This section was written by Leora Soleymani.
So you want to be a wedding planner? First, ask yourself these questions:
- Why do I want to be a wedding planner?
- What attracts me to the wedding planning industry?
- Is this career a good fit for my personality?
- What skills do I have that will help me be successful?
How do weddings differ from other events?
Weddings are like no other event. People celebrate many milestones in their personal and professional lives, from birthdays, to brand launches, mitzvahs, anniversaries etc. Weddings are like no other event. There is so much emotion involved in a wedding, there is so much build-up. Two completely different people are uniting as one, mixing families, lifestyles, property, finances, etc.
As wedding planners, our job is most certainly to plan the wedding from the design to production and coordination. But we are so much more than just the wedding planners. We are the peacemakers, we are the liaison between the families, we are the therapist, the shoulder to cry on, the finance manager, and the personal assistant, just to name a few.
It’s important to learn where to draw the line and create boundaries with clients. When you are so involved with your clients on such a big day, it's easy to become involved in other things such as disagreements, family disputes, etc. As a wedding planner, you will be the first person they turn to, you will find yourself in the middle of situations that don’t really have anything to do with your scope of work.
It's important to let clients know exactly what your role is from the beginning and how the planning journey will work. A good way of doing this is providing your clients a welcome packet that would note things like office hours, your role, their role, rules about family involvement, etc. When working with businesses, or doing other social events, there is usually not as much ‘drama’ as you may have with weddings. You would be dealing with one client, one family, one entity — whereas with weddings there are many different players involved. Don’t let it get out of hand, be very clear about the process and how you work.
As noted above, weddings differ from other events because of the emotion involved. As a planner, your job is to guide clients to make the best decisions, but often decisions can be driven by emotional impulse or relationship dynamics. For example, many little girls dream of one day being a bride, or the financial struggles of a couple, or who pays for which aspects of the event. As a planner, you need to know how to deal with all these different aspects that come with the job. You need to be understanding, patient, and personable. The bridal industry is unique. Most people have waited a lifetime for this time to come.. As a planner you are taking them through the journey they have dreamt of for so long, which comes with a lot of responsibility and high expectations from clients.
It's not all glitz and glam. There is so much hard work, sweat, tears, and long hours that go into producing an event. Sure, it's beautiful and glamorous, but that's just the end product, that's not what every day is like while you work through budgets, vendor meetings, spreadsheets, timelines, floor plans, etc.
What does it take to be a successful wedding planner?
There is no one-word answer or just one thing it takes to be a successful wedding planner. It obviously takes the right person, the right type of personality, the right attitude, someone with style, taste, patience, efficiency, someone who can lead. Most importantly, it takes EXPERIENCE and EDUCATION. There is no secret. You need to work hard and do your very best. Try to get as much as experience possible and invest in learning and growth for your business.
Presentation is important. Invest in things that help you be more professional. Business cards, a professional website, dress the part.
Reputation is important. Build a good reputation. Ask for reviews. Build relationships. Be good to the people you work with.
In the wedding planning industry, your success is the direct result of the actions of the vendors you work with. Work with vendors who love what they do, and do a good job. Be selective about who you work with. Build a good team, one you can trust, one who will go above and beyond for you. A successful event takes teamwork between the planner and all vendors involved.
Wedding Planning on the Fly
I had a wedding where the cake arrived and looked nothing like what we had requested. I knew the bride would be devastated if she saw the cake. There was not much to be done at that point as the bakery made it clear they wouldn’t be able to make another one in time. Of course, I knew I would be calling them after the wedding for a refund. In the meantime, I needed to make sure the bride would get the cake she wanted. We called every bakery in town until we found one able to make the cake we wanted and have it delivered on time. After the wedding, of course, we got a refund for the original cake. I made the decision to spend a few hundred dollars on a new cake, even though I wasn’t 100% sure we would get a full refund from the first. I took a risk, but it was a calculated risk, and I felt good about it.
How can students prepare for a career in wedding planning?
- Intern with or shadow a successful panner
- Do an intensive hands-on workshop
- Get a degree or certificate in hospitality or event planning
- Research the event market in your area.
- Visit the websites of local wedding planners
- Follow prominent planners’ social media accounts.
- Be up to date with trends, rates, the work that goes into the planning, etc.
- Keep up with the big vendors in your area (venues, rental companies, floral designers, etc.)
- Expose yourself to as much as possible in the field
There is nothing like real-life experience. Even if you're in school, intern, or volunteer at events on the weekends. Event planning is such a flexible industry, so make sure you get involved early on, even if it's part-time, on the weekends, etc. The hands-on experience will help build the important skills you will need and shape your career goals.
Go above and beyond. Put your heart and soul into it. If you don’t know how to do something, seek help. Ask another wedding planner. Join support groups. Join wedding planner networks. Attend networking events. Introduce yourself to hotels, venues, and vendors wherever you go. Send out emails, cards, show up at their door. Meet with people and connect however you can. Put yourself out there!