A wedding may be the most important day in a couple’s lives. They’ve made a commitment to spend their lives together — not a decision to be taken lightly.
There’s one thing most couples can agree on — they want their weddings to be joyous, memorable events. Traditional weddings are still a popular choice, however, more and more people want their nuptials to be an expression of who they are as a couple, whether that involves a cathedral and yards of tulle or a prairie barbecue, chuckwagon-style.
The changing face of wedding planning
Statistically, romance is very much alive and well. 88% of couples in the US say that marrying for love is the most important reason to tie the knot. That’s ahead of the desire to make a lifelong commitment or having a family. What does all of this have to do with wedding planning? A lot, actually.
Times, they are a-changing
A few decades ago, people tended to get married in their early-to-mid-twenties. It was also much more typical for a man to go straight to work after high school or college while women would focus on marrying and starting families. This has changed drastically since the mid-1990’s, when a large number of women 25 and over entered the workforce. In previous decades, it often became a woman’s full-time job to plan her wedding in the months leading up to the big day. She would book the venue, hire a caterer, choose the cake, create guest lists and seating charts and coordinate a million other tiny details. If this sounds like a lot, it is. Now imagine trying to do this and work at a full-time career! The playing field has leveled as women have entered the workforce, well… full-force. This also means they have less time and energy to put towards planning and executing a wedding.
A growing need
As more working couples are saying, “I do”, the services of wedding planners will only increase. A lack of time is made up for by the larger incomes these couples are generating, allowing them to seek out services a single-income household might not be able to swing. According to an article in Forbes Magazine, 26% of couples hired a wedding planner in 2016, which is a 7% increase from 2010. This growth shows that the need for wedding planning services is steadily growing. It has also become less common for parents of the bride to foot the bill for the event, giving couples the flexibility to hire whomever they choose without familial interference. This is where your skills and expertise must stand out from the crowd.
Learning the ropes
Being a wedding planner is a tough job. It requires a great deal of patience and the ability to work with a wide variety of personality types. It also means that you must possess an uncanny level of organization and attention to detail. That said, being a wedding planner is one of the most rewarding jobs.
Considering the complexity and demands of modern-day weddings, its essential to have a strong base before entering the world of wedding planning. Some people are lucky enough to fall into the perfect internship but more and more, wedding planners are working independently, leaving the intern-seeking agencies in the past.
So what’s the answer? Formal wedding planner certification and training.
You can learn it all
Wedding planners need to be able to juggle a wide variety of tasks all at once. This includes the couple, their families, vendors, and venues. And then there’s the business side of it — records, taxes, and payroll. It can become overwhelming if you don’t have help navigating the different roles you will play in your wedding planning business. Luckily, wedding planner education has advanced beyond a couple of community college courses on event planning. You can get a first-class education that allows you to be well-prepared when you enter the field, helping to secure your success.
How NOT to start your wedding planning career
“Addie”, an outdoor wedding planner based in Denver, Colorado, learned the hard way how important event planning education is. When she worked as a catering assistant during college, she helped at many weddings. By the third summer with the catering company, she decided she wanted to shift her focus from teaching and become an event planner.
Without any formal training in event organization, she left college to pursue her dream. With $1,000 and an overabundance of enthusiasm, Addie struck out to open her own wedding planning business.
She found marketing herself to be her biggest challenge — her lack of experience turned many brides and grooms off. The clients she did land were demanding and unwilling to pay for the quality they wanted. She also found it difficult to find vendors that would work with her.
Nine months in Addie admitted she was in over her head. “I had to move back in with my parents and was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. I didn’t have the first clue about how to balance the planning and execution side with the business side.” When she confided to one of her vendors that she was considering throwing in the towel, he suggested she call a highly successful wedding planner friend and ask for an internship. Addie refers to her internship as “Planner Bootcamp.” They put her through her paces, teaching her everything from how to order out-of-season flowers to tricks for fixing a torn hem on a bridal gown.
All of the elements she was missing were there.
As she worked her way through, she found she really enjoyed planning outdoor weddings. This became her niche and allowed her to build a boutique business. When asked if she thought a formal education would have been more useful, she said, “Yes, but I wouldn’t have traded my internship for anything. I think combining an education program with an internship would be the most effective way to break into the market ready and able to hit the ground running.”
Flexibility is key
Being a good wedding planner goes well beyond having exemplary organizational skills (but this is one vital part!). Business savvy, a willingness to push the traditional bounds, and allowing couples to marry on their terms will allow planners to grow and continue to provide a much-needed service.
Regardless of the type of wedding your clients want, it is of utmost importance that you be open and flexible in making their big day exactly what they expect it to be.
If you’re considering the fulfilling career of event planning, consider looking into formal training and education programs. This will give you a leg up, as you’ll not only be given the skills to plan incredibly weddings but you’ll also have the business sense to make it into a profitable venture.