Advice to help you have the money talk with your couples
Pricing is one of the most complicated topics for any wedding pro. Price your services too low and it’s hard to run a profitable business. Price your services too high and you’ll constantly be asked why you’re more expensive than others. And, while there is so much that goes into educating yourself about pricing strategies as you work to find that sweet spot, you also need to educate your couples about your rates in order to close the sale. So today, we wanted to help you level up your own education a bit with some important facts and expert advice. Read on for insight about couples and money as well as thoughts from other wedding pros to help you talk about your pricing and communicate your value.
Insight #1: Couples aren’t saving for their weddings
You’d think couples are saving for such a big (and potentially expensive) life event, but the fact of the matter is, they aren’t. 87% of couples kick off planning their wedding with no specific savings for it. Pair that with the fact that couples are juggling more than one financial goal at the same time (saving for a honeymoon, house or retirement, paying off student loans, etc.) and you can start to understand why couples have a lot of questions about why your services cost what they do.
Insight #2: Couples don’t know what things cost when they set their budget
It probably feels like putting the cart before the horse, but couples set their wedding budgets before researching what wedding services actually cost. So, when it comes to the expectations couples are setting around how much their wedding is going to cost, they are more than likely off. This is often the reason you get pushback or confusion about pricing.
Pro-tip: Even though couples may set their wedding budget before doing deep into their research, more than 80% of them are looking for your pricing before they ever inquire.
Why it’s important to talk about what goes into your pricing
These two stats are exactly the reason why it is important for you to not just educate your wedding leads about the cost of your services but every couple doing wedding research. After all, better-educated couples are better for everyone. So, we asked 5 wedding pros to share their thoughts and advice about this important conversation, and their incredibly thoughtful responses are below.
“The biggest role we play is that of educator.” – Amy Kuchta of Intertwined Events
After 20 years of working in this industry, I do feel one of the biggest and most important roles we play as wedding planners is that of educator—especially when it comes to educating our clients about why different services cost what they cost. And one of the things I have found helpful is helping them understand how much time goes into their wedding before the big day.
On average, my clients book full planning services 9-14 months prior to the wedding date. During that time, I spend approximately 300 (or more) hours carefully selecting the venue and best team of professionals to fit their needs. In addition to all that research and consideration, I am also designing, sourcing and styling everything they’ve told me they want. Then there is all the time invested in creating the logistics plan!
Wedding planners are the captain of the love boat, and with that comes a lot of hands, stress and sleepless nights. That being said, I do what I love and love what I do—and it shows in my level of service. I take a very personal approach to planning and know (for most) this is a once-in-a-lifetime event. No pressure, right!?
“We take years honing our craft.” – Katharine Phillips of Katharine Phillips Event & Design
Many of us wedding vendors are artists— you’d be hard-pressed in this day and age to get beautiful art for only a couple hundred dollars. We take years honing our craft and investing in continued education, which results in us being able to do things in a way that saves our couples time.
And while at the forefront we are creating this beautiful art piece that is a wedding day, on the backend is the fact that we are also running a business. We pay for bookkeeping software, advertising, taxes, oh—and most of us are also trying to make a living. I know I’ve had many couples who are becoming more and more surprised with what different vendors are charging, but inflation affects us too.
That’s why I believe it is important to be transparent with my couples about my pricing. Because if they understand I am not just charging them a number that “feels good,” it makes it easier for them to understand the value of me and my services.
“Our pricing was not designed as a ‘one size fits all’ service.” – Toryn Lankford of Exquisite Sound Entertainment
When it comes to pricing and working with our couples (as it pertains to entertainment), we often explain that our pricing and services are not designed as a “one size fits all” type of service. A large reason for this is that no two events are the same—they require different amounts of work, planning and effort. Events require different levels of service and services based on the needs and expectations of the clients.
For example, although we might be at the same location for multiple events, the couple may want two different sets of services. This affects the overall cost and overall outcome because that means more time, prep and people are needed on our end (a DJ cannot step in as a violinist during the ceremony after all).
Our services and rates reflect the experience, process, involvement, planning and anticipated and expected delivery by not only the individual but potentially the company and supporting staff. In my opinion, pricing can often be seen as a direct correlation to how important a company values its services, experience, and contribution to the overall event—so price accordingly and communicate your value!
“Be transparent with how much items cost.” – Shean Strong
My price point is based on what I’m able to create for my clients; the experience, creative vision, and level of execution I bring to each event.
We see the photographs and Instagram posts of large-scale installations, sweeping arrangements, and small detail shots. We are up-close and personal to weddings and events like we have never been before.
What is not always visible is the weeks, if not months-long preparation and 20-hour workdays that lead to imagination becoming reality.
Each client also gains access to my years of knowledge in the event industry, my creativity and know-how so their unique moment exceeds expectations and is entirely theirs.
We all know price points vary depending on the designer. But before communicating with couples about your pricing, establish a few things with yourself.
- Commit to being transparent and honest with your clients
- Be realistic and do not make promises you can’t keep – if they don’t have the budget for a 16-foot arch, tell them. Don’t fall into the trap of paying out of your own pocket for your client’s wedding because you promised a massive arch and now must deliver, with no budget left
- Be transparent with how much items cost. There is a disconnect between how floral designers are pricing themselves and what they promise to do, all while trying to be a profitable business
As our styles and design elements have changed, so too should our pricing structure. Relying on an outdated system of flower mark-ups and stem counting does not translate into the elements that so many designers are asked to do. We have progressed greatly in scale and need to consider a pricing formula that ensures profitability for you and meets the expectations of your clients.
When pricing yourself, don’t give arbitrary numbers and expect to be profitable. Instead, take the opportunity to educate your client. This is possibly the first time they are planning their own wedding and there is a lot to learn. Discuss seasonality of product, do your homework, give them scale, size and photos of what will work with their price point. Your client will appreciate the professionalism in being a good steward of their investment. Finally, no one can design like you and that gives you a step above the rest when potential clients are looking to hire you for their event. Don’t forget your worth.
“Don’t just share the price tag.” – Kori Trotter of Lily & Roe Co.
Couples often experience a bit of sticker shock when it comes time to purchase their wedding invitations. While it might seem like just pieces of paper, a lot goes into creating the perfect invitation suite, so it’s important to be able to communicate this to them. To start, most invitations are printed on premium papers (not like the kind you use in your printer at home) that require a significant investment in raw materials, labor and time to produce.
Professional stationery designers bring skills, experience and a level of personalization that influence the price of the invitations . Because when couples work with a stationer, couples aren’t just paying for the paper. The price tag includes professional design software, beautiful fonts and custom illustrations or graphics. Also included in the cost is the time and labor spent on designing, meetings, emailing, ordering, packing, assembling and shipping. Make sure you understand and can communicate the difference between the cost of your services and the value of your services. Don’t just share the price tag—share how their purchase will help them realize their wedding day vision.
One final thing to note, like most other industries the stationery world is still feeling the effects of the pandemic and the recent wedding boom. Supply chain disruptions along with a strong increase in demand are driving costs up. So, my best tip is to book early and be flexible because that will give the designer the best chance to bring a couple’s stationery dreams to life.
Inspired to continue educating yourself about pricing strategies? There are a lot of great articles here on the WeddingPro blog to help you hone in on profitability and grow from there! All you need to do is click here.
Please note: WeddingPro and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, financial or tax advice and should not be used as such. You should always consult with your financial and tax advisors about your specific circumstances. This information contained herein is not necessarily exhaustive, complete, accurate or up to date and we undertake no responsibility to update. In addition, we do not take responsibility for information contained in any external links, over which we have no control.
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