Dear Preston: My Clients Hate My Design

Dear Preston
Dear Preston:
I am an event designer.  I also design all of the flowers and decor for weddings, like you do, if on a smaller scale. Currently, I am designing a wedding that will take place in a beautiful ballroom and be attended by 500 guests this fall. I held several meetings with the bride and her mother in order to gain a clear understanding of what they wanted.  This past Friday, I designed a table that was exactly what they had asked for.  I personally thought the table looked stunning, but to my great surprise, they both hated it. I’d like to know how you handle situations like this.


Dear Disappointed:
I am so sorry you are in this situation. I know it is not easy.  You probably feel a little crazy being that you followed your clients direction, gave them exactly what they wanted only to find them unhappy with your work. If it is any consolation, I have an entire archive of designs that I have presented to my clients and had them give a big thumbs-down.
Like you, I thought I had given these clients exactly what they had asked for.  However, if you were to ask them, they would tell you I missed the boat. You must understand some clients.  There is often a big disconnect between what they have in their minds and what you, an artist, visualize their concept to be.  After plenty of trial-and-error fiasco’s, I now do my best to circumvent this problem by presenting at least two or three concept designs to my clients, even if it is more costly. Most of the time they like at least one of them, or at least a few elements of one.

If I were you, I would encourage my client to voice exactly what they were not happy with and book another presentation where you show them a new table.  This time around, make sure to send written copy of all of the new notes to serve as a reminder of your conversation.

Lastly, please do not be discouraged, this is all a part of being a designer.  I wish you the best of luck with your clients.
Readers, if you show a table to your clients at no charge (lets assume this was a contractual clause) and the dislike it, should you charge the client to show them another table or pay for it out of your own pocket
 Florists, it is always good to show a sample table to your new clients.  Should you pay for this sample or should the client pay for it?

I look forward to reading your responses.

For more answers from Preston, order Dear Preston: Doing Business With Our Hearts on Amazon.