Originally published on the Shirlaws Business Coaching Blog, 2007-2010.

I recently got married (which explains my lack of recent blog posts), and I can attest that everything you have heard about wedding pricing is absolutely correct. Since I write for a website with the tag ‘Love Business’  I thought I would share with you what I learned about the business of being in love – or at least the pricing side of things.  

Those who have planned a wedding, are planning a wedding, or plan to one day plan a wedding, understand the rule of wedding pricing: if you use the ‘W’ word when shopping, it will spontaneously lead to a rapid price escalation. The belief is that wedding parties get ripped off.

I won’t question the first premise here. But I do disagree with the belief that surrounds it.

To be fair, I only encountered one clear price escalation: my verbal, standard limousine hire quote of $400 became $560 when they faxed through the ‘Wedding Form’ (and was immediately reduced when I questioned the discrepancy).

Also to be fair, there’s only so many products where you can avoid mentioning a wedding.

“Hi. I have a ‘family reunion’ coming up, and I need an enormous white dress made for me, with a veil, and four matching bouquets of flowers please.”

Doesn’t quite work.

And the reason this doesn’t work is because a wedding is a special event, it’s a special day, and you want to make it special. Sure, some things won’t matter – whether there’s ribbon on the limo, say, or which brand of beer the restaurant serves – but just about everything else does matter, it is important, it is (here comes my point) valuable to you.

You should be aware that you’re not paying $600 for $500 worth of flowers. You’re paying for the flowers and you’re paying for the florist to absolutely get the right flowers you want, assembled perfectly, and delivered on the day without you worrying they won’t arrive. There’s value in those intangible aspects.

And here there is room for individual discrepancies. I was happy to pay extra to a photographer I know wouldn’t shoot my wedding with the lens cap on. I was happy to pay extra to a cake maker who was recommended by a friend, and who puts 1Kg of Chocolate into every cake. I wasn’t happy to pay extra on my jewellery, so my wedding ring cost 1/10th of my wife’s bling. What value do you place on what items?

In conclusion, know that yes, a wedding will increase the price, but in most cases only because your expectations increase, andthe value you place on the product or service being provided will increase. If you 1) understand what you value, and 2) agree with your partner about what you’re willing to pay extra for, then you will absolutely be able to prevent the wedding rip off.

And the broader lesson? If you are in business, do your clients and customers value your product? Helping them fully understand how you are of value to them will help you price for value at all times, and keep customers when times are tough.

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