The independent, trusted guide to online education for over 24 years!

How to Become a Wedding Planner: A Step-by-Step Guide

iStock-1286138096.v2

Whether held at a beach or a hall, a wedding can be one of the most important events in anyone’s life. Most people already have an idea of what they want on their wedding day. All they need is a wedding planner that can put together all the different pieces of the jigsaw. Wedding planning can be a fulfilling and demanding occupation. This article will break down the steps of becoming a wedding planner.

In the US alone, there were 1,267,877 weddings in 2020, and the average cost of each wedding was $20,286. Wedding planning goes beyond organizing and coordinating different aspects of a wedding day. The bigger picture is to give couples an unforgettable experience and take away the burden of responsibility. Here, we’ll explain what a wedding planner does, their income, the challenges, and every other bit of information to get you started.

Who Is A Wedding Planner?

A wedding planner is a trained individual who plans, designs, and manages weddings. Many couples are willing to spend vast sums of money to realize their dream weddings. A wedding planner’s job is to interpret that dream and bring it to reality. This career might involve long hours of planning and getting the best out of available resources. A wedding planner must be a well-organized individual who can influence others to achieve set goals.

What Does A Wedding Planner Do?

The responsibilities of a wedding planner vary from one event to another. However, there are general duties that they must perform in all their engagements. When couples hire a wedding planner, they pay for organization, attention to detail, and peace of mind.

A wedding planner may do more than plan the wedding day itself. They might also plan other events linked to the wedding, such as the rehearsal dinner, bachelor or bachelorette party, and the day-after brunch.

First, the planner sits down with the couple and listens to their wants. During the meeting, they discuss the budget and the type of services the couple can get within their budget. This process involves excellent negotiation and listening skills. At this point, there might be slight changes, but the overall aim is to offer the best possible services. Experienced wedding planners can suggest great reception venues and typically have a lot of contacts who can work with a small budget or organize a grand event. These are some of the responsibilities of a wedding planner:

  • Organize invitation cards
  • Help to pick the wedding wears for the bride and groom
  • Arrange a florist
  • Organize the rehearsal dinner
  • Arrange a caterer
  • Help select wedding favors
  • Plan for lighting and visual details
  • Create a uniform look throughout the event
  • Meet and negotiate with vendors
  • Plan for unforeseen lapses
  • Deal with rude guests
  • Collect deliveries
  • Ensure that the wedding starts and ends at the scheduled times
  • Help to select a suitable venue for a wedding
  • Return any borrowed items or rentals
  • Ensure that the wedding venue is neat
  • Get back any deposits

What Skills Should A Wedding Planner Have?

Since wedding planning is a broad subject, planners need to possess a wide range of skills to achieve desired results. These skills include:

Communication Skills

Wedding planners need to meet with and talk to clients, vendors, and workers. Therefore, they must communicate while advising clients and liaising with the workers. Most planners also need to engage with wedding guests to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Listening Skills

While this is closely related to communication skills, the difference is that wedding planners have to be active listeners. The clients will have opinions on what their weddings should look like, and wedding planners have to resist the urge to impose their will on the client.

Organization Skills

Planning one wedding is hectic enough, and sometimes, wedding planners may have to handle more than one event simultaneously. The wedding planner needs to remain organized to avoid mixing things up.

Patience

Patience is an essential skill for every wedding planner. Planners are bound to encounter some problems and challenges at one point or another. It is vital to address the client’s concerns and maintain professionalism.

Problem-Solving Skills

In an ideal world, everything is supposed to go as planned – no vendor should disappoint. However, in reality, last-minute problems can arise. If the wedding planner is not adept at problem-solving, things can go south quickly. Wedding planners can develop critical problem-solving skills through experience and learning.

Budgeting

Budgeting is a significant factor in whether a wedding event works out or not. Planners must be intentional about planning and adhering to budgets, especially with clients who do not have a bottomless purse.

Creativity

A client might want something uncommon for their wedding. It is up to the wedding planner to adapt to the specific styles and themes. One way to sharpen creativity is by staying updated with the latest trends in the wedding industry.

Time Management

A wedding day is one of the strictest deadlines you can find, as there is so much expectation in the air. Therefore, wedding planners need to manage their time effectively by getting things done ahead of time. Time management is essential when they have more than one nuptial ceremony at a particular time.

Negotiation Skills

A wedding planner should negotiate properly, bearing the clients’ budgets in mind. Both vendors and clients should be satisfied because the planners need to fulfill the couple’s expectations in the short term and build long-term relationships with the vendors.

Research Skills

A wedding planner must sometimes find quirky objects or meet unusual requests. Good wedding planners should be skillful researchers who can dig up anything and everything to keep the client happy.

Entrepreneurial Skills

As most wedding planners are self-employed, they have to work round the clock to ensure the client is satisfied and promote and grow their business. Building a successful wedding planning business involves a lot of hard work, and individuals who venture into wedding planning must have strong entrepreneurial spirits.

How To Become A Wedding Planner

Perhaps, the most vital step in becoming a wedding planner is learning about the industry and getting as much experience as possible. Let’s look at other steps to take if you aim to become a wedding planner.

Get Educated

Although planning weddings do not require a college degree, it could be beneficial to have a degree in event management. Some relevant degrees include a Could not look up school using "24047"!, Bachelor of Science in Sports, Entertainment, and Event Planning, or even a Master of Business Administration / Event Planning & Management. These degrees can help wedding planners stand out when searching for gigs.

Some event planning coursework includes hospitality marketing strategies, event promotion, food preparation, and organizational behavior.

Related Resource: Online Business Schools with ACBSP Accreditation: The Top Ten

Get Experience

While education is not essential in the wedding planning industry, experience is significant. Few people will hire a wedding planner with zero experience to plan their big day. And even individuals who have excellent skills would need one form of understanding of the other to prove their skills.

One way to gain wedding planning experience is by completing an internship at a planning agency. Another route is by volunteering to plan weddings for close friends and family. Whichever way, the key thing is learning to solve problems and avoid obstacles while gaining valuable contacts.

Get Certified

A certificate is a great way to show potential clients that you are up to the task of organizing grand wedding ceremonies. Certificate programs such as the one offered by the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners (AACWP) teach wedding planners crucial skills in the industry. Students can either take the program online or in-person, and it generally takes about two months to complete. After the program, graduates can apply for the Trained Wedding Planner designation. With that, there are also other associations and bodies offering certificates.

Join A Wedding Planning Association

Wedding planning associations allow wedding planners to network, learn new trends, and advance their careers. Some professional wedding planner associations include:

Wedding International Professionals Association (WIPA)

The Wedding International Planners Association (WIPA) is great for hoteliers, officiants, and wedding planners. The body has nine chapters scattered across the country. Members have access to meetings and mentoring seminars for new businesses.

Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA)

Apart from meeting other wedding planners, members of the Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) also have the opportunity to network with hotel and destination managers across North America. The organization aims to educate members on the best practices for events.

Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA)

The Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA) is designed for senior event marketers looking to network and develop their skills. There are no chapters for this association. Instead, members benefit through traveling opportunities. Additionally, members can enjoy the benefits of an exclusive job board, newsletter, and member directory.

Choose Where You Want To Work

The location of a wedding planner plays a massive role in the kind of jobs they get. Another important consideration is your choice of workplace. Some wedding planners prefer to create their businesses, while others are more comfortable working in an agency. An agency is the best bet for people starting in this field. In contrast, experienced wedding planners can create a private practice.

Work Environment for Wedding Planners

A wedding planner’s work schedule varies from day to day and largely depends on the projects they manage at each moment. The exciting thing is that every day is different for a planner. For example, on some days, a wedding planner might schedule meetings with the clients, where they have to plan. On other days, they may have to check out wedding venues, meet with suppliers and attend a wedding they’ve planned. Planners also send out and receive a lot of calls and emails.

Wedding planning is generally categorized under the event coordinator role, and it can be very demanding. It involves a lot of behind the scene work, and most planners have to stand on their feet for long periods. Additionally, there’ll always be scenarios where wedding planners have to fix issues with short notice. However, if you enjoy what you do, then you’ll enjoy the challenges of this career.

Do I Need A Degree To Become A Wedding Planner?

No, you do not require a degree to become a wedding planner. In fact, with the proper levels of passion, curiosity, and experience, anybody can become a wedding planner. The most critical factor in the profession is experience. No one will hire a wedding planner who does not have a lot of successful weddings under their belt.

Wedding planners can get experience by organizing the weddings of close associates and family or shadowing established professionals. In addition, individuals who want to succeed in their careers should have a passion for helping people and strong organizational skills. The best wedding planners are dependable, responsible, cool-headed, and great time managers.

However, an academic degree is not useless in the field. A background in hospitality and event management can help wedding planners deliver better service to clients.

How To Get Wedding Planner Jobs

Most wedding planners are self-employed, and you can set up private practice early on. Notwithstanding, many event planning firms hire wedding planners. Job boards often advertise these wedding planner jobs. The alternative is to send an application for an assistant wedding planner role. Offering your services to a wedding venue or a local wedding planner is also a great option, as it prepares you for a permanent position.

How To Set Up Private Practice For Wedding Planners

For more independent and experienced wedding planners, the next step may be “setting up” for private practice. Ideally, before branching out to start a business, you should have learned the ropes and have a strong understanding of how the industry works. These steps will help you create your own business.

Related Resource: How to Become an Entrepreneur

Set Out Wedding Planning Goals

It is essential to know what you hope to achieve in the industry, which can form the basis of a business. The options are limitless, and the field is vast. You can choose to become a celebrity wedding planner and plan lavish and highly publicized weddings. Alternatively, the plan may be organizing dream weddings for residents in a particular area. The goal might not be the same as you forge ahead, but having a clear-cut plan at the start can help define your business.

Research The Industry

After setting out goals for your wedding planning business, the next step is to conduct thorough research on the industry. Review your industry knowledge and seek answers to fill your knowledge gaps.

Draft A Business Plan

Wedding planners can draft a business plan built upon the information they acquired through researching the industry and setting their business goals. A business plan should include details such as:

  • Company Summary
    A company summary includes details like the company’s location, a backstory, team members, and other information about the business.
  • Executive Summary
    The executive summary deals with the mission statement and goals of the business. In essence, it covers everything about what the company does and how it would achieve its aims.
  • Products and Services
    This section covers what the business offers in great detail. It also shows a pricing range, immediate competition, and strategies to stand out amidst the competition.
  • Financial Plan
    A financial plan covers everything from projected cash flow to projected profit and loss. It includes taxes, marketing costs, anticipated expenses, business ratios, and break-even analysis.
  • Market Analysis Summary
    This section covers the target audience and strategies to get their attention. It also looks at the market size and different buying patterns.
  • Management Summary
    A management summary is only necessary for businesses with other team members. It breaks down the hierarchy structure and clearly defines each role and the personnel involved.
  • Strategy and Implementation Summary
    Finally, this part deals with the milestones that can measure progress, sales prediction, and sales strategy.

Draft A Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is not exclusive to independent wedding planners. Wedding planning agencies also have a marketing plan that helps with publicity. The key to creating a viable marketing plan is to understand what couples are looking out for and take the business to them. Here are some tips that can help you successfully market the business:

  • Start Blogging
    When done effectively, blogs can be an effective way to put your business out there. It could be a personal blog or even guest posts to share insights on weddings. Through this medium, you can provide value and become an authority in the industry.
  • Social Media
    Social media is such an effective tool for businesses like wedding planning. Every year, around 40 million people use Pinterest for wedding planning guides. Apart from Pinterest, you can leverage on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to gain massive exposure.

Build Relationships in The Wedding Industry

The benefits of networking can not be overemphasized, especially in the wedding industry. At the start and throughout the business, establish relationships with vendors, venue managers, florists, photographers, caterers, and every other relevant worker. These relationships can be helpful in the future and help you land more lucrative jobs. Building relationships with clients is also crucial as referrals can be a powerful way to gain new clients.

Keep Learning

The wedding planning industry is never static. It is ever-evolving, and past trends can fade quickly. As such, it is vital to stay updated with industry trends. Learning is not only limited to formal settings. Experience is another great way to learn, and there’ll be loads of new scenarios and challenges that will provide you the opportunity to learn and grow. Always take note of every opportunity to learn something new.

Salary for Wedding Planners

According to Payscale, the average base salary for wedding planners is $41,653. A further breakdown shows that entry-level wedding planners earn an average of $40,113. Wedding planners with 1-4 years of experience earn around $41,201, while those with at least 5-9 years of experience can expect an average of $42,988. At the top of the food chain are wedding planners with 10-19 years of experience who earn about $43,233. Finally, wedding planners who have been in the industry for 20 years or more can make up to $44,000.

The Bureau of Labor Services (BLS) projects that meeting, convention, and event planners will see an 18% shoot in employment rates, which is much faster than the average occupation. Between 2020 and 2030, the prediction is that there will be around 16,400 new openings each year. The BLS further states that the rapid growth is tied to recovery from the pandemic that hit the world in 2020. In the future, the services of event planners in general and wedding planners in particular should be in high demand.

Become a Wedding Planner Today!

Like most creative occupations, becoming a wedding planner has many perks. For one, there is so much excitement when you can contribute to someone’s special day. Other than that, wedding planners have the opportunity to meet new people daily, travel a lot, and work with a flexible schedule. However, the icing on the cake is creating lifetime memories for clients. Head over to our education resource center to learn more about wedding planning, event management, and other related career paths.

Browse Now

Search Over 1,600+ Schools with 30,000+ Degrees