Be Ready to Work with These People When Planning a Wedding!
Whether you’re still contemplating a wedding planning career or you’re a newly certified wedding planner, you’ve probably got a pretty good idea of some of the people you’ll be working with. There are your bridal clients, of course—and then there’s a whole army of caterers, florists, photographers, DJs, and other vendors.
As any experienced wedding planner can tell you, though, those aren’t the only people you’ll be working with. Yes, good client and vendor relationships are absolutely essential—but weddings are a big deal, and often it seems like everyone in the happy couple’s life has an opinion on wedding decisions.
Hopefully, if your clients have made the decision to hire you, it means they’ve decided to trust your planning advice and decisions (with their approval, that is). However, the couple’s family and friends may not be quite as keen to hand over the reins; many people close to the bride-and-groom-to-be may be set on having things their way, which can stress out both you and your clients.
Read on for our list of people you should be prepared to work with in your career as a wedding planner—and tips on how to handle the tough ones!
The Maid of Honor
The maid of honor (MOH) is a wedding staple. Even if your clients are going for a small, casual event, your bride will almost definitely have picked her closest friend, sister, or cousin to join the wedding party.
As the head (or sometimes the only) bridesmaid, the MOH’s traditional role actually overlaps with yours. In weddings without a planner, she’s usually responsible for coordinating the bridesmaids, planning the wedding shower and bachelorette parties, helping to plan the wedding, and making sure everything goes smoothly on the big day. Sound familiar?
It’s a lot of work (as you know!), so many MOHs will probably be relieved to have some of the responsibility taken off their hands when their bride decides to hire you. However, some may be resentful of your “intrusion” into a very personal experience—since they know the bride better than you, they may feel that their opinions and advice should have more weight than yours.
You can expect to see the MOH appear for many of the big decisions; your bride may want her best friend there to help her pick a dress, choose the cake, decide on floral arrangements, or settle on a venue. If your MOH is causing problems for you—or for you bride—here are a few tips for keeping things calm:
- Don’t assert your professional experience to back up your advice and opinions, even if you know you’re right. Instead, just reason things out.
- The bride has probably assigned some of the wedding responsibilities to her MOH. Asking her how things are going can help break down hostilities; she’ll feel like you’re treating her as an equal on the planning stage.
- Don’t criticize her work. Remember, she’s not a professional, so she’s probably going to make mistakes. If she’s really messing things up, acknowledge how tough all the details of wedding planning are before offering advice.
- Stick with your bride without getting aggressive. If the MOH is stressing your bride out by arguing about all her decisions, make sure to support your client. This is her wedding—the last thing she wants is to feel like the two of you are ganging up on her.
The Parents of the Bride and Groom
Don’t get tricked by the stereotype of the monstrous mother (or mother-in-law) of the bride. Every family is complicated and unique, so just be prepared for parent-child relationships to reflect that complexity.
You might face a mother of the bride who’s set on having everything her way—after all, chances are she’s already been married, so clearly she knows best! On the other hand, it could be the bride’s father who’s causing you chronic headaches—or they could both be taking a hands-off approach and letting their daughter handle the planning.
The same goes for in-laws. If you’re lucky, your clients already know each other’s parents and have a good relationship with them. If not, you might have to prepare to deal with tensions that can make every decision in the process a drama-filled contest of wills.
A big issue between your clients and their parents might be budget, since it’s common for financially stable parents to contribute to a wedding that their child might not be able to afford on their own. Encouraging your clients to stick to their budget and coming up with budget-friendly alternatives to big expenses can help ease conflict between money-conscious parents and overexcited brides and grooms.
Use these tips to help make the parents’ role in the planning process less stressful for everyone:
- Respect the fact that this is an emotional time. For many parents, seeing their child get married marks a final transition from childhood to adulthood.
- Let your clients know what traditional roles are for parents, but emphasize that these can also be filled by other people in their lives. Some of your clients may not have good relationships with their parents, and may want to limit their role in the wedding.
- Just like with the MOH, make sure you’re supporting your clients. Especially if the parents are financing the wedding, the bride and groom may need backup in making decisions that don’t align exactly with their parents’ vision.
- Even if your clients are snapping at their parents, keep your cool. Sometimes all it takes to work things out is someone (you!) to explain a decision calmly and reasonably.
- Be prepared to deal with politics. Bride’s father hates the groom’s mother? Groom’s mother can’t see her son’s step-mom without starting a screaming match? You might have to spend time figuring out seating arrangements or schedules that keep them as far away from each other as possible to minimize your clients’ stress.
Okay, duh. He’s one of your clients.
That being said, wedding planning has traditionally been the bride’s domain, so it’s easy to assume she’ll be taking charge. For some couples, the groom may be perfectly happy to leave the bulk of the work to his fiancée, which is totally fine (as long as she’s happy with it too).
But don’t automatically make that assumption. Your clients may have decided to split the work or to approach every decision as a team. You might also run into couples where it’s the groom who’s way more invested in the planning, while the bride has decided to take a step back.
Follow your clients’ lead. They may tell you outright who you’ll be working with the most, or you may get a sense of who your primary contact will be as you go along. Just make sure not to write the groom off from the get-go. During the consultation and any other situations involving both of your clients, split your attention between the two rather than instinctively zeroing in on the bride.
While you won’t be “working” with kids in the same way as the MOH, bridesmaids, or your clients’ parents, it’s important not to forget about them.
If your clients have decided to avoid the hassle by hosting an adults-only wedding, well, problem solved. If not, it’s good to have some strategies on hand to avoid trouble, tears, and tantrums.
As you know, there’s a lot of prep work on the day of the wedding for the bridal party, and that includes the younger members who may be acting as flower girls, ring bearers, or rice princesses and princes. Some kids may be content to sit quietly in a corner with a book or a toy, but you won’t always be so lucky!
Here are some tips for working with junior wedding party members that will make things easier on them, you, and everyone else in the wedding party:
- Don’t assume that the parents will be taking charge, especially if they’re members of the wedding party themselves. Kids can get overlooked in the craziness that goes on before a wedding; assign someone (preferably a parent) to look after the kids and keep them busy ahead of time.
- Schedule the ceremony so that they’re not standing for too long. Kids get fidgety fast, so give them a chance to sit down with their parents.
- Stocking up on a few simple and non-messy crafts or games before the wedding can be a life-saver in emergency boredom situations.
- Take a few minutes to ask the kids how they’re doing and if they have any questions about their role. It’ll make them feel more involved and help with any stage-fright.
- If your clients are parents whose young kids will be attending the wedding, make sure they’ve arranged beforehand to have a grandparent, relative, or friend take them home for bedtime before the end of the wedding to avoid cranky, overtired tantrums.
- Relax. Yes, they might make mistakes, but it’s not going to ruin anyone’s day. Kids get cute privilege—any mess-ups or etiquette blunders will just make people laugh.
Weddings are wonderful, but for anyone close to the bride and groom they can also be very emotional. We already talked about how parents can consider this the day their child finally “grows up,” but it really goes for everyone.
The MOH and bridesmaids might feel like they’re “losing” the bride as she enters a new chapter of her life with her soon-to-be-husband, especially if she’s one of the first of her friends to get married. Same goes for the best man and groomsmen—while they’re happy for their friend, it can also be a stressful time as they wonder how their relationship will change.
In addition to your professional experience, your status as an outsider also gives you a major advantage. The opinions, advice, and work you offer will be unclouded by the emotional rollercoaster that your clients and their close friends and family are going through.