I Ruined My Friend’s Wedding

rose-tinted-fashion-moments-vogue-archive-21_161237424277

Kate Moss for Vogue, April 2012

Dear Kat
I fucked up (to put it mildly!) and I need your help… advice… anything. I’m an aspiring wedding planner. I’m just out of university and when a friend asked me to help her plan her wedding I was thrilled, honoured and terrified all at the same time. I’ve always wanted to go into events and even though I’ve never planned anything as big as a wedding (and I told my friend this) I was super excited to be involved.

I worked my arse off in the run up and on the day, and I feel like I did a pretty good job considering it was my first go. BUT there were some things that didn’t go perfectly and now my friend is pissed and blaming me. For example the flowers were delivered late, the cake started to sag before it was cut and she hated the hair and make up artist I booked (even though she agreed to her, and had a trial, beforehand).

I appreciate her feedback on how I could have done things differently. After all this was my first wedding and I know I have a LOT to learn. But I can’t help but be massively crushed. Not only is my friendship effectively ruined but I feel like I never want to try and plan another wedding again!

I don’t know if you can help me or if you can say anything to really help me feel better, but do you happen to have any advice on how to deal with this? We all have to start somewhere, right?
Sarah Jane

Aww Sarah Jane I am so sorry this was your first planning experience. Being involved in someone’s wedding is a huge deal and a massive amount of pressure. From reading your email I am convinced that you did the very best you could despite your inexperience.

While you can’t change what’s already happened, the first thing you need to do is apologise, even if you feel you did the best you could at the time. While the flowers being a bit late, the cake being a bit saggy and her not liking the person who did her face might seem like pretty minor misdemeanors, you do need to look at it from her point of view. Yes, she is your friend, but in this situation she was first and foremost your client. And the customer is always right.

Ask her if there’s anything you can do to make it up to her, and go out of your way to do anything that she might ask you. Think of something nice you can do for her to show how very sorry you are. How about a canvas print of one of her favourite wedding images? Try your very best to build those bridges.

kate moss for vogue

However the most important thing is what you do from now on. Firstly, before you accept another wedding booking, you need to get some practice under your belt. Volunteer to help out with some low-pressure events, maybe a charity fundraiser or your sister’s birthday party. The more you do something the better you will get at it.

The other thing I’d strongly recommend you do would be to apprentice with an established wedding planner. Planning weddings is, in my opinion, the hardest job in the industry. Not only do you have to be a master juggler, but you’re involved in every little aspect, from the start of the process right up until the last guest says goodbye at the end of the night. It’s a long-haul commitment and there are so many things to consider. Give yourself a fighting chance for the future by learning as much as you can from an expert before branching out on your own.

There are also a lot of wedding planning courses around. The Mark Niemierko Academy is excellent, for example. It’s vitally important to not take on the responsibility of working on someone’s wedding again without getting some proper experience and knowledge behind you.

Sarah Jane, please don’t let what’s happened hold you back. Just make sure you learn from it. Do what you can to sort things out with your friend but most importantly do not dwell on things you can do nothing about. Beating yourself up is pointless. Rather, use what’s happened as one massive lesson on what not to do again.

Don’t let one bad experience kill your dream. Instead let it motivate you to go out and do a much better job next time.

22 comments

  1. Hugs for Sarah Jane. What a horrible first experience, but also she should focus on everything that went right!! There must be so many happy memories that her friend can take from it?

    Katie <3

  2. Sarah Jane, please do not give up!

    As Kat said, wedding planning is not easy! When I read the title, I expected disasters of epic proportions! I’m a wedding planner myself, and despite our best intentions, sometimes things take a wrong turn.

    I agree, the only thing left to do is apologize. And figure out how to manage things better the next time. (Don’t leave a cake out in the sun, call the florist to confirm delivery time, and then call them again if they are late, etc…) Getting my certification as a wedding planner was an essential step for me, and it may be for you as well. (I’m certified through the Wedding & Event Institute, but there are many programs available).

    Good luck, Sarah Jane! Hopefully, your friend will realize that you did the best you could, and that – coupled with an apology – might get you back on solid ground with her.

  3. El's

    Feel so bad for you I had to reply!! Don’t be disheartened as all those mistakes can happen to anyone and seem to be more problems with suppliers than you!! Hold ur head up and learn from the experience. You won’t make the same mistakes twice! Go get some work experience! Good luck!

  4. Great advice! Sometimes just the act of swallowing pride and apologizing is an incredible gesture, and your friend will definitely appreciate it.

    Also–don’t let one experience prevent you from trying out event planning at least a little more. If it’s something you really think you’d like to do long-term, a little more experience will make a lot of difference!

  5. Hi Sara Jane

    I did a photoshoot in a wedding some years ago. I had done it many times before, but then I worked for a photographer with good equipment, and this time was with my own (not the best) equipment. I knew the couple, my sister was the bridesmaid in the wedding (her best friend was the bride)
    They wanted me because of my photos, and I took photos from early in the morning till the party was over. The next day I discovered that almost half of the photos were gone. My computer had collapsed and I didn’t have enough memory on my cards so I had to delete the cards after putting the photos on my computer under the photoshoot (baaaad mistake)
    So I had to call the bride two days after her wedding to tell her most of the photos were gone. But only because I was honest, humble and excepted her reactions, she did understood that these things can happen. It took me 5 weeks, and cost me more then they paid me to restore back the photos and repair the damage I did. In the end I did learn from it but I did a big mistake: I stopped taking photos. After many years of hard work and education, the mistake I did became to big for me, since weddings are an important thing.
    Do NOT make my mistake. Take Katie’s advise. Don’t stop, but start small. Maybe one day help out in a wedding, but only to see how it’s done.

    And I really hope one day you guys will be friends again, just be patient.

    So sorry about my spelling mistakes ;)

    Br
    Jeanette

  6. Maddie

    I’m on somewhat a different footing here, I feel that the friend is being somewhat unreasonable. It’s always good to have someone to direct disappointment at and I can’t help but feel that’s what your friend is doing without being particularly objective. Were you paid? If she paid you I could perhaps understand her anger, but as a friend? Sorry, I think she’s behaving really badly. However is it worth losing a friendship over it? Only you can answer that, I’d send an e-mail empathising with how she feels, but also out-ling the things you have said above, you’re not an experienced wedding planner, she knew that. I’m not a fan of enabling bad behaviour in other people because you’re afraid of them, wedding or no wedding.

  7. Rebecca

    For most brides those issues that you mentioned don’t matter one iota on your wedding day (only in advance). It is all about the love and joy and having those that you care about there to celebrate with you. I suspect there are some deeper rooted issues with her and her new husband’s relationship if the day is so easily “ruined”…

  8. Amal bolbol

    Aw Sarah Jane, don’t give up! What a horrible 1st experience :-( the only thing I can tell you with any certainty is if the cake was sagging it was not put together / dowelled properly.( I make celebration -wedding cakes for a living ) that in no way is your fault, in future when booking a cake maker, make sure they are registered/insured and where possible speak to previous clients. Good luck for future projects x

  9. Sarah Jane, I am sorry for your first experience being so challenging. I think this should serve as caution for everyone that thinks they can jump into the VERY difficult job of planning events, especially weddings where there is so much emotion involved. As an experienced planner, I find most people think my career to be one big party and don’t realize the hours, organizing, skill, and stress that are involved.

    I hope your enthusiasm continues but realize you need some training and experience before managing large events on your own. If you are able to intern under an experienced planner, you will learn the countless tricks that will help you succeed. Also, learning on fundraisers and corporate events will let you cut your teeth more safely since they are businesses and not the princess fairy-tale some brides expect.

    I also think your friend seems like a high-maintenance bridezilla to say her wedding was ruined by such trivial matters. I hope she is not so difficult in all aspects of her life. Good luck on your future events – it gets better and easier! Maybe you’ll even plan her next wedding.

  10. Mads

    If you did all you could there is very little to feel bad about. If your friend blames you for such small things so easily, its maybe time to rethink the friendship.
    But apologizing is important. I was a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding, she started to take out her anger-issues on my family and refused to apologize, and that’s where I drew the line. There is absolutely no excuse to make other people feel bad because you are overwhelmed.
    Note on the flowers, few years back I worked with a florist and she had to do an all white wedding. With white roses. And because of roses being out of season where I live at that time, she had to ship them in. Half an hour after we unpacked them, they turned brown…luckily she was an old hand at this and had a backup plan. Moral of the story: always have a backup plan, or be quick to work one out.
    Don’t give up now, wedding business is tough, but you will have such a feel of accomplishment when you crack it.

  11. Autum Owl

    Weddings are tricky at the best of times. The flowers arriving late & a saggy cake is when you use good suppliers outside your control. But none the less you can at leste now ad contingency plans eg suppliers must deliver 2 hours before you need flowers,ice sculptures etc.

    Stay focussed keep going but also work with local event planners or help out with local charity fundraisers to get ideas and how to get better.

    I planned my own wedding & 2 things ended up not going to plan. One was due to budget & supplier deviation, the other was due to over promised & grossly under delivered.

    That aside it was great. Having a friend help would have been fab so
    Apologise and good luck in your venture x

  12. Jyoti

    Ouch! I think the real moral of the story is not to work for friends or family. There’s just too much that can go wrong and ruin a relationship.

    Sarah Jane, please don’t give up, but definitely apprentice with a professional and also grow a thicker skin! In this industry you will meet some real bridezillas with crazy standards. If this is really what you want to do, you’ll need to not take things personally or be defensive. The customer is always right, especially with a one-off occasion like a wedding, and your job is to be the cool, calm and collected one who keeps it all together even if it’s all going to chaos! If you still want to do it after all that, kudos to you!

  13. Sarah-jayne

    From one Sarah-jayne to another, use it as a learning curve, I am a make- up artist and made the mistake of offering to do my friends for her wedding. She said she wanted natural which is what I gave her. And I was Sooo happy with it, she looked stunning. Anyway she arrived at the ceremony, with a lot more eyeshadow on and a completely different shade of blusher, ageing her. But she obviously felt more comfortable with the “improvements ” she had made herself. This made me feel like I wanted to quit that perhaps we I seriously misjudged my capabilities, but you know what….. I look back at the photos I took of the makeup I had done and I have to say they were pritty good and people who I trust to be honest are also nothing but complimentary and I know I puty heart and soul in trying to give her what she asked . So I guess I am trying to say is, learn from the mistakes that were in your control, look at the things you were happy with, and if you know you put your heart and soul into it then you should be happy. Also you need to remember that brides will often have a vague idea what they want but often will not beable to vocalise it properly. or often they will say exactly what they want which you try your best to achieve but the reality will often live upto the reality, so I think keep communications as open as possible and try to give as opportunitys to see potential finished items and demonstrations x

  14. Sounds like your friend is a bitch. In your post you noted that you gave the bride the final decision on all of the things that went wrong. The flowers showing up late? Not your fault. The cake sagging? Not your fault. The make up and hair not being what your bride wanted? Not your fault. Sounds like your friend is blaming you because she can’t accept the fact that she made poor decisions that negatively affected her wedding. Fuck her. You don’t want to be friends with people that can’t take responsibility for their own mistakes, and you don’t want them (or their irresponsible friends) as clients.

    Move on. Keep working. Intern. Learn everything you can. Get better. Plan better weddings and be a runaway success. Let your success speak for itself and let your ex-friend be a bitter bitch for the rest of her life.

  15. Arianna

    Honestly, I think your friend is being somewhat unreasonable: ok, maybe you did some mistakes (except for the make-up thing: how can THAT be possibly your fault???), but she knew it was your first time, so that your services could not be as good as a professional’s, and if she really is your friend she should know you did the best you could.
    I understand that she might be emotionally vulnerable at the moment, and that you feel the urge to apologize because you feel you let her down, but only take responsibility for what you had control over, don’t take the blame for everything just to make her happy, otherwise your friendship will be built on fragile grounds.
    If, even after some time, she still doesn’t understand, it’s her who’s being a bad friend, not you.

  16. Olivia

    I totally agree with what a lot of people are saying here. It’s not your fault and these issues were out of your control. If your friend can’t laugh at the cake sagging and get over that the flowers arrived late on a day which is really about her marrying the love of her life then she needs to have a think about her priorities and count her blessings. Things don’t go to plan, that’s life. I wouldn’t apologise unless you actually have something to apologise for. The customer is certainly not always right, not even close, a lot are selfish, demanding and unreasonable because they think they can be so I’d explain your side of it to her and if it gets to it, highlight her attitude. Don’t give up planning events!

  17. Hi Sarah-Jane

    I’m so sorry to hear your first experience in planning a wedding has left you disheartened, working with a friend on her wedding is never going to be easy as you try to balance personal vs professional approach. I know many industry peeps who won’t work on friends weddings for that reason, not just planners!

    Please do email me OR call me as I guarantee I can boost your confidence, too long to do on a comment box. Not sure if I can include my email but look under Dream Occasions & UKAWP and my name, not many Bernadettes around ;)

    But quickly hope this makes you feel better:
    1. In my very first wedding I called the brides Aunty, Grandma who then was furious and completely belittled me in front of guests. Still remember her “how dare you 12 years later!” Whoops won’t make that mistake again.
    2. In 2006 a bride Aunt (yep an aunt again) made the wedding cake, when we opened the box the top 2 tiers had slipped. This was due to them being fruit cake onto of sponge and the fact it was a scorch of a day. I solved it by arranging hydrangeas and roses around it,the bride never knew there had been something wrong. My assistant said she has never seen my face drop as much as it did when I opened the box.
    3. In 2013 – when I had been a planner for nearly 12 years, I knocked the groom when he was holding a a drink – 10 mins before the ceremony. Drink down his waistcoat and tie. I want to hide when I think of this. But with a hairdryer it was perfect again in minutes.

    In short our job as planners is to solve any problems as they occur. Whether thats wilting flowers or weather contingencies.

    So apologise to your friend, say you’re so sorry she feels that way. did the florist have a time to deliver? Did you give them the wrong time or were they late? If she approved the trial then you can’t be blamed for this afterwards as she gave her go ahead for booking the make up artist. And why did the cake wilt? Who made it?

    You can’t be blamed for the actions of others unless it was your mistake – i.e if the florist was given a wrong time for example. But your job is to contact the suppliers and say your client was disappointed with x, y, z to see if any compensation or explanation can be sent.

    Gosh I still waffled on. Anyway – if you are serious about becoming a planner, contact me as I’m more then happy to give you some advice.

    With love Bernadette (UKAWP and Dream Occasions)

  18. Hi Sarah-Jane,

    What a nightmare situation to find yourself in.
    I agree with the comments above, reach out to your friend and apologise to her. As Bernadette says, also speak to the suppliers involved to find out what went wrong with the flowers and cake…

    I’ve been a planner for 5 years and I still learn something new at every single wedding. At my most recent wedding one of the suppliers called me just 2 hours before he was due to arrive to say his car had broken down and he wouldn’t be able to make it. After the initial ‘arrrgh’ I did some frantic ringing around and managed to find a replacement. I’m not sure I would have been able to do that so calmly and confidently 5 years ago. Experience is definitely key in this industry.

    I trained with the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (with Bernadette in fact!) and am still a member. It’s a great place for wedding planners to come together, to collaborate, support each other and share experiences.

    As many people have said try getting some more wedding experience and don’t give up!

    Caroline.x

  19. Hi Sarah-Jayne
    Whatever has happened don’t give up. We all make mistakes, after all we are human beings and not machines. I suggest you get in touch with Bernadette at the UKAWP and think about some training, just to give you your confidence back.
    I have only been a planner for 3 years and every wedding is a learning experience and the more experience you get the more confident you will feel about dealing with every situation. Even at a wedding only this summer, I failed to put the macaroon favours out on the tables and the guests had started to arrive back from church and my assistant had to remind me, I’d totally forgotten about them. It’s how you deal with those mistakes that matter.
    I wish you well
    Louise
    x

  20. Dear Sarah-Jane

    This sounds like you have had a tough time and whilst it feels awful now it will help in the future with other weddings – its all a big learning curve. Having planned my own Mums wedding I know how tough it is to do this for someone close to you and it was a lot of pressure to put yourself under in the early part of your career. We all make mistakes (like Bernadette I am happy to mention one recently when announcing speeches calling the Bride’s real father by the step-fathers surname which went down like a lead balloon but totally unintentional!). Its the way you handle situations like this and you should speak with your friend and with the suppliers concerned.

    Keep striving to do more and learn more and as with Caroline I also trained with UKAWP and continue to be a member over 5 years later and am now a UKAWP Regional Ambassador and really think that sharing experiences (and mistakes!) with other planners creates a really good support network.

    Good luck and keep going!

    Melanie Kiani
    Bellissimo Weddings
    UKAWP Member and RA

  21. Oh Sarah-Jane, please don’t despair! I feel very strongly that if there is a deep-rooted friendship these issues should not affect it any way. So perhaps you need to make a conscious effort to separate the two so that you can actually learn from this experience to grow as a wedding planner, and deal with whatever issues this has brought up with your friendship as a separate matter.

    As Bernadette says, problems arise – sometimes we can only apologise, other times we have a chance to rectify the issue and we should do so promptly.

    I recently had a misunderstanding with my caterer who didn’t include the suppliers meals in the invoice. The client thought he’s paid everything, so I had to tell the groom at the end of the event that there was another €220 to pay… Didn’t really enjoy that moment at all!
    Luckily the client was understanding and since everything else went above their expectations he didn’t mind at all. But I was prepared to cover the cost myself had he said no. It’s a big mistake when clients’ money is involved. But you know what, lesson learnt – next time I’ll have to triple check even if the supplier ends up thinking I’m way too pedantic.

    I’m also a UKAWP member and their encouragement and support in growing into a better planner has been invaluable.

    Please don’t let this experience put you off.
    Xx

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