Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wedding Favor-It

When I reflect on our wedding planning process, the single biggest source of disappointment is the treatment we have received from an unfortunate number of potential wedding vendors. This is an industry that is all-to-frequently characterized by high levels of dysfunction. For example
  • Vendors who believe that just because the word 'wedding' is attached to something they are justified in charging ridiculous prices for stuff. We looked at one venue that wanted to charge us $10 per chair to set up chairs for our ceremony -- chairs they already own, mind you. For 120 people, that's $1,200. Let's say it took two people an hour to set up 120 chairs and you paid them $10 each. Let's also say it took the same two people another hour to break them down. That works out to $40.
  • Vendors who are clearly working off a rehearsed script that defines their interactions, prices and level of service. These guys treat the wedding experience like buying a box of Fruit Loops at Stop and Shop.
  • Vendors who just plain suffer from severe personality disorders.
I've run successful service businesses. You need to offer people a level of service commensurate with the price you're charging and the importance of the experience to them. If I've just spent three hours in your store picking out wedding invitations and am about to drop close to a thousand dollars on them, don't tell me your bathroom is for employees only and send me across the street in the rain to a (locked) public restroom.

So that's a long-winded way of setting up how pleasantly surprised I was to finally encounter -- well over a year into our planning process -- a vendor who actually went above and beyond the call of duty. The set up: we were planning on addressing our invitation envelopes using my office's super beefy solid ink printer. This thing has handled worse, but for some reason decided it didn't like our envelopes. Jam city. Invitations had to go out Monday, it's Saturday and we're SOL. Dialing for dollars commences.

Fortunately, we found Paula. Paula is the proprietor of the Favor-It Shop in East Brunswick, NJ. She sells and prints invitations and other stationary, as well as favors and gift items. She had just gotten back from her son's wedding the prior night, but when we called told us to come right over. She sat down with us right away and started picking out fonts and importing our list. We do a test run on her printer: the envelope feeds perfectly but the printer is randomly dropping ink (smudging) and we can't figure out why. Burns through two sets of ink cartridges. Still no dice. Unboxes the back up printer and burns through another set of cartridges and print heads. Finally success. Envelopes printed and ready by 10 o'clock the next morning.

Again, Paula didn't sell us these invitations (I wish we had known about her a few weeks ago!). She'd never seen us before. She was trying to land our business, which in this case amounted to a relatively modest sum of money. But she spent well over three hours on a Saturday afternoon just trying to win that business, to say nothing of the additional time of actually doing the printing. She could not possibly have been kinder, more pleasant or more fun to be around the entire time. For the first time in the entire wedding planning process, we finally felt as if our big day was as important to one of our vendors as it is to us.

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