If you’ve planned a wedding for yourself and your partner, you know that it’s something you’re glad will only (hopefully) happen once. Kate (my amazing wife) and I planned our wedding with relative ease. I say “relative” ease in both senses of the word – meaning, our families were luckily not a huge pain in our butts (something not every newlywed couple can say). By sheer luck, we also happened to come across great, affordable vendors without having to shop around a bunch. In the end, it was the best day of our lives, and we wouldn’t have changed a thing. Our priorities were making sure our guests had an amazing time, and that WE did, too – but in that order. If the wedding was a service (and it is), the guests would certainly be our customers.
And we did our best to delight them.
Throughout your wedding planning process, you’ll have friends, family, and the local 7/11 clerk all giving you conflicting advice:
“Remember, the wedding isn’t for you, it’s for you families” or “Screw what everyone else thinks, do what makes YOU happy” or “Sir, I wouldn’t eat that hotdog if I were you”. And these can get confusing. If no one should eat that hotdog, why is it still spinning there? At the end of the day, you have to listen to everyone’s (and I mean everyone) advice, but ultimately make your own decision on what’s important to you, and who you should focus on. You’ll make sacrifices to appease one side, and take ground in another, just like a business. For the record, we had a churro cart – untraditional, yet highly recommended.
By some, our focus on our guests and their happiness might be considered too selfless. You might think, “Why should you care what they think? They’re not paying for the wedding; the majority of them aren’t even family! ”
Except, they are family. And they will continue to be, from that point on.
Every guest that was there on our night (including +1s we’d never met!) gave us their undivided attention, love, and best dance moves. What more can you ask for, honestly? And that’s not including everything that led up to that moment – the time, forethought, and money that every person needed to give up to be at our San Diego wedding for a weekend. A whole weekend! For millennials in their mid 20s, that’s worth more than you’d think. To be honest, we felt indebted to every one of them.
A lackluster customer experience
Our guests were our customers. They paid in time, money, and their love to take part in the service we provided (a great event). And at the end of it all, we profited from the memories and experience more than anyone. We profited big time.
After the big night, our customers woke up, we put some fruit and a mimosa in their mouths, and they started their long, hungover journey home as we skedaddled off to our honeymoon in Tulum. They might throw a designated hashtag on an Instagram photo, or put a small album of blurry photos on Facebook.
3 weeks later, they’d receive a hand-written thank you card from us – one of many churned out from our tag team assembly line on our kitchen table. Another few weeks, and they’ll be invited to see really nice photos. Of us.
That’s how it currently ends, right? For our wedding, it was.
Improving the customer experience
Now, I’m not proposing that newlyweds need to be bending over backwards for months afterwards thanking their guests. I just think there’s an oddly absent number of customer touch points along their journey. Clearly, the time to engage your customers further is beforehand.
Save the date. Printed invitation. Wedding website. These are the three ubiquitous touch points that currently exist. Two of them spend most of their time under a magnet on the refrigerator, and the third requires either of the first two (or a good memory of the URL).
The wedding website typically has more detailed information on the schedule, location, gift registry, and (if you’re lucky) hotel recommendations and local attractions for out-of-towners. This may be a personal observation, but they tend to be focused more on style and photos rather than content. Basically, everyone is left to fend for themselves.
But why try to fix what’s not seemingly broken? It’s a one-time event, right? Elephant in the room: 50% of marriages end in divorce, and of that, 50% will go on to get remarried. So there’s a 1 in 4 chance you MIGHT be inviting these people to a round 2. Just sayin’. But even if it IS just a one-time service, any company worth their salt would want to make sure they’re addressing pain points and providing the best service possible. And that comes with communication.
Your customers, your guests – your family is all migrating to the same place, at the same time, to watch two people they love (you) tie the knot. They’re going to be clinking wine glasses, sharing a meal, and dancing the night away with their shirts untucked with ALL of your other guests. They’re going to become the closest of friends for a night.
For the ultimate customer experience, we should be allowing wedding guests to interact beforehand.