So I would like to say that our business was an overnight success, but then I would be a liar. It has been a seven year work of progress, and we continue to have highs and lows. There have been countless hours of sweat, tears and laughs but we keeping chugging along.
When we started we would say yes to almost anything. We would take any client and agree to make just about anything happen. Most of the clients we have had the pleasure of working with are incredible, but there are always one or two who leave you scratching your head.
Before we had an official office or warehouse, we worked out of our house. Our showroom and meeting area was in the basement and storage was in our garage. At first, Scott and I would do the meetings together. It created a good dynamic. This one client arrived with her mom. We sat down with her for over an hour to try and get an idea of what she needed for her big day.
To start, she was a bit all over the place with location; it was either going to be an elegant banquet hall that came pre-decorated with linens, or a community centre hall that they had to bring in everything for (linens, draping, etc.). Since they didn’t have a date picked they weren’t sure about the guest count or who would be invited. We were meeting with them in August and they were thinking the wedding would take place some time the following fall – maybe September or October. They were thinking either an indoor or an outdoor ceremony, they needed an aisle but since they didn’t know how many people it was hard to say how long it would be. You get the idea of the conversation.
Being rather new we were eager to please. We didn’t have much to go on so we ended up giving them pricing based per piece. Each table cloth would cost this much, each sash was this much and so on. We thought they could use this to help budget when they had more info.
We were in the midst of doing one of our first full wedding packages and we kept getting calls from this potential future client. I didn’t feel it was appropriate to shift the focus from the bride who was getting married that day to the potential client and since it was Saturday I figured it could wait until Monday.
The potential bride was furious. How could she feel comfortable booking with us if we weren’t available whenever she needed to talk to us. She felt she needed us exclusively leading up to her wedding (more than a year away and she hadn’t even booked anything with us only come in for a FREE consultation). Our quote was not accurate, she had been extremely specific in her meeting (her mother followed up with an email telling us she had no idea what meeting we had been sitting at and that they were very clear regarding their needs) and that our quote didn’t reflect what they had detailed. I was floored. There was no date, no location, no guest count, it’s hard to come up with a quote without some basic details.
Based on the berating we took by email and verbally we ended up telling them that we wanted them to be happy but we didn’t think we could offer them what they were looking for. The bride and mother continued to say that the customer is always right and we should be doing something to make it right. I’m still baffled by what what we got wrong.
Side note, we lent them a sash so they could try out the color next to the groom’s kilt or suit (they weren’t sure which he was going with), needless to say they kept that and we had to change our policies on lending out samples.
For any event, not strictly weddings, people want to know what it is going to cost them. That is perfectly understandable and expected. Here are a couple of helpful tips to get you started in the planning process:
1. Have a venue – if you want accurate information you have to know if you are having the event in a castle or a field or wherever. Any venue can be beautiful but what they need in terms of decorating can be very different.
2. Have a date or at least a time of year. This isn’t absolutely critical but it helps with colors and the general feel of the day. A winter wedding will have different logistics then a June event (ie what type of flowers are in season, do you need coat check, etc).
3. Have a rough idea of guest count. We aren’t saying that this needs to be final exact number but a quote for 40 people will not be accurate if it turns out you end up inviting 200. It is usually better to slightly over estimate then to find yourself over budget.
4. Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. A wedding is suppose to be one of the happiest days of your life – enjoy it!