How to Become a Wedding Planner: A Step-By-Step Guide

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If you have a love for checklists and spreadsheets, an eye for design and a knack for organisation, wedding planning may be the perfect career for you. So, what’s the best way to become a successful wedding planner and break into this thriving industry?

From certifications to salary expectations and the practical steps you should follow, read on for everything you need to know about becoming a wedding planner below!

Photo via Flora and Grace

What Does a Wedding Planner Do?

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in the wedding industry, it’s important to first understand exactly what a wedding planner does and what the role entails.

In a nutshell, wedding planners oversee the design, planning and execution of a wedding from start to finish. They are responsible for all of the logistics involved in bringing a wedding to fruition and making sure the event runs smoothly.

The role of a wedding planner is incredibly varied but typically includes:

  • Sourcing venues and attending site visits
  • Sourcing, booking and managing wedding vendors
  • Scheduling and attending vendor meetings
  • Reviewing and managing contracts
  • Creating a design concept
  • Preparing and managing budgets
  • Managing the guest list and RSVPs
  • Organising wedding invitations and stationery
  • Creating the wedding seating chart and floor plan
  • Creating and distributing the wedding day runsheet
  • Coordinating vendors, set up and pack down on the day

Most wedding planners offer a range of services, depending on how much assistance is required from the couple. This generally includes:

  • Full-service or end-to-end wedding planning
  • Partial wedding planning
  • Month-out or Day-of coordination

Some wedding planners specialise in planning and management, while others also offer styling and design services. Other areas of specialty can include elopement planning or destination wedding planning. Learn more about the differences between a wedding planner and a wedding stylist here!

Photo via By Julieta

How Much Does a Wedding Planner Make?

So, what kind of salary can you expect from working as a wedding planner? It really depends on a number of different factors, such as your location, years of experience, and whether you’re self-employed or working within a company.

As with most industries, planners with more years of experience can often command a higher price point. According to the Wedding Planner Institute, wedding planners with 5 years of experience report earning between $70,000 and $90,000 a year, while those with 10 years of experience have the potential to earn $100,000+.

Photo via Ink & Press Co

What Skills Do You Need to Be a Wedding Planner?

As a wedding planner, you’ll be juggling multiple tasks, working in a fast-paced environment and managing a large team of vendors. With this in mind, you’ll need the following skills to be successful in this career:

  • Excellent organisation and time-management skills
  • Impeccable attention to detail
  • Problem-solving and multi-tasking skills
  • A calm demeanour with the ability to work well under pressure
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills 
  • Excellent budgeting and negotiation skills
  • An eye for design and the ability to conceptualise ideas

Nodding your head to all of the above? Wedding planning may be a great career choice for you. 

Now that you’ve decided to pursue a career in the wedding industry, here are the practical steps you’ll need to get there!

1. Become Professionally Certified

While you don’t legally need a specific certification to be a wedding planner, we highly recommend taking a course and becoming professionally certified – especially if you have no prior experience in the industry. Becoming professionally certified is the best way to prepare you for your career as a wedding planner, and will also make you more appealing to potential clients in the future.

There are several wedding planning courses available both in-person and online. Look out for internationally recognised courses that encompass all aspects of working as a wedding planner, including concept development, managing clients, working with contractors and marketing your business. We recommend Wedding Academy Global which offers a range of certified online courses backed by an International Advisory Board, including a Certificate in Wedding Planning and an Advanced Certificate in Wedding Planning, Styling and Business.

2. Gain Experience

If you don’t have hands-on experience as a wedding planner, it’s a great idea to undertake some before starting your own business. Some of the best ways to gain experience and build your portfolio would be:

  • Volunteer for community events
  • Put together a professional resume and reach out to local wedding planners asking for work experience opportunities 
  • Offer your services to friends and family for their upcoming weddings or events
  • Plan your own events! Host old-fashioned dinner parties or special occasions at home. This will give you the chance to practice the finer details such as managing a guest list and budget, curating a menu and styling a table.

Whether it’s helping out with an engagement party or coordinating a school formal, every little bit of experience can provide a learning opportunity.

3. Develop a Business Plan

With education, training and experience now under your belt, you’re ready to start your own business as a wedding planner! To launch a successful business, you’ll need to develop a strategic business plan laying out your mission, business goals, marketing plan, target audience, brand identity and finances. 

One of the best ways to find success as a wedding planner is to figure out your niche. What kind of clients do you want to work with, and what do you want to become known for? For example: luxury weddings, sustainable weddings or intimate elopements. Having a clear vision for your brand and a unique selling point will help to set you apart from your competitors.

As part of your business plan, you’ll also need to figure out your business operations and put some systems in place to help you manage your clients. Not sure where to begin? Check out our project management software here at WedSites for Business. Our digital software provides the perfect online portal for both you and your clients, including a wedding website builder, digital checklists, a budget calculator and printable reports. 

Photo via Katie Ruther

4. Create an Online Presence

To reach new clients, you’ll need to create an online presence and begin marketing yourself. At a minimum you should create a user-friendly website along with Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest accounts to showcase your work, making sure your marketing stays consistent with your brand.

Rather than “selling” via your social media pages, a good strategy is to simply focus on sharing helpful, valuable content. This will allow you to form a connection with your potential clients and establish you as an expert in your field. 

5. Build Industry Relationships

The wedding industry is powered by referrals and recommendations, so it’s imperative to build strong relationships. You can do this by introducing yourself to local venues, interacting with like-minded vendors on social media and attending networking events. Over time, you may be able to develop industry partnerships and be added to the preferred vendor list at your favourite venues.

Collaborating on styled shoots is another great opportunity to build industry relationships while growing your portfolio. Styled shoots are essentially where a group of wedding vendors donate their time and skills for a photoshoot. These photos can then be used to promote your services across your website galleries and social media pages.

6. Attend Bridal Fairs

Finally, showcasing at bridal fairs and expos can be a fantastic way to get exposure for your business and meet potential clients in person. Create an eye-catching display, be prepared with a copy of your wedding planning packages and consider offering an exclusive discount for couples who visit you on the day. You can also take the opportunity to network with other wedding suppliers and grow your database.

Photo via Chloe May

Project Management Software for Wedding Planners

Here at WedSites, we love working with wedding planners at all stages of their business journey – whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned pro!

Having professional software can help you save time in your wedding business while also making a great impression on your clients and enhancing their experience with you.

Learn more about our project management software for wedding planners here to get started with WedSites for Business!