As we continue our off-season prep, it’s important to really take a deep dive into your packages and wedding planning services. Your services are the backbone of your business – and often where I find coaching clients losing money.
Often, when you first start your wedding planning business, you just pick your pricing based on the industry around you. You start a little lower, and learn how long things take, and begin to streamline your services.
But as you grow your business, it’s essential to take a deep dive look into every single detail! Many wedding planners get caught up in packages that have unlimited services, unlimited hours, and unfortunately – limited profit. This month, I want you to overhaul your wedding planning services and learn how to present these new packages with ease!
Mistake 01. Offering unlimited consultations
Before you call me crazy (especially those of you who offer full-service planning), hear me out for a second. Offering unlimited consultations throughout the planning process CAN work, but it needs to be done strategically. Unlimited consultations can confuse the client on when services actually begin and often lead to scope creep – or better yet, burnout!
For example, what happens if a client books you 1.5-2 years in advance? When do your consultations start? If you offer full planning packages with unlimited consultations (or even monthly check-ins), this could add up to dozens of hours spent years ahead of the event. Which, in return, lowers your profit considerably.
And what happens when a wedding management package includes two consultations beginning approximately one month out. Do you ever have a client reaching out four months in advance, panicking about the timeline, and wanting to meet sooner? If you agree to do this and do not charge them for additional consultations later on, you are hurting the planning process. You may not have that second and last consultation until the week of the wedding. This will only lead to more emails and confusion since you are not getting the information needed in a timely manner.
Determine a specific number of planner/client consultations you’d like to have and when they’ll begin. If a client requests an earlier, or additional, consultation, they will need to add it on for an additional fee. It’s important to remember that the consultations and timeframes you set within each package are there for a reason.
- A full-service package may look like 7 Planner/Client Consultations beginning approximately 12-15 months out.
- Or a Wedding Management package may look like 3 Planner/Client Consultations beginning approximately 2 months out.
Stating how many consultations are included in your package and when they begin will create boundaries from the beginning, and it will be clearer to the client on when they can expect to start meeting with you.
The last thing we want is a client reaching out to us wondering when we’ll start meeting. Or worse – reaching out months in advance expecting to start earlier than you typically prefer only to be disappointed or frustrated with you when they realize that’s not exactly how it works.
Are you looking to offer more support for your clients? Offer to schedule monthly check-in calls throughout the planning process before their contracted service begins. These can be structured as quick 30-min support calls priced into the package. So if the client needs six months of support before the full planning starts, add on 3 hours of your consultation fee, and offer them six 30-minute support calls.
Mistake 02. Offering unlimited day of/weekend coverage
Similar to mistake #1, offering unlimited coverage on the day of CAN make sense for some wedding planners. However, offering unlimited coverage usually leads to you being there earlier or longer than you really need to be, performing tasks you’re not being paid for, etc. It’s also more time away from your family! Clients should be paying for your time, and if that includes multiple weekend events, paying a premium for your additional time.
I see a lot of wedding planners not offering A La Carte services, which can hurt your business in the long run! They want to offer 100 things in their packages and eventually end up with no profit. They often offer too much for far too little.
Determine a specific number of day of hours per service offering, with each being slightly different from each other.
- Up to 15 hours of coverage for full service.
- Up to 12 hours of coverage for partial planning.
- Up to 10 hours of coverage for wedding management.
As the expert, you can guide a client as to when you’d ideally like to arrive on the day of and present them with options for how long you may need to stay based on the scope of their wedding. Remember: you are the expert! As the wedding planner, it is up to you to guide your client along the process. This includes the number of hours they need to book you for. Having different hours can also help differentiate your packages.
Another way to implement this is to add on A La Carte options! These are add-ons that couples can select from to customize their package. It allows you to upsell additional items for your couples without feeling uncomfortable. Two of the most common A La Carte options I always suggest offering is additional day of hours and/or consultations.
Mistake 03. Underestimating the time involved per client
You’ve heard me say it before, and I’ll say it again – tracking your time is ESSENTIAL for understanding how much is truly involved per client project and pricing yourself for PROFIT. Time is money in your business.
Just because you are busy booking more couples does not mean that you are making any money or any profit. This is why you need to do a complete-time track of every client. It’s not just about tracking time doing emails or client meetings – but about the creative hours you spend designing, the time working on logistics, and traveling to and from locations. You should have a detailed report of what task is offered in each package or service, and how long they take.
Track your time per client with a goal of gaining an average amount of time spent per service offering. Knowing these numbers will help you price yourself strategically.
And don’t forget to calculate ALL of the costs involved! This includes material costs, assistants, client gifts, mileage, and additional expenses. Everything from pre-booking to post-wedding needs to be included.
Mistake 04. Being too descriptive
Many planners get caught up in the features (every last thing that’s included) vs. showing the value they bring to the table. I see too many planners present their clients with a bullet point list of every single item in the package, with lengthy descriptions. I understand that they may be coming from a place of wanting to show all of the work that is involved. And I know it might seem like this is showing their value and helping them stand out from other planners.
However, it actually does the opposite! A long list can be overwhelming for a client and lead to a lot of confusion. Think about when you go to a restaurant with a 10-page menu and 30 chicken options. It just makes you even more confused, and unsure of what to pick! The same goes for your packages.
List out what’s included within a package, but do so with short and sweet bullet points and simplified verbiage that’s straight to the point. List tasks out in order of importance and chronologically. For example, don’t put Budget Management and Analysis towards the end, when this tends to be something you do early on for a client.
Avoid repeating tasks you’ve already touched on, and keep this list straight to the point. Remember, you are selling the VALUE of your services. Not 100 details they have to keep track of!
How To Present Your Service Offer Suite
Once you have done an audit and overhaul of your wedding planning services and packages, it’s time to present them to your potential clients!
Create an easy-to-read Price List or Services Guide.
Like we outlined in mistake #4, remember to keep this simple and easy to read! You do not need 100 bullet points and unlimited hours. Boundaries are incredibly important for both you, and your client. I suggest presenting this PDF to the client either before or during your complimentary consultation. That way you can go over the key points, and answer questions they have.
Educate your A La Carte packages from day one.
If you explain these offerings within the first meeting, it will be easier for the client to add them on later. An A La Carte menu creates a better experience for your clients! They can choose the help they need, including some items that they may not have even realized they needed initially.
And say they DO forget that XYZ isn’t part of your contract, or that it’s part of your A La Carte menu. No problem! It’s important to remind them that you’re more than happy to do said task but it’ll be at your hourly rate, or flat rate off of your A La Carte menu. Oftentimes clients forget what all you’ll do for them, especially when they’ve hired 10-15+ vendors.
Show Your Value
Remember, it is not just about a long list of wedding planning services you offer in each package. It’s about showing them the value of hiring you. Touch on the most important values! This can include the stress-free process, how you help them design, and how nice it is to have someone there to clean up at the end of the night.
When speaking with my coaching clients, I often find that they struggle to set boundaries with their clients. This can be in a few different ways. One of the most common is not charging the client when they want the planner to start services sooner. Or the client asking the planner to perform additional tasks outside of the contract. Sometimes clients even ask the planner to stay longer on the wedding day – without compensation!
If you educate from the beginning and set the precedence from day one that this is how it works – you’ll find that clients actually understand and will adhere to your boundaries.
Unsure about how to increase your pricing?
If you’re not ready to make a big jump, try increasing rates every 2-3 weddings booked until you reach your final goal. I also suggest to my coaching clients to adjust pricing throughout the year, and not just at the first of every year.
With every new price increase, you WILL receive no’s. It’s just the nature of beast and something you have to learn to be okay with. No’s are not a bad thing. For every no we receive, it opens up the opportunity for a yes! As your business grows, not every couple will be the best fit. But that also means that you will start to attract the clients that you love to work with, and will pay what you are worth!