With this month’s focus being on creating balance in your lives, we thought it was a perfect time to talk about defining your worth as a planner. Without having accurately defined your worth, balance can be nearly impossible to achieve, as you’re likely working way too many hours for paychecks that don’t reflect the time put in. Today, then, we wanted to talk a little bit about defining your worth as a wedding planner and making sure your pricing reflects that worth. We took to our Aisle Planner Facebook community for feedback and thoughts, and below are the common themes we came across:
Take inventory and make changes
Taking inventory of what you normally charge and how that corresponds to the actual number of hours you spent working is an imperative first step in defining your worth. We heard from a number of planners who said they base their full-service planning rates off of their hourly rates, but end up going over those estimated hours almost every single time. Jonnaysa Kirkham of Planned Perfection brought up a great point in this regard: “With full service weddings, you become very close with the families and the couple, and you create a friendship, which thus leads to more time spent with the clients,” she said. “It’s such a fine line, that almost always is crossed.”
We couldn’t agree more—full-service wedding planning does create friendships, and this does lend itself to spending more and more time with clients, but you have to remember that your career is not a hobby. It’s your livelihood, what you’ve worked toward for years and what you know best. Don’t undersell yourself. As personal as planning is, it is still—above all else—business. If you find yourself in the position where you’re constantly working more hours than you charged for, you owe it to yourself to sit down, take inventory of that and make a change.
Maybe that means increasing your hourly rates or adding more cushion time to your estimates. Maybe it means setting clearer expectations with your couples from the get-go. Maybe it means considering a more creative and fluid pay structure. Remember, unless you’re volunteering your time, you should never work for free.
You are an expert. Charge like one:
When something comes naturally to us, we often forget how useful and rare it is. As planners, we’re naturally creative, organized and driven, and we’re extremely connected in the wedding-planning community. These traits are imperative to the success of our clients’ events, and our charges should reflect that. We are experts; our clients hire us to be experts; it is perfectly acceptable to charge like experts.
Think about lawyers or web developers or freelance graphic artists—they all charge very large sums of money for their very rare expertise, for every single second they are on the clock. Your skills are just as useful to your clients as their skills are to their clients. Don’t undersell yourself or work extra hours without charging. Your client came to you because they see and value your worth—they should be willing to pay for it.
Be clear with your clients
We often don’t want to bother our clients any more than we need to, but a great way to ensure you’re getting paid properly for your work is to keep your client in the know about your hours and set clear expectations from the beginning. In my experience, clients tend to be understanding and won’t want you to work for free any more than you want yourself to. Learning to communicate your worth to clients is empowering and absolutely key when it comes to defining our worth and achieving balance in our lives as planners.
Maybe you charge a flat-rate of $5,000 for a bank of 50 hours, and then charge hourly for anything about 50 hours. Keep your client posted on your progress. Send them updates letting them know how many hours you’re at. As you approach the top of that 50-hour mark, they’ll likely think twice about asking you to drop invitations at the post office or perform other easy tasks that they could do on their own. Clients with larger budgets, on the other hand, may want you to continue doing this work, which is great, as long as you’re getting paid properly for it.
Overall, defining your worth really comes down to focusing on our jobs as just that—jobs. We should be paid for every hour we put in, and we should be confident enough to set this expectation with our clients from the get-go. Remember, the more accurate your rates, the more time (and money) you’ll have for all of those off-the-clock things you love and deserve (like family time…and wine time, of course).