Wedding planners, have you ever made it to the end of a wedding and been, well, super relieved it was all over? Chances are you made the same mistake as countless other wedding planners—ignoring the warning signs of a toxic client!
Wedding planning is a competitive industry, so securing clients always feels like a great achievement... Even if you do have your doubts! Soon, all hell breaks loose: critiquing your packages and rates, demanding 24/7 availability, and shutting down all of your suggestions. Yikes! After reflecting on your time spent working with a difficult client, you can often see that the signs were always there—some discreet, others clear as day.
Whilst securing clients is essential to your business' success, so is preserving your mental well-being! A negative relationship is not good for you or your clients. So to prevent the same scenario from recurring, watch out for these red flags when meeting with prospective new clients!
Everything is prepped. Your clients have signed the contract, paid the retainer, and out of nowhere they... go missing.
You try to contact them multiple times via email, text, and calls—but to no avail. Then, out of nowhere, they return. Expecting everything to be in place. Some clients don't want to be heavily involved in the planning process, that's fine! But 0 communication with no prior agreement is not okay. If your clients are suspiciously hard to contact right from the outset, it could be a red flag.
These are the type of clients that expect you to do the impossible. Often these clients don't even tell you what they want but will always have something to critique in the ideas you present. Whatever you do, it'll be wrong! Slow to no communication will disrupt your entire workflow—take our advice, reserve your time for other clients and run!
Everyone loves a bargain! However, there is a fine line between ensuring you're getting a fair price and becoming disrespectful.
If a client questions the price of every single one of your wedding packages, repeatedly compares your services to cheaper wedding planners, or says the unthinkable: "your services aren't worth that much"—red flag! Don't fall for it—stand by your prices! These clients are manipulating you. They like your services, but want it for cheap. If a client refuses to come to terms with a well-reasoned explanation of your pricing, it is probably best to call off the partnership on your own terms.
If a client is demanding an unreasonable amount of your time in the early stages of planning, it could be nerves but it could also be a sign of controlling behaviour to come.
This is the type of client who doesn't care if it's your rest day, 3 am in the morning, or even if you're at another client's wedding—they'll call you. Best to avoid getting to that stage. Respect should work both ways. If you've clearly discussed your office hours with them but they continue to overstep your boundaries then working with them will only have negative repercussions on your other projects. Nobody should steal precious moments out of your "me" time!
If there are bad clients, then there are also bad wedding professionals. So at some point, you may encounter clients who have already worked with other planners before you—and that's okay! But what is not okay is acting unprofessionally and consistently badmouthing their past planner. Criticising is acceptable, but if you feel like they've gone below the belt then you should take the and leave—who's to say you won't be next?
A client has a right to privacy but being very secretive about why the relationship broke down could also indicate potential future issues.