Wedding Planning Wednesday: Wedding Planners and the £value of our service!

Wedding Planning Wednesday: Wedding Planners and the £value of our service!

I’ve been wanting to say something for a while now about what I charge but have been too scared to bring the subject up….so here goes nothing!

Pricing for me has always been the hardest part of this job, anyone reading this who is self-employed will understand where I am coming from, how do you value yourself when it is you and your service you are trying to price?
I did a whole bunch of research when I started my wedding planning business in 2009 into other planners what services they offer and how much they charge. I then went  away and decided that I didn’t want to try and compete by being the cheapest in the market, I wanted to stand out by offering a first class service which meant pricing myself above the average in my area…….so this I did.

Now I’m not a greedy person, I have never gone into a job because of the money, I have spent most of my life working for myself, so I am used to being self-employed and all the highs and lows it throws at you…………However over the last few weeks I have come to a realisation that people do not value what I charge and unless I do something about it I will never make a living from this wedding planning work that I love so much.

the cost of a wedding planner

I have to also stress this is my full time job, I don’t have anything else to full back on, I don’t do this on the side of a full or part time job, this is it for me…..so I have gone into this business head on, determined to make it work! Because if I don’t then it’s game over.  I do have a very understanding husband who has supported me from day one, both emotionally and financially, but at the same time this has put a huge strain on our relationship, he has made huge sacrifices for me to ‘live the dream’ of becoming a successful wedding planner, and quite frankly it’s about time this changed!

So what’s your point Kelly? I hear you cry…..well my point is and what I have realised over the last few weeks is that people do not value what I do until it is too late!
When I started taking on weddings, I would do anything to make sure I got that booking; I just wanted to be busy! I set my services and my prices on my website for all to see and away I went.
Some services are easier to price than others, some are a flat fee as they are a standard service, suppliers or venue searches for example. However as I progressed into my career I found more people asking for partial planning and full planning…….and this is where I got stuck.
The first few I quoted were just ridiculously cheap and I realised that way to soon after couples snatched my hand off…after re-evaluating this I put the price up for the next order and again for the next…..BUT if I work it out per hour per job……I would still be earning more if I worked in McDonalds.

on the day co-ordination

Let me give you an example using on the day co-ordination. On the day co-ordination is one of my most popular services, when I started I priced it at £350 a day, it then went up to £399 and I have recently put it up to £450..why?? well because I had to. It took my brother in law (who has 3 successful business) to point out that if I took on 20 on the day co-ordinations a year at £350 that is only £7000 a year and that’s before tax…….not really enough for a full time salary!
But surely £350 is enough for a day’s work I hear you say? Well it’s not just a day. Firstly I meet with the couple for an hour for a free consultation, then I write a proposal for them, then once they book me I meet with them again at the venue once or twice, they have email and phone access to me 4 weeks before the wedding and then the day of the wedding I am there for 12 hour minimum! That’s me, not an assistant, you book me, you get me! I recently put my price up to £450 this is the highest in my area, I know I’ve taken a risk by pricing myself higher, but I really don’t feel I had a choice, now if I get 20 on the day co-ordinations I am earning £9000 a year!. Still not great though!

I think part of the problem is that people don’t really understand how much I will be doing when they take me on. It isn’t until the wedding is over and I’ve spent months working with that couple that they realise what value they have had from me.
Obviously each wedding and each couple are different. Some couples start off in a blind panic and are never off the phone or email with me, they take constant attention and have constant needs that have to be sorted out. In these days of 24 hour accessibility, a day off seems non-existent! Brides will email me at 11pm at night, call me on a Sunday and expect me to answer their queries straight away. I have tried not to answer on a Sunday, just so I have some sort of day off….but this isn’t always possible when brides feel the need for constant reassurance and need that supplier sorted out there and then! On average I work an 80-90 hour week But do they realise all this when they book me…..no!

the cost of a wedding planner

I have had a few situations when I have given a couple a prices for a service and they have asked for a discount, many do and I guess this is the nature of the word we live in. In the past I may have said yes, but I live to regret it now! Now I’m not the bartering kind so when someone asks me to do a job for cheaper I always feel a bit hurt…don’t they think I’m worth it? Don’t they see what my service is bringing them? It’s especially hard when I know at the bottom of my heart I haven’t charged enough in the first place!
I have had situations when couples have got me down on my planning price only to find out they have hired another wedding supplier at a premium price for a service that takes up a 10th of the time that I am giving them…….so why not pay me what I deserve??

I asked twitter the other day how many weddings other planners take on a year. Some said no more than 2 a month, others said 1 a month…….so how do we make our money? There are only a certain number of weekends in a year and physically and mentally I don’t feel I could do more than 10 partial or full planning’s a year, just because of shear workload involved in each wedding.  Personally I’m up to 18 at the moment that’s all different sorts of weddings, some are on the day co-ordination, some are partial planning and some are full planning in Ibiza. I don’t really feel I can do any more than that! And to be honest I am completely wiped out with that amount!

the cost of a wedding planner

This year has been an eye opener in terms of what I can and can’t charge. They say it takes on average 250 hours to plan a wedding, well at £35 an hour that comes to £8750 each wedding! Now some of my bride’s budgets aren’t that amount!! So who is going to pay me £8750 for my wedding planning services? I don’t live in London I don’t attract the high society bride, I attract the normal bride looking for an alternative day, I don’t want to turn people away who have a low budget as often it’s those people who have the most interesting weddings!
The reality is that in order for me to make a living I need to be charging £2K per wedding. But no one is going to pay £2K for an on the day co-ordination, as that not the market value!

So what do I do? To be honest I’m not sure. On a personal note I can’t carry on as I am. I work 14 hours a day and I hardly ever take a day off, hardly see my husband and never see my friends! So something has to give! Changes need to be made somewhere.

There is of course the whole subject of commissions from other suppliers, do you take them or don’t you? It is deemed unethical to do so! I don’t and I know most planners don’t either (a subject to be covered in a future post I think!)

I put my prices up on Sunday and I intend to stick to them, no more discounts, no more money off. I guess 2010 was a steep learning curve I wanted the work for 2011 and by God I got it, but now looking forward to bookings for next year, I do feel that less is more!
I will be adding some more ‘added extra’ services to my website in the next few weeks/months which I hope will help and I am going to be tacking sponsors on the blog very soon as well.

I guess only time will tell if these actions make any difference. If they don’t then I will have to re asses this wedding planning world, I LOVE it so much but if it isn’t paying then what is a girl to do?

Until people really understand the value of the service I offer and the time and effort it takes to give them the service they expect, then I will never be able to charge what other suppliers in the industry charge.
I hope that as more wedding planners rise up in the industry people will feel It’s the norm to hire one, people will eventually understand what we do and how much we do for people! So in time being able to charge what we feel we are worth!

Feel free to leave your thoughts.
And if you want to see what I do charge all my prices are openly stated on my website www.bohoweddingsandevents.com/services

Kelly xx

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    I actually agree with everything you have said.
    People still don’t really understand and are blinded by media perception.
    Things need to be said sometimes and its our job to educate.
    We provide an amazing service andhoppefully in time it will be recognised.


      I have witnessed an event planner son organise the weddings a friend – and cannot agree with you more. He has done weddings as a favour to his friends and family but after his latest experience says “no more!” Events tend to have a short build-up and a clear budget and project plan. Weddings, on the other hand, start being planned months and months ahead, are a girl’s ‘special day’ so she feels able to change her mind or think of something extra whenever she wants and she assumes that having someone offering to help organise it means having someone at her beck and call at all hours of the day and night for months on end. Perhaps the charging system should be rather like that of an architect on a building project – x number of hours/phone calls per month are included but then a surcharge is incurred whenever it goes over that basic amount. Every hour should be noted as in all time-keeping billing systems and a monthly invoice presented – and then, at the end, when the final invoice is produced, the planner can decide whether or not to offer some sort of discount on the total bill. At least that way the happy couple will realize just how many hours others have put into their special day. I know you people do it because you love doing it and don’t want to appear mercenary, but lots of people do jobs they love and get properly paid Several of you say that people just don’t realize how much is being done for them. Absolutely!!! Wedding dresses are seriously overpriced just because they are wedding dresses but wedding planners get underpaid because they ask for a flat fee and then are constantly being contacted and asked for advice and end up finding it works out at about £5 an hour. Have a proper fee structure is my advice!

    Emma - Aphroditeswb

    It is great to see such an open and honest post!! You can tell that you absolutely adore what you do and work so very hard. There is the old saying that you ‘work to live not live to work’ – it’s never the case when you do something that you love so much, but you do need it to be financially (and emotionally) sustainable!! Wishing you lots and lots of luck with your new pricing structure, I hope that it helps you to continue doing the job you are so passionate about :) x


    Well said Kelly! I think the overall ‘problem’ with being a wedding planner and everything that involves from what we charge to how we work, is that in the UK we’re still a relatively new concept. The wedding industry in general and peoples’ expectations and understanding is so far behind the US for example. And when you’re pioneering something (!) it’s always going to be a rocky path. One thing I’ve learned though, is that this is not a career that’s ever going to make me rich. I make enough to live off but then I live a relatively modest life!

    Gloria and Lorella - Boutique Events

    We will share this post on our facebook page and we will link to it from our blog because you just wrote in a fabulous way all we have been discussing lately. What happens when you are a destination wedding planner, like we are in Tuscany, is that often the individual venues will convince the bride and groom that they can help out just as well. And all the work you put into preparing a proposal, researching etc. goes wasted. Too often we are later contacted again by the same couples because they find out that the venue owner can’t or is not able to or doesn’t want to take on some jobs (e.g. paperwork, legal translation, dealing with the trouble vendor, etc.) and we sometimes help out, sometimes we say no.

    People often don’t understand how much work is involved in planning. We do much of the work required even before having a contract in place, just to send a proposal. To find the perfect venue, the best vendors for the job, etc. takes hours and hours.
    Just like you, we have decided to limit the number of weddings we are willing to take on every year as we just can’t cope.

    We are grateful and overwhelmed by the many requests we receive but we have made a point to stick to our price policy, as in the long term we believe it will be better for our work and for our lives. But as you say, sometimes it is very hard.

    Another great post Kelly! We do hope to meet you in person someday: you have two fans in Tuscany for sure!!


    I think it all comes down to money for people. It is the same with wedding stationery, the time taken is where the cost comes in and because it is an “unseen” item they are paying for, there is not the same value in it. I was horrified at the price of wedding photographers and so many of my friends grumbled at “not bad earnings for a days work” but when I worked out how much time 2 photographers for 12 hours had taken to shoot and edit my 850 photographs and engagement shoot and consultation, suddenly I felt I had a bargain. But agree..only afterwards to we realise this. I hope it all works out well for you in the end :)


    Just to add after seeing comment #4 – the venues definitely convince you they have everything organised and will help out the day before and on the day but in practice it doesn’t happen. I put out all of my own favours and place cards the night before at about 9pm as the venue staff were nowhere to be seen, and on the night I was due to unveil the sweet buffet…there were glasses and jars and sweets everywhere as the staff just hadn’t done what they promised and my Mum ended up taking 40minutes out of her night to set it up for me. The “venue wedding planner” is very different to an actual wedding planner

    Kathryn Andrews

    I completely understand where you’re coming from and as a photographer I feel the same as you… I think many photographers feel like this. People think you just turn up on the day and snap away and that’s it. But like you say, there are many phone calls, emails, pre wedding consultations and engagement shoots, hours of editing and album design work. People always try to knock my prices down and it does hurt. I often wonder if they try to barter with the venue, the florists or the dress designers. I actually asked a recent client how much discount they got from the venue (which is not cheap!) as they kept trying to negotiate the price. Then I had another bride who after agreeing a price wanted to knock it down again because she was paying £900 for the flowers. She wanted to pay less than that for the photography which will last a lot longer than the flowers. She ended up removing the album from the package. In all honesty, I don’t think it’s a case of people not valuing our work, but more a case that people just can’t afford to spend so much money on one day. It is more than one day’s work for us but they don’t see it like that and I do question what I would be able to afford myself when it comes to my own wedding. I certianly won’t be spending £900 on flowers… I’d probably have to create my own flower arrangements. It is a tough market… I even wonder if it would be more beneficial to be based nearer to London. I have also heard that it takes 3 – 5 years to get to where you want to be in your business.

    Luci Gray

    Fantastic!! As i was reading your blog i could really feel your thoughts… and it is so so true…..

    When i qualified as a bookkeeper and decided to go selfemployed with my own business i had the same issues with the pricing, the phone calls, emails.. being called on a weekend and late at night…etc……. it took over my house which was hard as i had 3 (4 now) at the time..

    Something had to give and i decided when the youngest went to school to not work selfemloyed from home anymore and just take on the accounts that i did from their offices which was only 2 8hr days a week but the lack of stress made up for the lack of money…..

    My mum has always made wedding favours and with my extra time we decided to take our favours to the next level and that’s how Butterflies – Chocolate Favours began……. but i’m lucky that i have extra income from my bookkeeping to bring in a wage while i spend time with my mum living the dream of our wedding favours……. Just reading the emails from the brides makes my day, even with the lack on money we make………

    Such a hard choice for you but i think you’ve done the right thing by uping your prices, your work and love of your job is invaluable….

    wishing you loads and loads of success and hope that you find your balance :0)


    This is a very inspiring post and I’m really glad you posted it. I think it will definitely get better if brides were more educated on what wedding planners do. This post is a step towards that! I wish you the best in all you do because you do deserve it! :)

    Ask Jan

    I have worked as a party adviser and wedding planner for over 20 odd years. In that time my prices had to change too. You cannot “DO” a wedding on less than you would earn serving burgers.

    This is the problem many planners face cost Vs amount of work.
    That’s prehaps why most planners do not put prices on their website?

    I was lucky in that I did the VIP and top end market, so clients could afford the cost of hiring me. How some wedding planners make any money offering their services to limited budget brides is beyond me? Yet as you rightly say they are often the most inspirational weddings to do.

    My advice for what it’s worth; is try to get a balance of work high paying and budget. It’s the only way to run a sucessful and forfilling wedding planning business.

    Keep up the great work you do. Let me know how you get on.

    Kim Layzell

    Well done Kelly – a great post. As photographers we’re about to do the same with our pricing, and to add to Kate’s comments (6) we photographed a wedding a few weeks ago (and we don’t do many) and ended up doing some of the work that a wedding planner should be doing (checking flowers/finding people/cutting tags off of dresses amongst other things).


    Great post Kelly!
    People quite often seem to think that because it’s for a wedding, you can charge outrageous prices. But they never consider the amount of work that actually goes into it, not just time but everything else that’s needed to run a business properly and not as a hobby (where you find you are actually funding them rather than the other way around).
    What you are saying is true for so many areas of the wedding industry.
    All the best!

    Neal Morgan

    I read you and I feel for you. As a wedding photographer we suffer many of the same miss-conceptions. As poster Kate quotes her friends in post #5 “not bad for a days work” Indeed it would be if that was true. We typically spend 6 hours on pre-wedding. 10 hours on the day and between 30 and 50 hours after the wedding.

    Sometimes I feel the value of our services are only really appreciated after the event and I have never heard of a couple saying “you know I shouldn’t of asked for that discount, please take this” But i have had many a heartfelt thank you for helping their day run so well. And that thank you from a new bride at the end of a very long day makes it all worth it. :)



    Kelly thank you so much for writing this, you are 100% right people just don’t get what we do or the sheer amount of work it is!
    After everything that’s been going on in Japan it makes you realise life is just too short and you definitely need to get your life back as well as having your dream career.



    Great piece & very thought provoking. I mainly organise parties & small/medium business events & I agree entirely with the points raised. Pricing is one of the things I angst about… alot.
    What we do isnt rocket science – but that doesnt mean it doesn’t require skill, hard work & many, many work hours to achieve the standards we set ourselves. I guess it’s all about education, which probably means that for people to really appreciate the effort involved, they have to either attempt it themselves or hear 1st hand how stressful & time consuming it can be. How many times have I heard guests saying to thier host “if only I’d known about Amanda when I was organising our party/ christening/ wedding etc”.
    I have no answers, but if you find the key, make sure you blog about it & let us all know!! Good luck x

    Your Day - Your Way

    Another concise and to the point item Kelly which sums up what I and it seems you too and many others have been pondering for some time. How to actually make fair money as a wedding planner. All the comments which people have left are also extremely interesting to read and provide food for thought. I always admire your ability to grasp the mettle and bring these issues out into the open. There must be a way we can collectively present our case to British brides to try to do away with the misconceptions and highlight the value of our services once and for all despite the recession etc. I haven’t quite worked that bit out tho’! You will be fine Kelly as you have the passion and drive to spur you on. Others, however, will not be so lucky and I have already heard tales of people ‘giving up’. It’s hard but I think if we all stick together we will win through. Much love to you, Kerry xx


    What a refreshing and honest post and I have to agree with everything you say. I hired an on the day co-ordinator for my wedding and I still say now that it was without a doubt the best money we spent in terms of value for money. I also wondered at the time how she would make a living from it {her prices were similar to yours now} considering how many weddings you could feasibly do a year but I think really it is the sheer passion for it rather than the financial gain! It’s sad really but I fear that the planning industry will eventually have to stick to high end weddings unless it is supplemented with another income, but it’s one of those jobs where you want to put in 100% to each and every day and would be difficult to do part time.

    I hope you work something out, your family and friends must be missing you!

    Beth Mottershead

    Very well said, Kelly. I really feel for you as we can all tell how much time and effort you put into everything you do. I think in general, unless they have done it before, people don’t realise how much time, effort and skill is required with so many different services. With weddings, it is unlikely that the couple have any previous experience.

    I have found myself undercutting myself with my cake prices in the past and then completely worn myself out for what has often been below minimum wage. Other times, I have received some quite offensive enquiry emails, saying that they want lots of details or a really expensive look, but with a cheap price. Before, I would find that I come to an agreement about the cost and would do a lot for free, but this isn’t fair or sustainable. You get what you pay for and if you want someone to dedicate weeks of their time providing a service for you, it doesn’t seem to make sense that you wouldn’t be prepared to pay for this.

    There are limits of course but I think if there was an increase in awareness of the value of what people in the wedding industry do, that can only be a good thing.


    I totally agree with you. It is so hard for people to understand the amount of work we do.

    This is a fantastic blog and I hope it helps to start the UK wedding industry on appreciating and understanding what we do and how long it takes, as well as the fact we have to make a living doing what we do.

    Good luck with everything
    Claire x

    Yvonne White - WhiteGoldImages

    I can’t even begin to express how much I agree with you Kelly. Like Kathryn, I am a wedding photographer and we get almost exactly the same problems, clients assume you turn up on the day and do one days work when the reality is so enormously different. I guess its fair to say the same could be said for many wedding professionals. Yes, we need to educate people in these cash strapped days about the value they are getting and posts such as this can only help do that.
    Having spent many hours at many weddings, I fully appreciate the value of a good wedding planner and would always recommend to clients using one – like a professional photographer, pre-event it often seems like a costly luxury – its only afterwards the absolute value becomes clearly apparent. So to anyone who is planning a wedding and reading this, just do it, you really won’t regret it.

    Nikki Ward @knotsandkisses

    What an amazing post Kelly! It is so true what you say about people not valueing your services until afterwards. I can only imagine what it must be like for a wedding planner but I get the same 11pm and weekend phonecalls as as stationer and totally feel where you are coming from with regards to having no time off.
    Its so difficult because you do want to help as many people as possible with their weddings, and I love hearing all about their plans for their big day, but like you say there is very little conciousness out there as to how much work we put in in the wedding industry. If I worked my services out on an hourly rate I would never get any work!

    jennie MUA

    I totally agree with you wholheartedly Kelly……. this is a difficult industry and time for most of us and it becomes even harder when clients want to pay as little as possible for your services asking for discounts or more to the package.
    As a makeup artist i can offer many services to my clients ( i can also style hair and i’m a qualified beauty therapist) and despite what they would have to pay in a salon they regularly want a better price than what i quote- even when they have access to me virtually 24/7, get extra trials when they change their mind, have me from start to finish on the day and even helping them to dress!!!!!
    Yes it’s wonderful to help make someones day and see them look so happy, but the question does need to be raised of whether people realise the value of what they are getting and would they ask for that discount if the shoe was on the other foot- probably not.
    So well done kelly for putting this so eloquently and hope to work with you soon.xx


    In reply to Kim (11) – I agree! My photographer’s assistant was like an extra bridesmaid, she carted my train around for me. The Wedding car people helped put cravats right and kept an eye out for things that were going on outside of the church. Far beyond the call of duty and paid no extra to do it. However, at the end of the day we realised just how fantastic they had been and they get reccomended all of the time -unlike the groom’s suit shop whose lack of customer service and the groom collecting his shirt on the morning of the wedding warns people not to use them. In response to the blog post though, you can’t do it for nothing though as it is your full time job. I guess it is possibly worth re-assessing your market? I’ll keep quiet now! :)

    Annie Byrne

    Great post! and I hope an eye opener to most. I find I am currently trying to educate and gain support from vendors as much as educating brides in what we as wedding planners do and the benefits of hiring us.- even if it’s not me, hire {at least} a day of coordinator! Photographers are there to photograph. Hairdressers are there to pamper you, the hotel coordinator is there to help the hotel.
    And hotels are cutting staff and they just don’t have the time to deal with brides’ questions, constant emails and all of the extra little details that a wedding entails as noted above. – you won’t get the attention from a hotel coordinator that you will get from us!
    I don’t think any wedding planner gets into this business for the money. We really genuinely love what we do and love helping couples on this most important and special day but we do need to get paid fairly for it. And you are sooo right in that they don’t realize the value of a wedding planner until after the wedding.
    So, for the record……
    The value of hiring a wedding planner is much much more than what is in the price!

    Rebecca Jones

    Hi Kelly,

    I really admire this open and honest post, and I can completely relate to what you are saying. My wedding stationery is all handmade and some designs really are quite intricate and time consuming. I have clients who quibble over the price and I find it very difficult to convey that my prices are actually very good value for money.

    I am about to increase my prices too, i’m a bit nervous as I don’t want to put people off but at the same time I have to be able to pay my bills.

    I used to earn considerably more than I do now in previous jobs that i’ve had but I choose to do this because it is my passion. Like you and many other wedding professionals, I LOVE what I do.

    Rebecca xxx

    Kim - The Fine & Funky Events Company

    Fantastic post Kelly!

    Going to post a link on my business page

    Thank-you for being so honest, it’s very refreshing and I really admire you for it. As someone who has not been in business a year yet, I can totally see where you are coming from.

    Unless I do something about my pricing soon I won’t be able to carry on and make a living. Like you my husband is incredibly supportive and I’ve hardly spent any time with him since starting the business, never mind my family of friends. I LOVE what I do and I love this industry, I want to work in this business, I’m passionate about what I do and really believe I can make a go of it, but unless I change my prices and give myself a few hours off every now and again I won’t be able to continue.

    So, thank-you Kelly for writing this post, you have inspired me


    Suzanne Robertson

    Well said Kelly!! I really feel for you, I’m a full-time mummy just starting up with my work from home businesses and I find it hard to charge what I should because I feel I shouldn’t be charging for my time because I’m not a ‘proper’ business. Stupid really surely my time is worth just as much as anyone elses, indeed my children would think my time is worth more than anyone elses.
    I got married 11 years ago this year an a very tight budget and did everything I could myself and can remember how much time and effort that was so I am sure you are well worth everything you charge and more. Especially as you make yourself available to your couples virtually 24/7, I’m sure a lot of the other wedding services wouldn’t be taking calls at 11pm or on a Sunday – don’t let yourself be taken advantage of. Sometimes people forget we are all human and do have lives of or own to lead too.
    Good luck with everything you do, and well done for being brave enough to discuss those nasty £££££ xx


    WOW! I am completley blown way by all your comments and support, thank you all SO much. I have to admit I was more than a little nervous to press the publish button on this one but I’m glad I did.
    You are all very kind and it has made me realsie that it isn’t just me. We are all in it together!


    What a great piece Kelly. I think you have spoken for many planners and indeed many wedding supply professionals out there.

    Like you, when we created our business, we laboured over what to charge. We researched a lot into what other planners were asking. Some we felt simply couldn’t justify their exorbitant prices, while others were underselling themselves big time.

    We chose a pretty much ‘middle of the road’ pricing structure worked out on a decent hourly rate (enough to cover our outgoings and make a modest profit).

    You are absolutely right to stick to your guns. Don’t deviate from your published prices. We have found that if you advertise your prices, then you only end up with genuine interest in the first place (which is what we all want!)

    Don’t be disheartened and keep up the good work.

    dear friend

    I could not agree more! When you’re in a creative based business like photography, wedding planning or writing – it takes a lot of TIME – which I feel is not valued by the browsing general public. For example I have a blog – but I doubt the brides visiting know or care how much time and research is put into each article.

    I say this not to complain, but to shed further light on the fact that we do this because we love it – that’s what keeps the fires burning. When you’re doing what you love for a living, putting all of that time, energy and effort into it – you absolutely have the right to charge whats needed to compensate for that. Good luck to you – dont knock down your prices unless its a very dire circumstance. Your time and energy ARE worth every penny. xxxx

    Martin Hambleton

    Hi Kelly,

    I’d agree with every word you’ve written. We photographers have the same conversations too frequently with people at the moment. Very few people seem to appreciate the time and effort that goes into making a wedding run smoothly, and even fewer seem prepared to pay for that expertise.

    It’s the hardest thing to stick to your guns over pricing, but what’s the point of being busy for busy’s sake? If you’re running yourself ragged but still making no money, you might as well stop!

    We all know that this industry has seen a massive influx in recent years of people prepared to give the earth and ask pennies in return. Sadly, it’s devalued the value of all our services. Those of us who want to still be in the wedding business in a few years’ time need to stick together and stand firm on pricing.

    Good on you!

    Trish Finnemore - FINomenol Events

    What an honest and open account of something that affects us all. As Annie Byrne said, you don’t get into the business of planning weddings to make your fortune.
    I left a very well paid government job to follow my dream and make a living from doing something that makes me happy.
    When I tell people what I do for a living, some people give a wry smile and say “well that’s not real work though is it? Anyone can plan a wedding”.
    To a lot of people, what we do doesn’t require any skills and therefore why should they pay for something that they feel anyone can do. It’s only when I explain what’s involved that they begin to understand the responsibility a planner has.
    If you are any good, customers won’t realise how much work you have put in. Ironically, the better you are at planning the more they think they could do it themselves.
    I also find many people still think planners are for people with unlimited budgets who just don’t want to do any of the dirty work themselves.

    I had one pospective brides Mother in Law state that what I was charging was outrageous (£2000 for everything). Her words were “How hard is it to organise some stationary, flowers, a dress and some food for goodness sake? Your not paying that we’ll do it ourselves and put the money to something worthwhile”
    Needless to say they didn’t hire me and I was left feeling that I shouldn’t have asked so much. Howver, when you think about it that only worked out at about £8.00 per hour! which I think was a bargain considering we are on call evenings and weekends too. I used to earn triple what I charge and did much less work when I worked for someone else. Unless we can change the publics perception of what we do we will always have this problem.
    Wishing you every success for the future Trish

    colette masters

    I could not agree more Kelly and I admire your honesty!!

    I think half the problem at the moment is people do not appreciate the fact that yes, I may cost you £400 for a day, but I SAVE you ALOT more, and also, the FULL planning services which are bespoke to each couple reflect the time taken to plan and research. And everyone else makes a living from wedding’s, so why can’t planner’s?

    No-one bats a eyelid when I quote on organising a event/corporate work, so why is it any different when it comes to weddings??

    I had a conversation last week with a bride who decided not to use my services, she rang me to tell me she’s since recommended me to 2 of her friends who are newly engaged, as the things that happend on the day that took her time out of enjoying what was happening, could have been prevented with me being there for her!!

    Anyway, I digress, but basically, this post ROCK’S and I whole heartedly hope that you carry on, because your services are unique, and having someone like you around as a fellow “planner” makes my day alot brighter!!

    Maybe we should take the North by Storm and start a campaign against dilution of worth!!!

    Much love

    All Wrapped Up


    From looking at the positive responses to this blog so far, I think you can safely say that you’re not alone.

    The big problem I think is that in the wedding industry, we are dealing with real people with their own hard earned money, and not with corporate businesses who have yearly allocated spends and budgets given to them, and therefore will do anything they can to reduce costs where possible.

    And then secondly, as many people have reiterated, clients just do not realise the amount of work that goes into a wedding behind the scenes; whether it be editing photos, designing stationery, or planning a wedding.

    Really interesting and courageous post Kelly. Well done :)

    Lindsay Wakelin Photography

    I can completely relate to this Blog, it’s very difficult to quanitfy your service especially in the beginning. I found I had to be honest with myself about the time I take on each job. Pre Wedding visit, sometimes two, admin, emails, phone calls, prep time, visiting the venue, covarage on the day, loading to galleries, editing, design and production of the album, other costs like insurance, postage etc etc….you have to try and think of the whole process and then put an hourly rate to it for a starting point.
    Never be afraid to say no, if people really want your service they will pay for you.




    This is a very interesting and well written post. It is impossible to keep working such long hours whilst not getting the financial rewards. Sadly people do not always realise the amount of time it takes to do things, how long it takes to search for images and ideas, the hours spent reading other blogs for inspiration, never mind actually doing the work required. On top of this there is the admin and accounts of running your own business.

    I wish you luck for the future Kelly and hope you find some time for yourself, your husband and friends. Hopefully very soon people will realise the true value of a wedding planner.

    Collette O leary

    Hi Kelly,

    Well said fantastic its how I think itis how we as wedding planners feel. Everytime I go to “women in business” meetings it is the one issue that is always raised , the stats are 70% of men are not afraid to ask for money so its about time that we women realise THAT WE ARE WORTH IT

    Charlie Round-Turner

    Hear hear. I only skimmed the above posts, sorry if I repeat:
    So many of my clients get so utterly stressed by organising their wedding, it takes over their life for months… They’d be better to let someone more skilled and efficient do it for them!

    We wedding photographers face a similar challenge in explaining our prices and hidden costs. There is a similar discussion from a photographer’s point of view by Julia Boggio on Rock N Roll Bride…

    Kerry Taylor

    Excellent post Kelly. I COMPLETELY agree with all you said as well as everyone’s comments.
    I think it’s also important to point out that being a wedding planner does not mean we sit around waiting for people to book us. We spend a ridiculous amount of time marketing the business whether that is through social media, networking or wedding fairs (a HUGE expense with potentially not much gain depending on the fair). Then there is the writing of blog posts which I update every weekday. Then there is all of the research we do into weddings, trends etc in order to stay on top of developments and meeting new suppliers as well as our regular ones to maintain good relationships! It’s never ending!
    We have not been fortunate enough yet to be full time wedding planners but we hope that one day if we keep plugging away, people’s perceptions will change and there will be a shift in attitude to mirror the US.
    Keep going and if we all stick together and support each other things will one day change. :-)


    Excellent post Kelly so heartfelt and clear. Why is it deemed unethical to take commission from suppliers? I don’t understand that. You are giving them work and profile surely that’s worth something. I would def organise a cut in my takings for my soap favours if I got a job through a wedding planner. Why not? In this financial climate surely we should all look after each other? Makes sense to me. Don’t give up I’m sure you new pricing structure will work. X

    Katie Pask

    Kelly, I really admire you for writing such an honest post! In these days of haggling people are so used to asking for discounts I don’t think they would even think about it from your perspective.

    BUT, stay true to yourself and your prices – people spend thousands on flowers and food for one day, but the right people being in the right place at the right time is THE most important part of the day, whether they realize it at the time or not, and that’s why your job is so bloomin’ important! Remember this on those down days! Katie x

    Jacqueline Bradshaw

    Well said Kelly!

    And congratulations on pressing the publish button, as a wedding planner in Tuscany (your no 3 fan here) I whole heartedly agree with every word you said. By hiring a wedding planner couples are getting the full package, local knowledge, great contacts, venues that they might never have found, peace of mind that everything will be perfect on the day and in the end it seems that we end up selling our souls to the devil for a fraction of what they are happy to pay for other services which as you also rightly say take a fraction of the time. They think nothing of paying €2000 for a venue fee for a day so why is it so different for a wedding planner to earn a decent wage for months sometimes a years work?
    Maybe we need to educate brides about what’s involved in organizing a wedding or any event at the moment sadly they just don’t get it and trust me I’ve tried! We are on call 24/7 to calm nerves, respond to emails and telephone calls promptly we put our heart and soul into our work to create fabulous wedding days for them which they actually get to enjoy without worrying about any of the small or big stuff. And we do often pick up the pieces when their DIY efforts to save money go horribly wrong because we care.

    The question is though how do we do that without sounding like whiney money grabbing people? I love my job too and will do anything to help couples realize their dream of having a destination wedding, I even had heather flown in at my own personal expense from Scotland to keep a bride happy.. without a word of thanks!

    Sadly we can’t live on fresh air most wedding planners are honest hard working people and we don’t want to make huge amounts of money (although it would be nice) out of each wedding just what we are worth.

    keep up the good work Kelly x

    Jonathon Watkins

    Thanks for writing the post Kelly.I know the feeling of 14 hour days for tiny reward. Hang on in there. Your blog is helping to get word out of what you do. I think you will reach takeoff speed before you run out of runway. You certainly deserve to get airborne with your business. :-)


    Well done you for posting this. It definitely is an eye opener for anyone wanting to go into the wedding industry as well as bride to be’s. I wish I could give you some words of advice, but can only offer you words of support. What you do is wonderful, I wish you all the best.


    I think everyone of us can wholeheartedly empathise with your situation Kelly. It takes a brave person to talk about the ‘P’ word on their blog and how refreshing to see such honesty.

    Many feel the work of vendors is done on the actual day, yet we know all too well the amount of time spent on research, planning and post production.

    Julie Dawson

    Hi Kelly,
    What a great post. I know you and I have had many conversations on what we charge. I can categorically agree that you should stick to your guns. I am working the same hours as you and last year was a busy fool. This year I am sticking to my guns and I am loosing some business, but not being valued for “being there” for what feels like all the time is terrible and you do start to resent the brides you are working for. Our service is a great one and if there are lots of us giving quality reliable service surely attitudes will change.
    You have strengthened my resolve thanks. good luck with your new projects too.


    Thank you once again everyone for your kind and understanding comments, I still can’t beleive the responce I have had back from you all.


    I don’t think I have anything new to add that hasn’t been said in the 40-odd comments above me, but I just wanted to add my thanks for articulating something clearly many self employed creatives obviously feel. You say it honestly and passionately here, and I hear you! May 2011 (and beyond!) bring couples who truly acknowledge and value the service you bring to their day :)


    Very well written blog as usual Kelly and from meeting with you several times I know that not only is your enthusiasm and knowledge worth the money, but you will actually save the client money in the long run by bringing forward the best suppliers and saving so much time looking around.


    Your Marquee Ltd


    Well worded Kelly. I agree that it’s hard when you see a couple paying thousands for their flowers or music, yet they want to negotiate on our wedding planning fees when they know we will be with them every day of the planning process.


    As someone just starting out & trying to work out the value of a new business, I found this piece really interesting & thought-provoking. It’s such a hard dichotomy trying to assess worth against market value. Thank you for writing this & good luck with the new price range…I definitely think you’re worth every penny. X

    Katy Lunsford

    Thank you for your honesty and bravery Kelly – it’s clear from all the comments tht you’re really not on your own! I haven’t read through all the comments but I know other photographers have already agreed. It’s so hard to price yourself to ensure you can actually make a living but also keep brides happy and get the bookings. I am fed up with being asked for discounts because the wedding is on a Thursday or because they don’t want certain elements or because the church and the venue are next door(?!)… I’m going to try that one next time I buy a dress in Topshop… ‘as it’s a Wednesay, and I don’t really want the arms of this dress, can i just pay half? ;)

    Stick to your guns, no more discounts and let’s all try and raise the value of what we do!

    Katy xxx

    Steven Bradshaw

    A lovely honest Blog post Kelly, sadly, bringing to light the problems faced by many in the industry at the moment. Many couples are putting off their marriage due to financial situation and others go ahead with a greatly reduced budget.

    As most couples planning their weddings are fairly uninformed about what’s important, many services and suppliers become non essential… even the photographer!… with many getting amateur friends to give it their best shot… (Not recommended!)

    As we deal with couples rather than businesses there is a much lower upper limit to their budget which also differs regionally. As a photographer I also suffer many of the same problems you are facing… couples asking for big discounts etc…

    Each wedding I shoot is around 40 hours work in all, from initial consultation, pre wedding shoot, one or two further meetings prior to the day, around 12 hours photography on the day, all the editing & post production, album viewing & choosing sessions, album design and proofing… it is time consuming hard work!!… and there’s only so many weddings you can do in a year!!

    I wish you all the best with your plight!! Maybe you could start a wedding planners network or something and set some pricing standards?? If you all up your prices at the same time to make business more viable??

    Good luck anyway!

    Zoe Sadler

    Hi Kelly,

    An extremely thought provoking and and honest blog. I also am in the same boat as you (and many others who are reading your post)- working full time and often not really reaping the financial rewards for all our hardwork or the recognition. Although I have newly set up in the wedding industry I have been working for myself freelancing for the last two and a half years after being made redundant at the very beginning of the recession. I recently have been re-evaluating my own workload against how much I earn and what people expect of me. This last year or so has definitely been the toughest and I have considered giving it all up on more than one occasion.

    The problem is ultimately we love what we do and don’t want to give it all up. Would life be easier, less strenuous on relationships and would we have more free time to spend with friends, probably, but I personally would be more miserable if I wasn’t doing what I love. People expect a lot for little money these days and are services just don’t come cheap. It is not only our clients that need to value us but we need to value ourselves- I personally am always underselling myself and think I am charging too much. Easier said than done and next time I putting a quote together for a new client I really need to remember my own and your advice.

    Good luck and I hope you work everything out and stand your ground.

    Zoe x

    Bonnie Marie

    People don’t value what you do = you don’t charge as much as you think you’re worth. Don’t regret charging too little: you set your price, not the customer.

    If people don’t understand how much you’re doing – tell them, to sell them. They’ll pay you if you’re convincing and make them believe they can’t do without you.

    Although to verify pricing you need to calculate a per hour cost for planning, it’s really not like working at McDonald’s now, is it? Unless of course frying french fries is your passion.

    My husband would say you’re not optimizing. Creative people usually don’t in my mind.

    It takes me a few readings to reach deeper, but I think you’ve touched the heart and mind of many a wedding planner with this post.

    Chin up and chest out – I see Boho weddings all over the place, so there’s a lot of people that think you’re worth it – do you?


    I know exactly how you feel Kelly, as with wedding planning so with photography. Its awful when another photographer offers to do a wedding for £650 inc digital files or they do 3 weddings in a weekend, i feel for the couple because you know that with the best will in the world that photographer will have worked 45 hrs in under 3 days and wont be able to give their best.

    I made the decision to do a few weddings really well and not try to be all things to all people, that way the client is paramount because I’m not too tired to give them a great experience and excellent service.

    What a great post if you don’t value your service then noone else will

    I wish you all the luck in the world

    Orly x

    laura edwards

    Agree so much with this insightful post. I have undercharged my services so much in the hope of securing the booking. I then ended up in tears and feeling undervalued, I was ready to jack it in before my Christmas. My passion for creating cakes was well and truly quashed and my relationships with husband, kids and friends suffered greatly.
    This year I started afresh and although still not charging what I should be to make a good hourly rate, I am working my way up there and have finally started saying no to some orders.
    If I was getting married then I would value every ounce of your service, but then that’s from someone with the knowledge of self employment, people on the outside are blinkered. They all seem to think we are after money for the sake of it, just because it’s a wedding!
    Wedding services of all kinds take up so much more planning and prep work which are all included in the price but seem to get forgotten about when the final quote is given!
    Good luck Kelly – keep strong :) x

    Louisa Boyles

    Kelly this is such a great post. Well done you for being so honest. A lot of people are in the same shoes as you and not just wedding planners.
    As I have started out recently I find it very hard to know how to price my services also. it’s hard to run a business of your own without taking on too much for little money and working all the hours god sends. It really can effect your family & social life, not to mention the moments where you can feel totally overwhelmed with it all.

    Well done for taking a stand! and thank you for the insightful post.


    What a great post. I think so many people who have their own businesses will relate to you here. I think it’s so important to not let your work consume you so much that you can’t see your friends and family – but it is so hard sometimes!

    Maybe it’s worth explaining to couples just how much they get out of you for the fee. Like you say, some people might think it’s just an on the day service, but it’s not at all! It’s so insightful to read all this and makes me realise just how hard it is being a wedding planner. I think you’re amazing!! At least you are doing what you love and you have the support of a wonderful husband – in many respects you are very lucky.

    Good luck and stay positive. Brilliant post x

    Wedding DJ

    Totally agree with you similar to DJ’s. Brides value the cake which costs them £400 higher than the entertainment and DJ and forever the first question always is how much do you charge. Not what service do you offer, or what can you do for me.. They like their dress to look pretty and the cake and flowers etc. then cheap out on other things and DJ;s can look pretty too :).

    Keep it up it is better to charge a value for money fee than a “cheap” fee because at the end of the day we all have mortgages to pay and thats not going to be done by earning peanuts.

    Peter Robson

    Dear Kelly,

    I hope you don’t mind my commenting as I am not a wedding planner. However, I do identify with your problem as it is common to many self employed people. What right do I have to comment ? I faced exactly the same problem in my career coaching business three or four years ago. The problem became so acute that I had to either give it up or be honest with myself and admit I knew “sweet nothing” about marketing. this led me to study a subject I became ever more fascinated by. I also came to the point where I took the decision to abandon what I had been doing for over 15 years and now concentrate full time on my new career. Enough of me ! I have only put this on record because I have spent a lot of time finding out what works and what doesn’t In the light of what I have just said, can I make a few suggestions. What I say may appear a little blunt. It is not meant to give offence, only to emphasise what I have learned by trial and error ( and a lot of the latter ! )

    1. Sooner or later every market becomes commoditised. Because of this you absolutely have to find the niche in which you can specialise. When you find the niche, where you become an acknowledged expert, not only can you charge premium prices, but you can DOMINATE that niche.
    2. Leading on from that, where you have limited resources ( time ) You have to build your business around high price,small numbers.
    3. Where a niche is already established – create your own niche ! An example of this would be the restaurant in the U S which marketed romance. They contacted husbands within a 10 mile radius on the basis of ” You are busy, and probably don’t have enough time to devote to your loved one. I, Angelo am inviting you to my special romantic dinner for you. When you arrive, your lady will receive a bouquet of red roses etc ( and then went on to describe all the delicious dishes … From one message like this the restaurant booked over 200 sittings ! If you have seen the latest Cooperative advert, they sell exactly the same thing very cleverly.
    4. No-one ever built a really successful business on ” one off ” hits. You have to turn buyers into long term customers. Only in this way ( when you develop a long term customer ) do you know their life time value. When you know this, you can easily find out how much you can afford to spend to acquire a customer.
    5. You have to have an automatic prospecting process. This means that your message is ” out there” in the places people are looking. To get them to register interest this also means giving away something free to find people who are interested. When you have a surfeit of enquiries, you can CHOOSE who you want to work with !

    Once again, I hope these few comments are useful and please accept them in the spirit in which they are volunteered. I would be more than happy to speak to you further if you feel I can help.

    Kind Regards

    Peter Robson


    It’s hard isn’t it? You don’t want to scare the brides away but you also don’t want to sell yourself short! It’s something we’ve struggled with a LOT. Good luck with figuring it out, I never realised just how much a wedding planner does! You’ve managed to cure me of the “want to be a wedding planner” bug ;p Well, you and a couple of especially difficult customers..!

    Colin Jones

    Hi Kelly – Fantastic journal there! I’ve been self employed for many years now, and I now perform my trumpet at wedding ceremonies (£250 – not just an hour as you say.. 6 hours travel, arrive an hour early, hours of phone calls and emails in advance, 25 years honing my skills etc etc etc!!). I also do some front of house work at a wedding venue so I fully understand the work involved in your business. The only secret to charging right is to charge what you NEED to charge, then make sure that you back it up with good service. It sounds like you have just the right idea now. Hope things go well fo you in the future.

    Magnolia Wedding Planner

    this is amazing! this article is just about..me. I can read among the lines of your post my life and my career. I’m exactly in that surprising period of my career that something has to be changed. Working 14-15 a day ,never a day off ..all the stress and responsability we have on our shoulders..this MUST leads to something right?
    Thanks a lot for sharing your life and whenever you need to talk I’m here



    I totally agree, I’m currently doing a wedding planning course now and looked St this website to see how much people would pay to be a wedding planner. This has totally answered my question. I think from these comments people are underpaying wedding planners !!


    Wow – i have only just come across this post – i am brand new to the Wedding Business and am trying to set up a Venue styling and planning business – it is seriously tough. The hardest bit is by far the pricing – i am so worried i am going to out price myself and wont get the bookings so i always end up ‘throwing’ in things! But then after the event i am at a loss! Would be intrested to know how far you have come since this post Kelly – and anything you have learned since 2011? Thanks for being honest! x


      Hi I need someone that can plan an engagment party and decorate and I’ll still pay the same price as well it’s for my friends they just got engaged and I’m planning a party for them so please if u can help me


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