In the wedding industry we often deal with couples who are ‘shocked’ by how much wedding suppliers charge for their services. People really do think that wedding folk are making a killing, and that when it comes to a wedding we are out to get them.
The reality is very different. Some couples are simply not prepared to hear the price tag of their dream wedding. I hear this a lot – ‘ I am shocked by these prices”, “are you insane, I am not paying this” and “what about a discount?”. When a potential client looks at the supplier’s portfolio, very seldom they stop to think or ask what was the budget for this wedding? Grand designs, suspended installations, aisle lined with 12 mass arrangements made out of dripping orchards is a sight seldom seen in South Africa for a very simple reason – South African brides and grooms are not prepared to pay required price.
I spent the past 2 days trying to come up with a creative solution for a client. Her wedding will be next year, at a lovely venue and she has beautiful Pinterest inspired ideas. I do not have packages and work out the quotation based on my experience of what I know is needed at each and every wedding and client’s wish list. Once I was finished I has a look at the total, and the total was 4 times higher then desired budget. So I thought, let’s see what we can do. After 2 days I had no solution. To be honest, I was shocked at how everything added up and I could not reduce the cost of anything (without seriously compromising the quality of a wedding).
I said it before, we are not magicians and cannot conjure up flowers, candles, chairs, bespoke linen and other wedding paraphernalia without resources. To create a beautiful wedding we need money. And we need our own logistical set up, our resources and equipment to create. This is where most wedding companies are so eager to discount. Because reducing the price of labour, design or hours billed is the only place where we can reduce costs, but why should we?
1. Apart from the direct product/service you provide to your clients on the wedding day, you are also running a business and your clients buy your infrustrcuture , experience and knowledge too.
2. Subsidising a wedding at your expense will only harm you. If you undercharge for your services or overspend on a wedding so you can add extra flowers and candles to make the wedding more special and prettier will result in the gratitude from the couple, but it will not feed you or your staff.
3. Not pricing your services properly will reduce the quality of your product. You will be unable to grow your business, you will struggle financially and you will resent your clients. This will make you an unpleasant person to work with and you will loose out on new customers.
So what do you do when faced with a shocked customer who is not prepared to pay the price:
1. Take time to educate a couple about how the costs are calculated and why you are charging your costs. Be honest. Once you establish their budget give them recommendations of what they can have for that budget and how much you need to earn if you take on a job. It is OK to say that their Pinterest inspired vision is not possible on R20 000 budget given that 150 ghost chairs excluding delivery will set them back by R10500.
2. Do not feel ashamed that you are running a business and you need to earn a living. Your company has to pay salaries, tax and operations costs in order to stay in the game. You need to generate a profit so you can buy new decor, equipment, service delivery vehicles and increase staff’s salaries. Yes we work so we can live.
3. Ask your clients what are their cost to company per month? How many hours do they work per month and what is their hourly rate? Then relate the costing to your own company – number of hours dedicated to each wedding, value your bring to the wedding (the net worth of your company) and how many people are on your team working together to execute the perfect wedding day.
4. Put life into perspective for them. Inflation is driving the prices up, petrol prices are up, e-tolls are not helping and insane foreign currency exchange rates are all contributing to the soaring prices everywhere, including the wedding industry.
5. Help them find creative saving solutions. For example, most enagaged couple have a dinner once a week at a decent restaurant and spend around R450 per dinner, thats R1800 a month and R21600 per year (if not more if a good bottle of wine is involved). If they gave up that treat for a year whilst planning a wedding they would have extra funds available for their wedding. There are plenty ways to help clients to find ways to save up, why not suggest a financial planner who will look at the couple’s monthly income and recommend the best way to structure expenses to create saving opportunities. It may require sacrifices but surely it is worth saving for your special day, especially of you want the best?
If a customer walks away because you are too expensive, let it be. If you are not going to make money out of a job then you need to invest your energy and time in finding a client that will value your product and your company.
This is an appeal to the entire South African wedding industry – stop undercharging. If couples will start hearing the same message from every place they turn to, they will have no choice but to start paying market related prices for the stuff they want at their wedding and for the staff to make it all happen. Yes weddings are expressive, but so is life and running a business.
* When refering to ‘the couple’, I mean a bride and the groom who decided to get married at the wedding venue, invited guests and would like to have a wedding which they wish to be photographed, captured on film, decorated and have all general attributes of a modern wedding as depicted by print media, social meaida and TV.