How to Become a Wedding Planner

How to Become a Wedding Planner
By Nancy Tucker of Coordinators Corner, an online forum for bridal consultants.

Do you have what it takes to begin a career in the wedding planning field? Consider the following to ensure your success as a professional bridal consultant.

The number of wedding planners in the US alone is approximately 10,000. This number encompasses the hobbyists and professionals because it is a career that you could get into just by purchasing a business license and business card. There are no national requirements or regulations for certification for wedding planners in the US. This lack of regulation also provides the profession with the distinction of having one of the highest attrition rates due to the wrong start in business. If you’d like to be one of the successful bridal consultants, read on.

To become a wedding planner, and to be respected as a professional, there are many benchmarks to be achieved. You must prove a level of experience or training. The bridal consultant is supported by referrals from other wedding professionals and former clients. In order to gain this referral base, you must be able to prove your value. You must show them your training level, your experience within the profession and your ability to make it work.

What makes you want to be a wedding planner? If it’s because you think it would be a fun job, going to a “party” every weekend, stop here. Although planning a wedding can be very rewarding, and sometimes great fun, it is hard, sometimes stressful work. It's nothing like planning one's own wedding either. But, if you know that you love details, love organizing and creating events, have some experience that proves you can make it work, a career in wedding planning just might be for you! Your experience could include friends and family who always depend on you to organize and create family gatherings and events. Then you’ll need to take a bridal consultant training course or certification to deal with a wider range of requirements. For instance, you’ll need to know how to handle special circumstances such as the protocol involved in military weddings. Not every wedding is the same and it will become your job to personalize the event for your clients. This requires a massive amount of research and education. Your first step should be to check into a wedding planner certification course. There are a number of great event and wedding planner courses provided by companies such as Weddings Beautiful, Association of Bridal Consultants, June Weddings, and the Association of Certified Wedding Consultants. They all vary in price based on the depth of the course. You can take any, or all, of these courses offered. You can never be too educated!

Register Your Business - Now that you are in the process of learning about weddings, take the appropriate steps required by your city, county or state to license your business. You’ll want a business name and through your local agencies you’ll be able to find out if your business name is available. Once the name is registered and you are licensed according to your locality requirements, you’ll want to design a business card to promote your business.
Advertising - When your training is complete, and you are properly registered and licensed as a business, start to investigate advertising for your business. Most major bridal magazines can be costly for the newbie, but, if you can afford it, consider only those having local books for just your area. Online directories such as Team Wedding can offer more affordable advertising or even some free wedding advertising. Do local searches online for keywords such as “wedding planner in (insert state or locality)” or “(your state) weddings” and list with these sites. Some planners do very well with Yellow Pages listings and others do not, but, definitely have a listing in the white pages of the telephone book. Consider local bridal shows to exhibit your new business and to network with other vendors.
Invest in a Professionally Designed Website - Today's bride has limited time and uses the web extensively to find resources. Your web page can serve as your 24/7 brochure. This web page should tell about your business and what services you provide to the bride. Contact information is a must. List a phone number and your office address or PO Box number. This information will go a long way to provide the bride with the trust factor she craves. If you have some references and pictures, be sure to include these too. Your website could cost anywhere from $1000 or more. Just remember, “You get what you pay for”, and your website will represent you and your business. Make sure it makes you appear professional.
Location, Location, Location - Get set up in an office. Optimally, an office separate from your home will seem most professional and will allow you to meet with clients more comfortably, however, many consultants do operate out of their home office, at least at first. You’ll need a computer, printer and fax set up so that you can send and receive contracts, floor plans, etc. A high speed internet connection is also advised so that you can check email and communicate with your clients. Be sure to check your email as often as possible. Daily is best.
Legalities - Every business should have an attorney (contracts) and business insurance to protect you, and your property, from loss due to accidents or litigations.

Join Associations - Further your professionalism by becoming a member and a part of a professional bridal associations such as Weddings Beautiful, June Wedding Inc., ACPWC, and AFWPI or online forums such as Coordinators Corner, an online community for bridal consultants from all over the world. With a reputable association you will be offered membership so that you can remain on top of wedding trends and continue your education.

Now that you’ve done your homework, go out there and get your wedding and event planning business going. If you aren’t ready to become a wedding planner now, at least you know how to get started. If you are still in school or college, I highly recommend that you take some business management and marketing courses. Also, if you can get into any courses offered for the hospitality industry, these will prove to be very valuable. While in school, and possibly working part time, try to align yourself with a job that can get you experience in the field. Work for a caterer, florist, hotel or bridal shop. It never hurts to know more about this business and will contribute to your overall professionalism.

Still think you have what it takes to begin a career in the wedding planning industry? Now that you know how to become a wedding planner get started with this course: Guide to Starting a Career in Wedding Planning.

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