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As our company heads full swing into homecoming season (mind you, we still do weddings year-round), I get a nice long break to sit and gather my thoughts about the year so far. Once that 24 hour break is over (that’s long in this business, right?) I come up with one or two things I can apply from now on.
I’m not sure why, but this year I’ve seen one huge trends in weddings: Last-minute changes. I’m not talking about your small “we changed the time of the cake cutting” or “play this song during dancing” type of change. I’m talking about “I am changing the entire order of the bridal party five minutes before the grand intro” type of change.
Or how about “I need to redo the entire timeline” change the day before the wedding?
I always try to be accommodating and hate telling someone no. Then I thought… “Why? This does nothing but cause stress. What’s the final consult for, anyways?” Does a cake decorator gladly change a cake design at the last minute? Does the caterer willingly change the cheese selection in the hors d’oeuvres…without charging extra? How is our craft different from food to a caterer or a cake to a pastry chef?
Am I saying you should charge for last-minute changes? Nope. I’m asking: do you like working more than expected for free?
Some may argue “you should charge enough in your basic rate to cover these burdens.” If you are in that school of thought, do you price yourself and let your client know that they can change things last-minute, or do you give them a deadline for turning information in. What are the penalties if they don’t?
When we do a video slideshow, I need the CD one week ahead of time for preparation and customization. When a client fails to turn it in at said timeframe, they are not at my mercy of doing the best job I can with limited time.
Again, I hate saying no.
I also hate staying up until 3:00 in the morning.
I had a client redo the ENTIRE lineup at 1AM on the same morning at the day of the wedding. This wouldn’t be big deal except that for my shows, I like to memorize the order of the names as well as tidbits of info on each couple. When the order is switched around.. I had to re-memorize the order AND practice the script some more.
The day of the wedding, I was informed they switched it again. This was 5 minutes before the grand intro. WHAT??
It seemed this went on and on throughout the season: last-minute special dances, a special toast BEFORE the grand introduction (gee, why would I need to know this tidbit?), and even a changed first dance song.
Last-minute changes open the possibility for a mess-up, no matter how experienced you are. Sure, you could give your client a “last-minute” disclaimer and let them know you cannot guarantee results, and if you mess up or things go less than perfect, they’ll have to understand.
What about the guests? They don’t know what happened; in their eyes, you performed less than your usual stellar self.
I now tell my clients a simple deadline: No more drastic changes a week prior to the reception. If a change needs to be done in less than a week, they will call me immediately. If I do not feel I can make the change with a 100% flawless execution, then I cannot guarantee that I can do the change. There are always exceptions, and I will try my hardest to make it work… but with a final consultation that often takes 2-3 hours and 24/7 access to my cell phone, there’s very few reasons for a last-minute change.
So what say ye? Have last-minute changes added unneeded stress to your events? How do you handle it? Do you discuss it with your clients? If not, think about adding a policy on how you will handle last-minute changes and stick to it!