CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a wedding planner.
Is becoming a wedding planner right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
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Although not necessary, obtaining an associate or bachelor's degree in a related field, such as marketing, public relations, business management, communications, or hospitality management can really help.
Certification & Internship
Certifications can be attained through various organizations, including the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC) and the Association for Certified Professional Wedding Consultants (ACPWC). The coursework will vary depending on which organization you choose, but subjects include etiquette, event logistics, vendor contracting, sales and marketing, and legal matters.
However, getting certified is not going to help as much as actually putting in the time interning for a real wedding planning company (unpaid, if necessary). The practical knowledge you will gain when you’re working on real weddings, with real brides, coordinating real vendors, keeping paperwork straight, and executing events week after week cannot be taught in the classroom or on the Internet.
So the first thing you need is experience - the question becomes how do you get that experience? Get the word out about your services and attract a client base by making business cards, spreading the word to your friends, posting ads online, making a website, and reaching out to old contacts. Start planning events (for free) for friends and family. Make sure they understand that you’re treating them as real clients and may need them for genuine referrals. Take many pictures and make your website an amazing marketing tool.
Anything that gives you experience building events from scratch and learning client management will give you a leg up. Even applying for entry-level positions at event planning firms and public relations firms known for their events is an excellent idea.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Wedding Planners happy?
Wedding planners rank in the 74th percentile of careers for satisfaction scores. Please note that this number is derived from the data we have collected from our Sokanu members only.
Being a wedding planner can be fun and exciting, and seeing months of hard work come together on a perfect wedding day can be extremely rewarding. Working closely with clients on one of the most important days in their lives is also incredibly humbling and special. Being invited to industry parties, going to conferences, touring beautiful event spaces, and enjoying the independence that comes with being self-employed are all definite perks that make this career enjoyable.
However, along with self-employment comes a plethora of responsibilities that can affect one's happiness. These responsibilities include weekend and evening work, physical labour, dealing with tough clients, handling stress and maintaining patience, multi-tasking and organizing, negotiating and mediating, and the general complexities of running a business.
Should I become a Wedding Planner?
There is indeed something very special about being able to help engaged couples plan the wedding of their dreams. Quite often, however, those who say they would like to become a wedding planner base this opinion on only having planned their own wedding, and see this job through rose coloured glasses. They typically don’t realize the time, effort, and organizational skills that are required to manage multiple weddings at the same time.
If you are seriously considering pursing this career but aren't 100% sure it's the right fit for you, ask yourself the following questions:
Are you passionate about every aspect of a wedding?
- There are many elements that have to come together in order to have a successful wedding, and you need to be interested in all of them. These include the venue, the food, the cake, the flowers, the favors, the music, the DJ, the photography, the videography, the wedding dress, the tuxedos, the transportation, and the decorations. Clients can detect if you aren't genuinely excited about a particular aspect of the wedding planning and this can have a negative impact on your business.
Are you able to adapt quickly to last-minute changes?
- Regardless of how meticulously wedding plans are laid out, they can (and often do) go awry and need to be handled in an efficient and calm manner. For example, the wedding cake may not be ready for pickup on time, there may be a stain on the bride's wedding dress, and a bridesmaid or groomsman may go missing. These are the types of issues that have to be solved quickly, and with the least amount of fuss and panic. A career as a wedding planner may not be the best choice if you are the kind of person who is easily flustered, or who tends to give up when things don't go as planned.
Can you be kind and compassionate, yet stern when necessary?
- Being empathetic to your client’s needs, as well as for the needs of the parents, is key to having a successful wedding planning career. This is a big day, not only for the bride and groom, but for the whole family. As their wedding planner, you are often the confidant, psychologist and mediator. However, there are times when situations need to be handled assertively and with sternness. A wedding planner must often deal with a bride and groom's extended friends and family; two different families can have two completely different views of what a wedding should be like. At the end of the day, it's the wedding planner's job to make sure the bride and groom's wishes are being met during the planning process, and must often run interference on their behalf. Do you have the strength to shrug things off? Will you be able to take the heat and stand your ground when pushed to the limits?
Do you have excellent attention to detail?
- Possessing this quality is truly the cornerstone of wedding planning. Clients will be hiring you to attend to every minute detail of their wedding day, and to also spot problems before they occur. It would be impossible for someone who wasn't naturally attentive about even the smallest of details to be successful in this career. Attending to wedding guests, managing vendors, keeping a timeline and budget, and making sure that everything looks as amazing as possible at all times is no easy task.
Do you have excellent organizational skills?
- Let's pretend you are planning eight weddings and there are at least eight vendors for each wedding - you will need to keep track of the details for all sixty-four of those vendors as well as manage the business side of things if you are an entrepreneur. The amount of paperwork and emails can be enormous and exhausting for even the most organized person.
Are you willing to be hands-on?
- This career is much more hands-on than movies like to portray. Wedding planners spend much of their time hauling boxes, pinning table skirts, arranging flowers, setting out place card holders, poofing out the bride's dress, and basically sprinting from one end of the venue to the other attending to never-ending unglamorous details. If your idea of a wedding planner is an impeccably dressed person flitting about with a clipboard while other vendors scurry to meet all of the demands, it might be good to reconsider this as a career choice.
How to become a Wedding Planner
In the United States, aside from what is required to own a business, there are no required certifications or licenses needed to become a wedding planner. Due to the high demand though, there are many colleges that are now offering certificate and degree programs in wedding planning.
It is good to keep in mind that planning your own wedding and working with a paying client to plan their wedding is vastly different. Creating and managing a budget with someone else's money, creating detailed timelines, getting to know reputable vendors, designing a wedding, and dealing with all sorts of different personalities and family dynamics are all things that need to be learned and refined in order to be a successful wedding planner.