- what you need to know -

August 16, 2021

Andreea Bucur

What’s the point of a client proposal for wedding professionals?

I was recently talking to a wonderful wedding photographer who was telling me she’s having trouble booking higher budget weddings. Despite having 5 years experience in the industry and might I say, is very talented, she keeps getting ghosted by ideal clients. She’s a fine art photographer and her work is just gorgeous. She shoots mainly film, which is a huge extra cost for her. Yet she’s not managed to increase her prices in 3 years.

So I asked her, what is her interview process and how’s her proposal? And her answer was: “I usually email them my prices and if they’re interested then I’ll have a call with them after which I send them my quote. I don’t do a proposal, but I don’t think I need one for my services.”

I smiled, because I’ve heard this reply sooo many times. And I told her that’s exactly where she’s losing the clients. If you’re not willing to put in an extra effort at the beginning of the relationship and really showcase the value of your services in a more elevated format, how do you expect your clients to want to invest more money?

Mock-up of client proposal template for wedding planner and designer /stylist from the Classic Collection (details here). Design ©Andreea Bucur; Image for mock-up ©Inna Kostukowsky

Your beautiful portfolio can get you the enquiries – but the proposal will get the right clients to book and pay you higher prices

Yes, your beautiful work definitely helps to get the right eyes on your business. But clients these days are very savy shoppers. And although they may like your work, they’re not going to be impressed and ivest if you don’t bother to give them a better experience.

Their initial interaction with you sets the tone for the rest of the relationship. So, it’s extremely important to curate a beautiful experience for them from the get go.

Believe it or not a great proposal can do wonders for your business when it comes to increasing your prices and getting consistently booked by the right clients. There’s just no way you can go beyond a certain price point or book a very discerning clientele, without one.

And I ‘m not just saying it because it’s something I specialise in. If you’ve been with me for a while you’ll know I never claim that my thing is the most important. Or that it’s the only thing that will make you a ton of money and change your life forever. I hate that.

In my 6 years of experience I’ve learned that there is no one simple solution. Every aspect of your business, is just as important. And yes improving one of them at a time can help you move forward. But there’s a limit to what good copy can do (especially in a highly visual field), or a great portfolio, or beautiful branding, without the other elements being at the same level.

So, no, I don’t believe the proposal is the most important thing in your business. It won’t get the right eyes on your business and strangers enquiring about your services. But, it will definitely get you consistently booked by the right people, once they’re through the door.

And done right, it can do wonders. Even when other areas are still not quite perfect.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share my top asked questions about client proposals and how they can impact your wedding business.

Mock-up of client proposal template for wedding stationery designer from the Classic Collection (details here). Design ©Andreea Bucur; Image for mock-up ©Inna Kostukowsky

Q1. Do I need a client proposal if I’m a wedding photographer, videographer, florist, cake designer, stationery designer, etc.?

A lot of wedding creatives think that if they have a straightforward service and people get the gist of what they’re doing, they don’t really need  to bother with a client proposal.

But you absolutely should send your prospective clients a full proposal. Not just a quote. Especially if you want to raise your prices. Or, access the luxury wedding market, book the right clients for you, start working together the right way, avoid confusion and lots of questions and some potentially nasty situations further down the road.

A clear, detailed, beautiful client proposal is what can set you miles apart from someone who is offering the exact same service and has the same niche as you.

You might think – “but I’ve got a brilliant offer and tons of experience.” Great! But the value of that brilliant offer is not always obvious to your clients. Unless you present it the right way – a client proposal does that.

Most times a really great interview is not enough to seal the deal. Not for big budget clients, or generally any discerning clients who look for value in more than the best price on offer.

Mock-up of client proposal template for wedding florist/floral designer from the Classic Collection (details here). Design ©Andreea Bucur; Images for mock-up ©Jacob&Pauline


Q2. A client proposal is basically just a quote right?

No. The proposal does include your quote for the client. But it’s a lot more than just a simple pricing of your services. A full proposal gives clients a clear and detailed picture of what you’re going to do for them and what it’ll be like to work with you.

The perfect proposal will show them the value of working with you. It will answer any potential questions they might have. And ideally it will get them super excited to work with you.

And if you think your services are too simple for that, think of all the questions you’ve got from clients (before and after booking) over the years. Questions like – what exactly is included in that your service? Where you’ll be on their wedding day? When you’ll arrive or depart? How many hours you’ll be there? How many finished items would they get? Do they pay for your travel/delivery? How do you actually work and how do you go from idea to finished product? Is editing included and how much editing do you do? Do you do site visits? etc. Those are questions you can answer through a proposal.

Can you see how that can save you a lot of extra emails or calls? Plus you have it all in writing. So, it works a treat at setting clear expectations and boundaries from the get go and reminding them of the things you said you don’t cover.

And don’t think having a contract or T&C’s will do. People don’t like to read them. And they’re definitely not gonna remember those details, all packed up in a very dull document, with tons of legal wording.

Mock-up of client proposal template for wedding photographer from the Classic Collection (details here). Design ©Andreea Bucur; Image for mock-up ©Jacob&Pauline


Q3. What’s the most important thing to focus on when creating a client proposal?

A proposal is not about the service you’re selling, your prices or about you. It’s about the problems you’re solving and the experience you’re giving to your clients. Create your entire proposal from that point of view and you’ve got a winner.

OK, I get that this sounds a bit counter to what I said earlier about this being your chance to give prospective clients every detail about what you do and how you do it – not to mention prices. You totally do have to put those things in.

But it’s how you approach conveying that information. It’s the personalisation aspect, where you present everything as the value, the experience, the tailored attention, exclusivity, etc. that your client is getting by working with you.

Does that make sense?

Q4. What are your top tips for creating the perfect client proposal for a wedding professional?

  1. Customisation – Customise your proposal for each client. Every proposal should be tailored to their exact needs and vision.
  2. Clarity – Your proposal should leave no room for questions or interpretation. Your role, your process, your main T&C’s (i.e. booking and payment terms), your client’s role in the relationship and your fees should all be very clearly laid out.
  3. Simplicity –  You need to make sure it’s easy to follow, compelling and enjoyable to read through. Don’t pile everything in one big chunk, use too much industry talk, have long pieces of text, and make sure it looks good and inviting. Or otherwise, you’ll get them bored, missing important information or worse, get them frustrated and losing their interest.

Mock-up of client proposal template for wedding planner from the Classic Collection (details here). Design ©Andreea Bucur; Image for mock-up ©Jacob&Pauline

Q5. Will a great client proposal help me increase my prices?

Well, I did touch on this at the beginning of this article, but the short answer is – it won’t support it all on it’s own. But it will definitely help support your fee increase. It’s all about balance.

How much you charge depends highly on the value that you actually offer – how you formulate your services, your process and client experience, your portfolio and overall brand.

The proposal elevates and supports that value. And it seals the deal with the right clients every single time.

Should you wait though, until you have the rebrand, the perfect website, or impeccable portfolio, before you get your proposal in order?

Certainly not. Again, like I said earlier, any aspect of business you elevate is a step forward. So, if rebranding seems a bit overwhelming right now, be strategic about your marketing (think referrals for example) and work on your proposal.

And I promise you, a well crafted proposal, with strategically selected and placed images, copy on point and personalised to each client, will absolutely bring in more money. It just won’t support a 2x – 4x your current prices (not without everything else being on point that is).

Q6. Should I include a moodboard / sketch of the work / images of mock custom designs etc.?

This is a very debated topic, but I say no. Instead try to include some quick ideas to show the clients you’ve put thought into their vision already.  But don’t put in creative work that deserves to be paid, before you get paid. There are many other ways to demonstrate your talent, expertise and capability.

Personally I’ve been taught to always provide a moodboard in my proposal. And this was a huge mistake for my business. More than once couples took my ideas and gave them to other planners to work with because they were cheaper.

Not to mention that the more I grew as a designer I realised that what I can learn about my clients from one interview, is not nearly enough to create a truly beautiful, unique and cohesive concept and mood board. A lot of discussion, thought and careful curation of ideas goes into this. So, it deserves to be paid.

I’m also doing my clients a disservice if I do this step too early. And the same goes for fully blown cake sketches, full floral compositions or mock-up floral arrangements, etc.

So, if this is something you do, try and think of other ways that you can show your clients you understand their vision. And show how you can deliver on that by presenting them with past work that is similar to their vision, your process and why not, some client case studies.

Mock-up of client proposal template for wedding photographer / videographer from the Classic Collection (details here). Design ©Andreea Bucur; Image for mock-up ©Jacob&Pauline

Want to learn more about client proposals and how you can create a brilliant one that can transform your wedding business?

If you want to take your proposal to the next level and curate an irresistible offer each time you get an enquiry, check out my “Brilliant Client Proposals” signature course and “Classic collection” of client proposal templates.

The templates include multiple design options for each section, and multiple designs tailored for specific services. These offer you complete freedom to tailor and create a unique showcase of your creative process, whatever your role is. Plus the course covers everything you need to know to create an irresistible proposal.

You can find out all the details here.

Well, I hope you’ve found these answers helpful. And do let me know, what (if anything) you’re struggling with when it comes to proposals. Do you have any questions? You can email me at designstudio @ teastyle.co.uk .