Our Rules of Engagement
The following are things to keep in mind as we work together on planning your wedding! We are always excited to make your big day amazing, and we want to be sure we're always working together in harmony (awwww!)
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We will always work to get you responses to your questions as quickly as possible. We can't deny we have all come to expect that emails and texts will get instant responses, and this is true not only for you as our client, but also for us with our vendor partners. As a rule of thumb, Friday-Monday are essentially "black-out" days in our industry. (Fridays and Saturdays because 95% of our weddings are active on those days, and Sundays and Mondays since for many of us this is our "weekend". ) We're used to 7 day weeks and often respond on any day, but if you don't hear from us for more than 24 hours then we'd be surprised! We will always strive to let you know, at the very least, that we received your message and that we are working on it or it is in our queue.
The weddings that are "closest" to us in terms of time take priority, and all clients will benefit from that attention as their big day approaches! Before you think, "Gee, I haven't heard from my wedding planner!", ask yourself if you've checked in with us and know that we want you to!
When you are communicating with vendors please copy us on your emails, or send us a quick note if it's been a phone call or in-person meeting. You will probably not remember the details later, and we'll need them so keep us in the loop! If you can, include these words in your email: "I'm copying our wedding planner so please reply all so we can keep him in the loop!" Ok, we're nosy, but in a good way!
If at any point you feel as if we're not being attentive to your needs and desires, or if there is an area we could be less involved, let us know. It's important we know in real time what's on your mind so we can be more or less involved. We want you to be happy, so please let us know when you are (we love encouragement!) and if/when you're feeling discontent (we love to make things better!) We promise we'll do the same--if we feel at any point we have lost cordiality, communication or confidence, we will ask to meet to resolve the issue. Weddings create stress with or without a planner and we always strive to separate what's really about you or us, and what's normal planning pressure. If we're at that point we'll ask you (and please ask us) to meet so we can work through any issues.
If you want control we won't fight you for it--we are here to guide you when you ask for guidance and not force our opinions, methods, or creative process on you at any time. If you want to be guided differently, let us know--we aim to please! Again, unless we hear or know otherwise, we are relying on years of instinct to be there when we feel we need to be. We would rather not guess, so again, please communicate in real time!
Please keep in mind that the following are included and not billed against your planning hours total:
Weekly status calls
Monthly in-person/FaceTime/Phone planning meetings
Emails/texts/phone calls between us
A word about vendors and our recommendations:
We recommend vendors based on our industry experience, their quality of service, professionalism, and value.
We do not receive any gift, financial incentives or other “perks” for sending our clients to a particular vendor.
We do cultivate relationships based on wedding industry reputation and our experience either working with a vendor or seeing their work. If we don’t know of, our have experience with, a vendor we’ll let you know, however we’re always open to creating new relationships.
Vendor communication is important! Lack of responsiveness is telling, but copying us on all of your communications will help with this. Your wedding happens once but vendors interact with us for as long as we’re planning weddings—take advantage of that leverage.
If you choose a vendor that is outside of our preferred vendor recommendations, then we will support your decision but can’t vouch for their performance.
Vendor pricing is for the most part commensurate with their industry expertise. We know there are some who are new to the industry and are working hard for less money to build a reputation and if we know of their quality of service we will suggest those individuals/companies as well.
Please know that we are presenting you as our client but also our company as a planner. We can/will only go so far to get a “deal” and call in favors. If we do, and you choose not to use their service, please consider the bridge you burn is also ours. If a request is unreasonable we will let you know!
We can do a lot but we can't do it all! We will communicate with you on all areas of your wedding, but it's up to you to set aside time to check in with us via Status Calls and Wedding Planning Meetings. We make this super easy for you to do in-person or by phone, FaceTime.
We will not schedule meetings with you--but all you need to do to is visit the appointments tab on our website and schedule a Status or Planning meeting on your time. Trying to set up appointment times with you isn't efficient for us or for you--coordinating schedules by text or email is a boundary (we mean that sweetly!) that we know you'll find makes things easier for all of us. Besides, why un-automate something that we've designed to make life simple? A suggestion--just go online and book a meeting every month until your wedding. That way you know we're always going to check in! We miss you when we don't talk! You are welcome to email or text us anytime--and call us impromptu outside of scheduled meetings if you need to talk or get advice. Weddings are one of life's major events, and there will inevitably be ups and downs along the way.
We also need you to make decisions. We are here as managers, guides, counselors, collaborators (the list goes on!) but we cannot make the important decisions without your input. We will gently remind, nudge, prod and then strongly recommend that certain things be completed along the way, but that's why you hired us--please hug the messenger! You will be actively involved in planning unless you are the (very rare) bride that wants us to do it all. If you are overwhelmed tell us, if you reassert with vendors (or "over-rule" us) then we will defer to you, if you want us to be your voice with all vendors, we'll do that too. The process as we mentioned on our home page is organic--specific to every couples and every situation and there will be hundreds of "situations" along the way.
We rely on you to communicate with us so we can gauge where we should fall in the collaboration scheme. It's different for every couple. there is no formula, and we are all creating as we go along. Unless you have asked that we assume all design decisions, those that you make along the way will be part of your your final look. Brides loved to add little things and we'll make a note of it unless you ask for our opinion. We want you to feel free to "Pinterest", "Etsy" and craft your way to your dream day (and have fun!)
We know that some Bride's love to have us do everything and some like us to simply keep tabs on the process. (And some couples say the want us to do everything and then spiral of tangentially—again we take our “read'“ from you!) so If we feel push back we'll give you some space, but it's up to you to cry for help when you need it. We wish we could read minds so until we do let us know where and when you need our expertise or when you'l like us to be your sounding board.
Also, please copy me on all vendor emails and include this language: I am copying our planner Scott DeMarco with BlackTie+Lace Wedding Planning and Design to keep him in the loop. Please “reply all” so Scott is included in our thread.
We have to admit, this is not our favorite task, but it is a very important part of what we do for you. Once we establish a budget we will remind you that "there's not money for that" or "maybe we can consider other options" or be more blunt and say "you can't afford that!" We know that things get covered by out-of-pocket or "extra" dollars that may not be included in your budget, but unless we see it as a line item, we're assuming there's no money for it. We expect that you'll be an active participant in helping us to re/allocate money, trim areas to boost others, and so on. We will always make this as stress free is possible. (See "Collaboration" and "Communication" above). Also, budget calculations are always best guesses based on the overall budget you have set. Personal preferences and your vision often affect these amounts (usually up). At the end of the day, you make the final decisions on budget expenses, and as the planning process unfolds we will track your choices and fill in your final budget amounts. Obviously, we cannot in any way guarantee you will stay within budget. If we have "lowballed" it is usually due to our "making it work" upfront. If we have recommended a budget line item expense then it is "doable" with creative solutions (DIY, alternate solutions, etc). Often our involvement with budget is at the beginning of the process and our involvement decreases as you keep tabs on your own expenses. Often we don't have a "strict" budget and as we see you expand your budget we take the cue and fall back in this area.
Time "billed" against your planning hours is often consumed by repetition. That means as we're working to identify vendors or get quotes which are time sensitive; in your busy lives they often get overlooked. In these cases the vendor or venue may no longer be available and we have to look for new possibilities, we have to get a quote "refreshed", or we have to ask that a new quote submitted. Also, couples sometimes let us know after we've made recommendations that they actually already had someone in mind. The more you tell us upfront, the more time you'll save on our end. We also often have to follow-up and (and follow-up the follow-up!) which we don't mind doing but it does affect your hours. We are conservative with hours billing and let a fair amount slide along the way so again, please hug the messenger if we let you know you're maxing out. We also hold/allocate 28 hours for month- and day coordination, final timeline, and vendor confirmations.
A final statement of hours will be sent within seven days of our completing work on your wedding. We realize that when we get into the throes of the last few months, hours can start to accumulate fast. We’re happy to extend an hours plan cap when we think it’s reasonable for you and for us. Note that hours caps** incur a 22% gratuity automatically which will be assessed with your final bill. When you get your final bill, it will list all discounts, comped services, travel and incidentals and/or services listed at no charge. The regular rate for planning hours plus comped hours and services is used for computation of the gratuity. Travel and incidental fees are obviously not used for the calculation.
**An “hours cap” is a specific conversion of an hours plan and applies only to those with whom we have agreed on a total hours cap with unlimited hours in excess of that plan. For example, the wedding planning has become more involved than we anticipated due to additional events, design requirements, extraordinary coordination requirements, change of dates, etc. In these cases we will sometimes offer a “cap” and any accrued hours in excess of the new plan amount are waived (effectively creating a “flat rate”.) The automatic gratuity rate does not apply to most of our clients.
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