It’s that time of year again for us – investing lots of time and resources into booking brides for 2016 – 2017. It’s always an exciting (and a little nerve-wrecking) time, because we always get to meet a lot of really lovely people while at the same time we are making the same case, over and over, on why a planner is important.
First of all, most couples are contacting us because they are already overwhelmed with the planning process. They know they need assistance – which is great, and a first step to making the whole experience easier for themselves. Some are coming because they’re halfway through and are just coming to recognize that it’s another part-time job just to manage their big day. Or they’ve been married before and definitely do NOT want to re-live the stress of planning again. Or they are not sure where to start, and the barrage of options on theknot.com, weddingwire, Pinterest, and the like are too much to wade through. Or perhaps they’ve just figured out that there is no way they can manage their wedding day without putting themselves or a parent or loved one in the stressful role of coordinator and don’t want to do that to themselves or family.
Regardless of why people contact us, we are always excited to help them wherever they are at in their planning, but inevitably they always ask us how much.
Of course, there are planners of all stripes out there – and some really do ask for a small amount of money for their hours and hours of work (or they don’t give you hours and hours of work and do a poor job, but that’s a case of getting what you paid for).
Being a successful, efficient, and proper wedding planner is a learned trade. It’s why less experienced planners charge a bit of money, and ones who have national recognition charge a lot more. We all went through our learning curves, our apprenticeships, and handled our hard ball clients. We know how to navigate almost any pitfall before it happens, give sage advice that comes from years of unbiased experience, and have the connections that have taken 5, 10 or 20 years to cultivate. We ‘get married’ every weekend alongside our couples, constantly honing our skills to be even more successful, efficient and proper.
That experience and professionalism costs money. I recently asked my husband why people seem to have no question paying a plumber $90/hour for his experience and knowledge in his learned trade of cleaning out pipes, but abhor paying an event planner $75/hour for her experience and learned trade on managing a multiple-hour, many peopled event. Considering a plumber has the opportunity to fix any mistakes while a planner gets one shot at making a perfect wedding day, a planner should be able to charge over $100/hour for that type of service and expectation. But I have a feeling that kind of charge would put us out of business in short order.
I understand, of course, that not everyone has the same type of budget. And that’s what is so wonderful about having different prices, packages and planners out there – there really is something for almost anyone. And of course, not everyone needs a planner or wants one. My case is for those who do want a planner.
But my issue is with those who expect to have champagne service on a beer budget. They want a lot of help, in fact, full-service planning where we’d be working with them daily, weekly, monthly, for a year or more, but expect to pay only a few hundred dollars. That works out to paying $1-$5/hour, which is a ridiculous expectation.
So, with numbers in my head today, I wanted to break down a few things, just to put in perspective how much some people pay for things, and why paying $45/hour or $75/hour or $90/hour for a planner (or paying a package price for a full year or more of work) is not exorbitant.
These are just price point examples all jumbled together, weddings and beyond.
DJ: $1500 for 1-2 hours of prep, up to 3 hours load in and out and 6ish hours of playing time ($136/hour)
Band: $10,000 for 2 hours of load in, 2 hours load out and ~6ish hours of playing time ($1000/hour – 8 piece band means each band member is making roughly $125/hour)
Event Venue (not including catering or bar, just use of their floor, ceiling, and air): $4000 for 6 hour event, plus up to 5 hours of prep and clean-up time ($364/hour)
Officiant: $500 for 1-3 hours of prep, 30 minute ceremony: ($143/hour)
Wedding ceremony music: $700 for 1-2 hours of prep, assuming no new songs and 1.5 hours of playing, assume a trio: ($67/hour per person in trio)
Heating guys: $100/hour
Lawyer: $250 – $500/hour
Consultant, depending on the industry: $100 – $500/hour
Of course, a photographer and videographer invest a ton of hours on your day – the difference is that they provide a long-lasting product at the end of it, which is why I have not included them here. These listed are all people providing an “intangible” service – they “do” something that results in an experience, or a final fix, or a smooth transition, or they handle or take care of things that you yourself cannot do.
We love our couples, and we treat them to dinners in our home, drinks on the town, and lots of coziness. That’s our approach, and it works for some people and not others. But regardless of the extra trimmings that we do, or any other planner does, we still are a specialized trade, and we’ll give you the stars…but probably not for free.
Anyway, that’s my case for the month. I would welcome any thoughts or input or opinion.
Photography courtesy of Craig John, J.Be, Front Room, Spottswood and Craig John again.