Dearly Beloved Wedding Vendors,
Please stop bitching. OK, not really, after all bitching is good and cathartic and as evidenced by this blog provides endless hours of entertainment and help.
But, please quit bitching about money and about brides who do not understand why you charge what you charge. You know why they don’t understand, because it’s not their job to understand. It’s their job to decide if they want to spend the money or not.
Do you understand why your plumber costs $100/hour?
I’ve been involved in education for wedding vendors for several years now and I’m sick to death of hearing you complain to yourselves, to me, and yes, even to brides that you are not only worth the money but somehow deserve to be given the money, no questions asked.
I once saw a blog post where a photographer laid out her business costs in a pie chart. Included in that pie chart were her retirement fund and her kids’ college funds. Um, photographer lady, those are not business costs, those are life costs, and your bride has them, too. Even if they were business costs, the bride does not care.
Once, at a major wedding business conference I heard an “expert” advise wedding vendors to tell potential clients, “I charge what I charge so that I can still be in business when it’s time for your wedding.”
Seriously? If your mechanic told you that would you say “OK, here’s $1,000 deposit, I’ll be back for my car next week” or would you push that old clunker down the street to someone who promised to be in business next week no matter what?
Yes, brides are bargain hunters. Guess what, so are you. Have you ever seen a gorgeous necklace at an art fair, checked the price tag and decided to buy a cheaper, less nice version somewhere else? Did you know that talented jewelry designer has kids she wants to put through college? Do you care? OK, maybe you care because you’re a nice person but you aren’t going to shell out big bucks for a trendy necklace because of it. Because necklaces are not necessities, they’re luxuries.
Plumbers, mechanics, and many other professions charge hundreds of dollars an hour without anyone questioning it because unlike you, they are necessities.
You, my dear, even if you handle cut-rate weddings, are in a luxury business. The smartest brides know that the only truly necessary person for their wedding to count is the chick in the county clerk’s office (and the clergy if they’re religious). The bride is going to try to get the best professionals she can get for the least amount of money.
Not because she’s stupid or mean or a bridezilla, but because she’s smart. Luxury items are lovely, but they aren’t necessary. That’s why God invented marketing, to help you convince people to buy things they don’t need, like your services. No one has ever bought something she didn’t need because she wanted to put someone else’s kids through college.
You know who else isn’t mean or stupid? Your competitor who charges less than you do.
The planner a mile away who charges less than you? It’s not because she’s cheap or out to ruin your business. It’s because she can afford to charge less. Maybe she pays less in rent? Maybe she has two other jobs that support her? Maybe she has a rich husband bankrolling her? Who knows, who cares, she charges what she charges and you charge what you charge.
Your job is not to educate the bride on the cost. Your job is not to convince other professionals that they’re hurting the industry by charging too little.
Your job is to figure out what you need to make a living. Then, you need to figure out what that means per customer. Then, you have to figure out if there are enough customers in your area who are willing to pay that cost. Then, if you can realistically attract those customers.
The hard truth is that not everyone can be in business for his or herself.
If you are not able to find enough brides willing to pay your price, and you don’t have another source of support, you may need to rethink some things. Maybe you need a business partner? Maybe you need to go work for someone else in the business for a while and build a reputation? Maybe, this isn’t going to work as a business and you need to think of doing it as a hobby or a source of extra income.
I know it sucks, but there it is. Quit bitching and do the math.