Dear Heather,

I’ve been asked to do henna for a wedding with 100 guests! I’m very excited, but don’t know how to best charge the client for my services. Would you suggest a flat rate, or charging guests per design? The client doesn’t have much of a budget, and I want to find a way to make it work that is fair to both me and them.

Excited To Henna Everyone



First off, you should always charge an hourly rate for private events – never a per-design one. This way, your time is best optimized, and clients are encouraged to make sure you always have someone to henna. If you charge per person, there tends to be a lot of downtime waiting for the next person to make their way over to you – time that you’re not being compensated for.

Now let’s talk about how much time you’ll actually need to do henna for this crowd of 100 guests. Remember – even if only 50 guests want henna (a decent estimate if both men and children will also be in attendance), you still need just over four hours (not two!) to spend 5 minutes with each guest. If their timeframe is strictly the two hours that you mentioned, you’ll want to have them book two artists.

If you’re trying to figure out what rate to charge for your services, there’s a lot to consider. But here’s one way to think about it. Look at the cost of wedding catering in your area. Your client will most certainly be providing food for their guests. What’s half of that cost? That’s probably about what your henna should be per person.  In my area, mid-range wedding catering is typically about $25-30 per person for private events, and at my hourly rate of $160, my 5 minute designs work out to be half of the lower end of that range, $13.33 per person.

If the cost is getting out of hand for their budget to do henna for everyone, you can always suggest close family / bridesmaids get henna at a henna night before the wedding with the bride. But agreeing to henna whoever wants it out of a crowd of 100 people in 2 hours is destined to result in three things: you’re overworked and stressed, you do work that is not up to your personal par, and still everyone doesn’t get henna!


Happy hennaing,

The “Dear Heather” column is inspired by Dear Abby and Heather’s fellow henna artists’ and clients’ most frequent and/or unique and interesting questions.

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