The thoughts, or sometimes the ramblings, of a shoe obsessed wedding and event planner.
I have not blogged in a very long time! I have been neglecting said blog in favor of some much needed down time after a very busy wedding season. Down time for me consists of watching months of missed television while eating chips and Cheddar Jalapeno Helluva Good Dip. VEEP, American Horror Story and The Newsroom are some of my favorites. I also have about 40 episodes of Dateline on the PVR that my husband keeps begging me to delete. I will not delete them because dammit, I am going to watch them ALL.
Enough about me, let’s talk about …me.
I receive a few emails/phone calls a week from people looking for information or wanting to “pick my brain”. Venue recommendations, budgets, even opinions on color schemes and wedding dresses.
I am obviously chock full of opinions, knowledgeable in all these areas and happy to answer any questions…for a fee. My consultation rate is $150 for the first 2 hours and $50 for each additional hour.
After refusing to give out information for free I have been called names, hung up on, and generally treated like garbage.
Why do I charge for information I already have rattling around in my already overcrowded brain?
I have even had “potential clients” tell me if I give them information for free they might hire me as their wedding planner. I do not take kindly to carrot dangling, especially when I find out that colleagues of mine have been contacted by the same person and fed the exact same story Not cool….not cool at all. I am not desperate for business. I will not give you information you need to plan your own wedding for free on the off chance you might hire me as your wedding planner. I have clients that I adore, that are paying me for a service and I cannot imagine they would be thrilled with the idea that I was giving away information that they were paying for.
If you are contacting a professional planner for advice, it is usually because you don’t have the time to do the research yourself or you don’t know where to start. Both of which are understandable and excellent reasons for hiring a professional wedding planner.
In short, my knowledge is worth something. Just because you are not receiving something tangible like a completed budget spreadsheet (but Amy, I’m not asking you to actually DO my budget…I am just asking you to tell me verbally how much things cost!) does not mean it doesn’t have a value.
Today’s blog post doesn’t have a lot to do with weddings, but it came about because of a message a prospective bride left me today.
“Well. You aren’t answering the phone so I guess you don’t want to be my wedding planner that bad. I am going to take my business to someone that answers their phone!” Click.
I was driving so I didn’t answer my phone. Apparently this did not sit well with her.
Sadly, this is not that out of the ordinary. I had an incident last year where a client lost her ever loving mind because it took me more than half an hour to text her back.
Firstly, let me say that I don’t screen my calls. I answer the phone when I am available to actually speak to the person calling. If I am in a meeting or cannot dedicate time to actually speak to the person calling, I don’t answer my phone.
Secondly, anyone who is going to leave me a message like that, I don’t want as a client.
Thirdly, I don’t distracted drive. No text, phone call, or email is worth me putting my life, the lives of the other people in my vehicle, or the other people on the road, in jeopardy.
I will admit, when the distracted driving legislation first came out in September 2011, I was a little ticked. Us wedding planners spend a ton of time in our vehicles…I always took it as an opportunity to actually MAKE phone calls. After the legislation came out, I will fully admit that I knowingly broke the law. I texted, emailed and talked on my phone while driving. I (on more than one occasion) found myself half into the other lane, running a red light (I would convince myself it was “mostly yellow”), and flinging my cell phone onto the passenger seat when I noticed that police car behind me. I was a distracted driver convinced that I was a good enough driver that I didn’t have to obey the rules. Those rules were for people that can’t multi task, right?
I had such a hard time breaking my habits that I now have to put my phone on silent and in my trunk while I'm driving. The temptation to take a "quick" peek at who sent that text was just too great.
How long do you think you travel when you take your eyes off the road for just 12 seconds? About 2 city blocks. Think about what can happen in 2 city blocks. A pedestrian could be crossing the road, an animal can jump out in front of you, another driver could be making an error that you won't see before it's too late.
Did you know?
-People texting while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision or be near a collision. (source: www.ama.ab.ca)
-Based on established research, it is estimated that 20-30% of all collisions are due to some form of driver distraction. In AMA’s estimation when these percentages are applied to Alberta’s traffic collisions this would suggest that distraction is associated with approximately 100 deaths and 5,000 injuries from nearly 40,000 collisions each year. (source: www.ama.ab.ca)
-Distracted drivers experience the same level of impairment as someone with a blood-alcohol content of .08 (source: Insurance Bureau of Canada) in Alberta you are considered impaired if you are over .05.
WOW. This basically means that someone driving while distracted is just as deadly as someone driving after one too many drinks. We are outraged when people drive drunk, so why are we so tolerant of distracted driving?
I don’t text and drive. I don’t email and drive. I have a hands free system built into my vehicle but most of the time I choose to focus on the road and return any phone calls later. Studies have shown that even using a hands free device can take your attention away from driving. Human beings have the ability to multi-task, but we do not have the ability to pay 100% attention to each task we are doing. If you are driving and talking on the phone…driving gets 50% and the conversation you are having gets the other 50%. Personally, I don’t like those odds.
I actually refuse to be a passenger in a car where someone is driving while distracted. I once had a cab driver in Calgary pull over and let me out because he was messing around with his GPS while he was driving. My husband and I had a knock down, drag out fight on Calgary Trail because I gave him hell for texting while he was driving (I grabbed his phone and put it where he couldn’t get at it. This was apparently irritating) I now have the nickname “safety bear” in our house and get made fun of on a regular basis for how often I talk about safety.
If you call me and I don’t answer, leave a message (preferably not a nasty one like I received today). I promise I will call you back as soon as I can. Same goes for texts and emails.
I do want your business, but I’m not willing to put myself at risk to get it.
I encourage every one of you to take a look at your distracted driving habits and decide for yourself if those texts/emails/phone calls are worth the life changing horror that could unfold becasue you weren't paying attention.
Holy cow have I been neglecting my blog! Too busy with weddings (including my own – I was married April 13th!) and life in general which brings me to today’s blog post.
I am very open about the fact I have a full time career and wedding planning is part time for me. I am not quite ready to leave my cushy corporate job and all its perks and run my own business full time. I also have a husband and two step-monsters under the age of 6…add in there the weddings I choose to take each year, my family and friends…and one can picture how much free time I have. Not much!
I’m not whining, or fishing for a “Oh my GOD how DOES she do it all?” comment. I choose to be busy and I have a wonderfully understanding and supportive husband, family and friends… and a cleaning lady. I don’t do it all myself that’s for sure.
About a month ago, I received an email from a bride interested in meeting me. Because I work full time (as do most of you) the only time I (and most of you) have free are evenings and weekends so we decided to meet at 6pm on a Wednesday.
I show up on time and I am waiting…waiting…and 5 minutes before we were supposed to meet I get an email saying the bride can’t make it “something has come up”. Unfortunately this happens more often than I would like so I finished my tall, non-fat, extra hot, Cinnamon Dolce Latte and headed home. By the time I got home my husband and step-monsters had finished dinner and were finishing up a bedtime story. Kind of a bummer…but I microwaved dinner and moved on with life.
About a week later I received an email from this same bride saying how sorry she was and would I please meet with her? Normally if someone no-shows for an initial meeting or cancels with really late notice I will not agree to meet with them a second time. I felt she was extremely apologetic and agreed to meet with her again. This time I asked her to please give me an hour notice if she had to cancel our meeting. I bet you can guess at this point what happened…
There I was waiting…waiting…15 minutes after the agreed upon time I sent an email. I received a response back 3 minutes later from the brides “mother” saying the bride was in “emergency surgery” and would not be attending the meeting. Now I don’t know about you, but no one has my email passwords and if I was in emergency surgery the last thing my Mom would be doing is checking my email and responding within 3 minutes. Basically I call the big BS on this one. This bride either forgot about our meeting or just didn’t care enough to cancel it.
Wedding Planners (and all wedding vendors in general) are in the business because we love it. We give a lot of ourselves and sometimes our families bear the brunt of the sacrifices we make for our clients. All I ask is to be treated with the respect, courtesy and decency that you would like to be treated with. So…the next time you make the decision to not show up at a meeting because it was free to schedule it, remember that we are likely giving up time with our families and friends to meet with you.
Life happens and sometimes you can’t make appointments, I totally get that because it happens to me too. All I ask is that you call and cancel so I don’t sit at a Starbucks alone waiting for you while my family is at home eating dinner without me.