The Art of Saying No

From the Experts, Your Event Career

The Art of Saying No

QC tutor Regina Osgood is the owner and creative director of Meant2Be events, a top Arizona wedding planning firm that manages over 250 weddings a year.

One of the most difficult lessons to learn as a wedding planner is not to undervalue your time and experience. I think all of us seasoned planners would agree that in the beginning it was hard not to “give it away for free”.

We have already discussed a bit about pricing and charging what you are worth. This conversation is much more than that. It’s about learning how to say NO to your client without losing their trust and their loyalty.

Why say no?

We are involved in such personal moments in our clients’ lives. In so many ways we are closer to them (often the bride especially), than their own family and friends. We are the rock, the confidant, the protector, the guide and the person they want to share all their special ideas with. If you are really good at what you do, then the excitement you have for them is unwavering. This also leads them to believe that as their “friend” you will go beyond the call of duty if they need you.

Wedding altar. Planned by Regina Osgood, photography by Half Full Photography

Photography: Half Full Photography

And of course you will. We all have stories of how we go out of our way to make sure our clients have the end result they dream of. That’s heart and soul of wedding planning. However, what if the requests are too much? What if the needs are so far outside of the services they booked that even in the smallest of ways you are far exceeding their investment in your time and systems?

You have to say no, without actually saying no. It’s a skill, it’s a fine art, it’s a major part of why my company has been successful. The more you practice it, the easier it will become.

In any scenario, if a client asks you for something outside of your services or comfort zone, you can make sure you are still the hero of their big day! Here’s an example of a client who wants your attendance at a vendor meeting that is not included in her current planning package.

Problem: Asking for Extra Time

Always start by saying YES

“Sarah, I love the idea of meeting with the graphic designer together. It’s so important that all of your details would come together on your big day, and your stationary will make a big impact! My gal is awesome—you will love what she comes up with.”

Next, remind them of your policies

“Since you are in the X package, the meetings you had included have been used.”

Last, give them the option of the right YES for them

“So I am sending you a new brochure with 2 planning options that would work out perfectly. One will give you the hours you need for this appointment. The other will upgrade you to a new package so you can have a lot more flexibility for your appointments moving forward! Either way, I am excited to see what we come up with at the stationary appointment!”

So that one seemed easy. Let’s try a more common situation that’s bit more challenging. One of your month of/day of planning clients is asking for a referral 6 months before her services begin.

Problem: Going Beyond the Package

Always start by saying YES

“Sarah, I totally agree. Having a hair & make up team that ROCKS is super important on your day! The teams we have are incredible. They stay on time, they’re mellow and fun—which you will want in those sweet first hours of your big day—and of course they are fabulous stylists!”

Bride and groom on bridge.  Planned by Regina Osgood, photography by Half Full Photography

Photography: Half Full Photography

Next, remind them of your policies

“Since you are in the X package, you don’t have unlimited vendor referrals in your package.”

Last, give them the option of the right YES for them

“Having those referrals is worth its weight in gold. And you won’t just get a talented prep team—you will have access to any referral for any services you need on your wedding day! I will send you over a new brochure with 2 options that would give you access to that amazing team of professionals who can exceed your expectations. Once you have that secured, I will just need some examples of styles and looks you like so I can pair you up with the right artists for trials!”

Again, you are not ever saying NO to a client who is asking more of you than you are contracted for. You are simply reminding them how valuable your time and experience is, without wavering in your excitement to serve them!

Do you have questions for Regina? Keep an eye on our Facebook page—she’ll be holding her own AMA in the next few weeks!

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2 responses to “The Art of Saying No”

  1. Kaneika Alston says:

    I absolutely love this post! I can see the value in making sure the client is satisfied with services, but also making sure that the event planning services are being paid for. This is a great way to steer clients in the right direction, and not miss a beat! It’s like having a back-up plan! Thanks for sharing this information!

  2. Oluwabukola Adefioye says:

    Beautiful post, thanks for sharing

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