With my fourth anniversary approaching, I have decided to write a two-part series on our experiences surrounding our wedding and how those experiences can be related to business, and more specifically, customer service.
Due to my husband’s work schedule, a summer wedding was the only way to go, therefore we began our hunt for a location very early, as those places fill up quickly! We looked at countless venues, searching for “the one” that offered us everything we needed at a price we could afford. Wedding spending has a funny way of getting out of hand fast, so we were specifically looking for a location with one price from start to finish, without a lot of add-ons available. After weeks of searching, we finally found a venue that boasted one price, including food, decorations, set-up, take-down, etc. It was the right size, right distance from the church, and looked beautiful inside and out! The owner/operator of this venue was so attentive during our visits, and that really sealed the deal. We were looking for a location with someone who we could contact throughout the planning process, to touch base about food and decorations as needed. So we put down a deposit and got to planning my wedding!
Immediately after the deposit check was written, things started taking a turn for the worse. My parents began receiving bills for the remaining costs, but every time one of us tried to contact the owner, she was unavailable. We were told initially that there was seating for around 150 people, but as we began mapping out the seating chart, we realized that there was only room for about 120; that is quite a difference! We were finally able to visit the venue again to pick out decorations, as well as taste and choose the menu. Because we were told that the food was included in the price, we didn’t think about anything cost-related while choosing our menu; we went for the duck! It was delicious! She took down our choices and we went on our way.
Now fast-forward to three days before the wedding. We were busy putting together last-minute details when I received a call from my parents, saying they had just received an additional bill for $3000! Apparently our menu choice was an extra expense, and while we were not informed of this before choosing the venue, or even during the tasting, the bill arrived and we were left scrambling to choose a new menu. I headed down to the reception location to meet with the owner, and was greeted by her brand-new assistant. This brand-new assistant informed us that the owner had another engagement on our wedding night, so the new girl would be going solo for the first time at our reception! Now, I was a pretty calm bride throughout the entire process. I didn’t have “freak-outs,” I wasn’t ever a “bridezilla.” I had fun with the planning and was laid back from beginning to end. But I will admit, on my way home from that meeting I finally had a little cry. I knew that everything would be just fine, but it was so frustrating that my parents were spending money on this wonderful occasion, and it didn’t feel like we were being treated the way we deserved.
The wedding and reception did turn out great. Wonderful, in fact. It was a beautiful day and all of the things I was worried about with the reception went just fine. In fact, the assistant did a great job and we were actually happier with her than we would have been with the owner! But this experience did teach me a lot about looking for a service provider; first, do not be embarrassed to continually ask about all additional charges. I used to be worried that it would make me look cheap, but in reality it’s just smart. If you don’t ask, that opens up an opportunity for the business to take advantage. Two, be sure to get everything in writing. Even details as small as communication methods. Make sure there will be someone there to answer your questions as needed. Finally, do your research reach out to prior clients/customers. Had we checked the reviews ahead of time, we would have seen that everyone commented on her poor communication skills. This was something that was very important to us, so we probably would have looked elsewhere. Whatever kind of service provider you are looking for, remember that your money is valuable and should be treated that way. You may have to put in a little more in order to receive the service that you require, but when you’re making an investment, you expect the very best so that is what you should receive.