There’s a services directory in Australia that does all of it’s math as to how expensive or cheap service people like celebrants are, per hour. I hate seeing it pop up in different Google searches as I firmly believe that it’s a broken system in paying creative service people.

I believe with all my mind, body, and soul, that service people aren’t paid per hour, they’re paid for how much value they bring to that hour.

The $100 an hour man

One of my lecturers in college embedded this ideology in me when he said, in 2003 terms, that each of us in the class could choose to be a $25 per hour person, a $50 per hour person, or a $100 per hour person.

The simple side of his argument is that each one of us would turn up for the same hour, but one of us would bring $25 of value, another would bring $50 of value, and another would bring one hundred Aussie dollars of value to someone’s world.

16 years on I think the numbers might be a little different, but the philosophy still works out.

The $500 per hour celebrant

My challenge to each of you is to consider what a $500 per hour celebrant would look like. If you’re stuck for ideas, I’ll tell you that the celebrant I’m thinking of is myself.

The average minimum amount of time I might spend with my couples is three hours. The average is probably closer to six, and for some it blows out to 12 if I am their MC as well.

Three hours, $1500 invoice, $50 per hour. Ludicrous you might say, but I know that if I meet with a couple for three hours, in a sales meeting, a planning meeting, getting there 30 minutes before the ceremony and performing an 18 minute ceremony, that I can easily bring $1500 worth of value to them.

The important angle to acknowledge is that the value to the couple is how they feel after the ceremony. My plan is for them to feel happy, encouraged, so very encouraged to the deepest parts of their soul, and that they would feel prepared to tackle all of their guests and celebrate through the rest of the day.

My value is that my couple’s marriage ceremony is the best part of their wedding, nothing else beats it, and that’s worth way more than $1500 to my clients.

The $50 per hour celebrant

I’m so aware of our colleagues that might have twelve hours of face time with their couples, and charge them $600. What’s their value proposition? It’s actually not for us to judge because their value proposition, and their bookkeeping isn’t my business.

But my encouragement to you and to them, is to ascertain what kind of celebrant you want to be, and to work towards that goal with education, training, mentorship, in a functioning and healthy community, with an open heart and ears to feedback and growth.

Starting out

I’m on the record for supporting celebrants that start their business by offering low rates. They can’t possibly provide the kind of value to a couple that an established celebrant can. That first wedding they should probably pay the couple for the opportunity as the celebrant is getting more value out of the exchange than the couple is.

But as you grow, and learn, and increase in your skillset you should always be adjusting your price, if your value exchange has increased.

Levelling out

Once you’ve established your business and found that fee, you might be set to make that price and put it in concrete, but I hope that your value exchange is always growing and that the couples you marry next year and getting way more value than the couples you married last year.

My July challenge

Here’s my annual challenge to you. Every July, take a moment to assess what value you are bringing to your couples, and what you are charging for that value. If the value given has increased, but your fee hasn’t, you’re sending mixed messages to the market. You’re communicating how much you care, and how much this business, and your couples’ weddings mean to you.

If you value has changed, and I hope that after a year of reading this little blog it has, then your price should change as well.