend for the major aspects of their wedding.
Usually, one of the first things brides will ask potential suppliers is how much your product or service will cost them. So if your quote is wrong, it can create major issues and a lot of stress for couples as they either struggle to pay the extra amount or simply move onto another supplier that they can afford.
The key here is to determine exactly what they want and incorporate everything into the quote you provide to them in a very clear and easy to understand manner.
If they are thinking about additional items, but haven’t locked them in, itemise this on their quote so it is clear that they will be up for that additional amount should they choose to go ahead.
If it is you who has made the mistake and missed out an item or quoted an incorrect rate, you will need to weigh up whether you approach the couple with an apology and request for the additional money, or you write it off in order to keep the couple happy. There is no universal rule here, so you will have to assess the situation and use your judgement.
Not replying for ages
This is just as bad as not replying at all. In a fast-paced world, customers expect to be able to connect with you at all hours. While there are some unspoken lines, like, you shouldn’t be expected to answer your phone at 1am because a bride is having a panic attack about one aspect of her wedding day.
That said, you should call her back as soon as your usual business hours begin, or maybe even a little earlier, to address the call. Waiting until midday or just before close that day will not only cause angst for the bride, but reflect poorly on your business.
Again, even if you are busy and cannot fully commit to resolving the issue at hand or looking into their enquiry right at that moment, a quick call to arrange a time to do so will go a long way.
Misleading promotional photos
Make sure the images you use to promote your business are current, accurate and high quality. This is one of the first things that brides will notice when they visit your venue or see your product in the flesh for the first time and chances are, they won’t be happy if there’s a difference.
Your first impression with brides researching for their wedding suppliers is online, so you want to make sure you are not misleading them, and make sure the images are large and aesthetically pleasing. The bride and groom of 2017 are focused on images. A good review or information is not enough to get an enquiry, you need quality images or videos of your service.
Even if you did have amazing photos taken of your venue 10 years ago, if the decor has changed, or that huge fig tree that provided shade in the gardens has been removed, you will need to bite the bullet and update the photos.
There are a lot of things brides place value in when choosing suppliers for their wedding, and that fig tree, for example, could be where they pictured setting up an outdoor cocktail bar and garden games to entertain their guests while they have photos taken. If they turn up to the venue and the tree is gone, so too is their vision and they will quickly, and angrily, move on.
Waiting ages to receive photos/video
When customers get excited about something they have bought, their level of patience can drop rapidly. This is never more true than brides who have had the most magical wedding day and are waiting to see their photos or videos from the big day.
We all know that good things take time, especially when there is a high level of attention to detail needed in the editing process. But the key here is the age-old retail mantra – under promise and over deliver.
Be upfront with your brides about how long it could take. Even if it is six weeks (which can seem like six decades for an excited bride) explain the process you go through and how it will be well worth the wait. Setting the expectation at a comfortable time, and maybe even adding in a small buffer, means that when you contact your bride a week early to say everything is ready, she will be over the moon.
Over time fees
If a wedding runs well over time and you are paying your five catering staff overtime, of course it is expected that you will be passing the charges onto the couple. While this is well known within the industry, it’s important to remember that this is probably the first wedding this couple has organised and they may not expect an extra bill for a few hundred dollars because they were enjoying themselves and the party continued.
This one is easily fixed with communication. No doubt you have all of your fees and charges laid out in any contracts or quotes that you provide, but you can make a point of highlighting them so your couple is well informed.
Also, on the day if you find you are approaching your arranged time and the day is far from winding up, you can discreetly approach the couple or one of their parents to inform them of the extra charges that will be incurred if you stay on. This way there will be no nasty surprises and the decision can be in their hands if they wish to continue or to allow you to pack up as planned.
Equipment arriving later than expected
The unexpected can hit from time to time. Heavy traffic, a nasty storm, or even a personal problem, all of which can prevent you from fulfilling your commitment for a wedding.
If it is a simple time delay, contact the bride to explain the situation and let her know your estimated arrival time so that she doesn’t fly into a panic. This way, you can work together to devise a solution so that the rest of the pre-wedding set up or the wedding day schedule can flow as easily as possible.
Unclear payment requirements
Booking cancellations are a costly pain for business owners, so it is no surprise that fees to secure bookings are commonly required in the wedding industry. But while brides will expect to pay to lock you in, you will need to be upfront about how you expect the balance to be paid.
Whether it is by installments over direct debit or a lump sum paid two weeks before the wedding day, be very clear about when the money is due and how much each payment will be.
This will help brides to manage their budget to ensure they can pay by the set times and open communication will ensure they you will be paid on time and not caught short and then having the unpleasant duty of having to chase down money.
Cancellations with no explanation
Life happens, and sometimes at the worst possible times. But when you are caught out and can no longer assist a couple with their wedding. Simply cancelling without explanation will immediately put a black mark against your business name (and disgruntled brides will not hold back on social media).
While you may not be able to avoid upsetting your brides, who has chosen you for a reason, you can help to soften the blow by providing an apology and an explanation as to why you cannot attend. If it is personal, don’t feel you have to go into too much detail. You can also help by suggesting another supplier or two who might be able to help them.
If these suppliers are friends of yours, you could make a quick investigatory phone call to see if they are available and can match the price and product or service that you were going to provide the couple. That way, you have some assurance for both yourself and your bride that that they will be in good hands.
Your extra effort in doing that will also go a long way towards a positive view of your business despite the unfortunate cancellation.