Lessons Learned: Part 1 of .....(who really stops learning lessons!)

We must be approached 7 or 8 times a month about interning with our company or for advice about getting into the planning industry. I think people have this very glamorous, Jennifer "Lopezy" (ala "The Wedding Planner") vision of wedding planning and in reality it is not like that.

The Movie

It is a lot of hard work and while it is fun on the day..I LOVE game day!...there are a lot of behind the scenes business decisions that go into making this company viable...so we can have those Lopez moments (ha, this is a ballet flat kind of job) We are by no means experts at this small business thing but we have learned a few things along the way through good ole' trial and error, in the case of C and D it is mostly the error that has taught us our particular lessons. We are going to, in this mini-series (best announcer voice here) impart some of our small business lessons that we have learned along the way.

The glamorous parts!

Lesson Number 1: Get all of the details before quoting your services.

When you are quoting your services you are really putting a price tag on your time. In order to adequately assess how much a service will cost you need to know all of the details like ....how much set-up, how long is your event, where is this shebang located, how many hired hands have you contracted, how many guests do you expect, who is cleaning up this mess when it is all said and done. These are questions we overlooked when booking our first paying gig.

 Dana and I were just starting out and we decided to advertise our services on Craigslist. We had already done a couple of pro-bono weddings and felt that our skills were honed enough to charge something for our services/expertise (I can't even type this with a straight face!) We decided that a fair price for a day of service would be 250.00. We were contacted by a bride, set up an interview, gave her the quote, and not shockingly (at 250.00) we got the job! We were elated!

We had no idea how much work/time/effort/money this event was going to cost us. The wedding was in Mebane, which is about 90 miles from where we lived, we clearly had not factored in mileage into our quote. When we got there there was nothing set up...just a tent and some tables. We learned, shortly after the rehearsal that each table needed to be set up with chairs, linens, napkins, a full place setting, and menu cards for about 250 guests. In addition to the dinner area, there were cocktails around the pool, a lounge area, and several lanterns that needed to be placed over a gazebo dance floor. This was all before we actually directed the wedding (aka...what we thought we were doing) When we realized how much work needed to be done we immediately went about making a plan. We got back home that evening and typed up lists and made a schedule for the day and according to our approximations we were going to need to get to the site at 7:00 to accomplish our to-do list. This was going to be a long day and the event did not even begin until 6:00! To make a long story short, everything went well, we worked our tails off until about 1:30 that morning for about $3.75 per hour per person. (See math below) I remember when the bride handed us the check she said something like "I feel like I should be paying you so much more" (yes ma'am, yes ma'am you should) To which we replied "It was nothing, that is what we quoted you so that is what we will accept" (tip please).

Courtesy of Loebach Studios
Place Settings
Courtesy of Loebach Studios
Great Artsy shot!

Courtesy of Loebach Studios
Tables around the pool
Courtesy of Loebach Studios
Happy Bride and Groom Exiting

Gross profit - 250 - 70.00 (gas) = 180.00

Time - 1 hour pre meeting + 2 hours at rehearsal + 2.5 hours at home making a plan/panicking + 18.5 hours on wedding day = 24 hours x 2 (There are 2 of us) = 48 hours

Profit/Time = Hourly rate = 180.00/48 = 3.75 per hour