Wedding Vendor Costs & Running a Small Business

Josa_and_Jeff_Candids-0263 Before reading this I want to be clear that this is not about ranting, complaining, or proving a point. It is really geared towards educating couples searching for wedding vendors on why our prices may be more than they are expecting to pay. And what it takes to run a small business. Most people have no idea what running a small business really takes. And how are they suppose to? Because you don't have to, so how would you know! So I truly hope this helps couples searching for wedding vendors realize why the cost may be higher than they were anticipating. Also, keep in mind these items are geared towards my company, each vendor you contact will have different expenses and inclusions, which will affect their prices. Not each is the same. We all try to innovate and be unique so that our companies stand out from one another.

Unfortunately, we as an industry have been hit with some pretty big stereo types. Different vendors get hit with each of their own, wedding coordinators the same. But the biggest is directed as a whole; "Weddings cost more, simply because the word wedding is involved". I am not saying some vendors don't charge more than others. Because we all try to base our pricing off of how we evaluate the value of our work individually. Let's look into a few factors: (does this clearly state that weddings don't cost more just because they are weddings? Or should it be elaborated more?)

  • Most wedding vendors (including myself) are self-employed. What does that mean?Then there is the time we dedicate to running the business: How did you come across your wedding vendors? Did you find them on a website? Did you hear from word of mouth? Did another vendor refer them to you? Did you see them on Facebook? Pinterest? Twitter? Google +? Guess what? You find us, because we spend many hours every day, week, month,  and year to get us out there to be heard, seen, and found. Those hours we spend  at things such as networking events, managing online presence; such as website information, blogging, posting on all those fabulous social media sites that you get all of your amazing decoration, and organization ideas from. We don't just show up on there, and we don't get paid for the time we spend getting ourselves visible. We do all these things, in hopes that you find us, or hear about us.  Then spend the time sending you quotes, and talking on the phone answering questions, or meeting in person at consultations, hoping to get the honor to work with you.  Each and every wedding vendor you talk and work with, are doing exactly that. Every day! Because we absolutely love helping couples relax and celebrate their wedding day the way they should be.
  • Well, we pay for everything ourselves. Every year my expenses include:
    • Business licenses
    • Insurance; business, health, and dental
    • Web hosting/maintenance
    • Advertising
    • Each and every wedding has an expense of their own- from notebooks, supplies, paperwork, etc.
    • HWC specifically has an inventory that needs to be maintained and expanded
    • Education; such as Conferences, webinars, etc.
    • Office expenses (even vendors who work from home have significant office expenses!)
    • Equipment upkeep and maintenence
    • Blogging/Social Media Management materials
    • Legal advice
    • Taxes
    • Tax advice/assistance
  • Let's talk about more time: How does your wedding vendor know all that information? Because let me tell you, we know a ton when it comes to weddings and our clients can attest to that! And we learn more and more every year. Well, some is experience of-course, webinars, reading, and continually educating ourselves in every aspect of the industry. New wedding trends, better ways to coordinate a time-line, better ways to logistically coordinate shuttling, more, and more ways to save you money. And guess what? We still aren't making any money yet. We are just growing our knowledge so that when you come to us, we can give you the great advice and feedback you deserve.
  • PHEW!We are finally at the wedding coordinating part: Now we spend all that time helping you coordinate, organize, plan, staying stress free, keeping you organized and on task. Organizing your meeting schedules with vendors. Making sure deadlines are met. Insurance is provided. Oh, how the list goes on. Don't let this list fool you, because even some of our most basic packages contain many of these things as-well.
  • Wedding day: So we provide you with 10 hours on the day of the wedding (usually around 12). However our work day doesn't start on-site. It starts about 2-3 hours prior (or usually the night before!). Folding napkins, double checking details, organizing seating charts, escort cards, looking over our emergency kit, making sure all your vendors are ready and set to roll. Then once all the guests are off to the after-party, you are basking in your amazing wedding, and the tables are broken down. There is still more work to do. Did the rentals all make it back? Did the presents get to the hotel? And the list goes on.
  • Temporary: I am sure it comes as no surprise to you that weddings are seasonal. Most people love the sunshine, winery's, beaches. Rightfully so (I know I do)! What does this mean for us? Well we have to account for all those "off season times" to be sure we are here for you during the "on season times".

Let me be very clear here. I absolutely love my job. It is one of the most fulfilling things I have ever had the honor to do- besides being a mother to a beautiful little girl!  I love every minute of it, and I wouldn't change it for anything. But my point of posting this is simply to educate couples of the time and energy put into a small business-especially a seasonal, and specialized one. 

So next time you are a bit upset that a vendor costs more than you are valuing their services for, or you read a terribly written online article bashing the wedding industry, take a second to consider why that service costs what it does. Because its not just walking on-site, taking some pictures, sticking them on a disk, and dropping them in the mail. As seen above, running a small business is more work than most people realize, and takes a lot of time and energy prior to even being hired.

Now that doesn't mean there isn't someone out there in your budget. Because when I first started out, I was making about 2 dollars an hour (before covering my expenses- so pretty much zilch). So if you are on a small budget and those vendors you have already contacted just aren't in your budget. Don't get frustrated or expect them to give you a pound of gold for the value of iron. You may be able to find someone who is just starting out, building their profile or a clientele. We all have to start somewhere, or we would get no where!

Just remember that emailing a vendor saying their prices are to high for what they are offering, is very offensive. Because we work very hard to make sure you have an incredible wedding experience, and put lot's of money and time into running our small businesses.

I really hope this helps those couples out there reading those terrible articles being posted, that we really aren't here to shaft you! We love you guys and want to be sure you have a wedding that you can celebrate and enjoy. By the end of the process you all feel like family to us and on many occasions, we feel sad that we don't get to chat with you each day and see how your life is going -thank goodness for Facebook!

So no matter what you choose to do. Just be sure not to be to presumptuous about costs.  And remember to keep searching. If you are on a small budget, it may be tougher to find someone, but you will!

Photo provided by the amazing Bryan and Vita of Hewitt Photography: http://www.hewittphotography.com/

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Happy Planning! Love HWC!