Whether you’re a DJ, caterer, florist or cake-baker, if you work weddings you’ll come up against a difficult bride or groom at some point. A little stress is understandable: most brides and grooms have never planned an event before, and it’s a huge undertaking for someone with no event planning experience. Add in expectations of family members and things can get crazy for even the most stable engaged couple.
To get through it, brides and grooms often look to more experienced vendors to guide them along. But things get tough when a couple has unreasonable expectations or they’re just plain rude.
As a vendor, there are professional tactics you can use to help ease the situation. While it’s always important to use legal best practices when agreeing to provide any service, it can be a real lifesaver when the client is less than agreeable. Here are some legal tips to keep a Bridezilla from walking all over you as she gets ready to walk down the aisle.
During the first meeting get everything out on the table, both verbally and in your contract. You should come off as both professional and flexible, to a point. The bride should understand that you are a business and not someone that can be taken advantage of. Your policies should be clearly stated within the contract. You also need to clearly set the scope of the project, so the bride doesn’t try to add on additional duties later on. The bride has a set of expectations, and you have yours. The contract is a mutual agreement.
Be clear about cancellation fees.
If you end up with a runaway bride or the wedding gets called off at the last minute, make it clear that you’ll still get paid. Explain your cancellation fees and your termination policy, and make sure it’s in the contract. Generally if a wedding is cancelled well in advance, the client is entitled to get part of their deposit back. If the wedding is cancelled on short notice, fees may be non-refundable.
Keep in contact with your clients.
It is a good idea to keep in contact with your client through the planning stages of the wedding. Update the bride on the floral arrangements, meal plans, the playlist, etc. Another tip: Your contract should have an arranged schedule of meetings or certain dates where you and the bride will discuss the wedding. Scheduling meetings in advance may help prevent those late night, last minute frantic phone calls from a stressed out bride.
Have an ‘out’ if you need it.
Adding a “Bridezilla Fee” or “Bridezilla Clause” in the contract has been growing in popularity. This fee is charged whenever the client shows extremely poor or rude behavior toward the vendor, or even may void the contract. Though it may seem that the inclusion of this clause would scare away would-be clients, many brides sign on anyway. Clauses like this can help you enforce boundaries, but they can be tricky and should be used with caution. If you feel that you need this kind of clause, it’s a good idea to find a lawyer who can help you get it right.
Just remember: in most cases, you’ll be helping a couple celebrate the happiest day of their lives. But taking the right legal precautions helps you be ready for the occasional difficult client. See What to include in a wedding contract for more help creating a solid agreement with your brides and grooms.