How to Become a Wedding Planner
How does one become a wedding planner and do i have what it takes to make it in this business?
Frankly, anybody can become a successful wedding event planner. In fact if you are someone who is creative and has a special knack for planning, designing and throwing parties, wedding planning can be the perfect lucrative career for you.
In our busy society today, couples and families want to relax and enjoy wedding festivities. The wedding planning industry is booming and the door is wide open for those who wish to become a wedding planner and take the hassle of organizing away from them.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been searching for 8 years on how to become a wedding planner, and I have finally found one! This guide answered all of my questions – from the qualities I need, how to find a reputable certification program, what books to read and supplies to buy, how to network and break into the field of wedding planning, and where to look for jobs. I now feel a lot more confident that I have the tools to learn the wedding planning business and can make my dream come true!” — Melissa Ellison, Orlando, FL
Cool Facts about Being a Wedding Planner
- Well compensated. Wedding planners enjoy excellent pay, and they get to party for a living!
- Job flexibility. Planning events allows you freedom to work as much or as little as you want, and you have no set hours to be in an office and no boss to report to.
- Personal fulfillment. For those who love planning and organizing, this career can be very fun, interesting and fulfilling as you see all of your work come together on happiest day of people’s lives.
- Rewarding work. You will get to share some of life’s most important days. Weddings are wonderful affairs, and most wedding planners work with clients who are hosting big parties, so you may get to celebrate new babies, milestone birthdays and anniversaries, and graduations with your clients.
- As a wedding planner, you are involved in a growth industry. In a market research by the Bridal Association of America, it is estimated that 2.3 million weddings took place in 2009 and average wedding in 2009 cost $30,860.
Steps To Become a Professional Wedding Planner
The steps to become a wedding planner are relatively simple. There are no formal education requirements or experience is necessary to break into this career and succeed.
If wedding planning sounds like the career of your dreams, here are 10 steps to getting started, based on the FabJob Guide to Become a Wedding Planner.
1. Learn About Weddings
There are numerous details involved in planning a wedding — from selecting the date to choosing the reception menu. To teach yourself wedding planning, help out with as many weddings as possible, visit bridal shows, read wedding magazines and books, and conduct informational interviews. Talk with clergy of various faiths, recently married brides and others connected to the wedding business such as florists and caterers.
2. Develop Your Skills
Successful wedding planners have a number of traits in common. They are usually creative people with excellent interpersonal skills who love to plan events. While most of these traits come naturally to many wedding planners, an important skill that some need to develop is organizational ability. To help you stay organized, you can create timeline schedules and checklists, and use organizational tools such as a day planner or binder to keep track of all the wedding details and paperwork.
3. Create a Portfolio
A portfolio is a collection of photographs that show people your skill at planning weddings. Offer your services to friends and family who are getting married in exchange for pictures for your portfolio. To show your creativity, you can also include photographs of table settings or room decorations you have created in your home, or pictures from your own wedding if you planned it yourself.
4. Find a Job in the Wedding Industry
Even if you plan to start your own business, consider getting a job in the industry first. These positions can be used as a stepping-stone to gain valuable experience and contacts. Wedding coordinators are hired by hotels, country clubs, and churches across the country. Some exciting options include working as a wedding coordinator at an attraction such as Disneyland or at a resort in a location such as Banff, Hawaii, Las Vegas, or the Caribbean.
Many job opportunities for bridal consultants are available with companies that supply products and services for weddings including bridal shops, department stores with gift registries, florists, and caterers.
5. Set Up Your Own Business
Setting up a wedding planning business is similar to starting any home business. You’ll need to handle matters such as deciding whether to incorporate, setting up your office, and developing systems for getting paid.
There are many excellent resources available to help you start your business including the U.S. Small Business Administration in the United States and the Government of Canada’s Canada Business.
6. Decide What Services You Want to Offer
Wedding planners offer a variety of services and packages based on their specific skills and interests. You might offer complete wedding planning services, wedding day co-ordination only, or consult with brides and grooms who want to plan their own weddings. Some wedding planners specialize in arranging “destination weddings” at resorts or on cruise ships.
7. Develop Relationships with Vendors
Vendors are suppliers of any product or service related to weddings, such as limousine companies, musicians, photographers, party supply companies, invitation printers, etc. Vendors can be a valued partner in planning a successful wedding.
8. Get Clients
Supply business cards and brochures to the vendors you work with, and ask them to recommend your services to their customers who are getting married. Other ways to market your services include advertising, networking, and participating in bridal shows.
9. Consult with Clients
Once you start getting calls from brides and grooms, arrange a client consultation meeting. Ask questions to find out what type of wedding they want, their budget, number of guests, etc. At this meeting you will discuss your fees, which might be an hourly rate such as $50 per hour or a flat fee. Explain how you can help the couple have the worry-free wedding of their dreams.
10. Be Recognized as a Professional
Successful wedding planners are always interested in learning new ideas to use with their clients. Consider joining a professional association for wedding planners to keep up with new developments in the industry. Clients will be impressed, especially if the organization certifies you as a professional wedding planner.
The 10 steps are based on the FabJob Guide to Become a Wedding Planner. The complete guide gives detailed advice on how you can break into a career in wedding planning, get hired as a wedding planner, or start your own wedding event planning business.
“I have just finished reading your wonderful Become a Wedding Planner book. The information was exactly what I was looking for to start up my own wedding planning business. I have helped family members and friends plan weddings before and was wondering how I could turn this in to a paid career as a wedding planner. The information on getting clients, dealing with vendors and how much to charge for my services was really helpful, and the worksheets like the timeline schedule and budget sheet will be very useful. I can’t wait to get started!”
– Karen Williams, Denver, Colorado
Visit FabJob Guide to Become a Wedding Planner for more information.
Income Potential of a Wedding Planner
Your wedding planner salary will vary, depending upon where you live and work, with higher amounts being typical in areas like New York, California, and Texas.
If you intend to work as a wedding coordinator for an event planning company, you can expect to make from $26,000 to $34,000 per year to start. Once you’ve moved up to a management role, that salary will increase to the $47,000 to $64,000 range.
However, if you decide to become a wedding planner and work independently, expect to earn anywhere from $500 to $5,000 or more per event. Many wedding planners charge their fees as a percentage (15-20%) of the total cost of the wedding.
Again, base on the estimates of $30,860 per wedding figures provided by the Bridal Association of America, your fee for organizing a single wedding is around $4629 per event.
Tips & Warnings
- Do not underestimate the amount of work it takes to coordinate a successful event. Also, do not expect to sit back and drink champagne at every wedding, as some of them require active supervision to run smoothly.
- Expect to pay your dues if you decide to go into business for yourself. Until you have a portfolio of successful functions that you can point to, with testimonials from happy clients, and other wedding vendors, expect it to be a hard sell. People want to hire someone they know can do the job, and until you have a track record, they will be reluctant to trust you with their event.
- Expect to earn on the lower end of the scale until you get some paid experience under your belt.
- You can learn specialized details as you go, for instance the protocol required for a military wedding, weddings for a different faith, and cultural traditions. Your clients themselves will help you learn about these things, and then you can study up on them.
- Providing a beautiful, very personal event is the benchmark of an exceptional wedding planner. Talk with your clients and find out what they want, and make it exactly how they envision it.
- Wedding planning is not for the squeamish. We’ve all seen or heard of the Bridezilla that goes crazy because the flowers on her wedding cake are one tenth of a shade too dark. This is an emotional time, and you need to be prepared for anything, and keep your cool through it all.
- Every business should have an attorney to set up a basic service agreement and look over contracts for them. Likewise, business insurance can protect you and your family if there is ever litigation against you. You might also consider a corporation or LLC to protect your interests.