Being a wedding planner is an intensely challenging and intensely rewarding career. Out of all the event management types out there, the most exciting is definitely wedding planning. Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a successful wedding planner.
Here’s how to become a wedding planner:
Have you been thinking about making a change? If you’re known for your efficiency and practicality, and you want a people-centric job with meaning, then wedding planning could be the perfect pivot for you.
Pre-COVID, Australia’s wedding industry was booming, with over 120,000 weddings taking place in Australia every year. SEEK predicted that the wedding industry would grow even further, with 16.5% job growth in event planning over the next five years.
COVID has thrown some spanners in the works for the wedding industry, with vendors and couples feeling the strain. However, as experts have noted, recessions are a fact of life, the wedding industry is a fairly recession-proof one.
And a huge boom is coming. Many couples have been putting off their wedding plans until the pandemic has subsided, so there may be a big influx of weddings (150,000 or more) coming up in 2022.
Now is a good time to get trained up with an online course and find a mentor, so you’ve got a head start for when things pick up again.
What do wedding planners do?
As a wedding planner, you’ll wear many hats. You’ll be a planner, adviser, coordinator, stylist, decorator and more – all at once. Your objective is to manage all aspects of the wedding so it goes off without a hitch on the day.
Weddings can be stressful for the couple, especially for the bride; who will, of course, want her wedding day to go beautifully. By becoming a wedding coordinator or planner, you’ll be able to take the stress out of the couple’s big day, allowing them to truly focus on what matters most.
This means that as a wedding planner, you will be in charge of:
Wedding planners will often have several packages at tiered pricing levels to suit different couples’ needs, starting at entry-level services comprising simple venue hire, flowers and food services, and all the way to extravagant celebrations with performers, venue changes, bridal showers and fittings.
Wedding planning is often framed as a creative job, and it can be, to some extent, in that you make some aesthetic choices. However, the bulk of the work is in the logistics and communication behind the scenes. During peak wedding season, you can expect to put in hard work and long hours.
There are qualities you need to work in any events role. But to pull off the complex, demanding feat of organising a wedding, you must be exceptionally organised, fastidious, efficient, and detail-oriented.
Here is what you need to do to become a wedding planner:
1. Get Certified
Don’t underestimate the difficulty and complexity of planning a wedding. Even if you’ve planned your own wedding before, providing it as a service for paying clients is a different matter.
While a degree isn’t needed to become a wedding planner, there is a specific skill set. Being able to back it up with experience is crucial when you’re being entrusted with such a big event in someone’s life.
A wedding planning course can fast-track your success by providing you with the skills, industry knowledge, and professional connections you need to enter the field. In addition, a professional certification will set you apart from your competition in a crowded market.
Some of the skills you’re likely to pick up include:
Joining the Wedding Planning Association of Australia also a great idea for legitimising your new wedding planning business. The WPAA set a code of practice for wedding planners.
2. Create a Business Plan
Once you’ve obtained your certification, you’ll be ready to start your new career! Think of a catchy name for your business and start creating a plan. Many courses will teach you how to create a business plan, and there are plenty of online resources to help you. Your business plan will be your roadmap for the next months and years.
This is where you hammer out all your goals and how you will achieve them. Will you work independently, or as part of an agency? Who will your clients be? You’ll also clarify your dreams for the business. Do you imagine travelling the world for breathtaking destination weddings? Being the go-to planner for celebrity weddings? Establishing yourself as the authority on sustainable weddings in the local community?
While you’re doing this, you’ll want to research the market. Check out industry studies, such as the Wedding Report by WeddingWire.
3. Promote Your Business
Once you’ve created a plan, your next step is to find your customers – and make sure they can find you. Your marketing materials and strategy form the first impression your potential clients will have of you, so it’s worth investing in and getting it right.
The modern bride has very little time to shop around for a wedding planner, meaning your website, social media, and other marketing materials need to be effective and eye-catching. Your website should be clear, polished, and easy to navigate, but keep in mind that your potential clients will often see your social media first, and only end up on your website after interacting with you in other places first. Investing your energy into social media may have greater payoffs for your business.
In addition to your business plan, you can create a marketing plan. Marketing plans will save you lots of time and energy in the execution stage, and make sure you’re focusing on the right channels to reach your target customers. You don’t want to be spending lots of money on Facebook ads when, in fact, your customers spend more time browsing Instagram.
4. Build Industry Connections
When it comes to building a business that lasts, word of mouth is your most powerful tool. Your professional network is the source of referrals, which generate ongoing business.
Your network is something you build over time, but needs to start right away. It comes from cultivating long-term, mutually beneficial relationships in your industry, and in adjacent industries such as catering and floristry. You may want to identify vendors you’d like to associate with and reach out to them via email or social media.
You may want to start visiting wedding fairs and bridal shows. This is the perfect place to start meeting established professionals in the events industry. Have your business cards on hand, and your Instagram looking prepped and polished. You may even be able to find a seasoned veteran of the industry willing to be your mentor – an invaluable source of expertise and insight.
If you still need to gain experience, try volunteering as an event planner for festivals or charitable events. You’ll also need to meet other professionals in the wedding business such as caterers, florists, photographers and bridal boutique owners to create a network of wedding vendors that you can rely on.
5. Never Stop Learning
To truly stand out amongst the wedding planning crowd, it’s critical that you stay up-to-date. Nobody wants to hire a wedding planner with an aesthetic stuck in 2008, even if you have decades of experience under your belt. Successful wedding planners are continually reinvesting in themselves, keeping on top of trends and best practices.
Some practical ways to keep your skills sharp and your industry knowledge current:
Thanks to technology, it’s now possible to avail yourself of all these knowledge sources online.
With some planning and preparation, you can make your dream job a reality while helping couples make lifelong memories. And if you’re looking at becoming a professional wedding planner, there’s a good chance that planning is your strong suit.