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Why experienced wedding planners avoid working with "budget" clients

This is a bit of a Pandora's Box that we are somewhat hesitant to open - in part because we don't want to offend anyone or give the impression that there is anything wrong with having a wedding on a small budget. There absolutely is NOT!

But we do feel compelled to offer some explanation to couples whose business may have been turned away by a wedding planner or even a vendor because they are working with a very small budget. It really comes down to this cold truth - it's just business!


So let's do a deep dive into how business drives a wedding planner or vendors decision to turn away work...


Weddings are a visually driven industry. If you have checked out a vendor on social media or via their website, you were likely attracted to that vendor based on the imagery which created "feelings" for you. That feeling of "yes! I want them because that is what they do and that is what I want!". Because wedding planners provide a very personal service, they don't have a tangible product to market so they rely very heavily on photos from the weddings they do in order to promote their services and create those feelings. Imagery that attracts new business by appealing to engaged couples (their target audience), so that they can turn those couple into paying customers. 

Unfortunately, minimal budget weddings don't produce the kinds of weddings that a planner can/wants to use to market their business or that are in alignment with the level of weddings they do. The same can be said for vendors


Wedding planners (and other vendors) have a business to run and in order for that business to be sustainable AND profitable, it has to generate a certain level of revenue. While wedding pros (especially planners) have a deep love for what they do - love doesn't pay the bills. A budget wedding can't likely afford to pay for a high level planner without seriously compromising the quality of their wedding but for a planner to price their services based on what a budget wedding can afford, they are not generating enough revenue to support their business - much less a livable income.


While this is likely no problemo for "hobby planners" or "solopreneurs" that do wedding planning on the side of their full time regular job or for beginners that are trying to get some experience - but if they are experienced and operating as a legitimate full time business, they would have to do a much larger volume of weddings just to generate enough revenue to meet their expenses. This is a tell-tale way to differentiate between different levels of planners - if their fees are well below the norm, they likely lack experience or are operating a volume based business (meaning they spread themselves thin which results in overpromising and underdelivering on their commitments to the client)


Wedding planners can work with a client for as long as 2 years to plan their wedding - that's longer than ANY vendor has to work with a client. Budget weddings require a higher demand on their time because there are a lot of major challenges that come along with managing a budget wedding.

The primary challenge is that small budget weddings have a very limited pool of quality vendors to choose from...quality being the operative word here! Sure there are a lot of "budget friendly" vendors out there but planners with experience know that those kinds of vendors bring a whole new set of challenges to the table because most lack the experience and know-how to actually execute a wedding successfully. This puts even more work on the planner and almost always costs the clients more in the end. Those challenges and costs are a whole other ball of wax that will require an article all it's own!


It comes down to this - budget clients often have expectations that their budget can't back up. The planning process is often the first to experience this imbalance between budget & expectation. Budget clients often book the least expensive package but most often need more assistance than their chosen service package offers. Stealthily falling short of their own responsibilities in the planning process thereby forcing their planner to do more - just so things don't turn into a total disaster. Not all budget clients do this but there are enough of them that do, that lead planners to decline booking small budget clients.


Price haggling, asking for discounts, expecting more for less or assuming that they can get their planner/vendors to do things that they aren't being paid to do. As an example: when we first started out, we had a wedding that chose to repurpose all of their ceremony flowers as centerpieces for the guest tables at their reception. They needed to save money so at the last minute (an unbeknownst to us) they decided not to contract their florist to come back and relocate all of those flowers, so on wedding day they asked their planner, caterer, DJ, bartender and photographer to move all of the flowers to the reception. That was not those vendors job - and contrary to popular belief, that is not a wedding planners job either! 

We all pitched in and made it happen but the rest of the wedding day paid for it! Everything got incredibly behind schedule and guests were upset because of the delay. That made the vendors look bad and some guests even left bad reviews that were a direct result of what the client asked us and their vendors to do. That is where respect comes in. The lack of respect that was shown in having the planner/vendors perform tasks that are the responsibility of another vendor because of the clients inability to financially support their own expectations. 


Everyone knows weddings aren't cheap - but most couples just starting out on the wedding planning journey don't have a realistic understanding of what one actually costs. Every couple wants the best vendors servicing their wedding but experience sticker shock when they find out the cost of those vendors compared to what they can actually afford. 


As we previously mentioned, the pool of quality vendors in the "budget friendly" sector is extremely small at best . The limited options force couples to book sub-par vendors because that is what their budget can support but leaves couples with feelings of unmet expectations and the planner almost always gets some of the blame even though the planner has nothing to do with determining how much the client can afford to spend on their wedding. Additionally, most budget sector vendors are hard to work with and aren't equipped to service a wedding successfully - again, putting an excessive amount of additional time and work demand on the planner. Something they are not paid any extra for.


A lot - and we mean a LOT - of budget weddings DIY many elements of the wedding! Family or friends that can do something. An cousin that has a camera and fancies himself a wedding photographer, an aunt that used to be a florist, a bestie that bakes a cake or someone that owns a restaurant that can cater. These are all considered DIY in a planners eyes. Wedding planners work with professional vendors who do weddings every day

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