I always tell brides that they get a ring slipped onto their finger, and all of a sudden they are expected to plan the biggest – and most memorable – event of their entire life. It can be a lot of pressure for a newly engaged girl, but that is where you all – the wedding professionals – can step in and help out. Whether you are a new wedding planner or a seasoned florist, here are some basic thoughts on how to go about pricing your work.
photo by Chelsea Anderson Photography, and view the full wedding here
1. Price yourself according to experience.
I know this may sound like a crazy idea, but with weddings it takes some time to build your own portfolio and reputation. Start out by pricing yourself accordingly. Everyone needs to start somewhere! As a planner or photographer, you may want to work with friends and family to actually have work to showcase so that you can show your future clients what you are capable of.
Also, be sure that the work you are showing on your site is actually your work, which is what your clients are expecting to see. If you don’t have images of your own events, then partner with other wedding professionals to do a styled shoot. This could also lead to referrals if all goes well. In the wedding industry word-of-mouth is huge, whether it’s from a former bride or other wedding professionals.
As you build your portfolio, be sure to eek your prices up and be a little more selective about your clientele once you are out of the building your business phase (although we are all always building our businesses, aren’t we?).
2. Consider your area.
I live in the lovely city of Lynchburg, VA (although growing up near Philly, I’d call it more of a town!). Our locale actually attracts brides from other areas due to how budget friendly our weddings are. So, you will want to check into local wedding budgets so you can come up with an area-friendly price to charge.
A $20,000 wedding in my area would easily be double the price (or more!) in more metropolitan locations. So do consider where you are when pricing as you don’t want to price yourself too high or too low, unless you are trying to book a certain number of weddings – more on this next.
photo of a styled shoot we did in Lynchburg (see full post here)
3. Think about your desired work flow.
I know of a few wedding vendors who eek up their prices a bit for two reasons. One, they don’t want to do too many weddings and two, they like to work with a select type of clientele. A photographer who charges $2,000 may take on 30 weddings a year, whereas a photographer who charges $6,000 may do only 10 weddings per year. But both are bringing in $60,000.
Also, play nice with your area vendors – don’t undercut everyone and then raise your prices dramatically – we are all in this together. Remember, referrals are essential, so working together is a must as a single venue can’t host every wedding every weekend. Referrals are very big in the wedding industry, so using the “golden rule” is so helpful.
4. Stick to your pricing!
Before I say this, let me say – I know of several professionals that take on clients who are in a hardship situation and discount their pricing because they are good people and have heart, which is a great thing. A mother with cancer, a couple getting married quickly because the groom is in the military… do those things! They are good for the community, make you feel stellar and are wonderful all around. I’m not talking about those situations.
You may have a bride who wants you to discount your prices. If you run a special or discount by 10% that’s fine, BUT be sure to stick to your guns and not be a pushover. If a bride wants $8,000 worth of catering yet only has $4,000, encourage her to look at other food options that are within her budget instead. You are the wedding professional. I know you can offer her great choices that will fit her budget and taste level.
Unfortunately, some vendors have actually gone into the hole over some weddings, and that is not the point of being in business. Take things on a case by case basis, but also protect yourself so that you can stay in business.
5. It’s a wedding!
When it comes down to it – to circle back to the beginning. It IS the biggest, most memorable day in the life of a couple. Be pleasant and also be CLEAR about your expectations. Have contracts to protect yourself and your couples, and also have a payment plan very clear up front. Weddings are expensive, and your service is just one piece of the puzzle.
Don’t be the vendor who is demanding payment at the reception (unless it was agreed upon beforehand). Talk about pricing, contracts, service level and payment in the beginning so that everyone is on the same page all the way through. Aid your couples (and their parents!) in making this the best experience of their lives – as it should be. Happy planning!
This article originally appeared as a guest posting on Cutting Edge Financial Solutions. Jennifer Prince is the owner of Hill City Bride, a wedding and idea blog based in Virginia, where she lives in a 1922 craftsman home with her husband, 3 teenagers and constant rotation of foster kittens.