How To Lose Clients And Alienate People

I decided last week to stop stressing about the wedding. Right about now, you are having two reactions to reading that sentence, aren't you? One of them is "Oh yeah, right. If only it were that easy." The other is "Aaaaaaand here we go, she's talking about her wedding again. I'm out. Wake me up when we get back to the cat with the fake diabetes."

But yeah, I did, I just decided to stop. And it really was that easy.  Back before I got engaged, I used to scoff at people who got stressed about organizing their weddings, you see. It's just a party, I'd think. Planning parties is fun! How can you get stressed about that?

But then I got engaged and I realized that yes, it is actually a little bit hard to juggle all these details and make all these decisions and keep your head screwed on straight in the process so that you don't become a walking cliche.  If you're not careful, you see, you get in too deep when you're only trying to have fun and then suddenly you care way too much about envelope colors and you really just don't even recognize yourself anymore.

And the only reason you even care about these envelope colors, by the way, is because the wedding industry conspires to make you think that you must care about these envelope colors. But they do it so sneakily and stealthily that it creeps up on you---honestly, it creeps up on you even while you're protesting that you'd never care about envelope colors, my god, how silly.  Except then somehow you do care. And you don't just care. You CARE.  You are The Girl Who Cares About Envelope Colors. Which, sure, would be a really awesome band name, or maybe a second album title, but is really not so practical for real life. Your fiance will probably find your newfound envelope color obsession so unbearable for example----who is this crazy candidate for a TLC show I'm engaged to? he'll say---that he'll leave you and run off to Borneo and then you won't even have a wedding to plan anymore, you idiot, how about that? How'd do you like them envelope colors now?

So, ahem. Here is what I did. I unsubscribed from the two wedding blogs that were stressing me out the most---I'm not even sure why I was reading them, except to say that it gave me some sort of sick thrill to look at other people's ideas and either discard them with a snort or promptly steal them to use for my own, OKAY I'M NOT PROUD OF IT EITHER---and I decided just to take a step back and chill the hell out. That is pretty much what I told myself, in fact: "Self, it is time to step back and chill the hell out," I said.  And apparently I listened.

Except I might have listened just a little too much. Because that was over a week ago, and in that week since, I have done.....nothing. No planning, no booking, no obsessive spreadsheeting. I've pretty much just stopped all progress, in fact, because...........enh. You know? Just enh. And I know "enh" isn't really a word, but picture me making that sound and sort of wrinkling up my nose and rolling my eyes, and you'll pretty much get the drift. Perhaps I just need a second wind.

In fact, I do need a second wind, because I need to kick some caterer butt.  Have you ever kicked caterer butt? Is it hard? Is it harder than kicking normal butt? We've been looking at three caterers, you see, one of whom comes highly recommended---by people I've contacted who've used them, by online reviews, by everyone, as far as I can tell---and yet seems, unfortunately, to have a tiny little problem with......communication. Emails have gone unanswered, phone calls have been unreturned, my contact has never been there when I've called and often takes weeks (weeks!) to get back to me, and the process of trying to arrange a tasting---even months in advance (months!)---has been like pulling teeth.

And yet I have persevered. Because everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, right? The final straw, however, came this morning, when my contact got back to me---in reply to my email of ten days ago, of course!---to tell me begrudgingly that yes, she supposed we could do the tasting on Saturday May 23rd (see how much notice I'm giving?) as long as we did it in a very, very tiny window dictated by the caterer (at a time I'd already said we wouldn't be available), and providing we shelled out the princely sum of $50 per person.

Uh, what?

At that point, I'm afraid, the record skipped at the party and the crickets sang, because.....really? You're going to charge me?  For something the other caterers I've looked at are offering for free? When I'm about to potentially spend several thousands of dollars on your food, even after you've treated me so appallingly? In a recession?

(Huh, that was a lot of questions; I guess I'm trying to get a head start on my buttkicking. But seriously, Internet, that's kind of wack, right? Right? And for the record, I never even told them it was for a wedding; the last thing I'd want is for them to think I'm The Girl Who Cares About Envelope Colors. Or her culinary equivalent, I guess: The Girl Who Gives A Shit About Hors D'oeuvres.)

1
Kathleen
Apr 16, 2009

I got engaged two days before accepting a job in the UK, so my fiance and I planned 80% of our wedding in the six weeks when we also we quit our jobs, packed our life up into little boxes to live in our parents' cellars, and said good-bye to family (we lived in Boston). It was crazy, but it also forced us to make decisions quickly. And being decisive is not my strong suit, but I have to say that it made us get our priorities straight and probably saved a lot of stressing. Not that I am stress-free over here in England, as I feel completely out of touch with my Cape Cod wedding, but at least I can't stress about the big stuff any more.

About the caterer - we looked at a dozen briefly, and maybe three closely. We went with a group that had great food and great reviews, yes, but also immediately put me at ease with their organization, warmth, and philosophy about weddings. Food is an important part of a wedding (especially when you're like us and you LOVE food) and I wouldn't want to be dealing with the scenario you describe. Just my two cents.

Good luck!

2
Saucepan Man
Apr 16, 2009

Name them and shame them, oh powerful one with thousands of readers!!

3
Sara
Apr 16, 2009

Aaaaannd you just got the title of your third album! I say put on your steel-toed boots and start kicking, my friend.

4
Kristen
Apr 16, 2009

That is completely wiggity-wack. And you should let them know. Well, as long as you have another option with which you're fairly comfortable. I've NEVER heard of a fee like that -- maybe a $10 or $15 fee, but $50 each? I call shenanigans. And, I know for a fact I would be WILDLY uncomfortable using someone who couldn't be bothered to get back with me -- I'd rather sacrifice a tiny bit on the food than have the stress leading up to the wedding that I imagine this company would create. And NAME THEM. Losers.

5
FunnyGal KAT
Apr 16, 2009

It is so hard not to care about all those details. Yes, it's one day, yes, it's just a big party, but you want it to be as perfect as possible because when else will you have the opportunity to be surrounded by everyone you love all at once? (The answer is never unless you are in the habit of throwing massive dual birthday parties for you and Sean).

And no, I've never heard of being charged for a tasting... unless they will put that money toward a deposit when you book with them? Even then, it doesn't sound right to me. Do you still hope to use them? If so, I guess you have to tread carefully, but I vote for a-- ahem-- strongly worded email telling them to kiss off and why. I once heard people will tell two or three others about a good experience with a business, but will tell two or three times that many about a bad experience. (Feel free to cite me in your email)

6
Monica
Apr 16, 2009

Ahhh .. Time to move along. The whole point to HIRED someone for anything, is to take care of that part of the party and for you to trust that what you want gets done and you have NO STRESS over it.

Apparently, this business is either A) doing very well that they don't care to treat potential clients like they are treating you or B) very disorganized, which leads me to make the following assumptions:

They don't care and if they cannot even return a phone call in a timely manner, imagine if you do hired them, that they will have the same off-manner/do.not.care stand when it comes to your day?

I say no matter how many good references it has; it’s not worth it to have that added stress on you on a day that should not be stressful AT.ALL - You are hiring them (and I’m sure paying a big chuck of money) to take care of it, not for you to POLICE them.

7
She Likes Purple
Apr 16, 2009

The new zen wedding approach will be so much more enjoyable. I made the same decision during my engagement, around the same time too, and that's about when I gave up caring about envelope colors and other little details and began caring (passionately! obsessively!) about two things: 1) registering for champagne flutes and 2) my honeymoon wardrobe. Although my fiance wasn't thrilled when I bought my fourth swimsuit or my sixth pair of summery espadrilles, it was a lot less disturing for him than when I bought that third envelope embosser.

8
the sassy kathy
Apr 16, 2009

um, hells no. hells no to these catering fools. if they are this shady, charge-happy, and inconsistent NOW, just imagine how it will be when you actually have to rely on them to, you know, provide the sustenance for your wedding. its completely unnecessary stress.

and hats off to you for stopping the wedding stress. i am a wedding-industry hater myself, and was mentally standing up and bowing to you throughout this post. you go girl.

9
Operation Pink Herring
Apr 16, 2009

Oh my god, I know. I know! I scoffed at Those People for so many years, and now here I am, fighting with my fiance about whether the top two lines of our invitations look better justified or centered (they DO SO look better justified, but WHATEVER *AHEM*). It's so, so easy to get sucked in. I decided to chill out and stop caring too... and here we are, three months out and still no room blocks reserved for our guests! And that's fine! Right? (Uhh... shit.)

I'm glad the caterer has finally pushed you over the edge. I guess I could almost see charging for a tasting (maybe), but $50 per person?! That's outrageous. And the nonresponsiveness is just unacceptable. I'd let it go once, twice maybe, if they apologized or at least bothered to give some excuse about being on vacation or something. They sound horrible - better to know it now than after you gave them your money, right?

10
chirky
Apr 16, 2009

I never had to deal with these types of things, thankfully, because I was marrying The Man Who Cares About Envelope Colors, which took a whole lot of pressure off of me, you know? I just kind of sat back with veto power, and he went about planning one of the most beautiful weddings I've ever been to. I mean, I might be a little biased. But seriously. Dude has skillz.

Anyway, I agree with Saucepan Man. Name them and shame them, and move on. Because I can guarantee that most people won't remember the food from your wedding, or your caterer, and if she's like this now she's bound to be a thorn in your side for the rest of your wedding planning. Then you'll spend a ridiculous number of YEARS after your wedding snorting and rolling your eyes in her memory. I speak from experience.

(Plus, no bride needs a thorn in her side. It's an unwritten rule.)

11
Camels & Chocolate
Apr 16, 2009

You said a big HELLS NO, I'm hoping...right?

12
Sheila
Apr 16, 2009

Yes, that is consistent with totally wack. Move on. You'll be the better for it, no matter how tasty their bacon-wrapped scallops are.

13
Blythe
Apr 16, 2009

I always like to give busy people the benefit of the doubt. However, I've found that these kinds of small bothersome interactions almost always add up to a negative experience on the big day. Even if the food is fabulous, if the process of getting it there is expensive and drives you up the wall, it probably won't be worth it. (I had that kind of experience with my wedding photographer. The pictures are nice but every time I look at them I think of all the weird phone conversations and his greasy hair at my wedding.)

The food will taste better if it's created and served by someone you like, is what I'm saying.

14
Leslie
Apr 16, 2009

I am glad you decided to "not care" so much. After the wedding, it will not matter what color ANYTHING was. I know everyone has different ideas about how they want their day to go, but we basically eloped in the City Hall in San Fran with an amazing photographer and I wouldn't do it differently for the world. There was no worrying, no stress, and we had the same end result as everyone else... we were married. I loved it.

15
Chris
Apr 16, 2009

VERY wack. And rude. I've had the same problem with vendors....ugh! (Also, as an engaged girl getting married in October, I don't mind the wedding posts one bit!)

16
Tweedle Dee
Apr 16, 2009

People in the wedding inudstry are nasty because (if your marriage works out as intended), there are no repeat customers. I'm not sure why they don't care about the possibility of referrals.

17
rachel
Apr 16, 2009

that is INSANE! kick 'em to the curb and find a new caterer! =)

18
Jelaine Faunce
Apr 16, 2009

It's wack, indeed. Ditch them and go with one of the other caterers.

19
charise
Apr 16, 2009

Our caterers started out just fine, easy to get in touch with, friendly ... but we booked waaaay in advance of our wedding (like 18 months; what? 30 month
engagment, I wanted to get SOME THINGS done early!). Now that it is getting closer, they have ramped up their business to include a cafe and NEVER have time to respond to emails, make changes to the contract, are trying to tack on all these extra fees, etc. And to make matters worse, our venue no longer likes working with them - said the woman who runs the business end of it isn't always professional. Grrr! So now I am trying to do as little as possible through them, which means MORE work and MORE stress for the days leading up to it.

So, yeah, in short ... If this caterer is already doing this, don't do it. Just don't.

20
Erin
Apr 16, 2009

Forget them. A wedding is a day to be enjoyed and having to deal with snotty caterers is not going to add to the enjoyment factor one bit. I think charging for a tasting is rude to potential clients (and $50/per is ridiculous) but taking so long to respond....that just crosses the line. They obviously don't care about their customers.

21
Beth
Apr 16, 2009

I hear you on the wedding blogs. There came a point where I had to stop looking at them because it was making me second guess everything. For example - we had no seating plan. Our wedding had about 80 guests and everyone knew enough people to decide where to sit/who they wanted to sit with. And every time I went on those wedding blogs and saw some new cute idea for placeholders, I would question this no seating plan and drive myself crazy about it. Until I decided no more second guessing. Just go with my decisions and not look back. Everyone seemed to really like being able to sit where they wanted to and it saved me a huge amount of work and headache not to do a seating plan.

Re: reserving a block of rooms as one of the commenters mentioned - that was the biggest waste of my time when I was wedding planning! In the Internet age, everyone just looks online and picks the hotel they want. You don't save much by booking a block of rooms anyway. I spent ages on making that happen and not a single guest stayed in the block of rooms. I say screw it!

22
movindowtheroad
Apr 16, 2009

Ha ha. I';m sorry but is there a way to stop stressing about a wedding?

23
Scottsdale Girl
Apr 16, 2009

I had to stop reading comments after "Bacon Wrapped Scallops"...heavens to mergatroid that sounds delicious.

24
Jenn
Apr 16, 2009

10 days? That would piss me right off. Everybody's busy, but to not be able to take two minutes to reply to an email? They can go suck an egg. I don't care HOW good they are.

(Look at me, getting all indignant on your behalf! I've had a rough week.)

25
Anne in SC
Apr 17, 2009

Ditto with everyone on all the reasons why they are Whack!! Kick 'em to the curve. And the stress of the wedding won't go away until some months after the wedding when you've stopped dreaming that you're having to do the ceremony again. Funny how that happens.

26
Ashley
Apr 17, 2009

Sounds like a certain little caterer has done overbooked themselves...I would skedaddle the hell away from them, unless you want to risk them just FORGETTING TO SHOW ON YOUR WEDDING DAY

27
Diandra
Apr 17, 2009

Same things were happening to me. I felt like I was over-stressing on everything, and it wasn't fun anymore. I've since laid off looking at all the wedding blogs and definitely delete any of The Knot's emails (God, I hate them). Good luck with the catering. I'm sure you'll be able to find someone else who will do a MUCH better job of keeping your business.

28
Melanie
Apr 17, 2009

I say you go with another caterer. I don't care how good they're supposed to be, when they clearly have no respect for potential clients, they don't deserve your business. Especially in a recession!! Imagine how much they'll continue to stress you out if they ARE your caterer. You don't need that. :)

29
NothingButBonfires
Apr 17, 2009

Oh, don't worry, I'm totally going with another caterer. One strongly-worded letter to The Wild Thyme Company in San Diego coming up!

30
beth
Apr 17, 2009

I just finished a strongly worded letter to zazzle.com and it was exactly the relief I needed....uuuuntil they wrote me back and politely pointed out that the postal worker I was dealing with was a freakin moron and it wasn't their fault.
FYI - if you order custom postage, that ugly black bar code on the stamp means that the invitations DO NOT need a cancel stamp and you can happily avoid a) hand canceling 150 envelopes yourself because the postal worker refuses to do so and, more importantly, b) you will not get red cenceling stamp ink ALL OVER your envelopes because those pretty high-gloss custom stamps don't take kindly to being inked.
Yeah. Beware the USPS.

31
fancythis
Apr 17, 2009

oh for crying out LOUD! This is not in response to the fact that you're talking about your wedding again (because I actually enjoy hearing about other people's weddings now that mine has come and gone and almost three years have passed since then. where does the time go?) but because your potential caterer gets on my nerves! like you said - you are a potential client who will be spending THOUSANDS of dollars and they can't even return a phone call? and email? What the heck? I think that you should ditch 'em. It doesn't matter how good the reference is if they can't even treat you decently before the event. And also? you should right a really nasty letter to the company and tell them all about the better caterer and how they'll just wish now that they had treatet you better. You'll be just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

32
Megan
Apr 17, 2009

Oooh, I had a feeling it was Wild Thyme the whole time I was reading your entry!! DON'T use them...the food is good and the presentation is fabulous, but I think they've grown too big for their britches - they get so many large local events that they're treating weddings and smaller parties like they don't matter as much. Definitely NOT what you want for your wedding day.

33
Kerri Anne
Apr 18, 2009

I'd be interested in hearing how they'd respond (and how quickly) when you do tell them it's for a wedding, but then again, maybe they just stopped caring about customer service. I mean, really, does it take more than fifteen minutes to look at your calendar, see if you have a date open for a tasting, and then write back? That actually might only take three minutes.

I'm in the middle of scheduling a catered company picnic for work and I'm running into similar scenarios with our site contacts. It's unreal to me how poorly some people communicate, when their JOBS depend on it.

34
Helen
Apr 18, 2009

How bloody rude of them!

I know you said you're taking it easy now and all, but i cant help but ask, who is going to do your wedding photography? I've very recently become obsessed with reading wedding photographers blogs, some of them are amazing!... Jessica Claire, Gene Higa, Jasmine Star just for starters!

Who's doing yours? I'm interested! x

35
Nothing But Bonfires
Apr 18, 2009

Helen: our wedding photographers are called Erin and Courtney and their company is Erin Hearts Court. They're amazing! www.erinheartscourt.com

36
Stacey
Apr 19, 2009

I haven't done any wedding planning in about two months. Is that bad?

37
Kitty
Apr 20, 2009

Ditch the caterer immediately. There are lots of great caterers out there, and this one obviously thinks way to much of itself. Charging you for a tasting? Unforgivable!!!! You are about to spend a small fortune on their food. Not only would I kick these people to the curb, I'd politely let them know that you shall be reviewing their services on your sizable wedding blog... That's a serving that will cost them!

38
Kristabella
Apr 20, 2009

Every single one of my friends has been the one who is all "I swear, I'll never get obsessive about wedding planning." But then they do. And it is OK because hey! It's a BIG event and you should be excited about it!

And then there is my crazy, anal friend, who is obsessive about planning EVERYTHING in her life, and she's the one who NEVER MENTIONS THE WEDDING. Like I have to ask "hey, your wedding is like four months away, how's that all going?" And she's all "fine."

That is probably MORE irritating, by the way.

Also, never been engaged or married, so just totally ignoring the questions about the caterer. :)