How to become a wedding planner
A wedding planner is the professional who chooses the flowers, linens, sets the style, and gracefully floats around the venue, fine-tuning the placement of tableware and straightening the bride's dress before she walks the aisle. Right? Well, you might be doing all this, too, in addition to hundreds of other tasks and duties.
Just answer these questions first:
- Do you like meticulously managing hundreds of interdependent details and communicating with dozens of different people to align everybody around a single goal and vision?
- Are you ok with working into deep night hours after starting the day early in the morning?
- Do you enjoy facing other people's emotions and solving complicated crisis situations?
If you answered "yes" to all of these, then you will like the positive facets of a wedding planner's job too! In the end, everything in the world has its pros and cons.
- You will be the director and the choreographer of often massive, complicated productions that will feature new actors, locations, and decorations almost every time. YOU will be the one who has the grand vision and the final say during the execution phase.
- You will be the chief conductor of your clients' dreams and ideas about their weddings into reality. They don't know how to make it real or don't have time to do it, but you do.
- You will be sharing countless emotional moments with your couples and their guests. It's a rare privilege to be an insider at the "best day of their lives."
- You will be gaining insights and experience in a dozen of adjacent business areas. From cakes and catering to technical setup and booking performers, from photography to logistics – you will gain priceless experience.
Does it still sound good enough to give it a try? Then read on!
Becoming a wedding planner
Before you start your journey as a wedding planner, you need to decide which approach to take. Do you feel more comfortable with being an employee at a bigger organization like a hotel, or a well-established planning business? Or is being self-employed and taking all the risks yourself your dream?
There are cases when wedding planners got their initial experience as employees and then started their own businesses. There are other cases when the opposite happened. A one-person operation didn't quite work out. Still, it brought a sufficient amount of industry experience to get a well-paid job at a big company.
We are all unique and have a different attitude to risk. We often have a different image of a perfect job, but even this can evolve with time or with experience. It doesn't really matter how you get started. The most important is to get going and do what you decided to do.
Whichever path you will take, you will face some barriers like getting that job or getting the clients to hire you. However, you can overcome everything. Everything you do will enrich you with new skills and knowledge, which in turn will make you a better professional. Great professionals are what the clients look for. Great professionals are also the people that get hired.
What makes a great wedding planner apart from skills and knowledge?
Above all, this job is about making people happy. Customer experience is what matters most. With you, the clients must enter a straightforward tunnel that will protect them from stress and ambiguity and will open to a beautiful and meticulously produced wedding at the end.
But what are you supposed to be doing while your clients are traveling along the planning tunnel? Let's have a look!
Wedding planning for Dummies
There is a significant stage before any client books your or your employer's wedding planning services. To get a booking, the business needs to:
- Come in front of the potential clients' eyes
- Attract their attention and stand out from the ocean of other offers
- Convert their attention into a contact
- Convert the contact into a booking
There are various channels and tools to improve your efforts at each of these steps. You can learn more on this website, take a course or google for additional information. Quite often, securing a booking requires just as much effort as planning the event itself. However, the planning process requires a massive number of steps:
- Set a date,
- Confirm the target guest count and budget,
- Book the venues for the rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception, brunch and any other events that you plan around your wedding,
- Select food and beverages for all functions of your wedding,
- Book the photographer and videographer,
- Book the hairstylist and makeup artist,
- Decide on the music that you want to accompany all the events, book the appropriate performers and entertainers,
- When necessary, rent the sound, lights, stage, special effects,
- Check the available furniture, tableware, and linens with the venue and rent from third party companies when necessary,
- Decide on the decorations, sketch, and confirm them before arranging all the required vendors like florists, rentals, handymen, etc.
The list goes on and on, including stationery, checking access to the venue for people with reduced mobility, allergies, and their impact on the menu, toilets, etc. The planning stage requires significant attention to detail to make sure you don't miss something. All the relevant vendors must be aligned with what is happening when it is happening and how it is going to happen. Which brings us to the production stage. A wedding planner needs to make sure that:
- All booked vendors know what, where and when they are doing,
- All required products and people arrive at the venues on time and can perform their duties,
- There is a risk management scenario or plan B for every single element of the project.
Wedding plan execution or production requires a structured approach, clear communication, and constant monitoring of all the parties working on the project. But a wedding planner's job doesn't end with the last guest leaving the dancing party. Wedding planners are usually responsible for:
- Supervision of decorations dismantling or venue clean-up,
- Delivery of the photographers' and videographers' results,
- Thank you notes on behalf of the couple.
Often these tasks are avoided by wedding planners because they can require extra 3-12 months of your attention. No matter how you will approach this business, remember that your time costs money, and whichever services you offer must be calculated into your fees. We will look into packages and earning power of wedding planners at the end of this article.
Still interested in this career path? Let's see how you can become a wedding planner!
How do you become a wedding planner?
To become a successful wedding planner, you will need to combine various skills, focusing on project management, communications, and administration. In addition to this, you will need to develop your taste and understanding of general trends in the wedding market. To make everything work flawlessly, you will have to become tech-savvy to capitalize on the variety of different tools, empowering you for better results.
To learn all this, you need to start with setting precise objectives. Make sure they are:
- specific (book 20 weddings for the next season),
- measurable (20 of them),
- achievable (the number doesn't sound too high),
- realistic (unless your target market is a single village)
- and timed (do it by this September).
Your objectives will trigger a list of tasks to do. You will need to make sure you have a precise list of the steps spread across time based on their dependability and urgency. Each of the tasks will mean a new skill or piece of knowledge to gain. This will be your roadmap to success.
Start working and ticking off the tasks, and you will see how your journey takes you from the very basics to first bookings, first produced weddings, and consistent growth of your wedding planning career. Many of us entering this path think that we need a certificate to be successful. Do we, indeed?
Wedding planner certification
The most important thing you need to know about any certification in event and wedding planning business is that it is not obligatory. The majority of your potential clients have never heard about the certification bodies, and the majority of the employers don't pay attention to the certificates.
A certificate or a badge that highlights your experience, association affiliation, or education is a decent marketing tool for trust-building but nothing more. Most likely, a superb photo of your previous work will have a more significant impact than a badge of some association that your potential clients have never heard about. A logo highlighting your publication on a wedding blog that they have just visited will have a great result too.
Therefore, any wedding planner certification is nice to have, not a must-have. Value for money is probably the best reality check of whether you should go for one or not. Is it offered after you become part of an association and pay membership fees, and yet must pay an extra for certification? Pass it! Is it a standalone procedure with a reasonable price? Do it if you really want to. Is the certificate offered upon completion of a course? Grab it as long as it's included in the course that you would have taken anyway.
Talking about the courses, do you need to take a course to become a successful wedding planner?
Wedding planning courses
If the option you are considering is an event planning or wedding planning degree at a College or University, the answer is absolutely no. None of the most successful wedding planners anywhere in the world have a planning degree. Best planners come from all kinds of backgrounds – from College dropouts to PhDs, from shop attendants and housewives to teachers and entrepreneurs in other industries. You don't need a degree to gain the skills you need for this career path. What's more, you can obtain the necessary skills much faster by doing than by only learning the theory.
Another type of courses to consider is online wedding planning courses. They vary in types and content, and the majority of them provide a limited value due to again mostly theoretical knowledge. Dig into the curriculum and try a lesson before enrolling. There is a well-balanced practical course on wedding and event planning business that you can start for free here.
How to be a wedding planner
To be a wedding planner, you will need to balance all the different facets of each project. Among them are processes, contracts, and partners.
Your job will require your constant focus and well-established processes for each stage of the customer funnel. From pre-sales to planning and execution, straightforward processes will help you deliver and stay on top of everything.
Contracts are another vital part of your job. Everything you agree on with clients and vendors needs to be written and signed. This is the only way to make sure you are protected and sane in the chaos of different projects.
Partners are the foundation of your wedding planning activity. A great set of vendors will make every event flawless, while a poorly selected bunch will put you in constant stress and chaos. Make sure you work with the most reliable and quality vendors that you can get for the budget of your clients.
However, in the end, every career is a source of income. It is crucial to make one's living well enough. How can we do it?
Wedding planners' packages
First of all, for those of you who choose the self-employed path, you need to make sure that you offer the services that the clients actually book. In the majority of markets, a day-of coordinator is the most popular service with Full planning in the second position. Starting your business activity with mostly day-of coordination will allow you to gain experience while sharing the risks and responsibility with the clients.
The services that you choose to provide should be competitively priced and positioned versus your competition. In short, a newcomer to the market with limited experience can't charge the same fees as a well-established business boasting of dozens of high-end events in their portfolio. This topic is beyond a single article. The free 7-lesson course here offers precise steps to follow to analyze your market, position, and price your services correctly within a couple of hours.
How much do wedding planners make?
Wedding planners usually make a decent living. The income totally depends on a combination of experience, business-savviness and of course, luck. In the US, an average income for a wedding planner is over $44,000. But obviously, this average includes numbers from New York and Los Angeles, where planners earn much more and from smaller towns where they make much less.
In London, the UK, an average wedding planner earns around £34,000, which is close to US$42,000 at current exchange rates. As another example, let's have a look at the average pay of wedding planners in Australia. The annual income is AU$70,500 or an equivalent of US$42,000. As you can see, the average income of wedding planners is quite similar across developed countries. In all cases, it offers a decent living for single-person operation and a strong starting point for building a business.
Final thoughts on becoming a wedding planner
When you decide to become a wedding planner, you guarantee yourself an exciting career and a constant rollercoaster of emotions. It is the best business in the world when it's well structured around processes, firm contracts, and reliable partners. It can also be a mix of stress and feeling as a punch-bag when these elements are missing.
Choose the right path, take this free course to become a successful wedding planner, book dozens of clients each year, and overtake your competition.