Setting Your Standards

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Letting your customers set your standards is a dangerous game, because the race to the bottom is pretty easy to win. Setting your own standards--and living up to them--is a better way to profit. Not to mention a better way to make your day worth all the effort you put into it.
- Seth Godin

There is a line of thinking among some wedding planners that "whatever the bride wants goes" and that it is our job as wedding planners to do it regardless of how horrid the idea may be.

I disagree.  If something is in good taste, yet not my particular preference or style choice, I will do it.  But if it is in poor taste and tacky and classless, then I refuse to attach my company name to it.  There are certain vendors I will not work with for the same reasons - I refuse to associate my company name with them.

If clients ask if they are free to use whichever vendors they please, I tell them that of course they may, but that there are certain vendors I will not work with due to professional differences and that if their names come up as an option in the course of planning, I will let them know.  If my company is being hired for day-of coordination, I also ask to see the list of vendors already hired.  If there is someone on my "do not use" list on there, I simply refer the couple to another planner. 

I learned many years ago that at the end of night, all the guests know is that the couple had a wedding planner.  They do not know the details of your contract with the bride and groom, nor do they particularly care.  If you were hired just for day-of coordination, the outcome of the wedding still reflects on you and your company.  If the photographer is an egotistical jerk who refuses to include grandma in the family portraits, it reflects on you.  If the catering manager completely resets the tables in opposition to your diagrams and the signed BEO, it reflects on you.  If the deejay takes the mic and makes themselves the center of attention, it reflects on you.  It may not be fair, but it is what it is.

I feel that it is far more professional to let your clients know up front that you have certain standards when it comes to hiring vendors, than to play a blame game later or try to clean up a mess that incompetent or arrogant vendors made during the wedding planning process.  At the end of the night, you are responsible, even if you really aren't.  You are the wedding planner and ultimately, the buck stops with you.  It is perfectly okay not to be the wedding planner for everybody.  In fact, it is better for the long-term success of your business and your sanity.

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