How to Become a Wedding Planner. Achieve Your Fulfilling New Wedding Planner Career!

Wedding Planner Clients - the Happy Couple

Ensuring your clients are happy is the best way to get more business – word of mouth referrals and reviews on wedding sites are critical to a wedding planners career

If you are like thousands of other people and like to plan things, there is a good chance that you may be interested in how to become a wedding planner. Those people involved in the wedding planner career can expect to be very busy. Wedding planners can average anywhere between eight and 20 weddings each year, while those that offer “day-of” coordination can often average much more than those that only offer full-service wedding planning options.

If this sounds like an exciting career to you, then you would probably enjoy learning about how to become a wedding planner and turning this into a full-time career. However, it is not as easy as it sounds to become a wedding planner. People want to hire wedding planners that have an extensive amount of experience in the industry and have some type of formal education in the industry. If you are looking to be employed by a company, rather than start your own business, there may be even more requirements that you have to fulfill.

However, don’t let that knowledge and those requirements discourage you. It may sound complicated and confusing at first, but if you follow the right steps and are dedicated to making this a career, you’ll find that you will fulfill all of the requirements to be a full-time wedding planner in no time at all. You will be having fun while earning a very lucrative income doing something that you enjoy. So, if you’re interested in how to become a wedding planner, then continue reading through this article and in no time, you will have all the resources that you need to become one of the best wedding planners, and the most respected, in the industry.

 

Wedding Planner Career 101

As I stated before, becoming a wedding planner is not all fun and games. There are many wedding planner duties that you may be required to perform without realizing it at first. One of the most unique duties of a wedding planner may be to run interference between the bride and other relatives that keep trying to take control of the wedding. It is not uncommon for brides and other relatives (like mothers and mothers-in-law) to disagree about certain things about the wedding. Remember, you are working for the bridge and it may be your job to quell these disagreements and ensure that the bride’s wedding is the dream that she wants it to be.

Wedding Planner Duties - Venue Setup

One of the tasks a wedding planner will do is agree witht he client how the venue is to be setup

Getting into the wedding planner career requires to be an effective communicator and a good listeners, as well as being able to get along with others, even if you disagree with them. More than likely, it is the bride that has hired you, and it is your job to make them happy, no matter what. If you are planning on offering day-of coordination services, then you also have to have the ability to improvise and act fast. Day coordinators are hired on the day of the wedding and are given the bridge’s plan for the wedding, and it is the day coordinators job to implement it. This may sound difficult, but that’s why you are earning the salary that you are. If you are not hired at the last minute, it may be a good idea to keep in constant contact with the bride and family, so that you have at least a general idea of what they are expecting during the big day.

One of the hardest skills of becoming a wedding planner is the ability to be assertive and being courteous at the same time. You must be able to foresee where things are not feasible and be willing to tell the bride, in the most polite manner possible, that parts of her vision may be unrealistic. However, it is important that when you must do this, you offer a feasible compromise. By doing this, you are more likely to get the bride to see things that may not be feasible, and they are more likely to accept the compromise or develop something new themselves that would be feasible and pleasing to them.

Quick Facts: Wedding* Planner Salary, Training & Job Outlook

Median Event Planner Salary $45,810 per year
($22.02 per hour)
Education Required (Entry Level Role) Bachelor’s degree
Related Work Experience None
On-the-job Training None
Number of People Employed, 2012 94,200
Projected Job Growth Rate, 2012-22 33% (Much faster than average)
Projected Employment Change, 2012-22 +31,300

*Figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2012), which combine wedding & event planners into a single category

Pro’s & Con’s of Being a Wedding Planner

What do Wedding Planners do? A Day in the Life of a Wedding Planner

The wedding planner job description actually can vary depending on the type of services you decide to offer. However, all types of wedding planners typically are responsible for organizing and helping couples have a successful wedding. This may sound simple at first; however, you are probably still asking “what do wedding planners do?” or “what else do wedding planners do?” Wedding coordinator duties can sometimes be required to help with every aspect of the wedding, especially if they are full-service wedding coordinators. This can include anything from organizing the catering, entertainment, and location details to helping get every member of the wedding party sized and fitted for their dresses and tuxedos. You basically are at the whim of the bride, and it is your job to ensure that she is happy.

What do Wedding Planners do

A ‘Full Service’ wedding planner will be responsible for working with the client to choose a venue, decide decoration, food, drinks, serving staff and a range of other duties dependent on the client wishes and budget

You may have also heard about “day-of” wedding coordinators and may be wondering “what does a wedding coordinator do?” The wedding coordinator that offers day-of coordination is someone that has to be an expert at last minute planning and coordination. These coordinators often arrive the day of the wedding and take the wife’s plan for the wedding and make it into reality. They are the best at making things happen on extremely short notice and often have contacts within other industries (catering, entertainment, hospitality, etc.) in order to make things happen at the very last minute. They are prepared for things that go wrong and have back-up plans just in case the cake gets smashed before pictures are taken1. If you plan to offer day-of coordinator services, it may be a good idea to have a policy in place so that families that hire you contact you at least 14 days prior to the wedding. This way you have a few weeks to plan for the event and to develop alternative plans just in case something goes wrong.

Show me the Money! A Wedding Planner’s Salary

Wedding Planner Salary

The average wedding planner salary is around $40,000 to $50,000 per year, however is can vary considerably depending on where you run your business.

Many people decide they want to get into this industry because of they believe that a wedding planner salary is very lucrative. However, in order to make the most money out of this job, you must invest a good amount of your time into making contacts and getting the experience that other reputable wedding planners have. The average wedding planner salary is around $40,000 to $50,000 per year5; however, that amount varies depending on the location where you are working. Wedding planners in Hollywood and other popular tourist destinations can sometimes makes up to $10,000 per wedding5; however, if you are planning on starting your wedding planner career in Hollywood, keep in mind you are going to be competing with big names that have already established their reputations, so business may be rocky at first.

Event Planners Median annual wages

Wedding, Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners Median annual wages, May 2012
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics)

The bridal consultant, who also offers wedding coordination, but often in a smaller role than a full-serving wedding planner, typically makes around $26,000 per year3. Bridal consultants are also typically employed by companies, rather than self-employed; however, there are some self-employed bridal consultants in the more populated areas that make a higher salary and are self-employed. The day-of wedding coordinator salary and wedding consultant salary can range between $27,000 and $74,000 per year4. The salaries are again based on the areas where a person decides to offer their services. Rural wedding planners in lower-populated areas are probably going to make the least because there may not be as many weddings to plan each year. Those that are employed in higher-populated areas are going to see more weddings and therefore expect to make a higher salary each year. The trade-off for the higher salary is that you are going to be working more often, while those in lesser populated areas may be planning a smaller amount of weddings each year.

What’s Involved? How to Become a Wedding Planner

How to Become a Wedding Planner

Planning your own (or a friends) wedding is a great way to show prospective clients what you can do. You can also your services for free (or very cheap) on an online classifieds site.

If you are still wondering how to be a wedding planner or how to become a bridal consultant, then you may have the dedication it takes to become a wedding planner. There are no specific certifications that are accepted by all organizations, and if you are looking to be self-employed, the requirements for certification are your own. However, your clients will be more likely to hire you if you have some background in the wedding planning industry, including some education, and professional certifications do look very impressive on your resume.

So, how do you become a wedding planner then? It is highly recommended that you have an education in a related field, such as hospitality, event planning, or recreational management. This will make you look like a more attractive option for your clients. You must make contacts and establish a good reputation with other industries that are often involved with wedding events, such as catering services, entertainment providers, hotels, popular tourist destinations, and other industries that you may think necessary. Once you make these contacts, they can often be your best source for referrals. If you have a good business relationship with companies in these industries, they may often refer couples to you when they ask about utilizing their services for your wedding. This is one of the most effective ways to use “word-of-mouth” advertising. If you want to become a wedding planner, you should expect to put a lot of hard work into advertising your business and services, as well as getting the right education that you need in order to be the best wedding planner in your area. If you can prove to potential clients that you are the best option within their price range, then you are twice as likely to get their business as other wedding planners.

Wedding Planner Courses, Classes, and Schools

Although, there is no standard certification that is accepted by all organizations, there are wedding planner courses out there that can help you increase your skills. If you are simply wanting to take one or two wedding planning classes, then I would recommend heading over to Udemy and seeing the classes that they offer. These wedding planning courses typically don’t give you college credits; however, it can give you some of the education that you are looking for with a relatively low price range.

Wedding Planner Courses

There are lots of courses teaching the skills a wedding planner needs

If you are looking for a full-fledged wedding planning school, then there are a few options for you. The first one that you can go is to enroll in a degree program for recreational management or event planning. These degree programs offer a more extensive program and usually offer at least a few classes related to wedding planning. Most colleges and universities have some type of hospitality management degree program.

If you are looking for a college that is completely dedicated to wedding planning, there are still a few options for you. California State University at East Bay (CSU: EB) offers one of the only on-campus based wedding planning certificate programs in the United States. This program teaches students how to research and design the wedding of their clients’ dreams. Students are able to learn about budgeting techniques, time management techniques, as well as learn about the different customs of weddings around the world2. Other wedding planner schools typically only focus on weddings in the United States; however, this severely limits the wedding planner’s services, especially since there are many cultures in the United States that may want to use a wedding planner’s services. Being knowledgeable about all of these cultures and traditions makes the wedding planner much more employable and much more lucrative.

By Degree’s…The Wedding Planner Degree

The wedding planner degree is much harder to find that a wedding planner certificate. You can find wedding planner certificates at Lone Star College, Penn Foster University, Ashworth College, and CSU: EB, wedding planner degrees are very hard to find in the United States. The Wedding Planning Institute also offers a list of accredited colleges that offer training in wedding planning; however, these colleges typically only offer courses and certificate programs, but no full-fledged degree programs in wedding planning.

Wedding Planner Degree

There isn’t really an dedicated wedding planner degree programs. A business program would probably we more valudable, since you will likely be running your own business as a wedding planner

If you are interested in getting your Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree with some training in wedding planning, you may want to look outside of the box. Florida International University (FIU) offers a degree in Hospitality Management and Event Management. Weddings are definitely considered a big event, and this respectable program can put you tiers above the rest of the wedding planners out there. You would also be able to expand beyond weddings if you wanted to with this degree. The best part of this degree is that it is offered completely online, with the exception of the required internships, which would require a stay in Florida or abroad to complete.

One of the most important things to remember when obtaining your degree or certificate in wedding planning is that you ensure that the program is legitimate. Do not simply just pay a fee to earn your degree without taking any classes. Companies that participate in this practice are known as diploma mills, and your degree is considered worthless by most legitimate companies. Also, ensure that if you are enrolled in a degree program that your college’s website address ends in “.edu” and not “.com” or any other extension. The .edu extension typically signifies that the institution is a legitimate educational institution. You can also do research yourself and read online reviews of your prospective educational institution before you make the plunge into enrolling in their program.

Fast-track: A Wedding Planner Internship

If you are wanting to get some experience in the industry before striking out on your own, then a wedding planner internship is the way to go. FIU’s program offers many different internship opportunities, which may include working as a wedding planner, and you can get these opportunities either in Florida, or abroad by participating in FIU’s exchange program. One of the more popular wedding planning internships out there is the Walt Disney World Wedding Planner internship. You’ll be assisting in planning magical weddings at one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions, as well as ensuring that couples receive the wedding of their dreams. If you are interested in this internship, you have be at least a junior at an accredited college studying hospitality, business management, or psychology and have to have some background in wedding planning.

Wedding Planner Internship

An internship is probably the best way to break into the industry. Either formal, with an experienced planner or informal, where you are doing the planning on your own for free

The other popular wedding planner internship is the internship offered at Weddings in Vieques. This internship offers students the opportunity to participate directly in the wedding planning process by interacting with clients, writing contracts, and coordinating actual wedding events. You will still need to be a college undergraduate or a recent graduate to be able to apply for this internship opportunity6.

If you do are not enrolled in a college program and are trying to strike out on your own, there are other internship opportunities that may be available to you. There are many companies and individuals out there that may be looking for wedding planners or interns to assist them with wedding planning. One of the most important things is to at least have a background or some education in event planning and a hard-working, dedicated attitude. If you have these things, consider reaching out to these companies and individuals by sending them a letter of interest or cover letter and your resume. You are an asset to them because you will not cost them any money; however, you will be helping them out as well.

Virtual School: Wedding Planning Courses Online

Wedding planning classes online are plentiful if you are just looking at taking one or two classes to get some experience in the industry. These wedding planning courses online help you get experience that you may be seeking, while also allowing you a flexible learning option so that you can still manage the other daily activities of your life, such as earning an income with another job. Udemy.com offers over 15 classes that have to do with wedding planning. Some are dedicated solely to wedding planning, while others offer education in wedding photography, which is extremely helpful knowledge that every wedding planner should know.

Wedding Planning Courses Online

Wedding planning classes online are plentiful if you are just looking at taking one or two classes to get some experience in the industry

If you are looking for wedding planning schools online for a specific certificate or degree program, then there are three top colleges that offer certificates or degrees in wedding planning. Penn Foster, Ashworth University, and the U.S. Career Institute all offer some type of educational program that is completely online. The U.S. Career Institute is an accredited program that is eligible to receive federal financial aid and is also qualified to accept military tuition assistance. Once of the best parts about the U.S. Career Institute is that they guarantee that you will find a job after completing their program or they will refund your tuition.

Getting your education may be difficult especially when you are already an adult and must work to earn a living. Online degree and certificate programs allow you to earn your education at your own pace while also allowing you to fulfill your other life responsibilities as an adult. However, it is still important that you be cognizant of scams and ensure that any online program that you enroll in is accredited and a respectable educational institution. Do your research and read reviews of the program that you are interested in so that you make the best decision that will affect the rest of your career.

A Formality: Wedding Planning Certification

Should I Get Certified To Be a Wedding Planner?

There is no specific wedding planner certification that is acceptable by all employers and if you are self-employed, most of your clients may not even understand the difference that wedding planning certification makes. However, if you are a certified wedding planner, this can offer you more opportunities that other wedding planners, especially in more popular tourist destinations. Penn Foster University’s Wedding Planner Certification Course offers you the opportunity to become certified by the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC) in about three months’ time. This is one of the only respectable wedding planner certification course out there that offers you the education and the certification all in one program.

The second type of popular wedding planner certification is the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners’ (AACWP) certification. This type of wedding planner certification is not offered online and must be taken at a physical location in Texas in either February or August. Once you complete the courses that are offered and then pay to become a member of the AACWP, then you will be considered an AACWP certified wedding planner and be able to become listed in their directory of wedding planners. The downside to this option is that it requires a physical visit to Texas and it is relatively costly; however, you will be able to receive all of the benefits that members of AACWP receive. You are also more likely to get hired by clients in more popular tourist destinations with this type of certification.

If you do decide on getting a certification in wedding planning, make sure that the organization that provides the certification is legitimate. Do not simply just pay a fee and get a certification, as it is likely that organizations that do this are not legitimate. Legitimate organizations that offer wedding planner certification will likely want proof of your training and knowledge of the industry and may require you to take an exam for the final certification.


References

  1. Alterman, E. (2012). Should you say “I do” to a wedding planner? (Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/id/46797144#)
  2. CSU: EB. (2014). Wedding planner certificate program. (Retrieved from http://www.ce.csueastbay.edu/certificate/wedding/index.shtml)
  3. DegreeDirectory.org. (2014). What does a bridal consultant do? (Retrieved from http://degreedirectory.org/articles/What_Does_a_Bridal_Consultant_Do.html)
  4. Renee, M. (2014). Wedding coordinator salaries. (Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/wedding-coordinator-salaries-14201.html)
  5. Schmoop.com. (2014). Wedding planner salary. (Retrieved from http://www.simplyhired.com/salaries-k-bridal-consultant-jobs.html)
  6. Welch, K. (2014). Now accepting applications for spring and summer Caribbean destination wedding planning interns: Kelsi tells you all about it! (Retrieved from http://www.aacwp.org/certification/)