FAQs: If I don’t get commission from my vendors as a planner, how do I make money? What should I charge?

(Image via via Brandi Sims)

The industry is bombarded with a new generation of planners. I think this is great, however, most of them are under the assumption that you ONLY need great organizational skills to call yourself a planner.

In fact a lot of brides, after planning their own wedding, love the process so much that they consider or think of themselves as planners. I think it takes much more than that.

This is one of the reasons I am involved with the Wedding Planning Institute. They have a very comprehensive class on wedding planning. (Yes folks, I admit I am self-promoting, but I am also trying to make a point.)

How much a planner charges is greatly affected by their area and expertise. However, I’ll try to give you the different price structures I have encountered over the years:

1. A flat fee. This fee ranges and depends greatly on what people in your area are used to paying. However, you could also determine this fee by the amount of time you are putting into the event.

Big question: What is your hourly rate? If you do not have one, make one. For example: If you work four months on an event and work at least 50 hours a week on that event from start to finish, that is approximately 800 hours. If you charge $8,000, you are making $10 an hour–which is perfectly okay, if that is what you want.

2. Some planners charge a percentage of the total cost of the job. This could range from 10 to 20 percent, depending on your area. This means if a client spends $100,000 for everything (food, music, decor, etc) the planner could make anywhere from 10 to 20 thousand dollars, with the client’s knowledge of course.

3. Some planners charge on an hourly basis. This is always a bit complicated, because most planners’ minds are working 24 hours a day with ideas and concepts for their clients, so it can be tricky to also charge for that time.

4. Your clients are aware that you are charging your vendors 10 to 20 percent of the total cost of their bill for your payment. This is also a very tricky one. Lots of clients like this one because it does not cost them anything, or so they think. But in the long run, it does cost them by getting 10 to 20 percent less product. I have spoken to many beginners who use this model just to get started. However, I strongly recommend moving away from this practice quickly.

5. Charging a client a fee and also charging the vendors a commission without your client’s knowledge. On this one, you are on your own. If you can actually do this and sleep at night? Bravo to you.

Event planning is still one of the most exciting and profitable businesses in our industry. However, like in any industry, it takes time, experience, integrity and talent before you can start charging the big bucks.

Are you having a difficult time charging for your planning services? Why? Is one of the only ways you can get jobs by paying commission? How do you feel about this?

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