When you first start out as a wedding planner knowing the correct pricing structure and what to charge for your services is usually the biggest problem area and the one most people really struggle with. There is no right or wrong way to do this as it all comes down to the individual, what their goals are, their experience level, the market they are pitching at etc.
However, there are some fundamentals that apply to everyone. The first thing you have to determine is whether or not what you’re doing is for fun, and ultimately a bit of a hobby, or is it a serious business. If it is the latter than it is time to wake up and smell the coffee. Take ownership of your pricing. You need to get a handle on what you believe you are worth. Research is a big key to this. You need to know and understand your marketplace, which includes the geographical area you’re in as well. The prices a London based wedding planner can charge will be very different to the prices a planner based in Leeds, for example, can charge. This has nothing to do with the quality of their services but everything to do with their geographical location.
Next you need to have a very real understanding of your target market. Who are you selling to? Is your service aimed at vintage brides? Are you a luxury wedding planner? Are you specialising in destination weddings? The list goes on, but until you really understand who your bride is you can’t realistically set your services.
Another part of your research should include looking at your local and national competitors to gauge where you need to pitch your prices for the services you’re offering in your location. Do not, and I repeat NOT, get tempted to undercut everyone who is local to you. Whilst this might seem a great idea to start off with what you’re doing is devaluing your own services and those of others. You are helping to lower the expectations of future clients and in turn bringing the overall level of the industry down. You will also find yourself labelled by both brides and other wedding professionals as a budget wedding planner. Now if that is your target market then that’s fine, but if it’s not, and usually it isn’t, then this will be harmful to your reputation.
Never apologise for your fees. When you visit your accountant and they bill you at the end of the year for the services you’ve had there is never an apology that comes along with the invoice, far from it. There is absolutely no discussion about the fee, no negotiation, just an expectation that it should be paid within thirty days. Pricing is about confidence as much as anything else. If you sound unsure about your fees when you tell your client they will be too. Say your fee with pride, practice saying it a hundred times in front of the mirror, and above all else remember you are a professional who is offering a professional service.
You may find that your fee is out of reach of some potential clients, it doesn’t matter. You shouldn’t be selling to all brides anyway. Know who your client is, know what you need to earn and divide that by the amount of clients you need in order to meet that figure and stick to it. I know this sounds simple, and I’m not trying to oversimplify it, but really pricing is, as I said above, all about confidence.
Here are some of my top tips for helping you with your pricing structure:
- Know your market segment. Social events have a different fee structure to corporate events.
- Geographic location has an affect on your pricing. Fees are higher in London, for example, than in Birmingham.
- Experience and reputation. If you’re just starting out in the industry it’s reasonable to charge less while you gain expertise.
- Don’t charge too little just to get the job. Your client may question your ability based on the price you have quoted.
- Your price has to align with reality or it simply won’t work. How does your price measure up against the reality of your market?
- Know the demand in your market. How many weddings do you need to book to meet your projected sales figures?
- Know what your competition charge. Couples judge value by comparison. Your price needs to be comparable.
- How many weddings are happening in your area? How much does the average couple in your market?
- Track your time. There is nothing more disappointing than losing your profit margin because you have miscalculated your time.
- Pricing is all about perception too. Do you look the part? Are you believable? Does your marketing reflect what you are worth?
From the moment your bride claps eyes on you she should be convinced that you are worth your fee.