The short answer: you can’t.

A woman yelling into the telephone

Of course, brides need to learn about planning a wedding in order to get the wedding they’re dreaming of.  

Of course, they’re pretty clueless about exactly how to make that happen.

Of course, it’s part of our job as wedding professionals to help them understand this process.

But the way most wedding vendors go about “educating” the bride just simply doesn’t work.  In fact, it makes things WORSE and ends up driving her away.

When we try to “educate” a bride about the value of hiring a professional, we can get pretty emotional.  We open our mouths and that “education” comes out sounding an awful lot like a lecture.

Do you enjoy being lectured?  I didn’t think so.  

Even though what we’re saying about the value of our services is true, the bride can’t hear us.  She’s naturally skeptical and ready for the “sales pitch”…and that’s exactly what that “education” sounds like to her.

She’s been warned against scammy wedding vendors on all those wedding websites she’s been reading.  They already told her what price she should expect to pay.  She’s desperately clinging to that information because she really has no idea what she’s doing.  

Our attempts to “educate” and convince the bride about our value come across as rant against amateurs and weekend warriors.  What the bride hears is, “You are wrong.”

Do you like being told that you’re wrong?  I didn’t think so.

That bride has a way of looking at things that is totally different from ours.  We can call that her “world view.”  Her world view includes dreams about the perfect wedding, insecurities about her ability to make it happen, worries about being ripped off, and anxieties about blowing her budget.

When we start blasting her with our world view, we’re telling her she’s wrong.  She shuts down and she won’t hear a word we say.  It’s like Charlie Brown’s teacher.  Wah wah wah wah wah.

So what’s the answer?

That bride isn’t going to hear a word you say or take one ounce of your advice until you win her trust.  The easiest way to win that trust is to understand her…before you try to get her to understand the value of your services.

3 Steps to Bride Education

1.    Listen Before You Speak.  

The bride is probably not going to pour out her heart to you right away, so that means you’ve got to ask her questions.

Ask her about her date and location.  Ask how many guests she’s having and where they’re from.  Ask how she and her fiancé met.  Ask about her concerns, what she’s looking for in your service and what she doesn’t like.

When she answers, just listen.  Ask more questions if you’re unclear about what she means.

2.    Feedback What She Says.

Listen to what the bride says, summarize and repeat it back to her.

You might feel like a parrot the first time you try this, but something really amazing will happen.  Psychologists use this in couples counseling and conflict mediation.

When you feed back what she says, she feels truly understood.  Her defenses go down.  If you get part of it wrong (which is very common) she’ll clarify exactly what she means.

Did you know that 80% of our communication is misunderstood?  80%!

We each have different meanings for words and different associations to them.  Combine that with the fact that most people are very poor listeners, and we very rarely feel truly understood.

When was the last time you felt understood?  It’s a powerful feeling that builds trust like nothing else.

3.    Help Her.

Once you’ve listened to the bride and fed back her words, you’ll have developed enough trust that she’s open to listening to you.  Now it’s time to help her.

Make recommendations based on her specific situation.  Help her like you would help a friend.

She won’t really listen to you until she knows you “get” her.  But once she feels understood, you’re no longer fighting her world view; you’re creating it with her.

Now when you explain the difference between and iPod wedding and a DJ or between hiring a Justice of the Peace and an officiant, she’ll be listening to you.

The very best way to explain your value to a bride is to understand her first.  Then you can help her because she’ll be open to receiving your information and advice.  

Hell, I’d pay extra just for the rare privilege of being understood!

That’s your chance to prove your value.  That’s how you give her the first hand experience of why it’s worth paying more to work with you.

It’s time to stop “selling” brides and start understanding them so that we can really help them.  Sure, we can use some of those old sales tricks that work in the short term, but that’s how we end up with clients who don’t trust us.

This process builds value.  We’re creating a relationship that leads to happy clients and lots of referrals.

And guess what?  When you listen and feed back, you really will understand the bride better.  She’ll have more trust for you…and the bonus is that you’ll feel the same way about her.

How do you educate your clients?

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