Nancy Barkley discusses wedding planner challenges since the pandemic with Aviva Samuels of Kiss the Planner . Aviva’s wedding planning career is the culmination of all that she has done and all that she has loved in her 20-something years of planning, design, service and hospitality.
Nancy. What has been the biggest challenge for you planning weddings since the pandemic?
Aviva. The biggest challenge planning weddings since the onset of the pandemic is the uncertainty of it all. Clients look to me for answers, some of which I have no way of answering, since no one knows exactly how things will play out. Many of these questions require a crystal ball, which unfortunately is not part of my inventory. Should the questions relate to policies, I do my best to research thoroughly. Clients want to know if they will be stuck with cancellation or change fees, should something go wrong. Likewise, it goes without saying that their safety as well as the safety of their guests is a huge concern for my clients.
Nancy. What have you done that has helped and what have you tried that did not work out as you planned.
Aviva. Communicating with my clients as much as humanly possible and checking in with them weekly until the travel date arrives has made a huge difference. Even if I am only reaching out let them know that all is status quo, I remind them that I will be the first to notify them if any changes take place or if there is a need for them to make a decision, or take any specific action. When they hear from me routinely, especially if it is before they read something in the news that makes them anxious, I have already touched base with them, thus instilling the added confidence that they badly need during this time. When it comes to cancellations or other changes, most airlines and properties currently offer changes without fees. I research these options diligently and spell them out very clearly for my clients. I find that recommending only those airlines and only those properties that adhere to these helpful stipulations puts my clients at ease. And since some airlines and properties have more stringent safely guidelines than others, those are the ones I am more apt to recommend. Also, I have found that certain destinations are taking far more precautions than others. For example, some counties are having temperatures taken before entering the airport and going so far as to have other personnel standing at sanitizing stations, directing and requiring travelers to partake. I do extensive research to find the spots that appear to offer the most dedicated safety precautions and the lowest infection rates, to ease my client’s minds as much as possible.
Nancy. If you could get one message across to the vendors you work with that would assist you with your weddings, what would that be?
Aviva. We are all in this together. Put yourself in the shoes of your clients. Things are undoubtedly tough for you with limited business coming in and having to deal with changes all over the place. But try to balance your needs with the needs of your clients. They may also be dealing with financial hardship and emotional turmoil. You certainly don’t need to lower your rates to accommodate their budgets, but you do need to be understanding of their feelings and show compassion when you communicate with them. A little understanding can go an awfully long way and prevent even more heartache for them and for you. And as a planner, I really appreciate those nice qualities in a vendor and am far more likely to work with them again than those vendors that don’t go the extra mile.