May 16, 2023
Want to know the secret to delivering a better customer experience AND increasing profits as a wedding pro by 2023? Believe it or not, it’s not what you think. In this blog post, I’ll share some behind-the-scenes insights on how I’ve enhanced my business by implementing pricing minimums and separating design management fees. Not only has this increased my average wedding value, but it has also allowed me to improve my couples’ experiences. With fewer weddings, I’m able to really pour into everyone that I get to work with and focus on serving my couples SO well. And, don’t worry, there is no gatekeeping here! I’m going to be completely transparent and share real numbers with you so you know what this looked like in my own wedding business over the last few years. Are you ready?
Setting a pricing minimum, also known as an “investment minimum” or “service minimum,” can prevent accepting low-paying jobs. Haven’t we all been guilty of accepting too many jobs for $20? To put it simply, it’s the minimum amount of money needed to get you out of bed and complete the job – I like to call it my “get out of bed fee”. When dealing with custom work, there are usually several steps involved, including email communication, phone calls, and the actual creation process. Establishing a minimum price point allows you to communicate your starting price to potential customers, so they can quickly determine if it fits within their budget.
Another strategy that can help you earn more money as a wedding professional is incorporating a design fee in your charge. This fee, which might be alternatively referred to as the “set-up fee”, “layout fee”, “project management fee”, and others, encompasses more than just the time spent on creating custom designs. As a wedding professional, this fee should take into consideration the hours that go into developing unique project timelines, communicating with the client via emails and consultations, managing tasks and sourcing for materials.
Most importantly, the ‘non-billable hours’ spent on each project should also be factored into your design fee. This refers to the work done when the clock isn’t ticking; the extra hours spent doing the background work and tying together every detail that goes into making your client’s wedding day a great success. Taking all of these factors into account when creating your fees will not only enable you to earn more money, but also set you apart from competitors and earn the trust of your clients. Trust me – you’ll seem like an expert!
Pricing is a personal decision and the starting minimums for design fees should be based on how you value your time and what you are comfortable with. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach because what may work for me might not work for someone else. It depends on your expenses and lifestyle. You can also always increase it later.
Similarly, when it comes to design fees, the scope of the proposal will play a significant role in determining the fee. If the client is only booking you for a couple of wedding signs, your design fee will most likely be lower. However, if you are doing a full suite of wedding details, your design fee may be higher, as it will take more time to design and manage the client. Designing many elements to create a cohesive look is more complicated than designing one statement seating chart, for example. When setting a design fee, consider the amount of time you will spend working with each client to determine what would be appropriate.
There is no “hard rule” but I would say that if you are booking 50-90% of your leads, it is time to raise your minimum. This will prevent you from overbooking yourself and ensure that you have the time to complete the work for your clients effectively. Another good indicator is if you are booked well into the year, as this means that you have financial stability and flexibility to experiment with your minimum. In the same way you can always raise your minimum, you can always lower it if necessary too (read more about my own experience below!).
I know how helpful it’s been in the past when my own mentors share the details – so that’s what I’m doing here! I wouldn’t say I’ve done everything “perfectly” but I would say that the business I had in 2020 looks VASTLY different than the business I have today!
In 2020, I didn’t have a project minimum, and my average wedding couple spent $600
In 2021, I started implementing a minimum investment of $500 and then quickly raised it to $1000, and then $1500 towards the end of the year. Looking at my books in 2021, my average wedding project was a little over $1000.
In 2022, I raised it again to $1750. Then, I raised it to $2500, which I did get a little pushback on from couples who were otherwise IDEAL clients, so ultimately, I lowered it to $1950. Halfway through the year, I also started charging a design fee of $150.
Now, in 2023 I’ve kept my minimum investment of $1950 (this is your friendly reminder that you can make better decisions when you have more data – this pricing minimum seems to work for MY ideal clients). The average order value now? Is $3000. I’ve also raised my design fee to $500-$750, depending on the scope of work.
The hidden beauty in all of this is that now I have time to explore new ideas while still feeling confident about the revenue I have coming in and the service that I’m providing to my current clients. It truly has been such a game changer for me!
If this is the kind of candid advice you need in your own creative business, I am so excited to announce that mentoring sessions are opening up again soon!! You can get on the waitlist here, and make sure to follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss a thing!