Why Do Ketubah Artists Charge for Personalization? Isn’t It Just Writing In a Few Words?

A common question we get is, wondering how come all Ketubah artists, including us, charge for personalizing the text of your ketubah? You know, personalizing it (filling in the name of the bride, groom, dates, with our digital calligraphy, so that we change the, “The groom _____________ takes the bride __________” to “The groom Moishe Edelstein takes the bride Chana Mandel”) should be just seconds of work. After all, isn’t it just us filling in the blanks in a computer, and that takes about one minute and that’s it?w

Oh boy, so much to say on that topic! Where to begin!!

When we started This is Not a Ketubah, we thought the exact same thing! So, at first, our prices included the personalization. “Every other ketubah artist rips off their clients” — we thought — “by charging $75 to $125 for just a few minutes worth of filling in the blanks of the text! We’re not going to do that, the most important thing is that we treat every single couple the way we would want to be treated, deeply fairly.” So we included that in the price. It’s just a few minutes, right?

Then, three things happened. Something small, and then two big things.

First, the small thing. Every started telling us, “Why are your ketubot so much more expensive than everyone else’s?”. Our response, “No, they’re actually substantially cheaper — but we include everything, rather than add in every little cost like personalization!”. Couples thought and said this so much, that we decided to separate out the personalization and suddenly, everyone started telling us, “Oh! Your Ketubot are so affordable compared to everyone else’s!”. Funny how that works; human nature is such so that, people seem to judge prices by the big price in big numbers, not the true final price. (Which is unfortunate, since I hate the phone company style adding lots of hidden charges–I hate that–which is why we insist on being very clear about all charges and why we include shipping and taxes!) But this is the small thing.

Secondly, the first big thing that happened is: we strongly urge each client to have their rabbi or officiant review and approve the Ketubah before we print it. And working with lots of rabbis and we discovered, first of all, that rabbis are very, very hard to pin down. Rabbis are so busy, doing so much hard and awesome work, that is more urgent than this — that it’s hard to get them to stop and review the proofs! (I don’t blame them, with whole congregations to manage!). It often takes hours and hours, and phone calls and get a rabbi to review the proof, and make sure he approves it. Suddenly, the five minutes of filling-in-text has turned into hours of phone tag.

Third, the other major realization, was that, after working with so many rabbis, we found that every rabbi has his/her own conventions. Some rabbis say, “write the year as ‘two-thousand and twelve'” while some say, “write the year as, ‘2012.’” Some rabbis say, “in every mention of Moishe’s name, write it as ‘Moishe ben Mordechai'” while other rabbis say, “Use the ‘ben Mordechai’ only in the first mention of Moishe’s name and then again in the Lieberman clause, but not in-between.” And so forth. So, it is rarely the case that the rabbi reviews it and gives us the green light; more commonly, the rabbi asks us to change the Ketubah so that it complies with his preferred conventions. Of course we happily make all changes — our goal is to keep you and the rabbi happy, and give you the perfect ketubah, and your rabbi loving the final version is essential! But all of this back-and-forth to clarify all of the conventions takes time.

Suddenly, what seemed like a quick-and-easy cut-and-paste job turns into lots of hours of back and forth phone conversations, trying to perfect the wording. And that takes non-trivial time.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, these reasons, taken together, are why we changed our structure to charge for personalization separately. Any questions? Just drop me an email and ask!

Team Ketubah

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