When you’re first starting out there is no shame in planning a wedding for free. After all, you have to get your start somewhere, right? There’s no better way to test your skills while guiding some lucky bride through the planning process. A lot of newer wedding planners often give away their services for free in exchange for the opportunity to claim a wedding as their own. There is nothing wrong with that.
Doing a Wedding for Free
The very first wedding I did was a barter. I agreed to do a wedding photographer’s wedding and she agreed to do my first styled shoot. Looking back, she definitely made out better on the deal than I had, but that’s because I had no idea what I was doing and that’s the whole point of doing a free wedding, right? Doing a wedding for free allows you the freedom to figure out if being a wedding planner is really your passion. Because, let’s face it, it’s a totally different story when it’s not your own wedding. However, if this is the route you decide to go, we need to be real for a sec and talk about the pros and cons of such an arrangement.
Most new wedding planners don’t have a mountain of experience (watch this video) or a plethora of marketing materials. Most new planners are limited to their own wedding experience and their own wedding images. Doing a wedding for free can help you gain some valuable experience and at the same time give you lots of great content for your soon-to-be website. Your client will be able to give you an honest testimonial and you’ll get updated pictures for your marketing. And as an added bonus, you’ll get to work out those kinks before charging a paying client.
Now that we know what all the pros are, let’s talk about the cons for sec. Unfortunately, when you give away something for free, there tends to be no skin in the game. A good example is the first college course I had to pay for with my own money. I had been a decent student, but I had failed a few courses without any real consequences. To graduate, I had to take one of those courses over and my parents refused to pay (good for them). I had never worked so hard at my studies. My hard-earned money would not be wasted. A free wedding is the same type of thing. If a client isn’t paying you, it’s hard for them to see the real value in your services. So what does this mean? You could get clients who are unappreciative of what you’re doing. They could go MIA on you at any time. Or they could expect too much from you. Now, this is not always true, but it is something to consider when offering your services for free.
Have a Contract
A contract is still necessary even if you’re doing a wedding for free. Having a contract is place will help keep everyone on the same page. For the scope of work your doing, you will receive XYZ in return. This understanding needs to be very clear and will help you prevent burnout and soul-crushing experiences.
Don’t be afraid to offer your services for free, but be aware of the potential cons. If all works out, you’ll have some great experience and great marketing materials for social media and your website. Remember, always have a contract, even if you’re doing a wedding for free. This ensures that everyone goes into the process with the same expectations.