This week Wedding Wire released their Cost Guide tool on their website. For couples, this is quite the helpful tool. You can enter your location and look to see what the average prices are for vendors. You can also do a search on the side by what your vendor budget is and it takes you to those vendors that are within their price range. Seems like a wonderful solution tool.
Well, this solution has caused quite the uproar in the Wedding Community with vendors. Vendors including myself automatically punched in our information to see where our pricing fell on Wedding Wire’s awesome new tool. Some of us felt as though these prices were a little bit off for the industry as a whole let alone our specific area of the country. (okay, in some cases a lot off!)
I expressed my thoughts directly to Wedding Wire, as did many of my colleagues. I sat on calls yesterday discussing the perceived damage that had been done and the repercussions from potential clients. So let’s look at all sides of this. Because pricing is such a complicated component and one of the most important factors for clients. But before we get into all of this, let’s take a look at the different types of vendors….because there are differences.
The hobbyist will typically charge the least because they don’t know the market and they don’t know the worth of their service. They are in it to make a few bucks on the side. They usually don’t carry a business license or insurance. They don’t usually have a business plan and marketing budget. They have done some things for friends and family and decided they could make some extra spending money. They probably won’t file taxes on their earnings. Most of the time they are also the least experienced and have no formal education in their service. (…compared to professionals)
The Struggling Entrepreneur
These individuals may still work a full or part-time job. They have a business plan and a marketing budget. Their goal is to someday quit their day job to do their business full time. They are still trying to find their place in the market and their target. They may still take anything and everything and sometimes at a lower price so they don’t lose the client. Some vendors in this category may have little or no experience and just took the leap. Because they aren’t confident in their worth they tend to undersell themselves and list lower prices. Others may have all the experience and education, they are just trying to get their business rolling. This group will have a business license if required by their county and state as well as insurance.
They have established their business. They have been doing this on their own for years and are successfull. This group has the most experience in not just their service but running a business. They know the market inside out and set the trends. They know their worth and are confident in their abilities. They are going to charge a bit more than the other 2 groups and rightly so. They are going to be able to offer a more cohesive package. They are worth every penny you pay for them.
The One Stop Shop
This is the vendor that says they can do it all. They can do their service plus another service or two for little or no extra charge. People who try to do it all during an event are not only doing a disservice to their client and themselves but to the industry as a whole. Vendors: Stay in your Lane!
Obviously, there are different degrees and levels in each group. And there are always exceptions. So before all these vendors get all upset with me, this is not true for all vendors, but true for most. Now if you are a vendor and you are all miffed because I have you listed as a hobbyist and you have every intention on making this your business one day I have one thing to say to you. Take the leap! Do free events for family and friends. Volunteer or do an internship with an established vendor until you have the confidence to charge your true worth. Otherwise, you are doing a great disservice to the industry. If you have no intention of making this a true business, then stay with doing events for friends and family for free, a small fee or trade.
Wedding Wire’s Pricing Tool
Now that we know some of the different levels of vendors, what is the problem with Wedding Wire’s new tool? They run reports based on information they have collected. These average prices come from the vendor pricing they list for their specific area and the vendor survey couples take that asks how much money they spent on the vendor. They are stats, so they must be accurate. Yes and no. When you look at any stats you need to ask not only where they are getting this information but what it’s based on. For this specific tool, it states that the average Planner cost is $1500. Low cost is $400 and the high is $4200. I look at this and go…okay. Well for a wedding of under 100 for basic services. Sure. That seems fair. What they don’t include is what did the couples get for these prices. It’s deceiving. If you are looking for a wedding in Glacier, MT for 250 people I’m pretty certain that you are going to spend more than the averages listed.
It has a search tool!
When you use the search tool on the side, it asks you to put in your area and you can choose the amount of your budget for that vendor. It will then bring up those vendors that fall within that range. YES! So easy! NO! It’s really not. There are some vendors that don’t list their package pricing because they are more of a “create your own package” based pricing. So these people aren’t showing up. You may be missing out on that perfect vendor that is everything you want and within your price range.
I don’t think Wedding Wire’s objective was to undermine the vendors and their clients. I think they ran numbers and are trying to provide a helpful service to the couples. Is it a perfect system? No. But nothing is perfect and failsafe. Now I have to say, the idea is a great one in theory as long as the user understands what the numbers mean. Wedding Wire did try to explain exactly what the services are in the paragraphs under the graphs. In their defense, they can only speak to the numbers they are given. I’m sure they will continue to improve so that their couples get the best services possible. But we as vendors advertising on this site need to make sure we are supplying the most accurate information as possible too. These numbers start and end with us. We need to make sure we are listing correct pricing.
So what exactly is my point with all this rambling?
We need to educate. We need to be consistent in listing our pricing out there. We need to price our worth. Stop undercutting each other. We need to educate clients on why one vendor is so much more than another. Participate in the industry surveys you are given. Mentor those who are just starting out. If you are just starting out, let someone with experience mentor you. As a vendor, you will never know it all. Learn from one another. Our main goal is to make sure the clients get the best experience possible.
When contacting vendors don’t just look at prices, compare and see what you are being offered at that price! One planner who charges $2000 for full planning is probably not including all the elements a planner who is charging $6000 or more. So do your homework. Price things out to see what is most cost-effective. Just keep in mind that the numbers on Wedding Wire are averages. You have to take into consideration the number of guests, location, decor/rental elements, menu, type and number of flowers, type and size of cake.
Let me just Add…
While I’m on this topic per se, note that Day Of Coordination is very misleading. “Day Of” is actually at minimum “Month Of”. Preparation is needed to get all the information so that the planner knows exactly what is supposed to happen and when. In order for a planner or coordinator to do their job effectively, there is a degree of preparation.
As you can see this industry is not cut and dry and there is no perfect solution to everything. But we are all trying our best to create an experience for our clients that will make them at ease and relieved that they made the choices they did.
If you have any feedback on this topic or there is something in this post that makes you fume or you don’t agree with, please comment! Let’s have the discussion!