When asked if there is any wiggle room on my price, I am quick to respond that I don’t negotiate or discount my wedding officiant services, and for the most part that is true – the only discount that I do offer is to active-duty military. Otherwise, I charge the same amount for a full ceremony (or for an elopement, which is a separate price, not a discount), independent of whether it is a last-minute request, a weekday wedding, an off-season wedding, a DIY wedding, etc. I started from day 1 with this “no discount, no negotiation” philosophy – and while I definitely did say yes to some negotiating in my early days, when I was trying to build a reputation and a history of reviews, that stopped quickly, and I built my business in a way that discounting wouldn’t be required. However, just because it wasn’t right for my business, doesn’t mean it isn’t right for yours.
If you are thinking about offering discounts, or refining the discounts you already offer, here are 3 helpful tips.
1) Make your discounts consistent and show them on your website and/or in your pricing communications with your couples. If you are discounting to attract business, which should be the reason, then you want people to know about them… think of them as a marketing tool, and therefore as a standard price with a certain amount off. Also, by making them consistent and showing them somewhere early in the communication process, you are hopefully reducing the amount of “requests for a cheaper price” (aka negotiating) you will get from potential couples.
2) Your discounts should make sense to your business. If you think of them as a marketing tool, you can evaluate them using questions like, – are they necessary and if so, which discounts make sense? – are they “returning” the way I expected? – can my business continue to afford them?
3) Your discounts should make sense to your couples. A venue offering a weekday discount is easy to justify since they have fixed costs each day that they need to cover, regardless of whether that space is booked or not, and they won’t have as many requests for weekdays. Which means, when explained, it is easier for a couple booking a weekend wedding to understand why they don’t get the discount. On the flip side of that example, I often explain to my couples that the reason I don’t discount weekday weddings is that my costs and the actual hours I put into my service are the same, regardless of whether it is a weekday or a weekend – only those handful of hours on the wedding day are that day itself, with most others being spent as we create the ceremony on other days. Doesn’t always “satisfy” them, but it is clear and understandable.
I addition to the three tips above, I wanted to make a quick differentiation between discounting and negotiating. To me, a discount is when you have a set price for a set service, for example, for 6 hours of DJ’ing you charge $1700, but you reduce that price by a certain set amount based on a pre-determined criteria, for example, for 6 hours of DJ’ing on a weekday, you only charge $1500, giving anyone who books you for a weekday wedding a $200 discount. However, negotiating is where you have a set price for your service, for example, for 6 hours of DJ’ing, you charge $1700 and then you meet with a couple who says that all they really want to spend is $1400. To me, you are pricing based on negotiation if you agree to the $1400 or negotiate further and come to any agreement on a price that is less than your standard $1700.
I don’t usually recommend negotiating with couples, since we are in a referral-driven industry and the price you charged one couple will be told to other couples. So, if a couple heavily negotiated the price down, expect other couples will ask for that same price. And once you start negotiating and get known for doing it, expect to do it more often… it becomes a vicious cycle which you most likely don’t want.
If you have any questions or would like any help in determining and managing discounts, just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!