Pricing for any service-oriented industry where you set your own rates can been a challenge. When do you raise your prices? How do you deal with people asking for a discount? What about friends and family? After almost a decade in the wedding industry, I think I finally have a good grasp for pricing strategies. But there were a lot of lessons learned along the way! Keep reading for some of my tips when it comes to pricing your services, whether you are a wedding planner or not.
Photo: Olive Studio Canada
When you are starting out, experience is priority.
If you need to provide your services for a discounted rate in the beginning to get your foot in the door, this is understandable. Make sure you let the couple know that you are providing a deal because you are looking to build your portfolio (so they know you want photos).
Gaining experience and a solid portfolio are key to giving future couples the confidence to book with you, so in the beginning getting this is priority.
When friends ask to book you, don’t give a discount.
Easier said than done! Your friends want to book you because of your reputation and because they trust you already. If they value your work, they will pay for your service (just as if you owned a store with a product, they would pay full price).
Once you give your services away for cheap, your service and value become cheap.
The added benefit of working for a friend (for them) is that you will give 110% to them because of the personal relationship already there. You must make a living too, you aren’t a charity!
This is especially hard to stand by when you are starting out. But if your friends are fine with helping you with portfolio building, as part of point 1, then it may be a good opportunity to give them a good deal. But if you are experienced and don’t need to get experience anymore, perhaps you can provide friends an add-on for free versus a discount as a compromise.
Last minute weddings should cost about the same.
I get a couple last minute wedding requests every year that I can take on (3 weeks of notice sometimes!) and sometimes couples think that it will be less work than that of a wedding that is a year in advance, thus asking for a discount.
The reality is, as a planner I will be working on overdrive for this couple those 3 weeks before the wedding, pulling favours for them with vendors and meeting with everyone in person for meetings. It is intense and it is harder work than a wedding with a years notice (afterall you don’t plan with the one year couple every day).
A couple especially needs you when it is a last minute endeavor, and your experience and connections in the industry are invaluable. It isn’t just about your time.
You must charge for your time and value. Especially since in those 3 weeks it is taking away energy and time from your existing couples.
Price for your annual income goals.
I spoke about this in a previous post on doing the math to make a living from your work. This is something that I’ve started to do in recent years as a full-time planner.
I set goals based on how many weddings I’d like to book that year and how much I’d like to make, and that helps me determine my prices for the various services offered (based on how many I expect to book of each).
Give yourself a raise.
Every year, you gain more experience and industry connections, especially when you are starting out. Give yourself a raise every year before your booking season to reflect this. If you are fully booked for the current season, it is definitely an indication that you should raise your rates. In fact, I have given myself a raise every year that I have been in business for the last 7 years.
Whether you are starting out or a veteran in wedding planning, it is important to value your work and charge accordingly. Charge what you are worth! Fellow wedding planners and vendors – what has been your biggest struggle in pricing your services?
Rebecca Chan is a Toronto wedding planner and day of wedding coordinator providing sophisticated planning for the style-savvy couple. Whether you need planning assistance or wedding day coordination, Rebecca can help you create your dream wedding day. Contact her today, she'd love to hear from you.