"One time an assistant left the desk because, I don't know, she sliced her hand open with the letter opener, and Miranda missed Lagerfeld just before he boarded a 17 hour flight to Australia. She now works at TV Guide." - Emily, The Devil Wears Prada
I am compelled to write this blog after years of being cancelled on, rescheduled with, and being made to wait. I'm not just talking about the one hour we all wait at the doctor's office past our scheduled appointment, or the last-minute cancellation from the friend we were having lunch with, or even the 14-hour window the cable company saddles you with, only to show up at the last possible minute. While those examples are all impossibly frustrating (especially for someone as un-flexible as I am), there are countless times as a wedding planner where I see a complete lack of respect for a person's time. This blog is basically a question posed to everyone, which is this: why do you put up with it when you don't have to?
One of the appointments that I get on the calendar with all of my clients is a final "walk-thru" at the venue where their wedding will take place. This appointment is for them to drop off anything they want set up from a cake server to escort cards, as well as to go over the details one last time. It's a great chance to meet with the venue coordinator and address any last-minute concerns, or voice any questions that pop up just because we're at the venue. Not every venue does this, but I've never had an issue with getting it scheduled. In fact, some venue coordinators that have never heard of this before, actually have mentioned how helpful it is and how they will implement it with future clients.
That said, very recently, I had a walk-thru on the calendar, and with less than 3 hours to go before the appointment (a date and time that the venue coordinator unilaterally selected, forcing my clients and myself to adjust our schedules), that same venue coordinator called me to tell me he wouldn't be able to make it. Something else had come up with his catering company, and they needed him there. That translates to: this is more important than coming to meet you, and I have zero respect for your time or your clients' time. I mean, at least that's what I heard.
When I mentioned (at a more than audible level) that this date and time had been selected by him, and that my clients took off work for this and we all had questions, he suggested that we still go and call him while we were there. When I told him that was unacceptable, he asked to go over the questions while we were on the phone. Really?? No dice. Why? Because you don't cancel an appointment with less than 24 hours notice solely because you think something else is more important. After explaining all of that, he ended up being present. Unorganized and completely lost, but present nonetheless.
Now, I could've reacted differently and let him out of the appointment. But then how would I explain that to my clients? Why is it their problem? It's not their problem. It's not even mine. The problem here is that he thought it was acceptable to call me with such little notice and completely disregard and disrespect the appointment we had made. That's not OK, and our (I say "our" as a society) general complacency to situations like this is simply enabling this type of behavior.
I was taught at a young age that everyone is replaceable. As a child I grew up around the theatre and spent plenty of time on stage performing. You always had to work hard, be the best, and do your job. Your job included things like being on time and coming to rehearsal prepared. Why? Because there was always a line of people, just like you, willing to work harder, sing better and prepare longer. And while I was never involved in playing sports (though my skills as a spectator are, dare I say, incredible!), I saw my friends going through the same thing. I never hated it for a minute, and it made me that much more driven and determined.
Because of this, and probably the fact that I grew up in New Jersey, my expectations of those I work with are always elevated. I expect appointments to be kept and for people to be on time. When those things don't happen, I hold people accountable. A venue coordinator doesn't get to shift priorities and leave my clients holding the bag 2 hours before their meeting and 72 hours before their wedding. I'm not sure every planner would've forced him to keep the appointment like I did. Many would, but not all of them. After that entire exchange, it's very unlikely that I will work with that person again, and should a future couple want to, I will have this story to tell them so that they can make a decision knowing the possible issues.
I am frequently emailed by vendors that want to become a part of my "book." They want my clients (aka, their money) and they want me to refer them. They are willing to offer me commission (which I do not take because that's shady) almost always. It is infrequent that I update my book because the vendors I work with on a regular basis have proven reliable to me and that is invaluable and irreplaceable. When I do add a vendor, and they cancel an appointment last minute or try to reschedule that same day, I take them out of my book. Because, as I learned very early, everyone is replaceable.
This blog probably has many people thinking that I am rigid and can't "roll with the punches" with regard to appointments. The bottom line is that I don't have to, and neither does anyone planning their wedding. I constantly see bad behavior being rewarded either when clients allow this to continue, or when planners recommend vendors that have burned them in the past. This is not to say that emergencies don't happen, but if I had a nickel for every time a grandmother died and an appointment got cancelled... well, let's just say I would be typing this from my yacht off the coast of Tahiti.
There are thousands of venues, photographers, planners, DJs and so forth. There are new ones every single day. When you're planning your wedding, your time needs to be respected. You do not need to settle for a vendor that you can't even give your money to. On the flip side, as a couple, you also need to extend that same respect with regard to appointments. Everyone is busy, everyone has a packed calendar and an appointment is more than just pencil to paper with an eraser close by. I'm not a big fan of the word "tentative", and when working with your vendors, you shouldn't be either.
It's about respect for one another's time, and having a strong work ethic. The way a vendor behaves leading up to your wedding is how they will behave on your wedding day. There are enough reasons to be stressed and nervous during the planning process, wondering if your appointments will be held should never be one of them. Everyone is replaceable. As a planner, I give you full permission to hold vendors accountable. Of course, if you're my client, I will do it for you.