As a wedding planner one of the most frequent enquiries I receive is for “on the day” co-ordination, for those couples that want last minute support and someone to oversee the wedding day that they have planned themselves. They realise there is way too much to handle on their own, and they’ve also sensibly realised that their “free” in house wedding planner is not going to cover everything an independent planner will.
It’s no secret that I pride myself on providing bespoke wedding planning services to meet individual requirements (as opposed to set packages) – but I truly believe that you can’t just turn up on the wedding day and make sure everything runs smoothly without prior involvement. At the moment, I do offer “on the day” support like this – but I insist that it actually starts about 4 weeks before the wedding date, and it involves a lot of work on my part to make sure that I fully understand your vision, confirming every single supplier, sense checking timings, compiling a detailed itinerary, liaising with the venue, making a plan for set up and clear down… and much more!
Image via BMC Weddings
There is still a problem even with this level of support though… I haven’t built up personal relationships with all of your suppliers over the full planning process earning their respect and trust, I can’t guarantee that they will do a great job as I haven’t necessarily worked with them before, I haven’t reviewed all of the contracts for you, and no doubt some of them aren’t used to working with wedding planners – in short, I haven’t personally covered the myriad of tiny details I make sure are taken care of in my full planning service.
Luckily I have great attention to detail, am confident enough to step in last minute, and can remain calm in an emergency too… but honestly? “On the day” wedding co-ordination is a HUGE amount of work for me to get up to speed in such a short time frame. Almost always there are forgotten suppliers and parts of the process that haven’t been thought through.
Image via Debs Ivelja
Which brings me to price. Because there are a lot of co-ordinators and planners out there offering this service for next to nothing. So I thought it would be useful to give a breakdown of time taken in order to complete this job effectively (and I have been conservative):
- 1.5 hours – initial phone or email enquiry and in-person consultation
- 1 hour – creating and sending a contract and invoices for deposit + final payments
- 1.5 hours – full handover with bride and groom before the wedding to go through details and checklists (including travel time)
- 2 hours – creating a full itinerary and finalising wedding timeline, with all details of the main wedding party and each supplier also listed.
- 2 hours – communicating with and confirming all the wedding details and timings with venue(s) and every single supplier involved
- 2 hours – general phone and email support with bride & groom in the run up to the wedding
- 2 hours – final meeting at the venue with bride and groom to review styling, set up and logistics (including travel time)
- 1.5 hours – attending and overseeing the wedding rehearsal (including travel time)
- 12 hours – actual time on-site during the wedding day (including travel time)
- 1 hour – follow up after the wedding with bride and groom, as well as suppliers, and occasionally having to clear down + return any hire items etc
= 26.5 hours of your wedding planner’s time.
In the UK an experienced planner will sometimes charge about £700 for this service, that’s about £26 per hour BEFORE tax and other general business expenses. This can account for up to 50% (or more) of your income, so really you are only making about £13 per hour.
I know many who charge as little as £350, which means they make about £6.50 per hour after taxes and expenses. That’s pretty close to the minimum wage in the UK.
It might also be worth noting that these prices do not include the cost of paying for an assistant on the wedding day, nor do they account for weddings that aren’t local to your area. You do also get some brides who need a LOT more phone and email support than others.
I actually once had a bride choose another wedding planning company over me who were charging under £350 for THREE on the day co-ordinators. How do they even make a profit?
Image via Millie Benbow
I know that there will always be new people entering the industry (which I absolutely encourage!), and not everyone can charge high prices… we all have different experience and target markets. But surely our collective minimum hourly rate needs to be a little more? And surely it’s better to price at a reasonable rate and then offer generous discounts and competitions for free support when you start out… rather than create lower expectations in the market?
So I guess this is my call to all UK wedding planners, can we please start to pice our work a little more realistically? There are only so many weekends in the year, and we all need to make a living! I know that wedding planners are still a relatively new concept here, but surely we have to see the value of our own worth if others are going to as well?
I must say that this year I’ve thought long and hard about whether I continue to offer “on the day” services at all. I’ve worked on some fabulous weddings with some absolutely cracking couples in the past, but I know that I have in many ways been underselling how much I am actually worth to them. I can’t count how many times brides have been back in touch with me post-wedding and told me I should put my prices up. Hindsight is a beautiful thing I guess!
So for now, I will continue to offer bespoke and partial planning to brides and grooms needing last minute support, but I’m going to price accordingly. I am still going to be earning less per hour than I did in my previous day job, and I may well end up with less clients per year. However as a wise planner friend of mine said to me recently, “work smarter, not harder”. Indeed!