Do you reduce your rate when a couple is in an awful situation? Terminally ill party etc. I’ve had this arise twice in the last 3 months and never know what to do.
First, Sarah’s response:
It’s a case by case basis for me, and it’s also one you have to be SUPER careful with. Everyone has a sob story. One of my very first bookings I fell for a story and gave a 10% discount – “we’re both students, and my grandmother is ill and we’re bringing the wedding forward so she can be there, it’s her dream” – then they didn’t get married for 18 months, so grandma clearly wasn’t that sick, her dress cost $5k (she proudly told me about that), and she turned up in a stretch Hummer. I can bet she didn’t get a discount on any of those things.
In my limited experience and observation of these things, the people who are actually in the most need are the ones who won’t ask for a discount or won’t accept it. There’s something empowering about them being able to pay for things themselves, and not taking a “handout” as I’ve heard some people say. They might prefer it if you made a donation in their name to a charity that’s close to their heart. The ones who come to you with a sob story are the ones who feel entitled for whatever reason, and I can assure you they’ll be the biggest pain in the arse clients you’ve ever dealt with.
I’ve had family members who have insisted on paying my full fee. I did the funeral of my best friend’s dad, and when I sent her the invoice with a small discount she sent it back, saying “we didn’t ask you to get mate’s rates, we asked you because you’re amazing – charge us what you would charge anyone else.” I didn’t charge my aunt when I did my uncle’s funeral and she still feels uncomfortable about it – I’ve had a lot of work from that funeral director though, one I hadn’t worked for before, so I let her know she’s paid me indirectly.
So I can’t give you a hard and fast ruling on this one. But do consider whether the couple is likely to be getting discounts from any other provider, or whether they think you’re a soft touch. Consider whether the story is truly legit (no idea how you find that out, but it’s something you need to think about). And also consider what kind of wedding they’re having – if we’re talking about a bedside legals only in the hospital, then yeah, they’re probs legit, there are no other providers, and I’d probs consider a discount. But if we’re talking about a full wedding with a whole lot of “stuff”, do they really need your discount, or do they just need it so they can afford fancy bomboniere????
And next, Josh’s response:
I’m with Sarah on this one. I either give it for free or full price, and if they ask for free or a discount it’s almost always going to be a bad experience for me.
Any requested discount or freebie ceremony has been the worst day at work for me.
Offering a freebie where it wasn’t requested is almost always a great day at work.
This one is obviously up to every celebrant to make their own call on. We don’t want to sound heartless, but hopefully we’ve given you some things to think about if this kind of request ever comes across your desk!