How to Be a Wedding Planner
Wedding planning is a very popular career goal, and for good reason -- people never stop getting married, and there's something very exciting about being part of a couple's most special day. It's not uncommon for brides to get through their own weddings, only to return from the honeymoon with an aspiration to jump into the wedding planning field on a professional basis.
Like any career, there are several criteria that can help someone determine whether he or she would be successful at wedding planning.
If you are interested in being a professional wedding planner (also known as a wedding coordinator or wedding consultant), here are some statements that should describe you.
How to Be a Wedding Planner
- You are comfortable with sacrificing spontaneity in your schedule. Most couples hire a full-service planner anywhere from nine to 18 months before their wedding day. By offering a contract to a client so far in advance, you will lose the ability to make long-term personal plans. Vacations, concerts, and even the weddings of your own family members and friends will be missed if you have signed a contract with a client for the same date.
- You are comfortable making a major long-term commitment. The excitement of having a client "sign on the dotted line" can be heady -- the luster can wear off quickly, however, when you realize that dealing with that particular client is a real challenge. It may sound like stating the obvious, but unless you are 100% committed to seeing even a difficult client through to their wedding day, wedding planning isn't for you.
- You are passionate about every aspect of weddings. There are many elements that come together as part of a wedding -- food, flowers, music, photography, videography, attire, transportation, and favors, just to name a few -- and you need to be interested in them all in order to be a successful wedding planner. If you aren't genuinely excited about a particular part of the wedding planning, clients will detect this in an instant. Furthermore, if there are aspects of planning a wedding that just don't appeal to you, it's virtually guaranteed that you won't have an eye for new and exciting products and services to benefit your clients.
- You are able to be assertive, yet unfailingly polite. As a professional wedding planner, you are the leader of a very complex team of vendors, and you'll also be working with all kinds of clients and their families and friends. Maintaining control of the event, without being domineering or rude, is an essential skill. Your number one job, of course, is to advocate for the wishes of the bride and groom; however, offending their guests or stepping on the toes of other vendors (whose referrals you'll want to cultivate) is never the way to do so. The best wedding planners are able to be firm with needed, while maintaining a pleasant disposition and a sense of humor.
- You're good at negotiation and mediation. The best wedding planners are able to review contracts and vendor agreements and have them tailored to meet the unique needs of their clients. They're also able to smooth over rifts between their clients and family members when needed, as no event is as emotionally charged as a wedding. To be a successful wedding planner, you must be a master at "the art of the deal," and, at times, a de facto therapist to boot.
- You are able to adapt quickly to last-minute changes. Even the most carefully laid plans may go awry on the wedding day -- whether it be a delay in the catering, a stain on the bride's dress, or a groomsman gone AWOL -- and you need to be able to solve the problem without panicking. If you are the kind of person who is easily flustered, or who tends to give up when things don't go as intended, a career as a professional wedding planner may not be the best choice.
- You possess excellent attention to detail. "Attention to detail" has become somewhat of a buzz word; however, this is truly the cornerstone of professional wedding planning. Clients are paying you for your eyes and ears, and you need to be able to spot problems before they happen. Managing a large group of wedding guests and vendors, maintaining a timeline, and making sure that everyone and everything looks great at all times is no easy task, and would be impossible for someone who wasn't naturally vigilant about even the smallest details.
- You're ready and willing to do unglamorous work. Movies about weddings always depict an impeccably-dressed wedding planner flitting about with her clipboard, while other vendors scurry to meet her demands. In reality, the job is much more hands-on than that. Professional wedding planners spend their time doing everything from folding programs to assembling favors, hauling boxes to pinning table skirts. They're on their knees helping to bustle a bride's dress, rushing discarded napkins and dirty glasses away from a food display so they don't ruin the photos, and, at times, practically sprinting from one end of a venue to the other. Are you willing to get your hands dirty?
- You're excellent at managing your own time and materials. If you're going to be a wedding planner, in business for yourself, then you're going to be your own boss. A disorganized person is never going to be able to deal with the tremendous amount of paperwork, client appointments and other odds and ends that go with wedding planning. Therefore, the ability to stay on top of your schedule, your daily tasks and all of the tangible files and supplies that go along with wedding planning is a must.
- Ability to look at the big picture -- this is a business, you know! If you want to achieve a viable career as a wedding planner, you need to spend time strategically planning your goals and building your brand. Developing your business plan -- your image, marketing strategy, networking, finances and future growth -- is the key to being successful, and that success is what makes the long hours worthwhile. If you're not in love with owning an actual business, you won't find that being a wedding planner is for you.