Sarah, Ben & Me
This post is to help prospective clients gain a better idea of how planner's fees work, mine in particular. When you hire a planner, you are paying for their time or "man hours" rather than a product as such. Given the range of planners and consultants available on today's market, you're not only spoilt for choice in terms of style and level of experience but also the way in which they structure their fees...
Some planners structure their services by way of a variety of packages, generally based on full coordination, on the day, design and sourcing. Within these packages are clear outlines as to what is and isn't included along with the total fee.
This is a good guideline to use if you're considering a planner and aren't too sure about costs. Generally, a planner working by a percentage of your overall budget will take around 10-12% of it.
Not such a popular option amongst British planners, but there are some that charge by the hour instead, based on the average number of hours it takes to complete your planning.
Although when I first launched in 2007 I started with package prices, I felt this wasn't working for me, particularly the way I prefer to work with clients. Packages can be somewhat restrictive and bespoke services allow clients the freedom to cover what they want to do and what they want you to do. I also produce a lot of wedding decor myself which in itself is more time on my part to save costs in other areas, so I need to charge for my time.
Why Don't You Display Fees?
In the beginning I did. However, given my qualifications and experience over the years I made the decision not to when I went 'bespoke'. Why? Many reasons. There is a constant debate as to whether potential clients prefer to see prices or not. Some are put off because there aren't any, others are put off because there are. It's a no win situation.
In recent weeks I've been re-evaluating my business, looking at how it does and doesn't work for me and how I can make small changes. This is one of them-deciding to display starting prices. Whilst this doesn't give exact fees (I prefer to quote after a consultation) it does give potential clients a better idea of how much you can expect to pay for my services.
Consultations. Why Do You Charge?
I used to travel all over to meet brides and, believe it or not, wannabe planners masquerading as brides who were actually just after my business information. The majority of planners still offer complimentary consultations and of course that's entirely up to them.
The first ever consultation I did involved a trip from Kent to Buckinghamshire at rush hour to meet a bride who, after keeping me there for 2 hours, allowing me to go away and produce a proposal left me hanging for two weeks only to respond with "thanks, but I'm getting a friend to do it". I think she knew all along that that was the case, in the meantime I'd wasted my time getting there and back and a good few days writing her proposal. It's a job that is always hit and miss with potential clients and it can be so disheartening when your time has been wasted.
So, I charge a flat £35 for an hour's consultation and, if the bride and groom aren't based in London then I'm happy to meet them at their venue of choice. I still produce the proposal afterwards and of course, they're not obliged to book with me afterwards. It just covers a little bit of my time if they decide not to go ahead.
Budgeting For A Planner
If you absolutely must have a planner as part of your day, try and build one into your budget if you are able. If not, then perhaps you could ask a willing and responsible friend to help you from the off instead.
To give an idea of my fees (before they go up onto the site!) a full coordination starts at £5,000.00. Remember that planning a wedding takes on average anything from 6 to 12 months to plan, and, as your planner I'm on hand throughout the whole process providing support. If you were to divide that fee up over the course of the year, it's not a very big salary and something well worth investing in if you're short of time.
Finishing touches starts from £1,000.00, coverage starting a month before the day, additional costs being travel and potentially accommodation if you're based outside of London or the South East or if I'm needed on site for a few days.