Wedding Planners, Have A Successful Consultation

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Wedding Planners, Have A Successful Consultation

by

Tonya Shadoan

The first meeting, YIKES!

True or False? A client comes into your office for a consultation interview you?

FALSE! The answer is actually opposite of what one might think. The couple actually wants to come into your office to talk about themselves, their wedding, and to make sure you can solve their pain…planning THEIR wedding! Actually, if you take a little time and get to know the couple and LISTEN to their vision landing the client will be a cinch. There are several aspects during interview that put your client at ease and make the initial consultation run like clock work. Discovering the couple”s style, guest count, date and time of the wedding, money priorities, and wedding details all must be made known upfront PLUS the most important part YOUR ROLE in the planning process.

Reveal these details while solving their pain and you”ve got yourself a new client.

When it comes to the defining the STYLE of your client”s wedding there are many pieces of the puzzle that must be discovered. The personal questionnaire is a key ingredient to the overall vision of the wedding. These questions ask for personal information about their hobbies, activities, jobs, colors, and their personality of who they are as a couple. Everyone loves a good party, but assuming every bride and groom want a good party can often times be a big mistake. Taking the time to figure out their main priority of the wedding is crucial. I often send this questionnaire to the couple prior to our first meeting. It shows that I care enough to get to know them as a couple and they care enough to take the time to answer the questions prior to our appointment. It also enhances their overall experience during the consultation. 160; No need to “break the ice” during that first appointment; by referring to the answers during the consultation, they are put at ease.

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After the questionnaire, I have my clients review a list of adjectives to describe their ideal wedding. With over 50 descriptive words, I learn a lot about the couples” personality by the adjectives they choose. After we go through the list, it gives me a foundation to their overall style of the wedding. Plus they appreciate the fact that I”m getting to know them as a couple.

The guest list is an important aspect during the first consultation due to budget constraints. It can sometimes come between you and the budget. Couples love to brag about how many guests they are inviting to their wedding. The guest list is even larger if mom and dad are paying for the wedding OR if the couple comes from a large family. It”s time to celebrate! Its simple math, the more people they invite the more it”s going to cost; hence, less money in the overall budget for your services and speciality d cor.

Sometimes the liquor bill alone can cost more than the dinner itself. So every Tom, Dick, and Harry that is invited from the office can cost over $100 per person. It is up to you, the planner, to discuss the guest list and how to cut it back if necessary or offer an alternative solution like having a Guest A and B list. By discussing this early in the interview process, you are showcasing your expertise and how you can save the couple money by hiring you as their planner.

Most of the couple”s that you come in contact with will already have a date and time in mind for their wedding. Be careful not to discount your rate for someone who might be willing to pay a higher price during prime season. On the other hand, if they are open to any time of year, the planner can negogiate pricing if it”s during off season. By bringing this to their attention during the interview will once again raise the bar for hiring you.

With the economic times, couples are getting savvy when it comes to the way they allocate their budget. It is up to you to prove to them how you can save them time and $$$ throughout the planning process. I always tell my clients, “The more I”m involved the more I can save you!” This is a big selling tool during the first consultation. If I have a bride who is undecided if she can afford my services, I”ll offer to set up her budget (include my services) for $200 and apply that money to a program if she hires us to plan her wedding. Once they see the overall picture, we are sure to get the job. With that being said, we are very realistic when it comes to whether or not someone can afford to hire us. Never find yourself upside down trying to figure out a way to fit in your pricing and leave a missing piece to the overall vision. Be realistic!

I always have my clients rank the vendors and speciality items in order of importance. This gives me a good indication of what”s most important to them. If photographs are the most important element then they should spend the most on their photographer. By the end of their experience, I want their wedding planning services to be the most time and money saving decision they made in the planning process.

The last part of the interview is the most important part. Ask the client to lay out their expectations for YOU as their wedding planner. Find out their pain. Ask them why they think they need/want a wedding planner. Write these things down during the interview. Then address each concern and show them how you can solve all of those things for them. They will be delighted and anxious to have you solve their PAIN. You are the answer to the problem. They have suddenly fallen in love with you!

DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS….

It”s all about the details, which is true. A good planner has a plan of action for their brides. You will get to the point where you are planning 10 weddings in your head at the same time. Coming up with a system and showcasing that to your client is of upmost importance. We have a bridal bible for each client. Every contract, email, inspirational pictures, etc. goes into the binder. In the front of every binder we have a working check list, so I can see where the project stands. This allows me to pull their binder when vendors have questions or need updates on the wedding. I also pull these binders out for individual meetings. This keeps me organized and the paperwork in its proper place.

As the wedding planner you are the GLUE that holds it all together. Full service planning to “day of” coordination, you are still the one that everyone looks to as the production manager of the event. You have to be quick on your feet and ready to make decisions in a short notice. You are the leader. Prove to your potential client how you have put out fires in other wedding situations. How you saved the day for this particular client last year when she got married. If the mother of the bride is present, tell her about the time where a mother had to clean up all the flowers at the end of the night. Tell stories and get them involved only to reassure them that you will be the one handling all of those details. Once they see the value of what you can bring to the table, you will be sure to seal the deal.

Presenting yourself, proving your worth, and showing confidence are all part of the first consultation with the bride and groom. But if you discover their pain and create a true experience for them by making them feel special, they will have to hire you as their wedding planner.

It”s always nice if you light a candle to create that warm atmosphere.

Tonya Shadoan is an eight year vet in the wedding planner industry. She is now sharing her Insider Secrets with others so that they can become diva wedding planners, too! Check out www.DivaWeddingCoach.com/Become-A-Diva to start learning how you can make money doing what you love, too!

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Wedding Planners, Have A Successful Consultation