“My Wedding Was Perfect, But…” – Brittany

This week features a bride that had issues with a venue and the crazy demands and substitutions that she had to go through for her “perfect day.”

Brittany

LoP: Hey Brittany ! Thank you so much for joining me and for allowing me into your “perfect day.” I know that we’ve had several discussions on this subject, but I do have to ask. What were the circumstances behind your “perfect day ?”

Brittany:  I customized a lot and did it myself because that’s what I wanted. Everything was so “cookie cutter” and used colors that I didn’t like, but I did like the ideas that they used. Other vendors were offering more generic things and nothing specific to what I wanted.

LoP:  Was there one particular thing that made it “not so perfect” and why do you think that happened ?

Brittany:  With me putting all the details into it and putting it together and making sure that everyone knew what I had planned for the timeline. For things to just not work out was disappointing. For one, with the decor vendor, the vendor we had to use their services, I felt like I had put a lot of time into going to see her once or twice a month leading up to the wedding. Still, even at the last meeting, there were things that were agreed upon that were going to be there, but they were missing and there was no one there from the venue for me to ask them for it.  I honestly feel like that someone should be there, as it was promised, at least up until before the wedding. I could’ve noticed that something was missing ahead of time or when I did notice it, I could’ve went and asked for it or had someone else ask for it, but if there’s nobody there, I can’t.

LoP:  So, it wasn’t a total loss. There were just some elements about your décor that were missing that you thought were going to be there that you had made arrangements for that weren’t necessarily there.

Brittany:  I think a lot of it had to do with the person that was coordinating the décor. She made it seem like the details were just as important to her and any changes that need to be discussed, to set up a meeting time with them. We went over it several times. I was assured everything would be taken care of, they really saw my vision, and that they were able to supply the items I wanted, but for it not to happen the day of and I was never told ahead of time, even with substitutions, I was disappointed. That was never really discussed or talked about.

LoP:  What do you think caused this situation to happen ?

Brittany:  I think they have too many irons in the fire.

LoP:  What do you mean ?

Brittany:  They have a flower shop. They have rentals. They have the event space. Just because my wedding was going on that day didn’t mean they weren’t doing flowers for another event. Who’s to say my petals didn’t go out to another event that day ? The things I was missing in my rental décor, who’s to say they accidentally get delivered to another wedding or event that day ? I just felt like there was only one person handling all the different events and that there was no one overseeing what she was doing to check the schedule and availability. Like a “check and balance.”

LoP:  That’s interesting. I’ve always find that when you have someone who claims “to do it all,” a huge red flag goes up and I have to question the integrity of the final product. Afterall, you can’t be an expert or professional in everything. Knowing what you know now, what do you feel like you would’ve or could’ve done differently ? Would you have gone with the same venue ?

Brittany:  I think I would’ve done more research and maybe ask for clarification up front. I was very picky and I wanted something that was about as close as a fairytale setting that you could get in west Texas.

LoP:  What advice would you give to someone or what knowledge would you like to impart before they look at a venue ?

Brittany:  Know what you want. Don’t let someone push you into deciding something that you’re totally against. In the end, it’s your day and those are your pictures that you look back on. If you’re not happy with it, you’re not going to have a happy day. Never let them tell you “it can’t be done cheaper” or to “fit it into your budget.” I think if that’s what they’re there for, to make your dreams come true, they can give you a substitute or another idea that you’re satisfied with and not just something that is just easier for them to do. Let them know that they are not the only option out there. If it doesn’t feel right to sacrifice what you really want, don’t do it. I think you can be overwhelmed with all the planning and all the work that you’ve done so much of yourself, you get to a point where you don’t care anymore. That is very dangerous for you (as a bride) because that sacrifices what you wanted from the start. Also, you have to be wary of those that have been in business for 50-60 years, exaggerating of course. The rental items they’re using are 100 years old, they’re not going to change no matter how times are changing, they want to try to do these cookie cutter weddings, and they want to charge ridiculous prices for ideas that have been used in your grandparents wedding pictures.

LoP:  Thank you so much, Ms. Brittany, for helping to give our readers some good advice on how to avoid the pitfalls that some of us have already gone through. And for sharing your story and some of the process you had to go through yourself. I’m sure that our brides will have things that will go wrong and at least we can help them get through it and be a little closer to perfection with that help.

Helpful Tips/Questions To Ask Your Venue:

  1. When shopping for that “perfect” venue, make sure to ask for the rules and policies set forth by the venue. If you find there are some policies that aren’t clear or you are confused about, ask for clarification. Don’t be afraid to speak up ! It might be to your dismay if you don’t and then you’re wedding will be a disappointment.
  2. Ask the venue (if it has several halls/spaces/ballrooms to rent) if there are other events going on that day that might be in the same proximity of your event’s area and if there is a common space that you will have to share. That way, you know, up front, what space you have to work with and any obstacles or potential issues you will have to account for and have a back-up plan to deal with those issues.
  3. Always be suspect of any venue that insists on using “only what is offered” by the venue itself. Too many times, I’ve had brides tell me of these types of restrictions and outrageous demands being placed upon them at their venue. If a venue insists on only using their services (i.e. linens, flowers, rental items, etc.), maybe that venue isn’t for you. Most brides today know exactly what they want and will pay extra to acquire those items from their chosen vendor. I’m all for finding ways to increase your sales, but not at the cost of being unethical. Consider this act of “take it or leave it” a mild form of extortion. Better yet, or when a venue charges the bride a fee for moving chairs/tables if they don’t plan on using all the ones that are already set up within the venue. If a venue “demands” that extra money be paid for moving items such as tables and chairs, walk away. When this happens enough, the vendor will stop placing such ridiculous demands on clients, knowing that it should be the vendor’s normal responsibility to set up the necessary items that they supply for any events that they will have at their own venue. This outrageous form of “nickel and dime” to take more money from a client is wrong on so many levels. Don’t let someone prey upon your need for a place. There are always options and alternatives out there.

Again, a huge “thank you” to Brittany for her time. Also, thank you to everyone that has liked or commented on Claudia’s story. Keep those comments coming !

Until the next story…

CG

“My Wedding Was Perfect, But…” – Claudia

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For a while now, I’ve wanted to start a series that helped brides or just those in general that are planning a wedding, party, or other milestone event. Thanks to others, especially Claudia, I now have a topic and a title for my helpful hints.

Claudia

LoP:   You and I have talked about weddings and all the things that can and do go wrong. However, we’ve also discussed the things we thought made weddings/events “perfect.” What made your wedding day perfect ?

Claudia:  Well, what made it perfect was having everyone being there and having the dress that I wanted, the bouquet I wanted and the ceremony and everything went smoothly. Just the reception was…

LoP:  Ok. Obviously, there was something you didn’t like or that was wrong. Did you get to see the reception before your guests ? And tell me what you saw when you first open those doors and walked in the doors to your reception.

Claudia:   No, I didn’t get to see it. The first thing when I walked into the reception, the cake was on the guest table.

LoP:   What was it doing on a guest table ? Oh my gosh ! You poor thing ! What was it that caused this cake to be on the guest table ?

Claudia:   The people who made the cake didn’t follow instructions. And they listened to some other person who wasn’t the planner. The lady decorating [the reception] she told her that she had to put the cake there because that’s what I wanted.

LoP:   So, It was one of your other vendors that told the cake vendor where she thought it should be. Wow !! For you, was that the one thing that kept it from being perfect or was there  something else that was bigger and more important than that ?

Claudia:   Some other things. The person who decorated she didn’t do the arrangements how I had asked. I had asked for some tall arrangements and some small arrangements and they were supposed to be nothing but roses. She added others flowers, in like colors I didn’t ask for. Basically, she didn’t do what I wanted. That’s what made me upset.

LoP:   Now, I’m sure you already paid her for the job. Do you feel like she just had an agenda for what she saw fit or maybe other events booked on the same day ?

Claudia:   She didn’t put any time into it. Earlier that week, she was out of town and had no other events. We had trouble with her bringing flowers to the ceremony. She asked us to go pick them up and that wasn’t part of the deal. Then, we told her we weren’t going to do it because we had to get ready to go to the church and that’s what I paid her for. It was five minutes until the wedding started and there they [the florist] were running around brining in these huge arrangements.

LoP:  Was this a person you were recommended to or was it a relative of the family ?

Claudia:  It was actually relative. Another relative she told me about her. We weren’t close, but now I don’t talk to her at all. I think I’m still upset about the situation. And I think that she’s upset because she thought she could get away with that.

LoP:  What would be the best advice you would give someone when it comes to decor/flowers when planning their event ?

Claudia:  I would say deal with someone that can place all of those things in front of you. Go to someone who’s professional, not your aunt or other family. I would want to see the actual items because the things on the picture aren’t always going to be the same as in person, just like the dirty, ugly columns I told you about. I didn’t really look at all my options. I think they [vendors] do need to be into it [their craft]. I would go with better quality instead of cheaper. And someone who doesn’t run their business out of their home.

LoP:  Well, thank you Ms. Claudia, I appreciate it. Hopefully, people will read this and heed the advice that you’ve given from first hand experience.

Helpful Tips/Questions To Ask Your Decor(Flower) Vendor:

  1. Recommendations are good, but not always reliable. Set up a consultation with your decor vendor. This way, you can really see if the vendor’s business is legitimate or not and how they handle their business (if they take pride in their shop or if it looks like a disaster zone that should be condemned).
  2. Ask to see swatch samples or actual examples of the product (chair covers, sashes, tablecloths, runners, napkins, etc.). The last thing a bride wants to see is the wrong colors at her wedding/reception.
  3.  Check to see if the vendor has an online presence. With modern technology, it’s a must for vendors to have no less than a Facebook page and a blog. This will help with their credibility, past client reviews which are IMMEDIATE feedback directly from the client, and it helps to know if their philosophy and style are aligned with your own. It has to be a perfect fit in order for you to be able to be understood and to understand your vendor. Not only that, you sometimes can get FREE advice from the vendor…free is good when you’re planning a huge event like a wedding, right ?

Well, I hope that you’ve gained some insight through Claudia’s story and by the handy tips I’ve given. Thank you Claudia for your time and your story.

Until the next story…

CG

“My Wedding Was Perfect, But…”

Do you ever wonder if you’re the only person going through bridal insanity ? Or is it just something that will pass once “everything’s done ?”

As a bride planning you’re big day, you want it to be perfect and special. And to finally have your “princess moment.” Well, of course you do !!! However, sometimes that one thing that would make the entire day perfect goes horribly wrong and you’re left with that feeling of panic. anger, and all of a sudden you break into uncontrollable hysterics and then the tears start to fall. Never fear…you’re not the only one who has had or will have that moment.

This page is dedicated to those brides that have had their perfect moment compromised or ruined by the one thing that they looked forward to the most. These are a collection of interview I’ve done and the stories from other brides who had a not-so-perfect-wedding day and why it wasn’t “perfect.”

The best part is that I offer tips on how to avoid certain situations before they become wedding day problems. And how to ask the right questions and what warning signs to look for when dealing with a vendor.

Enjoy !!!!

CG

Table Manners Series – Chapter 1: The Art of Napkin Etiquette

For months now, I’ve been thinking about starting a whole series discussing the topic of table etiquette. Mind you, this involves EVERYTHING with the table from the crystal, silverware, and china placement, to the choice of linens used for the table for the occasion. Needless to say, there is TONS of information out there on  “table etiquette” and I won’t have to worry about not being able to write something about the subject.

School has just started and the holidays won’t be far behind. However, I wanted to give everyone a chance to brush up on their table etiquette, have time to practice, and be ready for when the holidays arrive to attend a nice dinner party or even host your own dinner party.

This week, we’ll start with napkin etiquette. I know it sounds crazy, but there are correct and incorrect etiquette manners that involve napkins on all levels from the beginning of a meal until the end of the meal. First, let’s discuss the napkin and its placement on the table before everyone sits down for a formal meal. For formal meals, the napkin is usually folded and placed to the left side of the main plate (dinner plate or charger). If the napkin is placed in a napkin ring, the point of the napkin should be facing the dinner itself. The napkin ring needs to be placed at the top left side of the place setting. You’ll need to use it again at the end of the meal. So, keep it within eye distance so you can find it again.

Dinner napkin at the beginning of a meal

Napkins can also be placed inside of a cup or wine glass to add more decoration to the place setting. In this case, the cup or glass should be placed to the right of the main plate (dinner plate or charger).

Napkin in wine glass

For more casual affairs, it has now become more accepted to place the napkin on or above a place setting. Sometimes this might be a fancy folded napkin such as a flower or a wrap around on the dinner plate. For such a casual setting placement, your utensils can be placed on top of the folded napkin.

Rose swirled napkin

We’ll discuss more about the different folded napkin designs, their origins and “how to’s” on my next blog post for October 3rd. In the meantime, let’s continue with our journey to the table and sit down to begin. Once everyone is seated, unfold your napkin and place it across your lap making sure that the fold is facing towards you. Do not make a big gesture or noise upon doing this…it’s considered bad manners and lacks couth. From time to time upon eating your meal, stop to wipe your mouth to avoid embarrassment. This helps to keep a slow pace of eating, which aids in digestion. Also, it allows for you to conduct a not so obvious “check” on any possible food on your face/mouth and it allows for conversation and an exchange of pleasantries as you continue through the meal. This will definitely help you to remember not to talk with food in your mouth. : )  Each time you use your napkin to wipe, always replace it back to your lap loosely folded. Just remember…it’s considered poor etiquette to NOT use your napkin. Consider the napkin as a tool to help you keep food off of your face…and to keep you from looking as if you just stepped away from the trough !

During your meal, if your napkin falls to the floor, it is ok to try to retrieve it IF it’s at a close distance to you. However, if you find that you can’t reach it discreetly, it’s acceptable to ask the server if they can bring you another fresh napkin. Some say to leave it where it fell, but I’ll leave that up to your judgement. If you need to excuse yourself from the table during your meal with the intention of returning, place your napkin in your chair. Make sure that it is loosely folded and not crumpled into a ball. Since you’ll be returning to finish your meal, you will still need to be able to use your napkin…right ?

Napkin laying in chair - correct

Once the meal is complete and your host/hostess signals to everyone that the meal is complete, place your napkin to the left side of your plate. Again, do not roll your napkin in a ball, but merely a loose fold. And NEVER place your napkin in the center of the plate !!! In case you become confused about what to do with it or forget which side to place it on once your meal is complete, try this:  The side the napkin started on is the side it will finish on. Or better yet:  we read books left to right. Once we’ve finished reading a book, we close the cover and it ends up on the left side…again the side it started on. : )

Again, if your napkin was placed in a decorative napkin ring, the napkin is to be placed back in the napkin ring, but the point will need to be facing the center of the table. This is shown placed on a charger merely for example…your napkin will need to be placed in the napkin ring on the left side of your dinner plate or charger, as it shows above.

I hope that this segment helps with any questions you had about napkin etiquette.  Remember, any action during any function, always look to the host to lead the way and follow their lead. That way, you can’t go wrong !

Stayed tuned for more Etiquette Tips for your table. Next blog will be about napkins, but the many ways they’re folded and presented in a table setting.

CG

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Fashion Meets Partie Tables

Who would’ve ever thought that fashion influences the world of table linens ? We don’t realize it, but fashion can help us open our minds when it comes to many of things, including decorating our homes and our own parties. Let’s take a look at the easiest example. Most formal gowns have something different that makes each one unique & noticeable. The dress below shows a fabric pattern of a raised flower (rose) outlined in the pattern itself.

Not only does the pattern catch your eye, it helps to create a feminine, elegant look that makes a definite fashion statement. Notice that the pattern is not too overbearing, but just enough to stand apart from other dresses. And the soft pink color helps to keep the pattern from being too “much.” Add a darker, brighter pink sash with a rose accent the same size as the dress’ rose ribbons and you’ve definitely created a style of your own.Now, let’s take a look at examples of the same flower pattern, but in a situation with home decor.

This plum rosette throw pillow not only adds color to this peacock themed decor, but it adds much needed texture to a somewhat flat color scheme. Not only that, the throw pillow adds a touch of femininity without being too girly and the chocolate sueded couch adds a bit of earthiness so that the rich colors of the plum, teal and blue add “pop” to the decor of the couch. This is a great example of how fashion’s influence can add just enough accent to make a statement.

This next example is definitely more for the feminine themed decor.

White lampshade w/rosette accent border

This cute Rosette Hayworth Lamp from Pier 1 Imports is a great example how fashion can influence even a small fragment of decor. The rosettes are merely an accent edge around the lamp that gives it just enough texture to add to the decor of a room and not seem as if you might be going a bit too far with it. And the softer ivory roses are a delicate touch without seeming too obvious that it’s lending itself to be more feminine in decor style. : )

Now, all this talk about decor would not be complete without showing an example of how table linens are also affected by fashion.

Clearly this beautiful satin rosette tablecloth shown here in a warm, dark silver is the epitome of clean style with a feminine twist. Obviously, this elegant design sets itself apart from all other designs and makes a bold statement instead of just lying flat on the table. This tablecloth not only provides color to the table, but it provides the texture necessary to create a certain look and feel to the event, as well as the room itself. This is increasingly becoming a popular product and shows promise by moving in a “classy” direction, utilizing warmer tones of the color wheel, instead of trying to trivialize the design by saturating colors such as lime, fuchsia, and sometimes purple. Clean, simple design is often better than going over the top…it’s stated and it’s just the right touch of class !

Funny how this went from a simple, but elegant formal dress to a rosette pillow, rosette bordered lampshade and now a tablecloth. Who would’ve ever thought that a dress could have such an effect on what someone places on their table ?! Sometimes, all it takes is opening your eyes to the world around you and realizing that everything is influenced and connected by each other.

When one person’s idea of fashion meets up with another person’s idea of fashion, you would be surprised at how similar they are and how there is a common “thread” that will always run between them…this is, for me, where fashion meets partie linens.

CG

Copyright Life of the Partie, 2011

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The Fine Art of Customer Service

Even though this is my FIRST blog post, I’m addressing an issue that has come up in conversations and my daily dealings whether personal or through others. I feel I need to discuss it from all levels and offer some sound advice.

Have you ever been a “victim” of bad customer service or just the absence of no customer service ? I’m sure all of us have at one time or another and you probably thought that bringing it to anyone’s attention would do absolutely no good. Now, I’m about to jump right up on that soap box because this is a pet peeve I have that I refuse to get rid of. Even more so that I’m a business owner and care about my clients and their happiness.

According to Wikipedia’s definition: “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation. From the point of view of an overall sales process engineering effort, customer service plays an important role in an organization’s ability to generate income and revenue.[3] From that perspective, customer service should be included as part of an overall approach to systematic improvement. A customer service experience can change the entire perception a customer has of the organization.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this definition and all aspects of it. To a business owner, sales associate, customer/client, this is one of the main reasons people will return to a business…the presence of customer service. In fact, studies show that customers/clients are willing to pay 13% more for a product or service if there is the presence of good customer service. This is due to the fact that the customer is left with an overall sense of good feeling. All based on the fact that someone listened, executed and followed through with the service/product that was provided. Sounds simple, but this is severely lacking in all areas of all markets today, which only means that nobody is devoid of this.

Here are some simple rules/guidelines to follow when dealing with customer service issues:

  1. Try and deal with the issue at hand first before seeking out a manager. Sometimes, it can be a lack of communication with both parties.
  2. Be decisive and clear in what you expect and need. Don’t complain for the sake of complaining. Be firm, yet be rational.
  3. If you find no resolve, then escalate to a decision maker and follow the same rules above. You’ll find that sometimes with experience comes temperance and knowledge, which is passion for what they do. That usually equates to someone who can put out fires easily, even before they begin.
  4. Once your issue has been taken care of, thank them for their time and attention to your issue. You’ll be surprised at how this can help the next time you have to conduct business with the same company and how this sign of respect can help you be serviced a bit quicker.
  5. Regardless of any situation, remember…you’re human and are subject to emotion just as much as the next person. Don’t forget to take a step back and address the issue like an adult and not a child throwing a temper tantrum. It’s not attractive and it doesn’t earn you anything by acting that way except a “deaf ear” to your situation.issue.

Most of all, don’t be afraid to bring something to someone’s attention. They might not be aware of anything that is wrong or they might be lacking in the training to know that they are expected to help you as part of their employment. More than likely, this is often the case. However, that doesn’t mean that the lack of customer service is excused.

I’ve learned that to get ahead and really shine, you have to give great customer service. Be willing to listen to your clients and give them what THEY want, not what you think is “best for them.” This philosophy doesn’t work and inevitably ends with the customer being unhappy, you being a poor customer service provider, and the client finds another vendor to do business with…end of story. If you give more than just the bare minimum, people will remember that and they will call on you again.

Take care and thank you for allowing me to get on my soap box for a bit. Stay tuned to for more blog posts !!!

Always,

Cammie

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