We all need to be having a conversation about money! There are so many wedding planners out there who are barely making it. Today we have Meagan of Magnolia Grove Weddings and Events giving us the 411 on why ALL wedding planners should price for profit.
Price for Profit
One of the biggest frustrations that established wedding professionals will tell you, is coming across a business who prices themselves WAY below the market average.
The Early Years
When I talk about ineffective pricing strategies, I am not talking about the rates you charge in your first 6 months-1 year in business. Everyone has stories about when they were first starting out and the low prices they charged just to get weddings in their portfolio and some experience under their belts.
I unabashedly was one of those weekend warriors about 5 years ago— charging $600 a weekend and nearly killing myself working around the clock to get my name out there and make ends meet. But here’s the difference, friends: even when I was charging less, I knew that I was worth more.
I didn’t charge $600 to work 20+ hours on a single event and spend nearly every weekend for the foreseeable future away from my friends and family, because I thought I was only worth that $600 I was charging. I charged $600 because it was a stepping stone to something bigger!
Pricing for Profit Idea Seed
I listened to a podcast with Vanessa Joy Photography a few years ago, and the facilitator was asking her how she charges almost 3x above the average rate for photographers in her area. This is a paraphrase of what she said,:
“I obviously didn’t start out charging $10K to photograph weddings. I think I charged $1200 for the first wedding I shot, and admittedly I had no idea what I was doing. But as I gained confidence in my skills, I began to steadily increase my prices.
A Need to Implement
Then a few years ago we found out that I was pregnant, and I knew that I needed to change my business model. I essentially only had 6 months that I could work to make the money I would typically make in 10. So I tried something new, price for profit. Every time I booked my highest priced package, I increased my prices— because if someone would pay for my top dollar package, they probably would have paid a bit more for it had I asked.”
This is something that has stuck with me as I’ve worked to fine tune our own pricing structure, and while it’s not exactly how I chose to model my own business— that was the wake up call I needed to make a change.
Do The Research
I was charging $900 for day of coordination the day that I listened to that podcast, and when I got home that night I started doing some research.
The majority of planners in our area at the time were charging anywhere from $1200-$1700 or so at the time for the same package I was charging $900 for, and two things hit me:
I was losing out on more than $9K dollars a year because I was afraid to charge what everyone else in my area was charging.
If a couple reached out to several planners with the same level of experience and then they only booked me because I was less expensive, what did that say to other planners in my area? What’s more, there was a good chance that I would only have a surface level relationship with the couple because they truly liked another planner more, they were just trying to save money where they could.
Solving the Problem
The problem with this is that when we charge different prices for the same product and quality of service, a potential client isn’t able to make an apples to apples comparison and decide which planner is truly the best fit for them!
Pro Tip: My point is, that once you’re out of that first year of business and you’re starting to create a name for yourself, you owe it to yourself and to this industry to start working towards charging the industry standard.
The current average rate for “day of coordination” (which we all know is much more like month of coordination), ranges anywhere from $1500-2100. To put it frankly, if you are not charging this, you are undercutting all of your peers, and devaluing the level of service that you both bring to the table.
A Side Hustle Should Price for Profit Too
Sometimes we hear planners say things like “it’s just my side job”, “I just do it for fun”, or “I don’t need the money” but y’all- for some people it is their full time job. For some people they DO need that ‘extra money’, and while they may also enjoy their job, whether you mean to or not, you paint other planners in a light that suggests that they are just out to swindle their clients by charging them more— and that’s just not right.
So embrace that side hustle, and have fun doing it! But please, please! Charge what you’re worth.
The reason that so many people increase their rates at the beginning of each year, is because they are coming to the table with another year of expertise. They recognize that they’re not the business owner that they were the year before. They’re more experienced now, and put out a more polished product— and that is part of what your client is paying for when they book you.
Meagan is a planner and designer based out of North Carolina, and owns Magnolia Grove Weddings and Events. With over 10 years and 300 events worth of experience, it is her goal to encourage and enlighten new planners in the industry, so that collectively they can build a stronger community of educated, talented wedding professionals.