In our busy society it's no wonder so many couples turn to a professional wedding planner to ensure their wedding is as stress free as possible. With more than 2.4 million weddings taking place in the United States alone last year, there are more opportunities for wedding planners than ever before.
As long as you have the desire, you can become a wedding planner. No special education or experience is necessary to break into this career and succeed. If wedding planning sounds like the career of your dreams, here are ten steps to breaking into this fabulous job, based on the FabJob Guide to Become a Wedding Planner, published by www.FabJob.com.
1. 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.
2. Learn about weddings
There are numerous details involved in planning a wedding -- from selecting the wedding date to choosing the menu for the reception. You can learn how to plan weddings by taking continuing education classes or through self-study. To teach yourself, help out with as many weddings as possible, visit bridal shows, read wedding magazines and the helpful articles at SheKnows.com, and conduct informational interviews with clergy of various faiths, recently married brides and anyone else connected to the wedding business such as florists and caterers.
3. Create a portfolio
A portfolio is a collection of photographs that show people your skill at planning weddings. To develop a portfolio, offer your services to friends and family who are getting married in exchange for pictures for your portfolio. (You can ask them to write reference letters for you as well.) You can also include photographs of table settings or room decorations you have created in your home or pictures from your own wedding to show your creative side.
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. Besides employment benefits, 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 of the more exciting options include working as a wedding coordinator at an attraction such as Disney World or at a resort in a location such as Hawaii, Las Vegas, Europe or the Caribbean. Many other 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 not much different than starting any other business, with a few exceptions. You should be able to work from home as long as you set aside an office space free from interruptions from children or pets. This is especially important if you plan on holding meetings with clients there.
Set up costs will be minimal but you will need a computer, fax, business phone line, cell phone, business cards, and marketing materials such as a website. Before setting up your business, take advantage of the free advice offered by agencies such as the US Small Business Administration.
6. Choose a specialty
Wedding planners offer a variety of services and packages based on their specific skills and interests. For example, 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. Decide which services you would like to offer.
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 and a great networking ally.
Conduct informational meetings to learn about their services, and what discounts they can offer you as a wedding planner. Before recommending a site for a wedding ceremony or reception, visit and inspect the premises. Take notes on the condition, size, cleanliness and capacity of each venue so you can guide your clients in making suitable choices. Always follow up with vendors after the wedding with a thank you note or to discuss any changes you want for future.
8. Get clients
One of the best ways to get clients is through your relationships with vendors. Supply business cards and brochures to the bridal shops, caterers, florists, photographers and other 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, participating in bridal shows, or even organizing your own bridal show.
9. Consult with clients
Once you start getting calls from brides and grooms, arrange a client consultation meeting. The purpose of this initial consultation is to learn as much as possible about the couple and what they want, so you can show them how hiring you will help them achieve the wedding of their dreams. Be prepared to 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 them have the worry-free wedding of their dreams.
10. Be recognized as a professional
Successful wedding planners are always interested in learning new ideas they can 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 with your affiliation to a professional organization, especially if it certifies you as a professional wedding planner.