On the surface the wedding industry seems to be all lace and frills and romance and thrills. At its core, this industry is like any other: it’s a business. It’s about acquiring clients, making them happy and building a strong reputation based on previous work.
And yet, the interaction between a wedding planner and the bride is similar to the relationship process.
1. Planner meets client.
Pamela Neman is Sheraton Fairplex‘s catering sales manager. She is the client’s initial contact when exploring Fairplex as a potential venue. The first “date” is spent showing the potential client the various wedding locations on Fairplex campus. This is everything from the traditional hotel and conference center ballrooms to McKinley’s Grille and Farm to the Meritage wine pavilion.
Highlight the best aspects of your venue. One of Fairplex’s advantages is flexible space. “Everyone has a different taste,” Pamela says. “I show them as many areas of our campus as possible.”
2. Planner signs with client.
If things go well after the initial “date” the client will let you know. This is where timeliness kicks in. As soon as the client calls or emails, Pamela replies within the hour (no three-day rule for this relationship.) After verbally confirming a partnership, she immediately drafts a contract and sends it to the client to be signed, sealed, delivered, she’s yours.
3. Planner works with client.
After all the paperwork has been pushed it’s time for the fun part: planning. “We review menus and get a feel for what experience they want,” Pamela says. “We write a proposal and see how they like our arrangements. We want to create an experience unique to them, something they will really like” Three months prior to the wedding are food tastings, DJ/band arrangements, the cake and other key elements.
“You need to be organized,” Pamela says with emphasis on the need. “You need to know who the bride’s ‘go-to’ person is, whether its the maid of honor or their personal wedding planner. Start with details and end with details. The little things matter.”
4. Planner keeps client’s best interests at heart.
Know your client on a personal level. “They aren’t just another number,” Pamela says. “They are people. Realize that each client is going to be different… each individual is looking for something different.”
When asked what the most challenging aspect of planning a wedding is, Pamela promptly answered: budget. Unlimited funds are a rarity in this economy. Flexibility is everything.
“The way Sheraton works with tight budgets are with customized menus and spaces; we allow the client to have as much flexibility as possible.”
5. Client marries
planner love of their life. Planner looks on with a sense of accomplishment.
When it comes to working with a client it’s all about transparency, timeliness and building a strong working relationship. Pamela’s favorite part of the job is the personal relationship she makes with her clients. “The social side of event planning helps you see people differently. It is more personal.”
& they all lived happily ever after.
Stay tuned for part 2!