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This wedding planner’s service costs have raised the cost of her service

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Empty chairs arrayed for an outdoor wedding.

Irene Tynedale reports that service vendors have told her they've had to turn down business because they lacked enough staff. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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According to the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures price index, inflation slowed in December to 5% year over year. But beneath the headline number, services prices outpaced the gain in goods prices, 5.2% to 4.6%. On the spending side, though, there were signs that spending on services cooled.

So what’s all of that mean for people running a business in the service economy? Irene Tynedale is a wedding and event planner based in Atlanta, and besides running a service business herself, she deals with lots of other parts of the service economy, from florists to bartenders to venue rentals.

“Marketplace” host Kimberly Adams spoke with Tynedale about how business is going. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Kimberly Adams: So as a wedding and event planner, you work with all sorts of vendors and rental services. What kind of price changes have you been seeing? Where are your costs going up the most?

Irene Tynedale: The costs honestly that went up the most have been our services. So we’re seeing, you know, an increase in delivery fees because of a lack of delivery people and lack of operations people. I remember vendors telling me, rental companies telling me, service companies telling me, florists telling me, “I had to say no to two or three pieces of business this particular weekend because I didn’t have enough staff.” So the staffing price has changed because they want to keep and retain the good people they have and don’t want them to leave. We have all these extra fees that we really didn’t have before, which as a planner, you know, I have to turn around and explain it to my clients. [They] definitely understand why we’re doing it, but it’s hard to explain it when it comes to dollars. I’ve had it where the service fees added up to exactly what we were spending in the actual product.

Irene Tynedale (Courtesy Wanda Feliz)

Adams: Wow. How much have you had to raise your prices in response to all these different inputs?

Tynedale: You know, between 2020 and 2023, I would say that we’ve raised our prices between 20% and 25%. It’s taking us more time to do the things that we used to do much quicker. And sometimes I have to go to new people because my typical go-to people have hit their max. We’ve had many of them who’ve, you know, closed their doors in 2020, 2021. So we’re having to do a lot more work than we had in the past.

Adams: How have wages been playing into all this?

Tynedale: That’s a big thing. I know definitely a lot of people that this year, to retain their good people, they actually give either an hourly wage increase or gave them a bonus structure to keep them there. So that’s a big thing for what we did. Because we went from having a team of contractors to making everybody employees because it’s just we wanted to retain people and really train them really well and have them stay with the company.

Adams: If I’m planning a wedding for this summer, compared to maybe a couple of years ago, how different are things going to look in terms of pricing and availability of stuff?

Tynedale: Well, I always say it all depends on what area you’re in, right? Because if it’s in the South, we tend to be quieter in the summertime, while up North it’s really, really busy. Now, pricing as far as florals, I tell people it’s like gas and it’s like airline tickets — it goes up and down, up and down. I also have seen in many contracts that says, you know, you’re booking at this point, but realize that market prices might go up and you might be required to pay a little bit more if you decide to go from, you know, a flank steak to a filet mignon. There’s some fluctuation in there.

Adams: Overall, how are you feeling about the economy right now?

Tynedale: You know, I was a catering sales manager at a hotel in 2008, 2009. And I honestly believed that was crazy. Of course, we know that 2020 hurt. Right now, weddings is a billions [of dollars] business, right? It’s not going anywhere. People are still getting married, people will always get married. They just find different ways of getting married. And I think for those service providers, and for those planners out there, you just have to roll with, you know, the times. We just did a wedding show this past Sunday, and there were over 500 couples there looking for wedding service providers. So I’m optimistic because our calendar is filling up. We had a ton of corporate events last year. We have more this year. So I feel optimistic. But just like the supermarkets, they have sales and the prices fluctuate. I think as a service provider in the events industry, our prices will fluctuate as well.

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