Wedding planning is one of the toughest jobs in the events industry. It’s also one of the most important, as well as one of the most rewarding. Planners oversee almost every aspect of the wedding timeline. They’re in charge of doing everything they can to ensure that a couple’s wedding is everything they expect it to be — and more.
“Being in the wedding and event industry has its challenges, but there is nothing better than seeing months and months of hard work come together to create the most perfect wedding day,” wrote Denise Ferdinand of the Fairy Godmother Wedding & Event Planning Company in a post on their website. “Watching all the hard work unfold is one of the most rewarding experiences that this business has to offer. In this business you continuously get closer to your clients and that is what makes their wedding so special and unique, watching your work bring your client’s dreams to life is such a magical feeling.”
Want to learn how to become a wedding planner? Keep reading! In this post, we go over the steps you can take to get started, as well as things you can do once you get your feet off the ground. We also answer a handful of frequently asked questions about wedding planning.
Discover how to become a wedding planner in 8 steps:
Step 1: Establish clear-cut wedding planning goals.
These goals will probably change over time, and that’s OK. But it’s important to head into any endeavor with a plan. Do you dream of planning celebrity weddings, a la Mindy Weiss? Maybe you want to work with venues in your hometown to give locals the day of their dreams. What if you want to travel the world and throw destination weddings on tropical islands and Italian lakes? The options are endless — it’s truly up to you!
Step 2: Conduct industry research.
Once you have your goals, start researching how you’re going to reach them. To get started, form a list of questions you don’t know the answer to. How much money can I make? Are wedding planners in high demand? How can I get my first client? Just like goals, make it a priority to research the market before getting started. And this post is a great place to start! Additionally, check out industry studies such as WeddingWire’s Newlywed Report and Brides.com’s American Wedding Study.
Step 3: Consider formal wedding planner training.
You don’t need a special degree or certification to become a wedding planner. But if you want to head into the industry and you have little-to-no experience, learning the ropes and all of the ins and outs can be extremely beneficial. The American Association of Certified Wedding Planners, for example, was “created by wedding professionals who saw the need for an organization dedicated to the education of those seeking to become wedding planners, and to elevate those already in the field through certification and continuing education.” The organization offers in-person and online training. Students have two months to complete the course and are then eligible to apply for a membership as a Trained Wedding Planner.
Another option is the Lovegevity Wedding Planning Institute, which offers a course for people interested in becoming a Certified Wedding and Event Planner. The average time to complete the course is 8-12 weeks, and graduates receive a certificate, letter of recommendation, and the professional Certified Wedding and Event Planning designation. “I would highly recommend Lovegevity courses to those who are willing to take the plunge and go after your dreams,” wrote one graduate. “The Certified Wedding Planner course was the perfect curriculum I needed to reassure that I am going in the right directions.”
Step 4: Write a business plan.
Remember those Step 1 goals and the Step 2 research? A lot of that information can go towards writing your business plan. There are tons of resources and templates online to help, and we go into greater detail in a separate post, The Essential Steps to Starting an Event Management Business. Here are some highlights of what your business plan should include:
- Executive summary. Write down your goals and your mission statement. Map out why you think your business will succeed — and how you’ll go about doing it.
- Company summary. Is the wedding planning business going to be just you, or do you plan on having a team? Include your backstory, location, and just about anything else you’d share on your website’s “about” section.
- Products and services to be offered. This is where you go into detail about what you are and aren’t going to offer. Plus, how much are you going to charge? Who do you consider your immediate competition? Don’t forget to establish ways that you can stand out.
- Market analysis summary. Explore who your target audience is and map out ways to gain their business.
- Strategy and implementation summary. Come up with a sales strategy, a sales forecast, and milestones you hope to hit.
- Management summary. This will vary depending on the amount of planning teammates you plan on having, if any. This section includes an organizational structure and a personnel plan.
- Financial plan. This section includes your anticipated fixed and variable expenses, marketing costs, taxes, etc. It also includes a break-even analysis, projected profit and loss, projected cash flow, projected balance sheet, and business ratios.
Step 5: Create a marketing plan.
Whether you want to be an independent planner, part of an agency, or anything in between, your business will have a hard time taking off without the right marketing plan. Just like wedding venue marketing, wedding planner marketing is all about understanding what couples want and then reaching those couples on the channels that they use. Here are a few tips:
- Utilize social media. Pinterest alone brings in approximately 40 million people each year for wedding planning guidance. If you don’t already have a presence, make that a priority. And the same thing goes for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Post often — but not just for the sake of posting — and utilize relevant hashtags to reach more people.
- Start blogging. Whether this is a blog on your website or guest posts on various wedding blogs and magazines, this is a great way to gain recognition and use your voice to provide value.
- Leverage reviews and testimonials. A 2019 WeddingWire study states that, aside from price, reviews and photos are the “most important features couples look at when deciding which vendors to initially contact.” Give couples you’ve worked with an easy way to review your services, and be sure to share those reviews on your website and social media platforms.
- Work with publications. Getting featured in a local or national publication can provide a significant boost to your business. Reach out to outlets and pitch them on a unique angle. Also, make yourself available for Q&As. Bonus points if you get a link back to your website, blog, or social media profiles. Backlinks are SEO gold.
Step 6: Find the tools you need to be a successful wedding planner.
For this section, let’s take a look at a hypothetical scenario. Imagine that two people order the same dresser from an online furniture company. It arrives at their houses in three boxes, and there are about a dozen bags of screws, nuts, and bolts. Person A has a toolbox with a hammer, screwdriver, drill, and much more. Person B has nothing but their hands and some super glue. Which person is going to be more efficient in putting together the dresser?
When it comes to growing a business, it isn’t much different. That’s where Social Tables comes in. Our software can help grow your business in a variety of ways, and it’s used by professional wedding planners and DIY brides alike all across the world. Get started by checking out our free 3D wedding design software.
“We researched several companies that offer similar services, and ultimately found Social Tables to be the best fit for us,” wrote Kate Turner of Kate & Company. “At any given time we could be working on over 100 different layouts. Social Tables offerings and customer service are second to none and that’s why they are the best fit for Kate & Company and our family of businesses.”
Additional useful wedding planning tools and software include Wedding Spot, Joy, WeddingWire, Carats & Cake, and Zola.
Step 7: Start forging industry-wide relationships.
Whether it’s with venues, couples, vendors, or other planners, the importance of relationship building can’t be overstated. The opportunities that arise from networking are endless.
“Your business is going to thrive because of the relationships you build, now and throughout the next few years,” wrote Lauren Weidley of Chancey Charm Weddings in an Aisle Planner blog post. ” … Any good business (in my opinion) started with relationship; a business partner, a first bride, a vendor team that meshed really well. It all started somewhere.
“Give yourself grace and time to make those connections. Sometimes you make 10 at once at an industry event and sometimes it’s a shot in the dark and an Instagram message to that photographer (whose) work you’ve admired forever! Reach out, because you never know what friendship might come out of it!”
Step 8: Don’t stop learning.
Just about every successful person, no matter the industry, remains a student of their profession. Wedding planning is no different. There will be ups and downs, roadblocks, and never-before-seen scenarios. Look at those as opportunities to learn and grow.
“The best wedding planners have a ‘never stop learning’ mindset,” Heather Hoesch, owner of LVL Weddings & Events, told Brides.com. “They read, they watch webinars and social media lives, they collaborate and listen to podcasts. They take courses, attend workshops and conferences.”
Frequently asked questions about how to become a wedding planner:
No, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Your level of education depends on the type of wedding planning business you’re trying to be a part of. If your goal is to be your own boss and run your own one-person business, no college degree is required. However, a degree in a hospitality or event-planning field can help better prepare you for the industry, and it may be preferred by some organizations.
Most wedding planners earn their money by charging a flat fee, an hourly rate, or a percentage of a couple’s wedding budget.
It depends on the type of certification. A Wedding Planner Certificate from Online Courses Australia, for example, takes an estimated 12 study hours. On the other end of the spectrum, the Wedding Academy’s Certificate in Wedding Planning takes approximately three months.
Now that you know how to become a wedding planner, it’s time to get started!
You don’t have to have a degree in event planning to join the wedding industry. At the end of the day, it’s all about going above and beyond to make couple’s dreams come true. And now that you’ve read this guide, you’re already on your way!
Up next, check out the secrets to event planning and wedding taglines.