Ethical Planners?

by Debbie Quain

Are you doing the right thing as a wedding planner?

One of your responsibilities as a professional wedding planner and business owner is showing others that you’re ethical.Don’t underestimate the importance of being fair and honest. Sounds cheesy, I know, but to give you some idea of what I’m referring to, take a look at this scenario:Let’s say you have two appointments scheduled this week with brides who are interested in your wedding planning services. During your first meeting with Bride #1, after hearing all about what she and her fiance envision for their big day, you tell her that your full-service planning package fee is $4,000.Later on that week you meet with Bride #2, who, by the way, is dressed in a designer outfit and sporting what has to be a 6-carat diamond engagement ring. Based on your observation, this time, you quote your full-service planning package fee as $6,000.

Even though both weddings will require the same amount of your professional time and energy to plan, you make the decision to quote different fees because of what you think each bride can afford.

Not good!

Can you imagine the fallout if both of these women are friends and, somehow, exchange notes about their meetings with you? (Stranger things have happened!) You can kiss your credibility as a professional goodbye and it’s likely that neither bride will hire you.

From day one as a business owner, make a point of being honest and fair. Growing up, my mom had a favorite saying (one of several, actually): “Lies don’t have memories” meaning it’s harder to keep a series of lies straight than it is, to be honest. And what do you know…Mom was right!

As a wedding planner, be consistent with your fees. If you prefer to have a flexible pricing structure in place, then instead of getting caught up in a situation similar to the one I just described, set up your planning fees as a percentage of your bride’s budget. Doing so is a simple and effective way to charge, however, this method works best if you are an experienced wedding planner. Generally, a percentage of 10 – 20% of the wedding budget is the norm.

In light of some of the bigger business scandals that have made headline news in US history–can you say Enron or WorldCom?!–you might believe that this is no big deal. After all, you’re just a small business owner trying to make a living, right? But, the truth is, there’s a connection between your strong business morals and the ultimate success of your wedding business.

Do the right thing!

Blog Editor Note:

In the Tri-Cities of TN/VA there are a few great wedding planners and there are a lot of “wannabe” wedding planners.   Attending a few weddings does not make you a good wedding planner.  Sometimes, very organized people can do a decent job planning and be executing a wedding, but this is one chance in a thousand.   Check references, ask for venue references, ask the planner how many weddings and special events they have done, ask if they ever dropped a customer, ask if they have professional training, and MAKE SURE they have a comprehensive contract detailing the responsibilities of both the planner and the customer.  Lastly, DO NOT base your decision on price (either high or low), there is a reason wedding vendors price themselves the way they do.  Also, wedding planners that get kickbacks from vendors for choosing them are HIGHLY UNETHICAL, your planner should recommend vendors based on their quality of service, value and a match for your needs, not to line their pockets. Always ask this question!