Pricing and service structure: Is it time for change?

value-for-moneyWedding professionals are often frustrated by brides and grooms don’t appreciate the value of their services. Ultimately, aside from ‘customer service,’ there are three major factors that come into play.

  • Hours of service
  • Price for product/service
  • The quality of the result

One problem is traditional wedding service pricing structure . Particularly for entertainment, photography, videography, pricing is quoted within the framework of ‘time in direct service with the client.’

Until I went through the process of being a groom, I never realized how much time a videographer or photographer spent, before and after the wedding, before presenting the finished work. 

While customary in the wedding industry, linking pricing only to face-to-face service at a wedding, or wedding and reception, drastically understates the total time of service. 

A bride doesn’t know how many hours it takes to edit one hour of raw video footage from one camera, It’s hard for her to understand why the price is $5000 or more, rather than $1000. Hours of work at a wedding and reception are a specific measure of your effort; however, grossly incomplete. The result is more subjective. Hours of shooting does not equal the value of your work.

It is not enough to show a prospect samples of your reel or portfolio photos and expect  understanding degree of difficulty. Shooting a sunset wedding, has a high degree of difficulty. If one doesn’t explain situational differences in equipment, lighting, skill level, etc., you are just hoping the prospect figures it out. Likely an unreasonable expectation.

A Disc Jockey service or Live Band prices itself for a specific number of  performance hours. Travel and set up are typically not mentioned not in discussion or noted in an agreement (unless the event is outside the local market area).

What effect might it have were proposals and agreements included a ‘simple informational statement’ indicating a summary of unseen work, associated with your event service, not occurring during the reception time frame?

Effective service implementation, meeting or exceeding client expectations, includes explaining the total scope of your service, at some level.

  • Maybe this approach should become an industry-wide standard for wedding marketers?
  • What would change in the process of selling if every prospect understood you total measure of service, and its impact on a successful outcome?

I know, I’m turning wedding industry pricing and selling approach on its ear. Maybe it’s time we do that.

I invite your specific comments, and how you think this might apply within your slice of the wedding industry.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Expert
The Wedding Marketing Blog

14 thoughts on “Pricing and service structure: Is it time for change?”

  1. Fabulous post!! I’d recently changed my in-person presentation to represent this type of breakdown of what overall I do for my couples – and I’ve had clients who couldn’t afford me, change their expectations and budget, so that they could afford me, because they saw the value for what I provided and the commitment and passion I gave to them.

    It’s definitely time to think outside of the bridal box on how we speak, interact and sell to our couples. Because you know what – it may just work!!

  2. Great point. I have to look at the way I lay out my packages and what they include. I often have clients tell me with surprise “you cost as much as my photographer!”

    It’s hard to know how much information to include when educating potential clients without overloading or boring them.

  3. i really enjoyed this article and it will push me to use this strategy. time and time again i don’t think (as a decorator and floral designer) clients understand the hours of research, transport and materails i seek to personalize their day, they just see the end product and it looks so easy, (but it took years to get like this and i am still learning)

    i would like to know what would be a per hour labour cost others are charging. i really struggle with this and would like some concrete numbers and what it includes so i can express this info to my clients , current and future without feeling that i am underestimating MY worth. (i’m too nice basically ) help me get tougher

  4. Andy, this is a great point and something I have been doing for a while. I discuss with the client that I spend 20 to 30 hours of preparation for a wedding. Including multiple meetings with the clients, speaking to parents, wedding party, love story interview and much more.

    Once this is done, the client has a greater appreciation of what makes my services special and why I get paid 3 to 4 times the average DJ that just shows up and plays music for 3 or 4 hours. I am working on a document that will go to the client on initial contact that shows the timeline of these services and how they impact the reception.

  5. Always great insight, Andy. Thank you for sharing.

    While I agree completely with this concept, I caution that we must still be brief and concise with our overwhelmed clients. Yes, tell them exactly what we’ll do before, during and after their wedding but present it clearly and quickly.

  6. Janice,

    Glad you enjoyed the post. Just remember one thing: Making arguments about costs, generally, can be completely lost on customers unless you can draw the connection with a benefit to them. Even properly complying with local laws or carrying liability insurance (for example) needs to explained in a manner of risks-and-benefits.

    Keep us informed on how it goes.


  7. Alan,

    Glad you’re already going down this road. There’s one other big by-product… as a business owner, one really starts to understand the profitability of every job. That piece of information is very easy for some people to overlook.


  8. Couldn’t agree more.
    As a caterer, I constantly run into the perceived quality issue with brides and mothers of brides. They’re used to going to their favorite eatery, having a selection of 40 things, everyone gets what they want at a reasonable price. And then expects me to match that sort of thing with a buffet while giving them a limited amount of options.

    Or worse, they think that because there are 250 of them that it gets dramatically cheaper than a restraunt because of bulk ordering. When in reality it’s still more food, they still have to rent a plate for everyone, and I still have to have some one prepare, serve, and clean up.

    Almost makes me glad for the high industry turn over, it means there are THAT many more quasi-educated people out there whom have slightly more realistic ideas about what their wedding/event is going to cost and why.

  9. I do a lot of competition surveying. I know what they charge and what they offer. Based on their prices and break down of services and what I offer I am on average $10-$20/hour cheaper despite being double their booking price.

    I account much of this to my prep time. I don’t “wing it” which takes more time which is why I charge more. I consistently cut down on my prep time with experience, but my price remains consistent, where as my competition is constantly manipulating their price to gain bookings.

    Your article makes excellent points and I encourage people who are looking to hire a wedding professional to really compare services and the care people put into them. What you think is a better deal is sometimes an illusion.


  10. TJ,

    Thanks for chipping in. Sounds like you have a great handle on where you sit in the local market. That certainly give you a leg up.

    Keep on checking in.


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