Big Mistakes

(Image via jurvetson)

A few weeks ago I shared a list of my ten worst mistakes ever, but I held off on naming the top three. I hesitated to share my very worst mistakes, because they’re so personal in nature. But, a promise is a promise, so here we go:

My 3rd Worst Mistake Ever

Years ago I was doing a destination wedding in the Caribbean, and my client requested some additional elements shipped from New York. Because of the time constraint, it was suggested that we ship everything by private plane. I asked my client for her credit card information, but she asked that I put it on my American Express card instead and said she would pay for it later. However, after the event, my client simply refused to pay the $25,000. (Yes, this was an expensive error.)

Lesson Learned: Even though you want to keep your client happy, do not use your own money to do it.

My 2nd Worst Mistake Ever

I did a wedding once with a lot of white peonies. I ordered 2500 of them for the job. For some reason, that very week the Holland Flower Market sold out of white peonies, so they sent me pale pink peonies instead. Of course, pink was the one color my client hated. She was not happy.

Lesson Learned: Make sure there is a clause in your contract that says at times you do not have any control over the availability of the flowers promised. Or, make sure that if something like this does happen, you call and notify your client immediately. (This is not easy, because you will likely stress them out. But don’t delay!)

My Worst Mistake Ever (and the most personal one)

This happened in 1989, and it was one of the main reasons I decided to give up drugs and alcohol in 1990… talk about hitting bottom. Keep in mind that we did not have cell phones back then. I was doing a Friday night wedding for 100 folks. I was so stoned and drunk that I thought the wedding was on Saturday. I showed up a day late.

Lesson Learned: Don’t do drugs. And, if you drink, do not drink while you work.

Ok, there you have it. I am tempted to write a book called, PRESTON’S Screw Ups, for the sole purpose of helping others in the industry avoid making the same mistakes. However, I am strong advocate for taking chances, making errors, and learning from them. Because, ultimately, I think these experiences are the only way we grow.

Question: Have you ever gotten stuck paying a bill because your client wouldn’t give you the money? And, for my own personal knowledge, do you think that alcohol is a drug?