How to Become a Wedding Planner: A Step-by-Step Guide
Are you ready to learn how to become a wedding planner? If so, then you’ve come to the right place!
Chances are, you have a ton of questions about this new, exciting career path. Well, you’re in luck – because we’ve answered ALL of them for you right here in this article.
Let’s dive in!
What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Wedding Planner?
Before you start a career as a wedding planner, it’s important to understand the necessary skills and training you’ll need in order to truly thrive. And admittedly, this is where things get a little tricky…
You see, technically, a proper education and certification are not required to work as a professional wedding planner. This is why some aspiring planners choose to jump right into the industry without any prior experience. They have a natural knack for putting together memorable parties. As a result, they mistakenly assume that’ll be enough for them to be successful in the world of weddings.
But this is where they’re wrong!
In reality, there’s a LOT more to professional wedding planning than what meets the eye. You also need to thoroughly understand:
- How to provide exceptional customer service;
- Dealing with client conflict;
- The different types of clients and wedding celebrations you’ll be working with;
- Researching and securing various vendors and suppliers;
- How to develop (and then carry out) timelines;
- Working within each client’s allotted budget, as well as trimming down “must-haves” and/or securing more funds, if necessary;
- The different types of wedding ceremonies, and their religious and/or cultural significances;
- Why it’s critical to bring the entire theme of the wedding together through the use of color, decor, florals, etc.;
- How to write airtight client and vendor contracts;
- And SO much more!
Just as importantly, you’re also going to need to know how to successfully launch and run your own professional wedding planning business.
You can be the best there is putting together a wedding – but if you don’t know how to conduct yourself, build your brand, develop contracts, and attract clients, your skill-set alone won’t be enough to build a sustainable business.
Is There Demand for Wedding Planners?
Marriage is an ancient tradition that quite literally predates history records. It’s one of those things that’s never going to go anywhere. This means that for anyone who wants to get started as a wedding planner, such as yourself, there will ALWAYS be a high demand for such expert services!
Not to mention, there’s also the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic to consider. Throughout 2020, thanks to what felt like endless lockdowns, couples all across the globe had no choice but to postpone their special day. Now that life is finally starting to return to normal, all of these people are only too eager to get their weddings back on track.
What’s more – even couples who did tie the knot in 2020 are now wanting to have the lavish, legitimate wedding celebration they weren’t able to have.
Wedding Planning in 2021-2022: An Upward Trajectory
According to The Review, this momentum has no plans of stopping. In fact, it’s looking like there will be an even bigger boom for the demand for wedding planners in 2022!
Author, Reid Masson, states: “The wedding industry in Ontario [Canada] lost an estimated $780 million in revenue in 2020, according to a study by the insurance comparison platform Hellosafe.ca. The study showed that only 39,764 weddings took place in Ontario in 2020, compared to 66,257 in 2019. Those numbers are expected to rise to 48,000 weddings in 2021, before booming to more than 70,000 in 2022.”
In the United States, The Atlantic reported similar findings. In addition to countless wedding planners claiming to already be booked well into 2022 and beyond, The Atlantic also noted that post-pandemic, “along with this rush to the altar comes a returned desire for the wedding industry’s traditional trappings, including large guest counts and lavish cakes. Gone are the days of intimate elopements necessitated by travel bans and capacity restrictions.”
There’s never before been a better time to become a wedding planner!
Do Wedding Planners Make Good Money?
Since you’re researching what it takes to work as a wedding planner, the topic of salary is probably top of your mind. I don’t blame you! After all, this is the job you want to turn into a lucrative, full-time career. So, it needs to bring in enough to pay the bills!
When looking at the income of a wedding planner, it’s important to stay realistic and open-minded because there’s no one-size-fits-all salary for planners. Two planners living in the same city can make wildly different salaries.
How much money you make as a wedding planner will depend on a handful of factors including:
- Where you live (i.e. a small town, a big city, etc.);
- Whether you’re booking clients full-time vs. part-time;
- Whether you’re working for an established company or running your own business;
- The efforts you put into marketing, client acquisition/retention, social media, your business website, etc.
- The types of wedding planning services your business offers;
- Whether or not you also offer other types of services, etc.
That said, I can give you some general figures to help you get a better idea of potential salary ranges.
As of August 22nd, 2021, PayScale reported that wedding planners in the United States make an average yearly income of $42,057 USD. In Canada, Indeed reported a similar figure. Based on 21 salaries, as of August 27th, 2021, it’s estimated that full-time Canadian wedding planners earn approximately $41,857 CAD per year.
If you reside within the United Kingdom, Indeed also found that as of September 2nd, and based off of 271 salaries, wedding planners in this part of the world make an average of £21,964 per year. This is equivalent to $30,222 USD. For wedding planners living in Australia, PayScale states that as of August 16th, 2021, and based on 21 salaries provided, wedding planners can expect to earn approx. $50,025 AUD/year – which is approx. $36,864.92 USD.
The Added Value of a Wedding Planner Certification
Earning a reputable wedding planner certification won’t just make you a master of planning weddings:
… it will also increase your booking potential, attract more clients, and better your salary, too!
Why is this? Because prospective clients will always prefer to work with a wedding planner who’s taken the time to get properly trained and certified.
Furthermore, when you get a proper education, you’re investing time, money, and effort into your craft. As a result, you earn the right to price your wedding planner services in a way that properly reflects that.
Not to mention, having a credible wedding planning certification will do wonders for helping you stand out from the local competition. And, of course, setting yourself apart from the crowd will not only elevate your business – it will definitely help you better your bottom line!
Alright, now that you know what it takes to be a wedding planner, how can you actually start your career as a wedding planner?
Here are 6 steps to walk you through the process!
Step One: Research The Wedding Planning Industry
First thing’s first: you need to know what the demand is like for wedding planners in your area. Otherwise, you could be setting your career up at a disadvantage! We’ve already covered why people are opting to hire a professional planner for their big day, but how many people fall into this category where YOU live?
Do a little digging online to find out! See what some of the hottest, relevant inquiries are in your town or city when it comes to wedding planning and wedding planner services.
Furthermore, do some research on your local competition. Check to see how their businesses appears to be thriving. For instance, do they have extensive portfolios and/or lots of client testimonials? This could be a good indication of how many weddings they’ve been booking!
Pro Tip: If the demand isn’t quite as high as you want it to be, consider offering VIRTUAL wedding planning services in addition to your in-person ones. QC Event School’s Virtual Events Training Course will teach you everything you need to know to take your services online, so you can book clients from all around the world!
Planning a wedding isn’t a “Point A to Point B” endeavor. It’s more like a, “Point A to Point Z (and everything in-between)” endeavor. There’s a LOT that needs to go into the process.
For instance, there will be certain duties you’ll need to perform in the months leading up to the big day. Your duties will become even more frequent the closer you get to the wedding; culminating on the wedding day itself.
As a wedding planner, these are just some of the tasks you’ll be responsible for:
- Conducting initial client consultations and follow-up appointments;
- Creating the concept of the event;
- Drawing up contracts;
- Helping the client establish their budget (and then working within it);
- Developing timelines (e.g. 6-month time, 3-month time, 1-month timeline, day-of timeline, etc.);
- Researching and booking different vendors, suppliers, and venues;
- Coordinating with these third parties to ensure deadlines are met and everyone stays on schedule;
- Coming up with emergency and/or backup plans in the event of an unexpected situation;
- Making sure the big day runs smoothly;
- And SO much more!
The best way to prepare yourself for what life will be like once you start booking real-world clients is to do as much research as possible! Read articles and publications by working industry experts. Watch videos on YouTube, follow planners on social media, etc.
Absorb as much information as you can from people who are already working in the wedding world, so you can get a clear idea of what their jobs are truly like.
If you don’t fully comprehend just how much will be required of you, things will quickly feel overwhelming. But if you start your career with a realistic understanding of what your job will entail, you’ll be prepared to take on any and every wedding project head-on!
Step Two: Develop Wedding Planning Soft Skills
I won’t mince words: being a wedding planner is a very demanding job. If you’re partial to easy-going work environments with day-to-day consistency, 9-to-5 hours, and minimal stress, this won’t be the right fit for you.
That said, professional wedding planning is a remarkably exciting and rewarding career path! You just need to make sure you’re willing to work hard, and have the essential skills needed to be good at your job.
For instance, you’ll need to be:
- Good at working well under pressure;
- Able to think on your feet;
- Capable of multi-tasking;
- Good with people;
- Willing to network;
- Flexible, while still knowing where to draw clear boundaries;
- And patient (just to name a few).
Of course, knowing how to bring your clients’ big day together is undoubtedly crucial, but don’t underestimate the value of these people skills I’ve listed above! More often than not, they’ll prove to be just as important as you’re ability to organize the event itself.
Step Three: Find Courses on How to Become a Wedding Planner and Get Certified!
By this stage of your journey, it’s time to get properly trained and certified as a wedding planner!
QC Event School offers a choice of two Foundation Courses for those aspiring to become professional wedding planners:
Graduates of the Event & Wedding Planning Course will walk away with an International Event and Wedding Planning Professional™ (IEWP®) certification/designation. Grads of the Wedding Planning Course will earn an International Wedding Planning Professional™ (IWPP®) certification/designation.
Moreover, you can then elevate your skill-set from there through QC’s Specialty Courses! For instance, if you wish to offer clients luxury wedding services, our Luxury Wedding & Event Planning Course will help you achieve this goal (and add the title of Luxury Wedding and Event Specialist to your resume). If you’d love to travel the globe and provide destination services, QC’s Destination Wedding Planning Course can turn you into a Destination Wedding Specialist in just a few short months.
And remember: the more certifications and services you add to your business, the higher your rates can be!
Once enrolled, QC Event School gives you a full 2 years to finish your program. Since our online learning environment is 100% self-paced, you can choose how much (or how little) of that time you’ll need. Many of our alumni found that they were able to graduate in as little as 3-6 months by simply dedicating 1-2 hours per week on their courses.
Within 1-2 days of enrolling, you’ll receive your login details for QC’s Online Student Center. From here, you’ll have access to all of your digital course textbooks, instructional videos, quizzes, and assignments. But if you prefer having physical course materials to learn from, don’t worry! QC will mail those out to you as well, and you’ll receive them within 1-2 weeks.
Another perk of QC Event School’s wedding planner training is that your tutor is a real-world industry expert with years of experience. After you submit each unit, your assigned tutor will go through all of your work with a fine-toothed comb. Afterwards, they’ll then submit your grades, along with thorough audio feedback to help you recognize where your current strengths and weaknesses are.
Want to learn more about ALL of the online courses currently offered by QC Event School? Find the full list of course curricula here!
Step Four: Set Up a Website and Social Profiles
Your Wedding Planner Website
These days, we all live online. That means prospective clients are going to expect you to have a legitimate website for your professional wedding planning business. Yes, you can have social media accounts (and we’ll cover this in a moment) – but in order to truly be successful, social media alone won’t be enough.
A proper website shows people that you’re the real deal and that you take your business seriously. Once someone clicks on your website, the meat and potatoes of it are what will really seal the deal. This is basically just a fancy way of saying, make sure your website is worth their time.
Firstly, you’re going to want to secure your domain name.
I strongly recommend keeping your domain the same as your registered business name, so as not to create any confusion amongst prospective clientele. From there, make a check list of all the different pages and information you wish to offer on your site. Pertinent information would include:
- An About Me pages, giving clients the chance to get to know you better as a person, as well as understand your qualifications and certification(s);
- Your contact information;
- A page where you list all of the wedding planning services (and other services, if applicable) you currently offer;
- You can also list your prices, if you wish to include this info as well;
- A blog, if you so choose to add to one to your site;
- Your professional portfolio;
- Client testimonials;
- Links to your social media channels;
- If you so choose, an option for clients to book with you directly from your site, etc.
Marketing Your Website
Once your website is up and running, you can get creative about how you want to promote it. Email marketing, marketing ads, newsletters, social media, etc. can all be used to bring more exposure to your site. In turn, this will ultimately bring more exposure for your business.
One important thing to keep in mind when it comes to your website is SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Ideally, when people in-and-around your area are searching online for a wedding planner, your website will be one of the first to pop up in their results. In order to achieve such a high ranking on search engines such as Google, you’re going to need to beef up your SEO.
There are all sorts of articles and documents you can read to better help you understand the ins and outs of SEO, but this Starter Guide by Google is definitely something I’d recommend checking out.
Expand Your Online Reach as a Wedding Planner: Social Media Channels
When combined, utilizing social media AND an official business website together will make you an unstoppable force! By not taking part in this golden opportunity for maximum exposure, you’ll be severely limiting your career’s potential, not to mention your client reach.
Building Your Social Media Presence
Start by doing a little digging! Off the top of your head, I’m sure you can already think of more than a few platforms with heightened popularity. For instance, there’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and TikTok. But are there any others you might not have thought of?
Sit down and make a list of the main social media platforms you’d like to promote your business on. That’s always a solid place to start!
From there, you can get some inspiration to help you decide what you’d want your social media presence to look like. There’s no harm in checking out what other wedding planners are doing on social media, so long as you don’t plagiarize any of their ideas. You never know – their strategies could wind up inspiring something completely new and fresh out of you.
Just remember to also keep your business’s brand in mind! You don’t want the vibe on your website to completely clash with the vibe your social media pages are giving off. Rather, everything should stay consistent and complement one another. And if your brand has certain colors or moods associated with it, don’t hesitate to work those into your social media platforms, too.
Maintaining Your Social Media Presence
The thing about social media is that once you establish yourself on there, it won’t be time to wipe your hands clean and walk away forever. Rather, the only way to build your following and get your accounts seen by the masses is to continuously be present on your channels.
So, here are 5 handy tips to help you produce the best possible content on a regular basis AND build your professional network:
Tip #1: Post regularly – but not too much.
When a new potential follower comes across your channel, they should be able to see right away that you post on a consistent basis. After all, no one wants to follow somebody who’s been MIA for months. That said, it’s important not to go overboard either. If you’re flooding your followers’ feed with a bajillion posts every day, they could quickly become annoyed and unfollow you as a result.
Tip #2: Post at optimal times of the day.
Certain platforms, like Instagram, can actually show you when your followers are most active, based on certain days and times throughout the week. By strategically posting during peak periods, you’ll be increasing the chances that your followers will engage with your content.
Tip #3: Always be original.
Don’t simply share other peoples’ posts or work and expect that to get YOU clients or followers. Always use your social media platforms as an opportunity to showcase your wedding projects, insights, and subject-matter expertise. Oh, and don’t be afraid every once in a while to get personal by making posts that give your followers a chance to know you better!
Tip #4: Engage with your followers, as well as others in the industry.
Whenever someone takes the time to comment on your posts or message you, ensure to reply back. It’s a small gesture that will go a long way! Moreover, use your platforms to find other wedding planners and industry experts. Follow their pages, like their posts, and leave encouraging comments (again, just don’t go overboard with it). The more you engage with these other planners, vendors, suppliers, and venues, the likelier they’ll be to follow you back and do the same.
Tip #5: Make use of scheduling apps.
Sometimes, life gets busy – or maybe you need a vacation. Either way, you should still be posting on your social media. This is where scheduling software can be your best friend! There are tons of options out there, but I personally recommend Later and Hootsuite, because those are the two I always use. Software like this will allow you to schedule your posts in advance and/or post in bulk. As your bookings fill up and your career as a wedding planner takes off, scheduling your social media content in advance will save you a LOT of valuable time!
Step Five: Start Marketing Your Wedding Planning Services
Ahh, there’s that word again: marketing. For anyone wondering how to be a wedding planner, I can’t stress enough how important marketing is in the grand scheme of things. After all, as a business owner, you want your company to be seen. Ultimately, the more people know about your business, the more people will want to book with you.
We’ve already touched on how you can effectively market your business through your professional website and social media platforms. But what other ways can you get your name out there?
Here are 2 additional ideas to get the creative gears turning:
Network, network, network!
In the world of weddings, WHO you know is just as important as WHAT you know. In fact, strong networking skills will be one of the single most important factors that will impact your success.
So, get out there (both online and, when possible, in-person) and connect with other people in the industry! This includes vendors, suppliers, venues, and other types of planners. Before you know it, you could wind up collaborating with all of these businesses. In turn, this will grow your portfolio further, give you all sorts of hands-on experience, and increase your chances of word-of-mouth referrals.
And yes, in case you were wondering, the list of people you need to network with even includes other wedding planners. Don’t mistakenly think that your “competition” aren’t also your strongest allies. You’d be surprised how many other wedding planners can send potential clients your way when their own schedule is completely booked!
Fun Fact: When you become a student of QC Event School, you can begin networking right away by joining our free Virtual Classroom on Facebook!
(Oh, and did I mention that during your QC training, you’ll begin building your professional relationships with vendors, suppliers, and venues as part of your assignments?)
Provide complimentary wedding planning services!
At the beginning of your career, you’re going to need a few jobs under your belt in order to build your portfolio and gather client testimonials. So, if you happen to know someone who’s engaged, why not offer to plan their wedding for free? Another option is to take part in a stylized wedding photoshoot.
Yes, these types of projects will typically be unpaid. However, the knowledge and skills you’ll acquire will more than make up for any amount of money you would’ve made. Trust me when I tell you: in the world of wedding planning, hands-on experience is just as valuable as money – especially at the start of your journey!
Step Six: Stay on Top of Wedding Trends
This is the step that most aspiring wedding planners tend to forget about. In order to become a successful wedding planner, you’ll have to get properly trained and really learn your stuff.
But the truth is, taking one or two courses at the beginning of your career won’t be enough.
In reality, the learning process will be a lifelong effort. After all, the wedding industry is constantly changing and evolving. For every new season, there will be new color trends, decor styles, popular “hacks”, etc. Thus, there will forever be new trends to try, new knowledge to acquire, and new skills to harness.
To limit your training is to limit your career’s potential. Staying in one place will make you (and your subject-matter expertise) stagnant… and believe me, clients will start to notice this!
So, be proactive about expanding your education. Take more courses and add even more certifications to your already-impressive resume. Browse social media during your downtime, read wedding/wedding planning publications, and research the latest trends as they emerge.
The more current you keep your skill-set, the longer you’ll be able to make your mark on the wedding planning world!