How to Become a Wedding Planner

Wedding planner discussing plans with bride on wedding day

Wedding planners are the glue that sticks all the pieces of the delicate puzzle together for a couple’s Big Day. They make dreams come true, they become the bride’s shoulder to cry on – and they get paid a good wage to do it, too.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. To make a name for yourself in the industry, you must make yourself available at the drop of a hat, and you should have all the necessary skills to carry out your job effectively, as well as have the patience to defuse a tricky situation before it gets back to the bride.

So, if you think you can handle the stress and you have the passion and creativity to plan wedding after wedding, all while making a real impact on your clients’ lives, here’s all you need to know about this exciting and highly lucrative career path.

1. Research the profession

To ensure this eventful career is right for you, you’ll need a good understanding of what the job involves. Below is a snapshot of what skills are needed for success, what your working hours will be like and what kind of salary you can expect to make.

Job description

A wedding planner, or wedding coordinator, will be hired to help a couple plan the key details of their wedding, ensuring a stress-free run up to their Big Day. From venue to theme, colour schemes to flowers, photographer to wedding dress, favours to cake and entertainment to catering, there are many things a wedding planner should think of and arrange.

Although duties may vary from wedding to wedding, depending on things like the size of the party and the style of the wedding, your day-to-day tasks will usually involve the following:

  • liaising with clients to identify their needs and understand their personal vision for their Big Day
  • creating and designing a tailormade wedding plan in accordance with the couple’s budget
  • gathering information and negotiating contracts with vendors
  • ensuring all legal, health and safety obligations are met
  • compiling contracts for vendors and clients prior to starting any work
  • handling any arising issues and solving them before or on the Big Day
  • being on call to help answer any client requests and queries
  • sampling new products and ensuring you’re kept up to date with emerging trends in the industry.

Essential skills and qualities

It takes a special kind of person to become a successful wedding planner. You need to be a juggler, effortlessly moving from one task to another, anticipating problems before they occur and arranging all the fine details that most people would overlook.

The main skills and qualities you’ll need to have are outlined below.

  • Patience and stamina: When you’re dealing with bridezillas, you need to have a calm nature to be able to handle them and allow them to ramble on without taking anything personally. You’ll also need a great deal of stamina to keep going, as you’ll be working long hours, sometimes through to the evening.
  • Budgeting and negotiating skills: You might be good at haggling the local market stool seller into giving you a lower price, but can you negotiate lower contracts with vendors each time?
  • Organisation and planning skills: It goes without say that you should have great organisation skills and be able to stick to a tight schedule when you’re planning a number of weddings.
  • Time management skills: As a wedding planner, you won't only be managing your own schedule, but you’ll also be planning the most important day of a couple’s life while ensuring everything runs smoothly and according to plan.
  • Networking skills: A wedding planner should be able to work any room effectively. They’ll be laughing with the father of the bride, consoling a drunk bridesmaid and ensuring their number one client is enjoying every minute of the day.

Working hours and conditions

Wedding planners are hired for small and large weddings, which requires the flexibility to work with various sized budgets and alternative time schedules. Most of your time will be spent travelling to meet clients and suppliers and to see venues.

You will be at the busiest during peak season (May – September) and can work up to 12-hour days on the weekend. You’ll also be expected to be available out of the normal 9-to-5 working hours.

Salary prospects

The salary for a wedding planner varies depending on your level of experience and employment type. If you’re starting off as an assistant for a wedding planning company, for example, you can expect to earn about $27,450 (£20,700). If you’re going at it on your own, you can either charge a fixed fee, an hourly rate or a percentage of the total wedding cost. Your earnings can be as high as $74,610 (£56,200) in your first few years, depending on the demand.

2. Get the qualifications

Although there a number of qualifications you can obtain to show that you’re a licensed wedding planner, they are not always beneficial, nor worth your time. If you really want to gain the right skills and experience, you’ll benefit greatly from completing an internship at an events company where you’ll be able to gain valuable hands-on experience.

If you want to have a formal qualification to fall back on, you could consider a degree course in business management or public relations, which will teach you planning skills and the ins and outs of running a company.

3. Land your first job

Landing your first job can be tricky, especially if you’re trying to get your big break. Instead of trying to get paid gigs, you should do a few events for free, whether for friends or family members. That way, you’ll gain valuable experience and may even find potential clients while you’re on the job.

Alternatively, you could apply to assist a number of event planners or work for a venue that caters for weddings as an in-house planner.

4. Develop your career

To make it on your own in the big pool of hungry wedding planners, you need to have perfected your business plan. The following tips will help you get on track.

Create your own business cards

The first rule of any business is creating good business cards! They are the key to getting new clients when you’re at events and meeting new people. Make sure your cards reflect your personality and your style of work; they need to be fun and creative. Make sure to have a stack on you at all times!

Make a website

Without a website, you don’t even have a business. Prospective clients need to be able to go online and look at examples of your work in a user-friendly, online portfolio. Be sure to share the link on all your social media platforms and make regular updates after each successful event.

Attend bridal fairs

Bridal fairs are a great way to meet new clients and market your services. You can have a captivating display of weddings that you’ve planned and provide leaflets that clients can take home with them.

Create your personal marketing strategy

Digital marketing is the best way to reach new clients – you can use Facebook ads to reach a wider audience and Google AdWords to promote your business. If you’re unsure on how to work your way through the web, consider contacting a digital marketing specialist that can help you devise a good strategy. And remember: be active on social media and show a bit of your fun personality.

Wedding planning isn’t as easy as it seems but being able to pay such a huge role and make your clients’ dream wedding come true will make it all worthwhile – especially if you’re known to be a hopeless romantic!

Does this sound like your dream job? If so, join in on the conversation below and let us know your thoughts…

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