I had a lot of work to do one day so, naturally, I decided to clean my whole house instead. Deep within the mess, I stumbled upon an old binder I had from when I first started my business. I am quite nostalgic, as I have shared here before, so I save everything. I flipped through old business plans, marketing materials, and original logos I created when TGA was just a dream.
First Logo Current Logo
Then, I saw it. My old pricing list. First off, I want to commend 23 year old Zabrina for even putting together a price brochure. Granted, it was made on a word doc, but for my limited experience in this industry, I am pretty proud that it was a priority of mine to have one. Once the nostalgia died down, I quickly spun into a different emotion of shock. The package names and breakdowns have for the most part remained the same, but the price has drastically changed.
When I initially began the business, I was planning events for free to gain experience. After the first few, I felt okay to start charging for my work. I did barely any market research of what to charge and, still to this day, had a minor case of imposter syndrome, so I was unsure of my worth, which probably led to me charging $900 for full coordination! *pause for gasp*
Even looking at my pricing now, I still fall well-below the industry standard of what other companies charge - no shade at all, because everyone is worth their price. I have come a long way of understanding my own worth and time. When I saw that $900 price point, I knew that at the time that felt like a ton of money to me. I hadn’t planned a lot of weddings. I was doing about 4 at the time, and that felt really good for the clientele I was working with.
Majority of my clientele are “budget couples.” Budget couples are considered anywhere below the $30,000 mark, since the average wedding cost as of 2021 comes in at around $32,000. This is my preferred demographic. I love working with couples on a budget because I had a budget wedding myself. I spent about $15,000 on the whole thing, which now looking back I wonder, “How the hell did I do that?”
Since this is my demo, I understand that paying $10k for a wedding planner out of your $20k budget might not be the most cost effective approach, even if the planner is worth it. I decided when I started my business that I may never make as much as luxury planners, but that I wanted to be a service that was affordable and attainable by all. I think everyone deserves a planner of some sort, whether that is full coordination or day of, having someone there is vital to your wedding day. That was and still is my niche.
So how do you find the happy medium? Well, I found that there is a small grey area where the intersection of being affordable is, while also not completely under selling yourself. It took a few go arounds until I found that sweet spot. The package my clients see is the breakdown of what is included for them: meeting times, vendor coordination, etc. What I see on my end however, is the cost to run the business - paying out my staff, new equipment, office expenses, taxes, and the time it will take for each wedding.
What I do, is write down that year what I want to make. Not what I want my business to make, but ME. That is my salary that the business will pay me. That number is my feel good number. It’s not huge, but it is a number I feel comfortable with. From there I take what I plan to spend that year to run the business. Cost of employees, product, rent, utilities, and all those little business expenses. I look at it for the month and then multiply it by 12 to find the year amount. I add those two numbers together (the money I want to make + the money I have to spend) to find what my goal is for the year.
Once I get that number, I divide that by the amount of weddings I want to work. I will say, post/current pandemic has made this step a little wonky, since I got into a weird frame of mind to take everything and anything because of the 2020 shutdowns. But, in a normal situation, I will write down the number of projects that feel comfortable for me to take on without completely losing my ability to provide quality service. From there, I get a rough number of how much I should be charging for coordination packages (plus or minus depending on the package).
I then cross check that number against different budget scenarios for my clients. Industry standard puts wedding planning at 10-18% of the overall wedding budget, so I take my most common wedding budget of $25,000 and cross check that with what my package price and BOOM, I get my prices.
This is not a science, but it is the way that I do it and have been happy with. I used to think that the number I set was the price of my work, but really what it has shifted into it pricing my worth and the community I want to serve. Generally, my couples are funding their wedding themselves. As a queer couple, my wife and I had no family financial support, which is why our budget was on the low end, which tends to be a lot of the stories for most of my couples. I would be crazy as a business owner to not want to make money, but for me that is only half important. The other side is remaining accessible to my demographic. I could easily charge $4,000 or more, but it would potentially mean a change to my clientele. For me, getting to work with my ideal client is more important than a dollar amount.
By removing the veil, I hope you get to see a little bit more of how I do things. At the end of the day, you have to pick what feels right to you. If I learned anything, it is to be confident in your pricing. I hear things from both ends of the spectrum. “Your price is too low, you should be charging more” or “That’s a lot of money, I will just have a friend help.” I never let comments like that bother me. This is what feels right for me and my business and no one can tell me otherwise.