Make Way for Momzilla
We’re all familiar with the term “Bridezilla,” the pushy bride who often has champagne tastes but a cheeseburger budget. She doesn’t just “want” things — she demands them. She’s quick to criticize and never says “thank you” or utters a compliment. Fortunately, the number of Bridezillas out in the world (or in Canada, at least!) seems to be exaggerated. I have been very blessed with some beautiful souls who seek advice and view our relationship as teamwork when planning the most memorable day of their lives. The problem is, most have some baggage they simply cannot shed. Baggage intent on calling the shots and making sure its opinion is heard above all others. Yup. You guessed it, that baggage would be her mother.
Bridal work is not for the faint of heart. Not only must you try to see the vision of the bride (whose day it is after all), but you also need to jump through proverbial hoops to keep her mother engaged, interested and on your side!
Now, I did acknowledge that I have been very lucky in terms of the weddings we have done, but there have been a couple of doozies that gave me life lessons I’m not entirely sure I really needed. Obviously, my “good judgment radar switch” was on the fritz as I completely ignored the warning signs.
Read on and re-live the wedding from hell!
About six years ago, we had been recommended to do all the floral work for a wedding with 400 guests: 40 tables, over-the-top wedding décor, etc. The first hint of trouble was when I met with the bride and her dear mama. Bridey was very sweet and came with magazine clippings and colour ideas. Meanwhile, Mom came with a plan: namely to spend as little money as possible. It was difficult to suppress laughter when she told me the size of the wedding and number of floral designs involved, and then told me her budget. Of course, her demeanour made it perfectly clear: this was no laughing matter. The bride seemed quite frightened by her mother and wouldn’t say anything to dispute her. I think we invested more than 20 hours in consultations and “budget pruning” (Momzilla’s words). As I watched my valuable time dwindle away, I started to really regret taking this job. I especially resented the mother’s “crying poor” routine when, on the wedding day, I saw a Ferrari in the driveway of the bride and groom. Adding insult to injury, Momzilla refused to fully honour her agreement because she wasn’t happy with the colour of iris we used, even though she had approved a prototype.
Then there was another Momzilla so determined to be on a wedding television show that she insisted we submit the budget proposal to the production company so they might help cover the costs. This was a client from one of our city’s most affluent areas. In her driveway were his and hers BMWs. After my aforementioned experience, I decided to decline this generous invitation.
So how do you avoid these soul-sucking experiences? The logistics of the initial consultation need to be handled very carefully. To prevent giving away your time and money for a bride and her mother just shopping around, I recommend charging a consultation fee, which you refund if they book you for the big event. Regard hesitation as a red flag. Gently inquire why this seems to be a problem and listen very carefully to the response. Perhaps there is a legitimate reason, but chances are, bride and Mama wanted to assemble ideas and prices while they shop around for the cheapest florist. There’s a place for that (wedding expos)—not during a small business owner’s work hours.
This leads me to the contract, which you MUST make as watertight as possible. To protect you from disaster (such as getting stiffed for a wedding called off at the last minute), it is perfectly prudent to ask for a 40 percent deposit upon booking and to insist that the remaining balance be paid three weeks before the actual event. (See below for contract details.)
My two cents: Walk away if you sense mom is a control freak and/or unreasonable. Seriously, you won’t make enough money to justify the headaches. No good can come from hours spent hunching over the calculator trying to figure out how to pull things out of thin air.
Remember: this is the bride and groom’s day, so beware of the overbearing and insistent mother. I always include the information in the initial consult that we happily provide a complimentary arrangement for the mother of the bride as she has done so much for the bride leading up to the wedding. (Brownnosing? You bet. Effective? You better believe it!) You will have extra flowers anyway and if the MOB feels important and appreciated, you just might pre-emptively diffuse any potential difficulties. Always be genuine: listen, but stand your ground so you safeguard your meagre profits. Don’t let yourself be bullied. Be prepared to politely decline if those alarm bells go off in your head.