When looking around the internet, it is easy to find amazing art for very little money. With the advent of marketplaces like Etsy and DeviantArt, it seems like nearly everyone is selling original art and selling it for almost nothing. A quick glance around Etsy and I'm convinced that many of the sellers are barely covering supplies, never mind the endless hours making the objects. Then, when you look at prints on websites like Art.com, you see that it is possible to purchase prints of famous art for under $100, and get it framed for under $200.
So, why are ketubot comparatively expensive?
With cheap art readily available, it is hardly surprising that couples get a little sticker shock when shopping for a ketubah.
In addition to it being a first experience buying art, nestled into a host of other first experiences, as a wedding related item, there is an issue of trust. Couples are aware that many vendors charge 2-3 times the price for anything wedding related. Wedding blogs are filled with stories about calling to book a group mani-pedi at the same salon and getting quoted wildly different prices just by including the word, "wedding." On top of that, for Jewish couples, there is a concern that they are paying a premium for what many euphemistically call, "the high price of being Jewish." To allay those concerns, I want to let you in on why I price my ketubot as I do.
It is totally understandable that couples, when confronted by all the expenses of a wedding, look to save where they can. It is the responsible thing to do, after all. But, keep in mind that after the wedding, your wedding clothing, the food (no matter how carefully you planned the menus), and even the flowers will be memories. You will be left with the tangible artifacts of the wedding: the photos, your rings, and your ketubah. And of those, photos may end up in an album brought out only for special occasions. Your rings and your ketubah will be things that you see every day.
Your money is well spent when it buys a good quality product that you will keep as an heirloom for your lifetime and pass on to future generations. It is possible to cut corners and get a much cheaper ketubah. Most rabbis have an inexpensive form that they can fill out and you can put in a drawer. You don't have to have art to display in your home. But if you are planning on having it on your wall, it is well worth making sure that it will last and that you really love it.
The Price of a Ketubah: It all adds up
Printing & Shipping
Printing is by far my largest line item. It is expensive for two reasons.
Quality - I make no compromises on materials. It is possible to use cheaper materials, but these prints are meant to last without fading for a lifetime (and beyond). For comparison, Art.com offers prints on cover stock. It is nicer than a poster, but not by all that much. Over time, the prints may fade and the paper break down. All of my materials are acid-free and archival.
On-Demand - Because each ketubah is printed on demand, I pay a higher price. If I were ordering multiples of the same text, not personalized, I could buy bulk and get a discount. The premium to have each ketubah prepared with maximum flexibility means that prices are just that much more expensive.
Shipping - There is no markup on shipping. I charge you what I am charged.
Many people don't know this, but each time you click on an ad either on another website or on a search engine, the advertiser pays the advertising network a small fee. Depending on many factors, I pay somewhere between $0.30 - $1.50, for each click.
Whether you are shopping online or in a store, when you buy anything using plastic, the merchant pays a percentage off the top the payment processing company. We can't do business without them and choosing the right one is important as they are the ones who actually see any of your credit card info (I don't even see the card numbers). This is to your benefit as they specialize in keeping your information secure. I use Stripe.com both for their ease of use, attention to security, and the smoothness of the transaction.
Art, Design, Text Preparation
In other words, all the work. This includes everything from designing the ketubot to figuring out how advertise, this is what I actually get to keep (minus self-employment tax).
From office supplies and computer related expenses to a business license and website hosting, this category is kept as lean as possible.