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How to Respond to a Negative Online Review


You pour your heart and soul into your business. You make sure that every detail is taken care of. You go above and beyond to ensure that you are providing an outstanding level of service. You fix problems that you didn’t cause. And, you do all of this because your end goal is to make every wedding you work the “wedding of their dreams.” Because you want every couple to be over the moon with the experience you helped to create—and you’re hoping that it’ll end up in a glowing 5-star review. But, we’re all humans and even though we try to stick the landing for every client, every time, sometimes we miss the mark.

Receiving a less-than-stellar client review happens to everyone at some point. And, while we’re all used to touting our best reviews as a way to show clients how amazing it is to work with us, how you reply to a bad review says even more. Today then, we wanted to help you plan for the inevitable and show everyone all of the ways you are amazing to work with, even in less than amazing circumstances. So, read on for our top tips to help you respond to a negative review in a way that shows your professionalism and even builds a positive reputation.


Lead with an apology

Even if the first thoughts you have after reading the review are, “I have no idea what they are talking about,” opening your response with an apology is how you start turning this into a brand building moment. Because, even if you don’t think you did anything wrong, this particular client feels poorly about their experience, and that warrants an apology. Use this moment as a chance to correct your misstep by making them feel seen and heard. 


Don’t get defensive

When you are the product or service, it can be really hard to not take a negative review personally (especially if personal comments were made). But, if you remind yourself that your goals in replying are to make the reviewer feel heard and show future couples that you care enough to make it right, it can help quell the urge to get defensive. As you craft your reply, keep these things in mind:

  • Sometimes people leave negative reviews on a public forum as a way of trying to get you to engage in an argument with them. You should avoid engaging in any form of confrontation and it’s best to share your professional reply and not engage any further
  • Being defensive isn’t going to help you make a positive impression on any future client that might be reading your response, so be sure to only write what you want potential clients to judge you on 
  • Be honest, transparent, and humble. Because, if you are these 3 things, you will be someone people want to work with despite receiving a bad review


Pro Tip: Replying to a negative review is an opportunity to show people how you react to stress and how you behave under pressure, so always be sure to put your most professional foot forward. 


Don’t be wordy

Have you ever had a nightmare about being handed a microphone out of nowhere and fumbling over your words? Just us? Well, putting pressure on yourself to craft an eloquent novel of a response is almost a surefire way to make a misstep—purely because you give yourself the room to. So, when it comes to responding to a negative review, perhaps the best advice we can give you is to keep things short and sweet.


Don’t put it off

This one is for all of you self-proclaimed over-thinkers! Because, when it comes to hitting reply on a bad review, you should be doing things sooner rather than later. That doesn’t mean that you need to start typing as soon as you finish reading it—you absolutely should step away from your computer to take a breath and think your response through—but, you should not kick this can down the road. We recommend replying to all reviews within a few days and replying to a negative one within 24 hours. Need a place to start? Here is an example you can riff off to create a roadmap for your responses. 


Pro Tip: The last thing you want is for someone to feel like you are copying and pasting your response to a negative review. Be sure to make every comment very specific to the review you are replying to.


Hi Kelly,

I’m sorry that the wrong linens were shipped to us for your wedding and that it impacted the look of your reception. I know how much you put into designing your daughter’s wedding and we regret not being able to bring it to life as planned. If there is something we can do to make up for the mistake, we would be more than happy to discuss what that looks like over the phone. You can reach me on my cell phone anytime. 



Feeling like a positive review would be the perfect pick-me-up after replying to a poor one? Get our tips on how and when to ask for reviews!


Photo Credit: ImYanis/

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