As a wedding pro, you’re in the business of saying yes. “Of course! We can make that happen.” “Not a problem! We’ll take care of that.” “Sure! I’ve never done that before but I can figure it out.” Because, the business of weddings is the business of possibilities—and you surely aren’t the type to stomp on someone’s dream. But, even as an A-plus people pleaser, there are times where saying “no,” isn’t just necessary; rather, it’s the right thing to do.
Your clients hire you because you are great at what you do and you can help them plan the best day ever! And, while that used to be pretty straight forward, we’ve learned saying yes to all of your client’s wishes can have you hesitating (cue the sweat). So today, we wanted to help you feel confident about enforcing boundaries and saying “no” when you need to. Read on for tips to help you have hard conversations and learn how to say no to clients.
How to say “no” to a potential client who isn’t a good fit
When you are starting your wedding business, it is common to book any couple interested in your services. Heck, even when you are established sometimes you need to book a wedding to pay the bills. But, there is a difference between a client you’ll take because it’s good for the business and a client who truly isn’t the right fit for your services. So, how do you turn down a couple without offending them? You stay honest. Whether the reason you give is a lack of availability or you cut right to it and let them know you aren’t confident you can provide the service they need, resist the urge to tell a little white lie and tell them the truth (in a professional way, of course).
How to say “no” when someone tries to negotiate your rates down
You’ve worked hard to get your business to where it is today and having someone ask you to reduce your rates can feel very personal. You have every reason to hold firm on your rates because you’ve put tons of thought into pricing your services and know what it costs to run your business and pay yourself. So, in the instance a potential client asks you if you can do what you do for less, there are a few ways to explain why you cannot. The first is reiterating the value of what you do as well as your experience; this will help them understand the benefits of hiring you and why you are worth it. The second is leveling with them a bit to help them think of you as a business owner over a service provider. What do we mean by this? Give them a peek into what goes on behind the scenes in an effort to help them understand all the moving parts that are included in your price.
How to say “no” to out of scope requests
Unfortunately, almost every wedding pro has been asked by at least one couple to do something that is out of scope. While sometimes you might feel that the ask is small enough to do the favor, sometimes the request requires too much additional time or energy and puts you in a situation where you need to say no. Working through something of the sort right now or want to be prepared if it happens in the future? We dove deep into the topic in this piece about having hard conversations when you receive out of scope requests.
How COVID made wedding pros need to say no
Wedding pros everywhere have been put in complicated and unforeseen situations since the start of COVID-19. And, while everyone did their very best to provide an outstanding level of service, there were lots of ways in which you were pushed. We hope these days will soon be in everyone’s rearview, but the lessons we learned are for a lifetime. Here are some of the hard positions we’ve seen and how to respond.
How to say “no” when a couple wants to exceed the number of guests allowed
Normally, disagreements over the guest list are left to the couple but with ever changing regulations, you may have found yourself needing to interject. So, if and when that time comes, and you need to educate your couple about the local regulations regarding the number of guests they can have at their wedding, here is one way you can start that conversation:
Finalizing guest lists is always a hard thing to do because you’re excited to celebrate with everyone you love (and everyone who loves you!). Thankfully, there is always the option to share the experience with loved ones not included on your guest list by utilizing technology. I’ve already touched base with your videographer and they are more than happy to set up a camera to live stream your ceremony! This will allow you to celebrate with the people who mean the most to you without needing to worry about exceeding the local guest count limits.
How to say “no” when a couple refuses to require masks and/or social distance at their wedding
Depending on where you live, rules about masks and social distancing are different. And, if you live in a state where one or both are required, it may become your responsibility to make sure that a wedding you are a part of is complying. While enforcing rules may be the last thing you want to do, it is important to follow local rules and regulations—even when the couple feels differently. So, if you need to say “no” to the couple about saying “yes” to the rules, here is a way to put it delicately:
I understand that some of these requirements are not what you had envisioned for your wedding and for that, I apologize. As a business owner, I am required to follow the local rules and regulations in order to keep my license.
How to say “no” when you no longer feel comfortable working a wedding
Boundaries have always been an important part of keeping your stress down and enthusiasm up as a wedding pro. While you might be great at reinforcing boundaries in situations you’ve had experience with, holding your ground can be hard when you’re being asked to do something for the first time. Throw a moving target and ever-changing regulations into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for feeling really uncomfortable all-of-the-sudden. So, if you find yourself in the very uncomfortable spot of no longer feeling comfortable moving forward, here are some words to help you bow out gracefully:
It’s been great working with you and I am still honored that you picked me to be a part of your pro team. As you know, there have been a lot of changes in the wedding industry as a whole as we all do our best to support our clients. And, at this time, I do not feel as if we can provide you the level of service you deserve and are going to have to terminate our contract.
Want a word of legal advice to make sure that you are establishing expectations from the first moment your couples hire you? Annette Stepanian of Your Legal BFF has shared her thoughts with us to help you make sure you can say no.
“One of the goals of contract drafting is to anticipate potential risks and address those issues in the contract before a conflict arises. In our current environment, it can be quite challenging to do so as the circumstances and laws related to the pandemic continue to change. As new laws and guidelines are established to address the evolving situation, a service provider may consider including clauses in its service agreements reiterating the parties’ obligation to comply with relevant laws as well as a service provider’s right to a safe and healthy working environment. Having these issues addressed in the contract may help support a service provider’s position not to perform if the circumstances are in conflict with relevant laws/guidelines.”
How to say “no” when a couple decides to cancel their wedding and they want their deposit back
In the past year many wedding pros have not just been forced to have hard conversations with clients but to make really difficult decisions. And, one of the hardest “no’s” that has been said is in regards to returning deposits. So, if one of your clients makes this request and you need to decline it, here are some words to share in this hardest of conversations:
Preparing for a wedding starts long before the wedding date so my deposits are structured to cover that time and expertise. I am truly sorry that you are no longer able to move forward with your wedding as planned. As stated in my contract, deposits are non-refundable.
“Dealing with requests for refunds and contract terminations are never fun. This is when having a thoughtfully drafted contract can be very helpful as the parties will need to refer to the language regarding contract termination and the corresponding obligations to address a client’s request to terminate the contract. Things like: Does the contract address the circumstances under which a party can terminate the contract and any obligations that must be met upon termination? Does the contract allow the parties to terminate the contract at any time, or does it require that the terminating party notify the other party in advance of its decision to terminate the contract? If so, how much advance notice is required? Upon termination, do the parties have specific obligations they need to uphold? Does the contract address how the service provider can terminate the contract? Or does it only address how a client can terminate? If you haven’t already done so, revisit the termination policy in the contract to determine if it adequately addresses how contract terminations will be handled.” – Annette Stepanian
Saying no is always difficult, especially when you have to say it to the couples you work so hard for. But, in the end, it is important for you to maintain your boundaries, ensure your safety, and abide by the law.
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