How to Start a Wedding Planning Career in Under a Year
If you love planning and the idea of becoming a wedding planner appeals to you, you probably can’t wait to get your training in and start working in the field. But there are many different steps to complete before reaching a point where you’re comfortable enough to call yourself a professional wedding planner.
You have to complete your training, gain experience, decide the direction of your business – and then put everything into motion! It sounds like a lengthy process, but your hard work will pay off and lead to a highly rewarding career.
Can’t wait to call yourself a pro? Here’s how to start your wedding planning career in a year (or less)!
Duration: 3 months – 6 months
Even if you’ve had a couple weddings or parties under your belt, it’s still a great idea to invest in formal education. There’s a huge difference between a hobbyist planner who plans occasionally and a certified professional who has their entire events calendar booked up for the year. We’re not saying that you necessarily need a certification in order to succeed in the industry—in fact, you don’t technically need any sort of professional education at all! But it is far easier securing employment when you have a framed certificate hung up in your office than trying to persuade clients to trust you with their once-in-a-lifetime wedding reception “just because”.
If you’re still holding a full-time job or have a family to care for, you might find it more difficult to pull yourself away from your commitments to start on your career. One option that many in the field have taken is to take an online wedding planning course. Online courses are typically shorter and more flexible to accommodate students with busy schedules. You’ll cover exactly the same material as a regular brick-and-mortar classroom, but with the bonus of having the option to fast-track your education if you’re taking a self-paced program!
Build a Portfolio
Duration: The course of your career!
Besides word-of-mouth referrals, having a portfolio in top shape is one of the best tools to secure new clients and event contracts. The most convincing way to convince someone of your planning prowess is to allow them to see you pull it all together in real time. This simply isn’t possible, so what’s the next best thing? Having a solid portfolio of real clients you’ve worked for not only shows that you have tangible experience, but the photos/reviews will speak for themselves.
When you’re first starting out, you may not have a large portfolio since you haven’t had many clients yet. If you have event décor training, you can further your planning and decorating portfolio by organizing a styled shoot with photographers, vendors, and venue managers to show off everyone’s combined skills and assets. All vendors (including yourself) donate their time, and once the shoot is completed, you all get to use the photos to promote your work. You’ll all be reaping the benefits of a stylized shoot without having to put in too much money. Check out this article for more information on how to set up your own styled shoot!
Start your business
Duration: 1-5 months
As with training, most jurisdictions don’t require you to obtain any sort of practicing license in event or wedding planning in your region to practice it. You will, however, likely need to apply for a business license whether you’re opening up your own office or working from home. The license allows you to operate a business and can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a few months to be approved.
As for the actual business aspect of the job, you’ll need administrative, accounting, and marketing skills along with some legal knowledge (on top of your actual planning skills). If you completed a planning course with business units, you know the ins and outs of starting your business. You’ll want to make sure you set up an online presence to direct potential clients to. Invest in some good business cards with all your contact details spelled out and keep them on hand at all times. You never know if that woman standing behind you at the grocery store checkout is in need of your services!
It’s not easy to tackle since the whole enterprise will take months to execute, but we promise you that once you’ve set up the foundations, it’ll start running like a well-oiled engine.
It’s okay to have lots of ambition and big dreams when you’ve finally graduated from your event planning course. But don’t let that momentum get the best of you by taking on jobs you’re 100% not prepared for. Until you’re ready for the big leagues, continue to work on your planning skills! Whether it’s planning Aunt Deb’s baby shower or doing day-of coordination for your sister’s wedding. Get comfortable with your skills and experiences first and fine-tune your unique planning style before jumping headfirst into a hectic environment.
Maintaining an edge over your local competition is essential—many couples shop around the wedding planners in their area to find the one that best suits their needs. Make sure you stand out! You may want to take additional courses throughout your career or participate in workshops and seminars by wedding planning associations to keep up with the latest planning trends and best practices.
Remember that an event planning career isn’t built in a day. It requires a life-long penchant for learning, so always keep working on your skills and be patient!