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Not all heroes wear capes, and for soon-to-be newlyweds, wedding planners can be lifesavers. Weddings can be so stressful for the couple, and it’s usually the biggest and most significant party they will ever throw: an occasion to be remembered for the rest of their lives. If you love weddings and the idea of bringing two people’s dreams into reality so they can celebrate their love, then learning how to become a wedding planner might be perfect for you.
Wedding planning can be a highly rewarding job, but it also takes a lot of specific traits, characteristics, skills (and a lot of hustle). From what it takes to be a wedding planner to the skills and experience you need and how to get them, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about how to become a wedding planner.
Is Learning How to Become a Wedding Planner Right for You?
Being a wedding planner is a popular job, which makes sense because people are always getting married. Working as a wedding planner can be tons of fun: after all, you’re planning a huge party! But it’s not always sunshine and butterflies, so how do you know if it’s the right path for you?
To be a successful wedding planner, you need to be good under pressure and great at combining a lot of various responsibilities and duties flawlessly, as couples will want every aspect of their wedding to be perfect. It’s the wedding planner’s job to help them accomplish this goal. Not only will it be your responsibility to make the couple’s dreams a reality, but to be a good wedding planner, you must make it happen in a way that requires minimum effort from them while still assuring them that everything will be perfect.
To accomplish all of this, you must be sensitive to the needs of the almost-newlyweds, and you also must be ready to take on diverse challenges, like last-minute cancelations, mixups, and more; all while keeping your cool. Above all, you need to have a passion for putting together weddings, celebrating love, and going above and beyond in everything you do.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Wedding Planner
The responsibilities of a wedding planner break down into three main sections: the initial consultation, pre-wedding planning, and day-of duties.
The initial consultation usually consists of meeting with the newlyweds-to-be and discussing budget requirements, theme, color, and other logistics and details. The initial consultation is the wedding planner’s time to get familiar with what the couple is like and understand exactly what the couple wants their wedding to be like.
After getting a full grasp of what the couple wants for their wedding, pre-planning duties include things like securing a wedding, determining decor, selecting flowers, ordering the cake, assisting with the wedding party attire, choosing a menu, hiring entertainment, and more: all while reminding mindful of the budget. When the big day comes, and a wedding planner gets to see all their hard work unfold; but they still have more work to do.
The day-of wedding duties involve directing the wedding and ensuring all the different components of the wedding, from the ceremony to the reception, happen according to schedule and smoothly. These duties include coordinating the grand entrance, setting up for the first dance, preparing the cake for cutting, and much more. As a wedding planner, your job isn’t over until everything is all wrapped up and the last guest has left happily.
What Traits Do Wedding Planners Need?
If the responsibilities and job description of a wedding planner sounds appealing to you, then a big part of learning how to become a wedding planner is understanding what the traits and characteristics are that make a successful wedding planner. Wedding planners need various skills that span categories like business, design, communications, and more. Here are the most essential traits and skills you’ll need to develop or enhance in learning how to become a wedding planner:
Planning and Organizing
It goes without saying, but a wedding planner needs to know how to plan, and to be an excellent planner you need top-notch organizational skills. With all the different aspects that comprise wedding planning, there’s no time for disorganization. Managing wedding vendors and guests, sticking to a timeline, remaining within budget, handling a bunch of paperwork and more, all while making sure everything looks amazing, is no easy task to take on; especially with a lack of organizational skills.
Budgeting and Negotiating
A budget is a significant component of any wedding, so having strong budgeting skills is essential for a wedding planner. During the initial consultation, the wedding planner and the couple will determine a budget that will be taken into consideration for almost every decision. Sometimes the couple will want to determine their own set budget, and sometimes they will want the wedding planner’s assistance in establishing a realistic budget.
As a wedding planner, you absolutely must ensure that everyone agrees on the budget before you select venues, entertainment, or anything else: otherwise you’ll likely face a lot of frustration and end up with very unhappy clients. As a wedding planner, you have to understand how to stick to a budget while also keeping in mind that it may change as the plans evolve: and negotiating skills will also come in handy.
Another essential skill for a wedding planner is time management, as the role comprises a lot of work that has to be done according to a strict timeline. As a wedding planner, mostly you are your boss, so you have to be able to make and stick to a schedule and manage all your tasks on your own.
Attention to Detail
Even the smallest details can impact the wedding day, so there’s no way to be a wedding planner without attention to detail. From ensuring no detail is missed to catching mistakes before they happen, attention to detail is a necessary skill. A couple wants a professional who has trained eyes and ears and will not miss a thing.
It would be great if planning a wedding was always smooth sailing, but as with any profession, bumps come up. As a wedding planner, at some point, and possibly often, you’ll face last-minute changes, cancelations, or other issues. To be a successful wedding planner, you must be able to adapt in the face of these challenges and solve the problem without panicking.
Many people are involved in a wedding, and with all the stress and hectic energy, disagreements and arguments tend to arise. As a wedding planner, you must know how to step in and mediate to help make everyone happy.
It’s easy to glamorize the role of a wedding planner, but this position requires a lot of flexibility. While there is a lot of glamor in planning a party as extravagant as a wedding, a lot of times wedding planners take part in less than glamorous tasks, like folding programs, putting together wedding favors, carrying supplies, and more. As a wedding planner, you have to be ready and able to wear many hats on any given day.
Weddings involve a lot of different components, from flower arrangements to musical performances, and there are tons of opportunities for things to go wrong. As a wedding planner, you should use your attention to detail to catch problems before they happen; but not all problems can be eliminated. To ensure that things are handled in the best way possible when issues arise, it’s essential that as a wedding planner you have excellent problem-solving skills.
Comfortable with Long-Term Commitments
As a wedding planner, you have to be able to commit to your clients ahead of time: often 9 to eighteen months ahead of time. This commitment means you lose a lot of spontaneity and freedom in your schedule. This long term commitment impacts your personal plans, so it’s important that you’re comfortable with it.
How to Get Skills and Experience as a Wedding Planner
You may already have some of the skills needed to be an exceptional wedding planner, but to learn how to become a wedding planner, you must know how to acquire all the necessary skills and experience.
College or Certificate?
You don’t have to go to college to learn how to become a wedding planner. Plenty of people do it without a relevant degree, but if you enjoy going to school then it can definitely strengthen your skills and give you the experience you need to succeed. While you wouldn’t necessarily major in wedding planning, you could major in event planning.
If you study event planning, not only will you gain the knowledge and experience you need to become a fantastic wedding planner, but you’ll also be able to plan other events, like conferences, festivals, trade shows, and more.
While studying event planning, you’ll likely take courses in:
- Event promotion
- Food preparation for catered events
- Weddings and ceremonies
- Negotiations and agreements
- Concert and event production
- Business management
- Floral and cake design
If you don’t want to go for a full degree, you can also get a certificate that shows you’re qualified as a wedding planner. Many professional associations and trade groups offer these certificates, but they’re not all created equal; so do your research before you pick.
Entrepreneur or Employee?
Aside from choosing between college or a certificate, you also have the choice of working for yourself or for someone else. Many wedding planners are self-employed, which has a lot of benefits, but self-employment is not for everyone. If you take this route and start your own wedding planner company, it’s recommended that you at least have some business classes or experience under your belt.
If you work for an employer, in addition to planning weddings and other events, you may also be responsible for selling the company’s wedding planning services to clients. If you’re interested in working for a wedding or event planning company, employers generally look for:
- Positive attitude
- Well-kept appearance
- Exceptional organization skills
- Planning experience
- Weekend availability
- Certification or higher
As with most jobs, whether you’re working for yourself or a company, clients and employers alike want wedding planners that have the experience; so a big part of how to become a wedding planner is knowing how to build expertise. Here are some tips to help get you there:
Work as an Intern
If you have the time, reach out to the local wedding or event planning companies and see if they have an internship or volunteer program available to help you gain experience. If you can’t find any wedding or event planning companies that have this availability near you, you can also reach out to hotels.
Practice on Your Friends and Family
If you can’t find an internship, or don’t have the time to commit to one, you must find another way to gain experience. One option is practicing by planning free events for your friends and family. Chances are that your friends and family will be happy to help you develop your skills and experience in how to become a wedding planner, so they’ll give you the chance to plan birthdays, parties, and maybe even a wedding for free. Make sure to take professional photographs of these events to use in your portfolio.
Read and Research
There are tons of research options for wedding planning, so read up on blogs, magazines, and books as much as you can. This tip won’t help as much as hands-on experience will, but any advice from other professionals or experienced wedding planners will definitely help and will give you some solid knowledge and tips on how to become a wedding planner.
Having a job where you get to help people celebrate their love and share it with their friends and family is so rewarding. When you’re just starting, learning how to become a wedding planner can seem overwhelming; but with the tips in this article, you’re ready to develop or strengthen the skills and experience needed to be an exceptional wedding planner.