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Coping with Scary Clients

oct15-angrycouple-01Stay in the wedding business long enough, and one is surely going to cross your path: A bride or groom (or both!) who makes doing your job a challenge. Most couples will experience stress and anxiety while planning their wedding, but a few make it a fine art. Here are some tips for dealing with Bridezilla and her friends Groomzilla, Momzilla, and others.

Establish Expectations and Terms at the Beginning

Never agree to take on clients without meeting them first. At that first meeting, learn as much as you can about their wedding dreams, their expectations, and their budget. How involved do they want to be in the planning? What do they want to do themselves? Asking questions now will save headaches later.

This is also the time to explain what your role in the process will be, how you will help them, and what services you will provide. Clearly state your policies regarding communication, payment, and the scope of your duties. Explain all of these to your potential clients when you meet but also include them in a contract. This signed document should also outline the circumstances under which you – or they – can terminate your relationship.

It’s becoming increasingly popular for wedding vendors to include a “Bridezilla Clause” in their contracts. This clause outlines the consequences for rude or poor behavior – mostly fees or voiding of the contract. If you’re interested in including this in your contract, work with a lawyer to get the wording correct. Explain this clause to couples when you meet with them. Most will have no problem signing it.

Keep Communication Open

When you meet with new couples, you’ll tell them the ways they can get in touch with you: Phone, email, text, etc. Let them know when they can reach you and when you will be unavailable. Be sure to get their contact information as well as establish which method is the best way to reach them. Stress the importance of getting back to you in a timely manner – especially because doing so can save them money!

It’s also important to respond to their inquiries quickly, especially if you suspect you have a potential Bridezilla on your hands. Regular communication can help keep couples in the loop throughout the process and eliminate the need for them to call you all the time.

Planner’s Lounge suggests setting up a “Cloud Planner” on a website like Google Docs or a sharing website like Dropbox that both you and your clients can access. This lets you keep your client constantly updated and it allows brides who want to know all the details to check in whenever they want. A shared planner is also a great way to share ideas with each other and get feedback. Keep budget updates here as well so couples can balance their expectations against what they really have to spend.

Give Options and Tasks

Some couples are micromanagers – they want you to help them plan their wedding, but they also want to be involved in every detail, which can sometimes slow or halt the planning process. Give these couples something to do!

  • Give them options from which to choose. This helps them stay within their budget and be in charge of their day’s details.
  • Give them specific tasks to work on.
  • Encourage them to add personal touches to their day and set them to work making those things happen.

If couples are really worried about how things are going, establish a pre-arranged schedule of meetings in your contract. They’ll know ahead of time when they can get a more in-depth status report and some face time with you.

Keep Your Cool

No matter what a couple throws at you, keep your cool. Don’t match their mood with your own. Calmly remind them of the contract they signed and of the budget for their wedding. Listen to what they’re saying, and try to be empathetic. This is the time to really flex your customer service skills. Tap into your creativity and offer solutions to the problem.

And if the situation is bad enough, use the termination clauses you established in your contract. That’s what they’re there for.

TELL US: How do you handle scary clients?