What does it mean to search for value when pricing wedding vendors? What is “value” anyway?
“Value” means the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.
“Price” means the amount of money expected, required, or given in payment for something.
How value and price are different.
Value, while often referred to in monetary terms, doesn’t always mean MONEY. It means WORTH. Usefulness. Importance.
Price nearly always means MONEY.
How do the two terms come into play when planning a wedding?
Well, about 99% of the time, couples come to me asking for two things:
And that’s true for most wedding vendors in the industry, worldwide. Which makes sense, because those are the first two things you as the couple need to know. If we are available on your date, and if we fit into your budget.
But hold up. Let’s back up a bit.
How did you create your budget?
Where did you get your numbers from when pricing wedding vendors? And what did those numbers represent? Most couples get their budget numbers from a few different sources:
- The Knot
If you got an “average” number from the Knot or another wedding website, you’re toast.
You’ll actually be looking at less-than-average photos and video for the rest of your life. The Knot does NOT look at value. They take simple numbers and put them together. So where some couples spent $10,000 on a photographer, others spent NOTHING. That’s right. Nothing. Because a family friend offered to do their wedding pictures for free. And those photos probably reflected as much (don’t do that, okay? All photogs have to start somewhere, but OUCH for you.).
- A family member or friend.
If you got a number from a family member or friend, where did they get THEIR numbers from?
How much importance did they place on their memories? Are their estimates up to date, or did they book their wedding vendors a couple of years ago? What were their vendors like at the wedding? Everything YOU would want in a good photographer?
- A family member or friend who is a professional wedding vendor.
Okay, this one is better. But not BEST. I still want to know: How deep into the industry is this person? Where are they located? What clientele do they serve? What kind of value do they offer to THEIR couples? How close with their industry peers are they? Do they understand the concept of value versus price and will guide you according to YOUR needs versus the law of averages? Or is this just another Knot situation?
- You searched some local wedding vendors to compare pricing.
This is good too, but still NOT the best. Because let’s be real, you’ve never planned your wedding before, right? Which means you probably aren’t really sure what you’re looking for. You don’t even KNOW how to match your desires with what you actually need in a wedding vendor. Isn’t that their job?
Yes, it sooooo is.
Let me take some of the pressure off of you.
It is NOT your job to figure it all out on your own. You don’t need to come up with a bunch of arbitrary numbers for a budget and try to find vendors to smash into those tiny little spreadsheet boxes.
It is the job of your wedding vendors to guide you.
Okay, sure, but what the heck do I do NOW? I NEED a budget!
Yes. Budget is important. I get that. And don’t hear me wrong, I had a budget when I planned our wedding too!
Here’s what you need to know to plan an EFFECTIVE budget:
Let VALUE dictate what you spend on each wedding vendor, NOT price.
Meaning, it is imperative that you decide what is MOST important to you…before you set a budget. Not base numbers off the Knot, or family friends, or even local wedding websites and slap those numbers on a spreadsheet. All of these people and sites want to be helpful, but they’re missing a key piece of information:
What is most important to YOU.
What is the BEST way to make sure value is dictating your budget when pricing wedding vendors?
Ask yourselves this question: What is most important to us about the wedding?
Now ask this question: What WILL BE the most important about the wedding in 50 years?
Is it the food? Is it the photographs? The video? The florals? The venue?
Whatever it is, THAT is where you place the most value, and therefore that is your highest priority. Your budget will likely reflect it too, because now you will be able to rank your priorities.
We’re not done with this value thing yet!
After deciding what is most important about your wedding day, you can begin the search for the vendor in that category who will tick all of your boxes in providing what you desire.
And here’s the kicker: You might have a list of things you think you want from this vendor. For example, let’s say photography and videography are the most important things to you because they are the two categories that will last beyond your wedding day.
But how do you know which photographer will fulfill your needs?! According to Zippia.com, there are over 34,000 professional photographers in the U.S. alone. How do you even know what your needs are in conjunction with what’s important to you?
This one SHOULD be simple: The right photographer will find out for you.
The RIGHT photographer, videographer, wedding vendor, etc will always be the one who asks questions to find out what’s important to you, and will show you exactly what you need to fulfill your specific desires. There’s nothing generic about that. This, so that in 50 years, you’ll still be smiling when you relive your wedding day. NOT mourning the fact that you chose a generic photo package from a PDF pricing guide (so you didn’t get the results you needed).
Unfortunately, there aren’t very many of us who do our jobs well in that respect. Most of the time, you’ll get an email response with a pretty PDF pricing guide attached and a quick “hope we get to work together!”. You MIGHT get a link to a fancier webpage that achieves the same goal: giving you pricing and information.
It’s what you asked for, but it’s not really what you need. When it comes to your FOREVER MEMORIES, guidance is not just valuable, it’s necessary.
For more about recognizing real value in a wedding vendor, see this post.