At a recent bridal show here in Austin, something amazing happened.
As I stood behind my banquet table laid with elegantly framed samples of my work, speaking with glowing (yes, they actually glowed) newly engaged couples, I had an epiphany.
I was speaking to a lovely young woman who was openly admiring my work. She said that she wished she could afford to hire me to address her envelopes but that she knew it was “too expensive”. “But I haven’t told you the price”, I replied. “How much do you think it costs?”
She stood there thinking for a moment, obviously trying to come up with a number, but unable to even guess. “I don’t know” she laughed, ” I really don’t have any idea!”
She was amazed when I did tell her the price and vowed to stop making assumptions about the services she’d like for her wedding.
The epiphany for me was two-fold.
First, that my biggest obstacle in selling my services is not exposure or price. It is the presumption that “elegant” or “beautiful” equals “expensive”. This is simply not true. I’m not saying that there isn’t expensive calligraphy out there, just that it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Just like you’ll try on gowns or suits in different price ranges until you find one you love that also fits your budget, so should you price several calligraphers until you find someone who fits your budget and gives you what you want.
Second, how many people, because of their assumptions about prices for services, simply give up what they want? My advice to you? Always ask for prices. Shop around. Ask for a discount. If the vendor is having a slow month, you may just get a better price. Offer to trade services if you have a skill. Ask about setting up a payment plan. In other words, if you really want something for your wedding, ask!
I offer gift certificates and wedding registry services, complete with cards you can enclose in wedding shower invitations. Suggest that to any kind of vendor and they may implement a similar service for you.
I know planning a wedding is a daunting task. Just remember, vendors like me want your business. And sometimes we have wiggle room.
You’ll never know unless you ask.