Cost of Business and Wedding Day Staff

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Part of the cost of doing business for wedding planners includes being able to pay their event staff.  You may be surprised however, as I was, at the number of consultants who do not build this cost into their fee.  Instead they use "free labor" in the form of spouses, kids, nieces and nephews, etc.

There is a difference between calling on family and close friends for help for certain projects and in using them as unpaid labor at every event you do.  If you consistently have to use help that you are not able to pay for, then you are not charging enough.  It is a matter of simple math.

I have certain policies in place for my company and questions I ask that help me calculate how many people I will need on the day of an event.  Some of these include:

*The number of guests expected at the event.

*How many locations the event will take place in.  I can't be in two places at once, but I can be sure that I have eyes and ears representing me at the reception venue while I am at the church or vice versa.

*The extent of set up required.  If we are the primary designers for the event, will I have to hire additional staff to help with installation and strike?

*The amount of time we are allowed on site prior to the wedding for installation.  If my staff is expected to cover 300 chairs with specialty linens flown in from the East Coast in an hour and a half, then I know that I'll need extra hands during set up. 

Each wedding my company does has a minimum of one lead consultant and one assistant.  The assistant is never optional.  Since my name is being attached to the event, I ensure that I have an adequate number of people on hand to execute it correctly.  The decision on the number of staff needed for each wedding is based on my professional opinion and never left up to the bride and groom.  The cost of any additional staff is calculated at the beginning and included in the price quoted with the contract. 

I pay my event assistants an hourly wage, but I know many planners who choose to pay a flat fee for the day.  Either method works, it's just a matter of figuring out which works best with your business model.  Determine a fair wage and then calculate how many hours you expect each person to work.

If you need to contract labor for extensive installation and the rental companies don't include this option, you may want to consider hiring through a temp agency instead of sourcing labor on your own.  There are several staffing companies that provide event-trained staff and the fee you pay the agency covers the cost of worker's comp, employment taxes, etc as well as the employee's pay rate.  Be sure to include these prices in your fee as well.

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