As soon as your wedding business starts to take off you realize pretty quickly that feast and famine are the best words to describe your bank account and time. Weddings have pretty distinct busy and slow seasons, so planning your finances and your downtime in productive ways is a skill you must learn to keep your business moving forward. Here are ten tips to help you ebb and flow seamlessly through the slow seasons like a pro!
1. Set aside a percentage of every payment
The best thing you can do to budget your money for the future, be it a slow month or a global pandemic shutdown, is to have a percentage of every payment go into a separate savings account. Once your expenses for the event have been factored out, setting aside anywhere from 15-30% of all money received is a very smart habit to have a steady year-round income.
2. Run promotions
One way to keep funds flowing is to run promotions for future work during your slower times. Gift certificate sales advertised as holiday gifts, sales on products such as wedding albums or favors you make, and discounts for booking ahead are all ways to create a cash flow in your slower months. Offering winter booking couples 10% off all packages may incentivize a couple that was waiting a little longer to book their date. Think of the services you provide and how you can capitalize on promotions during your slow season.
3. Find projects that thrive during the slow season
Weddings may be abundant in fall, only to become nonexistent in winter where you live. To get through the slower months, work on other services your business can offer. That way you can keep your income and clientele growing. Corporate events, bar mitzvahs, styled events, industry writing jobs, and many other options can be lucrative during times you aren’t focusing so much time and energy on weddings. While outdoor weddings may be sparse in cold months, indoor parties may thrive in your area. Find the spaces your business can keep growing during the off-months to generate more income and remain busy outside of the wedding circuit.
4. Teach workshops or start a podcast
Do you know who else is having a slow season? Other wedding professionals. This is a perfect time to put together a great workshop or start a podcast to teach upcoming wedding pros about the field and offer your expertise. If you can plan ahead to run a post-holiday workshop, you can also advertise education as gifts to give wedding professionals looking to grow. Use your experience and knowledge in this time to teach others what you know!
5. Plan your budget for the new year
As you reflect on your past year of business and how you will budget financially as you move forward, this is the time to set some financial goals and budget your bare necessities. If you have a financial advisor, schedule a meeting in the slow season. Look at last year’s revenue and use this to make a basic budget for your new year. Planning takes so much stress out financial responsibilities—this is the time to make those plans!
6. Work on SEO
Keeping up on social media and blogs and websites and all the things is so hard when you’re knee-deep in wedding mania. The perfect time to focus on these things and really get them up to speed is when wedding season slows down. Set aside days and times to really focus on growing your social media base and update your blog. Work out any kinks in your website, make sure your contact methods are all working, and respond back to messages you may have been too busy to focus on while working. This is the time to clean up your platforms and make them pretty and new!
7. Review your pricing and procedures
Downtime is also a great time to make upcoming changes for the new year. Do you want to change some of your pricing structures? Do you want to streamline some of your post-production? Are you thinking of adding any new staff? This is the time to work through all of those items and have them all ready for the next big wedding push, in spring. Get your business in order now, so you aren’t trying to do it when you’re in the middle of five weddings and endless emails.
8. Prep your taxes
No one loves thinking of self-employment taxes, but the sooner you do it, the sooner you are done with the dreaded task. When your wedding season is slow, it's the perfect time to begin gathering your expenses and tracking your write-offs. Time to schedule your accountant meeting. Time to double-check your figures and make sure you have your financial ducks in their financial rows for your taxes. Don’t delay on these steps, gathering these items during the busy season is a nightmare, so do it when you have the time!
When you aren’t spending every weekend working a wedding, you suddenly have time for fun industry events! This is prime time to sign up for some workshops, attend a convention, and head to cocktail hours with industry pros you love to work with. Your business connections can always be growing no matter how slow the wedding season gets. A connection with a fellow professional is priceless in a successful wedding business!
If you find yourself with some free Saturday nights, instead of working a wedding, you should have some fun. Go out, read some books, catch up with friends, and go to bed early. Wedding industry life can be extremely tiring and overwhelming, this is your chance to recharge and regroup so you are ready to give your all to your next events! If you are able to take the time off, you should indulge. You do your best work when you are mentally and physically well, and downtime is a part of wellness. Hibernate while you have the chance, those spring weddings come fast!