How many times has someone asked, “How are you?” and you’ve responded with, “Busy.”? I’m guilty of it, as I’m sure many of us are. Sometimes the days begin to blur with work, meetings, family, etc. and before we know it, we’re swept up with trying to get through what seems like a never ending to-do list. It happens to us all, and today I’d like to talk about setting realistic expectations for wedding planning during one of the busiest seasons, summer.
The reason I’m writing this blog now is because 1) August is peak wedding season and 2) I’ve recently heard from both couples and vendors feeling the stress of this busy time of year. As professionals that have worked hundreds of weddings, we sometimes forget what it feels like to be doing it for the first time. And as a newly engaged couple, you don’t know the ebbs and flows of the industry or what’s normal and expected while planning. So hopefully this blog will shed some light, and help everyone involved in the planning process.
Summer is often viewed as a “break”, which I think this is a lingering effect of being in school for so many years. I often hear people talk about how they can’t wait for things to slow down in the summer, for time to relax, and for some time to begin planning their wedding. But, on the flip side, summer in the wedding industry is far from relaxing. It’s fast-paced and non-stop from the first sunny day in June to the first rainy day in September (October if we’re lucky). In Seattle, couples have about two to three solid months to have an outdoor, warm, and sunny wedding. You can see already how these two perspectives clash a bit. While it may be a great time for you to begin doing some planning, most wedding professionals are booked every weekend and working some of their longest days. Don’t get me wrong, we love summertime, but it can definitely put a strain on our calendars, not to mention time spent with our own families.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan during the summer, and it also doesn’t mean we don’t want to respond to your inquiry, set up a meeting, or book your event for the next year. What it does mean is that our response may be a bit delayed, especially if you’re contacting us on a weekend. Think about it this way, on your wedding day, you’ll want your vendors’ full attention, right? I certainly did on my wedding day, as do most couples. This only happens, though, if we’re putting away our phones and not checking email at each and every wedding. It doesn’t make your upcoming nuptials any less important, it’s just a simple courtesy to our current clients, and you can rest assured we’ll do the same for you.
Now, don’t mistake this blog post as an excuse for lazy email etiquette and extremely slow responses. If your vendors have taken more than a few days to get back to you, it’s ok to send a polite follow-up. If they’ve taken weeks to respond, that’s poor customer service. If it’s a one-time-thing, then grant them a little forgiveness. If it’s repetitive, or if your wedding is coming up soon, and you’re still lacking responses, then you have a real issue. The key is setting realistic expectations. I’ve seen vendors use auto email responses or special voicemail messages letting people know their response may be delayed, and I’ll often send a quick email or text letting my couples know I’ve received their inquiry and when they can expect a full response, if it won’t be within the same day. These are great practices, and I encourage couples to be transparent with their vendors, too. If you need an answer by the end of the day, give us that deadline. If it can wait until Monday or the end of the week, let us know. Or, if you’re just sending us some ideas that are not time sensitive, mention that in the email. It’s all about setting clear communication expectations with each other. Based on our experience, we’ll know what has a hard deadline and what’s flexible (and we’ll tell you), but if there are items weighing heavily on your mind, then we want to make sure we alleviate that stress. We aren’t mind readers, though, and stress levels vary from person to person, so keep us informed on how you’re feeling throughout planning.
Remember, we’re all busy. Although it can feel like you’re the only one running around like a crazy person, especially when you see people laying in the parks soaking up the sun (where do they find the time??), the truth is, you’re not. Instead of getting frustrated, take comfort in knowing we’re all busy. It’s important to remind yourself of that, because often times when we’re busy, we want everyone else to cater to our schedule, and that’s where the frustration begins. Just know you are very important to your wedding vendors, and more than anything we want to help by providing the best service possible. As long as your vendors are trying to respond as quickly as they can, they’re putting in the effort to answer all of your questions, and they’re offering flexible options to meet your busy schedule as well as their own, then you’ve booked some great professionals.
And while wedding planning is fun, don’t forget to enjoy the warm weather! Send some emails and then take advantage of the time it may take for your vendors to respond by enjoying the outdoors. Use that Saturday to go on a hike, or to a festival. Be that person that gets to lay around in a park on a sunny day! Our email response will be waiting for you when you get back :)