If you’re just breaking into the elopement market (or that’s where you want to be heading), one of the biggest roadblocks you’ll come across is working out how to price elopements. A lot of photographers undercharge for elopements at the start. Sometimes it’s because they believe it’ll be a lot less work (which many then realise later isn’t the case), and other times it’s because they really want the booking, so they lower their prices to try and get the sale. Either way, these decisions often come back to bite them in the ass later on.
Pricing is such a complex, and often a very personal decision. You might have spent a lot of time working out your pricing for the services that you currently offer, but when it comes to adding something new, you’re unsure where to start.
I firmly believe that pricing isn’t just about covering expenses and profit margins. You absolutely need to be making a profit in your business, but that goes without saying. (And if you’re not, I highly recommend doing some deep work around money mindset). How you price your services also communicates VALUE. I’ll explain more about that later.
How Should You Price Elopements When You’re Just Starting Out?
When I first started photographing elopements, I wasn’t sure how to price them. I offered two different services on my website. Wedding photography and adventure sessions (i.e. couple shoots). When people would enquire with me about photographing their elopement, they would ask what my rates would be, since it wasn’t a big wedding. It was just them. They had seen the prices of my couple shoots and assumed the rates would be closer to those prices. In all honesty, I wasn’t sure how I should price them. And even though I’d worked out a price and sent it to the couple, it was clear to me (and almost certainly to them because of the language I was using) that I wasn’t convinced by my own pricing either.
I quickly realised that I was working just as hard for elopements as I was for weddings. The work was just different. I was spending many more hours discussing planning and logistics. Just like with a traditional wedding, on the day itself, I would often find myself spending longer with the couples because even though we had a timetable, things were much more relaxed and took longer out of choice. And when I got home, I would fast-track the editing to make sure they had previews within 24 hours and their full gallery within a month, so that they could share their elopement with the people who couldn’t be there with them.
I ended up changing my pricing guide to state “weddings & elopements” and having them at the same rate. I wanted to attract couples who put the same value on to their elopement as a couple who were planning a big wedding, and I wanted to make sure they knew that I valued elopements as much as big weddings.
Base Your Pricing Guide On What You Want To Attract
If you’ve been in the wedding industry for more than a year, you know that weddings come in all different shapes and sizes. And so do elopements. Photographers who offer to shoot a full day wedding for $500 won’t be booking the same types of weddings as a photographer who charges $15,000 per day. Elopements are no different! Just because there are couples who book 2-hour elopements for $200, it doesn’t mean there aren’t couples willing to pay more and book more hours. So much comes down to who your clients are, what they value and also what you offer!
If you’ve got an established photography brand and you’re working with a lot of your ideal clients, I believe that your elopement pricing should complement your wedding pricing, and not devalue either service. If your clients value your expertise and skills, and they believe in investing in photography, that shouldn’t change if they decide to elope.
If you want to attract high-value elopements, you need to create a price guide that offers a high-value service. Clients are still coming to you as an expert. They might also still hold some outdated views that elopements are cheaper and shorter than weddings, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what they want. If you want couples to book 6+ hours, or even a full day for their elopement, you need to offer that in your pricing guide and explain the benefits of booking it.
“I Can’t Price Elopements The Same As It Just Doesn’t Work With My Business Model”
I understand that it can be challenging to work out a whole new pricing strategy. If your current pricing model for weddings really doesn’t work for elopements, my recommendation is to create a completely new pricing guide just for elopements, so couples aren’t confused about what they are getting. On your contact form, you’ll need to ask which services they are enquiring for so that you can send them the appropriate pricing guide.
Having a different pricing guide for your different revenue streams (or different locations your serve) helps to alleviate any confusion about what service they need to book and doesn’t invite couples into those conversations we all dread which start with “If we take out X, can we have it for cheaper…”.
The Next Steps
1. Decide what coverage options you want to offer for elopements & create your packages
2. Create a separate pricing guide or pricing page for elopements
3. Amend your contact form to get couples to select what service they are enquiring for
Book an Elopement Kickstarter Session and I’ll help you create a custom roadmap for booking more elopements.