Real talk: There's a prevailing wisdom in the wedding industry that vendors should NOT share pricing with a couple until after they've met with us.
More real talk: Couples hate this.
So what should we do instead?
You want rates. We're scared to share 'em.
Late last year, I asked 17 of our Chicago DJ company's wedding clients what their biggest challenges and frustrations had been while they were making wedding plans. Most talked about how overwhelming it was picking vendors. Our clients said it's hard to know which vendor is the best match.
But they said it's also time consuming because many don't share prices until couples come to meet with them.
"Many places don't post much on the website, or they want you to come in to go over pricing," wrote one client. "I wish there were transparent pricing and service menus," wrote another.
Backthird is one of those that DOES put pricing ranges on our website - though we can't give exact quotes until we meet a client.
But I'll be honest with you: Sharing rates before we talk is scary.
Why? Because of Apples and hamburgers.
You can't compare Apples to burgers.
Imagine you were in the market for a new phone - so you call two different phone retailers.
Phone Place One quotes you $900. Phone Place Two quotes just $100.
Would you ask any follow-up questions?
Unless this was your first phone, I bet you would! That's good - because in this analogy, the first phone is an iPhone X (retail value: $999). The second phone is this hamburger phone (retail value: $12).
The cheaper phone SEEMED like a better deal. The more expensive phone was TRULY a better deal.
And NONE of that matters compared to the most important question: What kind of phone are you actually looking for?
If you've never bought a phone before, you might not even know.
It's what you pay - AND what you get.
That's how most couples are with weddings: Unless you've already been engaged, you just don't know our industry. You don't know the difference between our equivalent of iPhones and hamburger phones. And even if you did, you wouldn't know which one your wedding needed without doing some research.
Until you know, we're scared you'll only look at pricing. And we're scared somebody's going to overcharge you for a burger phone by making it look like the best deal.
We're afraid of losing business - and of you getting a bad deal - because you don't yet know how to compare apples to apples.
And honestly, this happens sometimes. There are folks out there who'll sell you a group of musicians who have never met and call it a "wedding band." There are folks who'll quote rock-bottom DJ prices - then call you a week before the wedding to back out. There are folks who'll quote you a low rate on wedding photography - then show up without the staff and gear it takes to actually get the wedding photos that you wanted.
You're smart enough to tell the difference. And you get to make your own decision about what you want.
But you can't do that based on price alone.
And so, the theory goes, us vendors need to meet with you so we can tell you what you're getting before we tell you what it'll cost. This is the only way you'll have the context you need to make a good decision.
And that's why some of us will make you wait to get a price.
There's just one problem: That makes your life harder.
And that's not what wedding vendors are supposed to do.
We need a better way.
How about we trust you enough to be transparent?
It's true - you need to understand our services before you make the call on whether they're good value.
But you also need to know the price. It matters. It's not just an afterthought.
That's why we have to trust each other. More and more, vendors are listing prices or price ranges online to help you know what to expect BEFORE you call us. More and more, we're trying to help you educate yourself about what vendors do and how they charge, instead of asking you to let us educate you in a meeting.
This is a move of trust on our part. If most couples pick the cheapest vendor without learning more, the market's going to be flooded with hamburger phones. Us iPhone-quality vendors will be out of business.
But look: You're not dumb.
You know it isn't JUST about the price.
But you still need to know the price.
How about you trust us, too?
Here's the truth: Weddings are a confusing business, and you're going to have to do some research if you want to make your day successful.
You may even have to plan in phases:
- Do basic research on the service you need to learn what's available and what it costs.
- Plan your budget based on what you actually need and want, now that you know what's realistic.
- Do additional research and vendor meetings with those who fit your services and budget.
That's the process I'd use today if I was planning my own wedding. And it really is a process.
It takes time.
But when you find a vendor you can trust, you'll make that process so much easier.
That's why our company STILL does phone meetings before booking clients - because we honestly believe that's the best way to make your planning experience less work and more fun.
Your wedding vendors, if you trust them, are your biggest resources in this process. Don't stop meeting with us. Don't stop asking us for help.
But don't stop asking us for pricing either.