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Wedding Planners, It's Time to Set Healthy Client Boundaries

wedding planning

The secret to a healthy work-life balance? Setting clear client boundaries.

Words by 

Sophia Angel Lou Quiachon

Published on 

April 3, 2024

client boundaries, client relationships, wedding planner, wedding business

As a wedding planner, it's essential to establish clear client boundaries to keep your client relationships healthy. While every couple deserves the type of wedding they've always dreamed of, it shouldn't have to come at the cost of your mental and physical well-being—after all, you have a wedding business to run!

Client boundaries are the parameters you set between you and your clients. It ensures that both parties understand their roles and responsibilities throughout the wedding planning process. In other words, it's the secret to achieving a healthy work-life balance.

Three steps to setting clear boundaries with your wedding clients:

  1. Define your non-negotiables. Where do you draw the line with clients? Think: texts on Sundays, and rude comments to you and your staff.
  2. Learn to communicate your boundaries. Once you have a clear idea of your boundaries, you need an effective method for making them clear to your couples.
  3. Develop a strategy for dealing with boundary-breaches. In order to protect your boundaries, you must have a plan in place for if they are overstepped.

To better understand the three steps to healthier client relationships, we asked three wedding panning professionals to weigh in on how they define and maintain clear boundaries with their couples...

Cassie LaMere

It is essential to me as a business owner and leader that my team is provided with a safe and respectful working environment. We have protections in place in our contract to ensure our entire team is entitled to defined standards for the environment and manner in which business is conducted. Whilst onsite, I am protective of that right for our team and all of the vendors working on the event.

We are fortunate to work with clients and vendors who share our values. Though it is rare that there is an issue, I feel it's important to establish these expectations, and the mutual terms of reciprocity, up front as a non-negotiable.

With any boundaries or guidelines, it is most helpful to reiterate and revisit those guiding principles throughout the planning process. We discuss expectations at the point of being engaged on a project, during planning meetings when a specific example may arise that can be referenced to illustrate the potential circumstance, as well as onsite throughout the execution of the event and with our teams. While planning the event, we keep these standards at the forefront and take care to be mindful that the details we are putting into place are supportive of those requirements.

Advice from Cassie LaMere, owner of Cassie LaMere Events.

Cindy Savage

Early on in my career, I would work all the time, whether it was during my business hours or not. I very quickly discovered that was a recipe for burnout. Weddings are big, important, emotional things—but they are not life and death emergencies.

Unless it is the day of or day before a client's wedding, I am not on call and I generally do not respond to texts, emails, phone calls or anything else outside of my regular hours anymore. Sometimes, I have clients whose schedules don't mesh well with my hours, and I will, from time to time, make an exception for an after-hours meeting. But the one thing I absolutely will not do is work on the day after a wedding! Weddings are long, hard days with many on our feet and full use of our brain power. We need the rest—both mental and physical!

The key to upholding boundaries with clients is setting and communicating expectations from the start. We have a very detailed and carefully thought out process for our clients, and we always make sure that they know what's expected and what's coming up next. That eliminates a lot of the excess communications that I know many planners experience.

Our office hours and communication standards are included in our contract as well as reiterated during our onboarding process. We do offer our clients many ways to reach us—email, phone, text, a private Slack channel, and messaging within our project management software—so they are welcome to start a conversation at any hour of any day. It is rare that our clients don't respect our boundaries because we enforce them from the very beginning by not responding to any communications outside of office hours. They quickly get used to expecting a response when we are at our desks. One thing that really helps is using technology to our advantage. By silencing notifications and utilising autoresponders, we aren't tempted to respond when we aren't at work. If our clients send an email or text outside of our regular hours, they get an automated reply that we're out of office and will respond when we return.

As far as other boundaries go, I think one of the biggest challenges wedding planners face with clients is scope creep: asking for or expecting services that are not included in their packages. For this, I prefer to be direct and will simply let them know that it's not included in their package and, if it's something we offer, that it can be added on for an additional fee. They can choose to pay the fee and add the service or not.

Advice from Cindy Savage, owner of Aisle Less Traveled.

Jamie Wolfer

Setting boundaries with clients is absolutely necessary for your sanity and the success of the event. From my experiences, let me tell you, boundaries are not just nice-to-haves; they're your business's lifelines.

First off, clarity is your best friend. From the get-go, make sure your contracts are as clear as possible. Highlight what you do, what you don't do, and what falls into the realm of "extra charges apply." This isn't just about covering your bases; it's about setting expectations. Because let's be honest, no one enjoys surprise chores or costs.

Next, communication is key. You've got to be more straightforward than a GPS. If a client or their entourage starts veering off the agreed path, gently but firmly guide them back. Remember, you're the expert they hired for a reason. It's not about being inflexible; it's about steering the ship to its destination without unnecessary detours.

And then there's the delicate dance of dealing with demands that stretch beyond the horizon of reasonableness. It's important to remember that you're a professional, not a magician. If requests start to pile up that weren't part of the original agreement, it's perfectly okay to say no or to discuss additional compensation. It's not about being difficult; it's about respecting your time, expertise, and the boundaries of the client relationship.

In the end, boundaries are about respect—respect for your clients, respect for yourself, and respect for the beautiful event you're collaboratively bringing to life. And remember, the right clients will respect your boundaries and appreciate your professionalism all the more for it.

Advice from Jamie Wolfer, owner of Wolfer & Co

Wedding planners, it's time to set boundaries

Wedding planners set client boundaries to safeguard their well-being and client relationships. By communicating these limits early on, you can establish better transparency and prevent larger misunderstandings along the way.

The four rules for setting and maintaining healthy boundaries with your wedding clients:

  1. Clarity is your best friend
  2. Keep work within office hours
  3. Know when to say NO
  4. Use technology to your advantage

And remember, the right client for you will always respect your boundaries—never lower your standards.

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