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Eyes On Your Own Paper, People!

By Gwen Helbush, Where To Start, Wedding Management

In our last post, I covered one of the items I received in response to my request for topics.  The next one came via email.

I have a new client who wants an outdoor wedding, what are some locations that would be good for them?  I don’t have time to do the research, and I was sure you would know!  Thanks your hair and makeup friend.

Not exactly what I was hoping for, and it is by no means the first such request I’ve received.  But they asked, so I’m going to answer. Not with a list of venues (sorry if that was what you were hoping, I must disappoint).

Let’s be clear they are correct I do know.  My answer, however, will be to address something that has been nagging at me for a while and will no doubt get me in trouble with some of you.  So before I get started, I apologize in advance if my opinions upset anyone these are my views.  You are entitled to disagree respectfully my words are intended to help never to hurt.

Alright here goes: Why do people in our wedding community think it is perfectly acceptable not to do their homework?  At what point did we collectively decide that rather than do our due diligence, we can just ask others to give us all the answers.   I don’t know where you went to school but where I went this would have gotten me a big fat F.  

Oh, wait here come the grumbles “it’s a generational thing”.  I disagree it is a business thing.  Respect for collogues has nothing to do with when you were born.  You show respect, or you don’t and if you don’t no matter what year is on your birth certificate it is rude.

Please don’t misunderstand I’m not saying you should never ask for help.  I am the first person to assist you if you ask.  If you need something odd or out of the ordinary like a live elephant, a custom made sofa or a venue with a trapeze then by all means send up a smoke signal.  If you have done your homework and are looking for a second opinion on your conclusions then yes ask.  If you are in an emergency situation (i.e. the client “forgot to tell you” and you need backup STAT) then yes reach out. 

Just don’t ask something you can and should be able to find on your own.  And if a client is paying you to do that work, and you are asking someone else to do it for free.  Do I have to say it?

Worse of all, don’t ask for what we get paid to do and then turn around and give it to a client for free.  If you find clients asking for things that are not your area then refer them to an expert, especially if they are not paying you for that work.  I know you are trying to be helpful, I commend the impulse to help.   It is not your job to be all things to a client; your job is to do what they are paying you to do as well as you possibly can.

Here is an example: Anyone can look up venues on-line, create a list then give that list to a client. For that matter, the engaged couples can do that themselves. What I and most other wedding planners, get paid to do is find venues for them; we get paid to do the legwork, and we do it.  We read all the information about the site, we visit and review to ensure it can accommodate our client’s needs and budget.  We double check measurements against floor plans; we discuss service and restrictions with the venue management.  Then we use that research plus our expertise and experience to provide the client with a detailed comparison of the options that fit them best.  And make recommendations as to which we think will provide the best outcome for them.  And for the record we do the same with every other partner we recommend to our clients. Would you take all that time and do all that work and then just give it away?  And if you would, WHY!

Here is another: I’m a rental company one of my colleagues calls to ask for items for a photo shoot.  They are a good customer so I am happy to provide what they need at no cost for the inventory if they will pick the items up and return them or pay labor and delivery.  They become angry with me because I will not deliver, set up, break down and remove the items for free.  Oh did I mention the photo shoot is on a rooftop with no elevator access, everything must be put on an elevator, ride up ten floors, and then be hand carries up five flights of stairs.  Oh yes, they do!

And one more for just good measure: I’m a photographer our client is paying me to capture their special day.  Due to budget constraints I do not have a second shooter, so I have a lot of ground to cover by myself.  As the day progresses, I’ve completed the getting ready shots and the first look, so now I have a small window of time to get other shots before the processional.  I’d like to get detail shots for my colleagues.  Regrettably the room is not complete when I have time to shoot, so I adjust pulling items (invitations, menu, etc.) and work on other details.  After the ceremony during cocktails, I return to do room shots not a lot of time but I’m fast.  Everyone is working hard, and the wedding is going great.  Time for dinner, oh wait Uncle Charlie is making a speech got to capture that, oh now Mom is telling the sandbox story got to get the Bride’s face and on and on.  I finally get back to the table, my dinner is gone, the wait staff informs me I’m too late everything is packed.  Luckily I have a power bar.  First thing Monday morning I get a call from the caterer asking when he can expect to see photos from Saturday’s wedding.  Really!

Are these examples a little extreme? Maybe.  Are they true stories?  YES!  Do I have dozens more I could have included?  Yes, but I like you so I didn’t.

We are in this together, the best way to serve the clients is for each of us to do what we do best and work together as much as possible.  We need to provide education about why having skilled experts in all areas of their wedding means a better outcome and does not necessarily imply greater cost.

 POP QUIZ! If you do your job amazingly, and I do my job amazingly, but you do my job just ok and you don't get paid to do my job, then?

 

p.s.: I replied to the email with a list of venues and an invoice.  The invoice showed what I would charge a client for what they requested for free and then I credited the amount, so the invoice balance was zero.  A few days later I got a call from my emailing pal, to say thank you for the information and that they got the message.