by Danielle Andrews, President of The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada Inc.
“If I want charge less than everyone else, who is it really hurting?” Everyone. It’s hurting everyone.
Over the years I have seen it many times, a fresh and excited new planner offers really low prices to book as many clients as they possibly can, and it works! Of course it works, they book a bunch of weddings. These weddings roll around and quickly the planner is stressed out and overworked. She charged too little to cover her costs and now she has to pay out of pocket for an assistant to help at all of these weddings. She gets burnt out and resentful of all that her clients expect her to do (because of all of the promises and extra services she promised) and then suddenly she is done. She closes up her wedding business, takes her money and runs.
Who did she hurt?
- She hurt the Wedding Planners in her area that were charging fair and sustainable prices because they couldn’t book weddings at those prices.
- It hurt the planner, because she didn’t charge a fair wage for her services and ended up having to pay out of pocket for expenses and help.
- It hurt the clients, because they did not get the full service they should have received from a Wedding Planner, and in some cases, they lost their money when the planner closed up shop.
WPIC Certified Wedding Planners can charge whatever they feel is appropriate for their services, but we have provided suggestions and averages factoring in all of the costs of running a sustainable business.
If I can do something in 30 minutes, it’s because I spent 10 years learning how to do that in 30 minutes. You owe me for the years, not the minutes.Chandan Prasad
Often Wedding Planning is seen as “just a service” and hard costs are not factored in. When establishing fees for services, planners need to look at all of the costs that they incur in order to run a sustainable, viable business. Factors that need to be considered are: the costs of running a business (cell phone, advertising, marketing, website, email, computer, printer, paper, ink, etc.), hours of research, hours preparing for the wedding, hours working at the actual wedding, pay for assistants, vehicle costs, professional liability insurance, accounting fees, lawyer fees, education, conferences, tools of the trade (emergency kit, emergency kit items, clipboards or binders, headsets and radios, steamer, etc), wedding-appropriate clothing, etc.
To give an example of all that must be factored when establishing a charge for Wedding Coordination services, here is what goes in to the popular “Day-of Coordination” (a true professional will most likely call this Month-of or Wedding Day Direction):
- Meeting with clients to discuss their needs and details of their wedding (1-2 hours, plus 1 hour travel)
- Meeting with clients to discuss everything they have booked for their wedding (1-2 hours, plus 1 hour travel)
- Contacting vendors to get their desired Wedding Day Timelines (1-2 hours)
- Final meeting at the venue or final meeting with clients (1 hour)
- Planner putting together Wedding Day Timeline based on all other vendors timelines (3-4 hours)
- Planner putting together all checklists for Wedding Day (2-4 hours)
- Planner running Wedding rehearsal (1 hour, plus 1 hour travel)
- Planner at the Wedding an hour before the wedding starts to the close of the evening (12-14 hours)
- Assistant for 4 hours on the day of the wedding
- Often we are picking up and dropping off items for the couple as well (whether it be rented clothing, rental items, favours, flowers, etc.)
So for that “Day of” service, the Wedding Planner puts in 30-40 hours of time, at least, and bears the cost of the planner’s assistant, supplies, and travel. Planners charging a low fee are more than likely going to cut some services and hours from their service.
Breakdown of expenses related to performing duties for a Month-of Coordination:
- $60 -Assistant for 4 hours @$15/hour (though most assistants charge $17-18/hour)
- $129.60 – Travel costs, at least 4 round-trips = 240 (+) kms at 0.54/km as per the Government of Canada
- $85 – Commercial Liability Insurance with E & O policy
- This does not include any of the costs of running a business
- Total costs before planner gets paid = $275
- Remaining amount before Planner takes wages= $525
- $525 divided by 36 hours = $14.58/hour
At $800, the planner is making $14.58/hour, some planners are charging $400 for this same service, which means they are either not providing the proper services they are offering, or they are only working for $3.47 per hour.
If you think its expensive to hire a professional to do a job, wait until you hire an amateur!Red Adair
Clients need to stop viewing hobbyists offering low prices on discount websites, and expecting professional wedding planners to offer the same prices. You are not comparing apples to apples. The old adage, “You get what you pay for,” is painfully true. A professional is operating a business, a sustainable one, they are charging the price that is takes for them to stay in business so that they can be there to help make your day the best it can be!
Charging a proper price in the very industry you are trying operate a successful business, shows respect for those peers, respect for the industry, and respect for your own value as a professional.