- 5 years ago
- Wedding: December 2013
Let me start by saying this is going to be long. I have never written a poor review in my life, but I just wish someone would have done this for us to read prior to booking Weddings by Lulu. Normally, I think a lot of times people write negative reviews just because they have an axe to grind. For us, we honestly wanted to warn people to stop and think before booking Weddings by Lulu for one of the most important days of their life. We thought we were booking someone who would helpfully navigate us through the wedding planning process in New Orleans, but what we got in return was an unmitigated, unprofessional disaster.
Hiring a wedding planner was something that I pushed my husband very hard for. I had heard from various friends how essential having someone there for you throughout your wedding journey was, having an “insider” on your side who knew the in’s and out’s of the city you were getting married in… not to mention someone who would have great connections in the industry. I also continuously heard how helpful it was with day-of coordination because of all the moving parts of a wedding that an amateur like the bride and groom couldn’t possibly know about. My husband found Lulu on the internet by a google search (so not from theknot.com or weddingwire.com). And honestly what drew us to Lulu initially was her price, which seemed more than reasonable, and the fact that we shared a career. Both my husband and I are busy, practicing attorneys in Florida and Lulu indicated in our first conversation that she used to be an attorney in New York as well. We thought for sure that she would understand our busy schedules and how demanding our careers were especially In light of trying to plan a wedding from several states away. Lulu was one of the first vendors we contracted with about a year prior to our wedding date, and we made the decision to pay her the full ~$2,000 for her middle-service-package upfront. That was our first mistake.
So we went on our merry way, planning our wedding and making sure to CC Lulu on any emails we had between us and vendors. In the beginning, she recommended several vendors. Unfortunately, many of those vendors, like her own company, seemed to have no reputation in the New Orleans community and it was very hard to find reviews of them online. We ended up using none of the initial vendor recommendations she made, absent the hair and makeup company, Just Face It, LLC (which were fabulous, by the way). However, we had already been researching this company and had made contact with them before getting her rec. In fact, several of the vendors she recommended never even returned our phone calls. Something didn’t smell right. During this time, Lulu also contacted us and told us she had set up hotel blocks for us. This would have been all well and good had she consulted with us before hand on what we were going for. Instead of discussing the choices with us previously, LuLu went ahead and selected random hotels in the French Quarter. She booked a bunch of very modern hotels, although we only wanted smaller, historic accommodations. She seemed very annoyed when we told her that wasn’t what we wanted, and instead of fixing the blocks, my husband and I ended up having to do it ourselves (vendor negotiation and hotel block booking were both contracted services delineated in her contract). While frustrating, we figured we knew the vision we had, and realized the hotels she had blocks with were obviously the ones she had friends at. Not a huge deal, we know that inevitably that is how the business works… lots of back scratching.
Then when we asked Lulu to help us decide on a bridal suite location, she gave us a few recs and prices. The next HUGE red flag with her came when my husband started calling the hotels she recommended and they were giving us pricing that was SEVERAL HUNDRED dollars better than the pricing she gave us. We are random strangers calling a hotel and doing minor negotiations with exponentially better results than our wedding planner who is supposed to have connections and negotiation skills! So again, we were frustrated but knew she hadn’t been in the business for that many years and figured she just hadn’t done her homework on the places we requested. She then was unable to make it to our venue tastings or even to meet with us the one weekend we were in NOLA prior to the wedding. This was also, once again, a contract obligation which was not fulfilled.
After the hotel block situation and our trip to NOLA, we rarely heard from Lulu over the course of several months. I would shoot her an email, trying to breach the very obvious communication gap, and wouldn’t receive responses for extended periods of time (sometimes over a week). I continued to CC her on every email, trying to keep her in the loop. It almost felt like a friend who was mad at you and trying to play the silent game. At times she would respond, cordially, but never added much to the planning process. She also delineated in her contract that she would give favorable rates on her décor rental and linens, so I asked her to get me a price on a very specific LaTavola linen that I had located online. She told me she couldn’t get it. So what did I do? Called LaTavola linens myself, confirmed the linen and pricing, and booked it myself. At this point, we were getting frustrated.
Let’s fast forward to a month before the wedding. We had sent Lulu an email asking a few questions and (spoiler alert!) had not received a response. Finally, we sent her an email noting that we were less than a month from the wedding and there were still a lot of contractual obligations she had not fulfilled with us. We requested a phone conference. This obviously got her attention. We had the phone conversation, and I was admittedly passive and didn’t say all the things I had wanted to say to her. This is her career, her company, and I didn’t feel like attacking her was the way to get anything accomplished. Although we had already done it ourselves, as far as she knew our Second Line had not been taken care of, the permit had not been filed for, and several other LARGE aspects of our wedding had not been booked. Luckily, my husband and I had realized six months out that these things needed to be done and that we weren’t going to wait for the woman we had paid to handle it to get around to it. During the course of this first phone call with her, she seemed very laissez faire. After getting off the phone with her that evening, my husband and I had an honest conversation and decided that we needed to terminate our contract with her.
We were, at that point, willing to eat the $2,000 we paid her, and just rid ourselves of her dead weight. We had done 90% of her job for her, the majority of our vendors warned us about her reputation within the NOLA wedding community, and we didn’t need the stress of her this close to the wedding. Our décor vendor and our reception vendor had actually offered to handle all of the day-of coordination for us if we were without a planner on the day-of. I asked my husband to call her the next day and express our concerns and see if she agreed with us to terminate our relationship. This is when the story goes from annoyed to angry. She attempted to pit my husband and I against each other, saying that I had many conversations with her over email and that he must just not have a good enough relationship/communication with me to know about it. Oh, poor Lulu. We actually shared a wedding email address and looked at all emails together before anything was ever sent. Not the kindest way to respond to a client telling you that you are not doing your job. She said that it would be better for us to call her together… so my husband filled me in on their conversation, and I couldn’t WAIT to get home to call her. I am a trial attorney. I was ready to give her a full-court-press style cross examination. However, again, we know that you catch more flies with honey, so we both calmed down before the conversation and made a list of points we wished to discuss with her. We had our minds made up that she was out, but wanted to advise her of the reasons so maybe with future clients it wouldn’t happen again.
So we called, and laid everything out there for her. Much to our surprise, she disagreed with us, trying to say that she felt like she had done everything in the contract. Unfortunately, that is when we had to go line by line of the contract and remind her of what she had not done. We were truly embarrassed for her. The conversation was stern but professional, almost like when you have to discipline a friend’s child. In the end, through what my husband believed were choked back tears, Lulu agreed to refund us a portion of our contract price, but would still be our day-of coordinator since that is the only portion of the contract with future obligations that had not already been defaulted on. My husband didn’t want to keep her on board, but I truly believed she saw that she hadn’t done her job and would do what she needed to do from there on out. Again, I was wrong.
Forgetting all of the awkwardness of our firing and rehiring of her, we finally met Lulu for the first time at our rehearsal. I was overly kind… and she was overly not. However, she brought an assistant, Kat, with her who was an absolute pleasure. Part of her contract was to run the rehearsal. She stood in the back while our venue coordinator did the entire thing. Her one “contribution” to the event was telling us how to line the bridal party up… which I quickly pointed out was backwards… and then she went back to standing around. We then met with her post-rehearsal to discuss last minute details. Again, she was like a wilting flower, almost looking overwhelmed as the venue coordinator and myself went over all the details of the wedding since we had discussed them numerous times in person, over the phone and via email.
On the actual wedding day, I didn’t see Lulu until the ceremony. Again, she sent a bridal attendant, Kat, who was a pleasure to work with and helpful in keeping me on time. I joked with Lulu once about having someone tell me the time every 10 minutes…. Obviously meaning that I want to know we are on schedule and since everyone says your wedding goes by so quickly, it had been recommended to be by other vendors and friends to have a timepiece around to let you know. Kat kept asking me if I was really that calm and really that unstressed. It seemed odd at the time since she had never met me before, but you will see why soon.
The ceremony and reception were fabulous. I can honestly say that our planning and other vendors made it exactly what we wanted. Lulu, unfortunately, didn’t have a role it that. The one thing she did do for me during the wedding was run out and tell the band not to play Christmas music during the cocktail hour, which we greatly appreciated. The only other time I needed her was when the band took their break early and didn’t announce speeches. I ran to find her, couldn’t find her, and then finally located her and all her assistants EATING in the far corner of the venue. Not one of the four girls there with Weddings by Lulu was standing guard to see if anything was going on. Needless to say, by the time I found her, the venue coordinator had already fixed the issue. We were happy she was staying out of the way.
After the wedding ended, Lulu and her team did get all of my personal items back to the hotel room and left us a bottle of champagne which was nice. Also, Kat brought back my lipstick that she still had the next day, which was very kind. But at the end of the day, it felt like we paid $2,000.00 for someone to carry our stuff back and forth from the hotel room. A now $1,500.00 delivery service.
Now back to why Kat seemed so surprised how calm and put together we were: Looks like the reason is that Lulu had sent her an email a few days after we fired and rehired her which was beyond unprofessional and downright childish. If possible, I will find a way to post that email on here as well. You can also find a picture of the email on the Weddings by LuLu facebook page. The email had been printed out and accidentally left in my bridal suite by one of the attendants and accidentally packed by my husband into our card box to be sent back to Tampa. Best accident ever. We discovered it once we were back from our honeymoon and quite honestly laughed out loud about it. The audacity and unprofessionalism of this woman was astounding. And the way the email was written was ludicrous. She obviously did not like us, and did not like that we had such an honest conversation with her about her breaches of our contract.
I know this was extensive, but the sad part is, this isn’t even an exhaustive list of the lack of performance that we saw from Lulu. My husband and I honestly had a contingency plan with our other vendors in case she just decided not to show for the wedding (which was truly a legitimate concern we and some of our other vendors expressed). Again, this review is not meant to be vindictive or spiteful… but I just wish someone would have chosen to write a review prior to us booking Lulu which could have saved us from this. Sometimes silence isn’t the best option when it is about someone else’s wedding and money. And please, if you have any questions at all, contact us and we will be happy to let you know anything else.