Being a wedding planner is ideal for those with the passion for planning, the personality to engage people and the patience to placate and problem-solve. If this sounds like you, then this event management specialism could be a good option, but one you should only consider only once you’ve thoroughly researched everything the role entails.
The work of a wedding
Essentially, a wedding planner takes on all of the stress of working out the wedding logistics – so that the happy couple don’t have to. These logistics include general aspects of event planning and role-specific extras such as creating a unique theme from each couple’s ‘dream wedding’ ideas and being responsible for not only bringing this to reality, but also in on budget. As such, the role includes such core tasks as:
● Meeting with couples: initially to discuss their budget, practical needs and proposed vision for their day and then throughout the planning period, to feedback, make choices and support the ongoing process.
● Creating themes and identifying the right services which not only match the couples ideals but also deliver unique extras – to fit in with your own business aims if freelance, or to fit in with in-house up-selling and service provision if employed by a venue but always, so that every couple feels that their wedding is as important to you as it is to them.
● Researching, contacting and negotiating with wedding vendors whose services will be needed in advance and on the day, including caterers, florists, beauticians, entertainment and photographers. This may include researching and finding the right venue too, if you are a freelance wedding planner.
● Logistics and organisation of all practical aspects of weddings, including keeping meticulous records detailing the schedule, contacts, service contracts and budget.
● Orchestrating the event on the day – for as long as it takes.
Ready for responsibility?
As a wedding planner, you will be responsible for all of those broad aspects above, as well as those tiny details included in each one. For example, consider that all of the responsibilities within just one aspect, such as liaising with wedding vendors, will mean:
● Being responsible for paying attention to the couple’s requirements, then actually setting up early visits for the couple to sample or view the products and services on offer, such as cake tastings, decoration options, music arrangements, visiting venues etc., so they can short-list their preferences.
● After short-listing options comes the responsibility for liaising with chosen providers to negotiate for the best deals to include specific requirements, then preparing quotes for the couple’s approval. Once given, you are then responsible for booking the services, ensuring any required deposit is made, checking with the provider in the run up and then ensuring that items / services are delivered to the standard agreed, on the day.
● The wedding planner is then responsible for sorting out any problems arising throughout the whole process – with each and every provider, which could be one or two, but may be dozens, depending on the type and scale of the wedding.
The skills for success as a wedding planner
To manage the responsibilities of a wedding planner effectively and successfully, a significant skills set is required. At the very least, consider your skills in:
● Client management and customer care – although not mutually exclusive, a professional wedding planner will understand and be able to handle the distinct difference between effectively managing clients’ expectations (especially in relation to logistics, services and budgets) and skilfully showing discretion, care and support of their clients at what is an emotional milestone moment in their lives.
● Budget management – more than managing a bridal budget, it’s also about sales and negotiation to achieve the best value for every couple. Skills in finance can also be key to success in growing your own wedding planning business.
● Logistics, organisation and coordination – the context of a wedding, this can be extensive – from finding the dress, to ensuring flowers arrive on time to making sure the day’s final guest to leave is safely into a taxi.
● Communication – wedding planning is all about people, so as a wedding planner you’ll need to be not only be personable but also a skilled communicator, in order to be efficient as well as successful.
● Good at multi-tasking – with so many responsibilities multi-tasking is essential, but as a wedding planner you’ll also be expected to focus on the tiniest details to ensure everything runs smoothly and looks perfect.
● Problem solving skills – it’s the nature of events that things will go wrong and it’s the role of the wedding planner to ensure that hitches are dealt with promptly and efficiently so the day isn’t disrupted for the couple and their families. From dealing with last-minute catering catastrophes, floral fails or bridal party bust ups, it’s up to you as the wedding planner to have a Plan B!
Fit for the role
If your skills are up to the role, then you’ll also need to make sure that your physical and personal qualities allow it too, by being:
● Physically fit – wedding days can be long and tiring, often up to 16 hours of non-stop work. A wedding planner is expected to step-in as required, which may easily include physical work such as loading or rushing across town for pick-ups so energy and fitness need to be optimal.
● Mentally robust – according to US-based job site CareerCast, being an event planner was ranked the 5th most stressful role in 2016, largely due to the stress of being responsible for successfully bringing together the clients’ vision. Add to this the highly emotional aspects of planning a wedding day and this stress can clearly soon mount up for all involved. Being able to manage stress professionally, for the sake of your own health and well-being, and of course the clients’, is paramount to success in a career in wedding planning.
How to get into the position
Although being a professional wedding planner is a role where personal skills and experience can count almost more than formal qualifications, being qualified in aspects involved – such as existing qualifications in marketing, business or hospitality – will readily count. Additionally, and particularly if you are looking to work as a freelance wedding planner, having an event management qualification will reassure prospective clients that you have expertise in all areas of wedding planning and can also give you the edge if applying for roles as an in-house wedding planner at a hotel or venue.
Building a portfolio of any wedding work you are involved in, even if this is just helping out a friend may also support you in obtaining freelance wedding planner work or in-house roles.
The UK’s National Careers Service offers some information about likely salaries for wedding planners, but as with all careers, this information should be considered as a guideline:
● Starting salaries: £16,000 – £17,000
● Rising to around £25,000 (for in-house wedding event planners).
Successful freelance wedding planners who find themselves in high demand may command higher salaries, particularly if specialising, for example in themed weddings, weddings abroad or client-group / culture specific weddings.
Similarly, a well-qualified and successful wedding planner for a high-profile corporate or private venue may achieve a considerable salary, particularly if successful in marketing and promoting the venue through successfully developing the venue’s wedding planning service.
Not just a job, but a lifestyle
Finally, even if everything else seems a good fit, remember to consider that being a wedding planner is as much a lifestyle-choice as career option. This is because being a wedding planner can involve work on weekends and evenings as many clients are unavailable for consultations in ‘normal’ working hours because they’re busy at their own jobs.
Whist there was an increasing trend for UK weddings taking place during the week in 2016 (Telegraph, 2016) the overall tradition is still for weddings on a Saturday. Whilst the flip-side means that wedding planners often take a couple of days off in the week, working at least one day every weekend can be a significant lifestyle choice for those with families and busy households.
Then this time-factor has seasonal significance too, as late Spring and Summer remain the most popular times for weddings, although other important dates such as Valentine’s Day and Christmas Eve are becoming increasingly popular (Office for National Statistics). Being a dedicated wedding planner means that whilst others enjoy high days and holidays, you’ll be on an extremely busy work schedule which can include managing several weddings at one time, something which will certainly impact on your own social and domestic life.
However, once qualified, skilled-up and successful, working as a wedding planner can be one of the most fulfilling event management careers, so why not consider it? Read more about becoming a wedding planner on Event Academy.
Written by Justine Kane
Justine has spent the past 5 years as Course Director for an event management training Institute, placing hundreds of graduates into roles and tutoring them through to successful qualification