ASK ANDREA: PRICING
Q: What does a wedding planner cost? What about a luxury wedding planner? Specifically, how much do you charge?
A: Every day I am faced with the same question:
"What does it cost to hire a high end, luxury wedding planner? Why do planners price themselves so differently? How do I know if I am hiring the right person at the right price?"
Recently, I spoke on this very topic, and over the years I have become an expert at breaking down the various types of planners that a couple can hire, how various wedding planners price their services, and what the differences are.
As wedding professionals, it is our job to inspire you with our work, educate you on the process and efforts it takes to get there, and then guide you through planning and execution with complete transparency. Wedding planning is a collaboration, and the pricing structure that you and you wedding planner work in is just one step in the business side of the wedding planning process.
I encourage each wedding professional I work with to explore all business structures and options before settling on the one that makes the most sense for them. I also say that you should never be afraid to change the process if need be to ensure that it is working for both the business and the client.
But back to the question at hand...The one couples tend to ask because they aren't quite sure of how they should qualify their experience. I mean....How do you know what you should be paying? What does it all mean? To help you work through your options, I offer the following:
What Does a Wedding Planner Charge? 5 Different Types of Wedding Planners and Pricing Packages
Standard Wedding Planning Services
1. Package Pricing - This is a great option for beginning wedding planners, and for wedding planners who's pricing is determined by the scope of work they plan to do. For example, some wedding planners offer "Day Of Coordination" packages that include a 2 hour review, timeline creation, and 6 hours of on-site assistance, while other planners will offer wedding planning packages with a limited number of meetings.
You will find that while the planner's price point tends to be lower, they will make up for it with a greater number of clients. In other words, you will get a basic wedding planning experience, and you may have to pay a bit more money for additional services such as rehearsal dinner planning, brunch set up, etc. Which leads me to....
2. A La Carte Planning & Upgrade Options - Some planners work best with a menu of sorts that assigns a dollar amount to a type of service. This structure allows couples to book the planning team at a base price, and then build to what they need by adding on additional hours on the day of the wedding, coordination of the rehearsal, design service, gift bag assembly, etc.
Luxury Wedding Planning Services
Couples planning a luxury wedding (think budgets of $100,000 or higher) don't want anything pre-fabricated. Everything has to be custom! Couples with this level of discretionary spending will be placing a tremendous amount of trust in their wedding planner, and they will be collaborating from the very beginning on everything, including pricing. Therefore, you can expect a luxury wedding planner to have an honest conversation with you about your overall budget and your needs. Luxury Wedding Planners will then typically discuss a range of pricing, and you will work together and come to terms with a number that everyone is comfortable with.
3. Flat Fee - Much like the Package Pricing noted above, some high end planners will charge you a flat fee for their services. A detailed list of what is (or can be) included in the planning process will be outlined, and you will have a one time set price regardless of the size and detail of your wedding. This type of pricing will typically account for 20% of your overall budget.
4. Percentage Pricing - Some high end planners have found the best way to price their services is to simply take a percentage of the overall cost of the wedding. Your planner will outline for you what they consider to be a part of the planning experience (for example, venue costs, catering, photography, video, decor, etc.) and then you will be billed anywhere from 15% - 30% of this budget as a management fee.
In some cases, depending on the size of your wedding and the amount of set up and tear down involved, you may also be subjected to a labor fee.
5. Hybrid Pricing Structure - Growing in popularity is a hybrid pricing structure that treats your wedding planner in the same way that you would treat a lawyer, a designer, or an accountant. Here, the wedding planner charges a Retainer Fee which covers their years of experience and intellectual property. They then apply a management fee of 10% - 20% onto everything they book, manager, or handle.
Some planners also apply a labor fee for the day(s) that require coordinators to be onsite. This can include coverage to oversee load in, set up, the day of the event, and tear down / clean up.
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So...How do I charge for my services? Currently, I work directly with my clients to come to terms based on the scope of work. Services are extensive, including everything from budgeting, venue selection, design....even RSVP management and social media management! My clients have flexibility to grow their wedding by 20% of the agreed to parameters, after which there is a small management fee applied to the overage. I find that this makes the most sense for me, as it avoids the need for massive accounting and eliminates the feeling of "nickel and dime-ing"my clients. If the wedding grows a bit...who cares? They are covered! If it goes wildly beyond where we thought it would...No big deal! We have a plan for that, too.
In the end, every couple that I work with is different. The most important thing is that we work together, right from the start, and come to terms that everyone can agree to and feel comfortable with. Get it right from the start, and we never need to talk about it again!
Newly Engaged Couples....Do you have any questions? Wedding Pros...Want to learn more? Interested in having me educate your teams? Contact me HERE.
Photo by Cameron Kelly Photography