How to Communicate Effectively with Wedding Professionals
We’ve entered a new age. When I began my career as a wedding planner 21 years ago, clients would approach me with their selected colors, an overall feeling, a spending limit, and so on. They would have purchased a few bridal magazines and page after page would be dog-eared, marking stories of what they envisioned. During meetings, couples would tell me with sincerity that they wanted an event that was “pretty,” “glamorous,” or a thousand other words that were completely subjective and could be interpreted in a myriad of ways.
Everything has changed since those days. Now one of the first topics we discuss in meetings with new clients is not only the same dog-eared magazines, but also what they are admiring on shared-image sites and blogs. There is currently so much information available that it would seem to make this job easier. Certainly, conveying ideas with pictures can sometimes be more effective than using words: Couples can create storyboards of what they want in order to clarify the words they are using to describe their upcoming celebrations. On the flip side, the task is more difficult because there is such a large amount of material to sort through – and where is the individuality when simply picking from a catalogue of other peoples’ special days? The new challenge is in making decisions from such a vast array of options – and finding ways to customize them.
The professionals whom you are hiring to implement your dreams are also the experts in helping you pinpoint what those dreams look and feel like. Your job is to be able to communicate effectively, so they understand your vision.
Here are a few tips to guide you in this endeavor:
1. Think about the formality and feeling of your wedding. Day of the week, time of day, location, and attire all play a role in determining the style of the soirée.
2. Indicate why you like photos when you “pin” or tag them. For example, make a note if you are drawn to something based on its scale, texture, or color – or even for a dress that someone might be wearing in the background. Too often when couples go back through their photos, they have no idea why they selected them. Being specific about what you like in photos will help your event specialists detect consistencies within your favorite images.
3. Use adjectives that specify what you are experiencing. For example, if you are looking at a centerpiece, instead of saying that you want something more elegant – which is subjective – try to discuss particular aspects, like wanting less variety in the color range, more texture, a looser feel, etc. For instance, “I love the softness of the pink peonies and would like to see more of them,” not “I’d like it to be more romantic.” Being specific increases the odds of a vendor's ability to better intuit your opinions.
4. You’re not going to hurt anyone’s feelings. It is the job of your wedding professionals to produce a celebration that is reflective of your vision – if they are off track, politely let them know what you don’t like and offer your reasons. Gaining an understanding of the things you dislike can be as important as knowing what you love.
5. Don’t be afraid to share personal information. In addition to how your special day looks and feels, it’s important that it is specific to you. Details that you think may be irrelevant enable your event team to know you better and can lead to creative touches that help personalize your day. For example, if you and your fiancé love playing games, you may wish to incorporate a game lounge at your rehearsal dinner. Also, cocktail napkins or coasters with trivia about you are great conversation starters. Custom elements such as these can’t be suggested without your team being familiar with you and your story.
6. Be transparent about your spending limit. If your event specialists don’t know what you are planning on spending, they may show you items that are out of reach. Reviewing options that are truly a possibility will make the process seamless and more enjoyable. In order to remain within your budget, also share with your team the items that are most important to you and should be prioritized. For example, if your dream is to have a killer dance party, knowing that will enable your wedding consultant to suggest splurging on a great band, and then simplify the flowers or the food choices.
7. Remember that it’s your wedding. You will undoubtedly ask the opinions of your team, friends, and family, and you’ve hired a team of professionals because of their knowledge on style and execution, but it’s still your day. You must now sift through all of that information and ultimately be the decision maker. A truly skilled vendor will offer his or her opinion, as well as the reasons behind it, knowing that you may decide to go in a completely different direction.
Communicating effectively will help your team gain insight into not only your vision, but also what is meaningful to you, enabling them to design with your taste and priorities in mind.
Opening photo by Nadine Froger Photography