At some point, as a wedding planner you will come to the realization that you are not charging enough for your professional services.
You may justify under pricing–whether its matching a competitor or just low-balling–as a way to ‘get your name out there'.
Take it from me–don't do it.
And if you're already in this situation, here's why you need to stop.
If you're not Making Money This is a Hobby!
Making the decision to plan weddings for a living isn't usually driven by money. More than likely your work is truly a labor of love; a passion; something you will gladly do–and likely have done– without receiving a dime.
Unfortunately, women in general (and currently the majority of planners are female) are notorious for volunteering their time, and society readily exploits those who are willing.
This practice isn't good for your wallet.
If your goal is to operate and grow the successful wedding planning company you've dreamed about (and yes, you absolutely can do that!), then you have to set your fees to be profitable. Otherwise consider your wedding planning efforts a hobby.
Falling into the trap of under pricing, is easy to do. But almost instantly you're labeled by your clients and other wedding professionals as the budget wedding planner. Will you initially attract more brides this way? Absolutely. But you'll be working twice as hard…for a lot less.
Brides with Champagne Tastes on Apple Cider Budgets
Now don't get me wrong; working with budget brides shouldn't be off limits. For some planners, this target market is a very profitable niche–you just have to be smart about matching your time with your income.
If during your initial conversation with a bride, you determine that she's budget sensitive, don't dismiss her, but don't go crazy with a 2-hour consultation, either. Just remember that your time is valuable.
Create and have ready a no-frills wedding planning package that includes a limited number of consulting hours and stick to it! When you talk to her say something like:
“Most of the weddings I work on are personalized for each couple, but it sounds like I'm hearing that budget might be an issue. I'd like to suggest the [NO-FRILLS PACKAGE NAME]. This way you get the best of both worlds; I can point you in the direction of some wonderful wedding professionals and resources to help you create a fabulous occasion and you can save money by doing some of the pre-planning legwork.
How does that sound?”
After your initial conversation, be sure to send her:
1) Highlights of your no-frills package along with details of your other planning services. Who knows? She may decide to go with a more comprehensive planning option after all. Be sure to list the package details in bulleted list so there is no confusion about what is (and isn't) included. Actually, creating a separate a list of just the things that are NOT included isn't a bad idea.
2) Information on all of your other services such as invitations, bridal accessories, gown preservation, etc. She needs to purchase these items from someone, why not you?
TIP: Create an easy-to-read comparison chart of all your planning packages so that brides can view each level of your service, side-by-side.
Do NOT Work for Free!!
During your follow-up if you find that brides are asking for your professional help before signing on the dotted line, with ‘innocent' questions like:
‘Can you recommend a florist [or another vendor]within our budget?'
Be sure to let her know that you work with several wonderful wedding professionals whom you'd love her to meet, however, that is a service you charge for.
There's a fine line between sharing helpful information with your prospects and working for free.
By all means, share wedding planning tips and articles that you've written with your potential clients; doing so will position you as an expert. But reserve your personalized and individual attention for your paying clients.
Set your Wedding Planner Fees with Confidence
I know I'm repeating myself, but remember that your time and efforts are valuable. And although wedding planners are much more front-and-center than they were, say, ten years ago, unlike the must-have flowers or the awesome band, many brides still don't ‘get' the importance and benefits of having you on board until it's too late (i.e. after the wedding!).
Confidence in pricing and knowing what to charge your brides truly makes the difference in your success. Believe me when I tell you that you will be viewed as a professional who is serious about what you're doing when you charge what you're worth. Yes, your price structure may not be within the financial reach of all brides, but then your goal should not be to work with every single bride out there.
BY THE WAY : Never apologize or make excuses for your fee. You are a professional, providing a specialized service. Practice saying your fee (hundreds of times, if you have to!) before telling your clients. When you're hesitant or unsure, brides will assume there is a weakness and question the amount you've quoted.
The other equally important part of this is perception. Your bride has to perceive you to be worth your fee. (So if you're guilty of trying to finish that box of biz cards with your new email address handwritten, all squished to the side, and thinking that no one's paying attention, think again!) From the moment she meets with you–whether in person or virtually–you are responsible for making that bride realize how beneficial you are to her wedding (more on that topic in another article).
So, take a moment to review your current pricing. Give yourself some credit, and start charging what you're worth.
**UPDATE: Listen to Confetti Episode #373 – The Wedding Planner Pricing Dilemma for help with how to figure out what to charge.