How To Become A Wedding Planner
Updated February 2021: This article/guide was first penned in 2007 in response to the growing number of enquiries we were getting from people asking us how to become a wedding planner. At the time there were only a handful of wedding planning companies operating in the UK. But demand had been increasing year on year and the media were quick to pick up on the trend. No longer were planners the exclusive domain of the wealthy elite. Instead they were able to provide an invaluable service to any bride and groom who needed their assistance.
Suddenly, a wedding planning career had become a glamorous, new and exciting way to earn a living. And we were being bombarded with questions left, right and centre!
The Role Of A Wedding Planner
Wedding Planners are known by a variety of titles including Wedding Coordinators, Designers, Consultants, Organisers or Assistants. Their job is to provide professional advice, guidance and wedding planning assistance to their clients, the couple who are getting married. Their primary concerns include:
- Providing the couple with advice, support and guidance on all wedding related matters
- Managing the client’s wedding budget
- Sourcing and shortlist suitable ceremony and reception venues
- Sourcing and shortlist suitable wedding services and suppliers
- Negotiating contracts, fees, discounts, complimentary services, terms and conditions with all venues, services and suppliers
- ... & subsequently coordinating with and managing venues, services and suppliers
- Providing creative design and styling ideas
- Overseeing and adhering to a wedding planning time-line of tasks to undertake during the wedding planning process
- Managing an 'on the day' schedule outlining the running order of events on the wedding day
Obviously there are many additional tasks a planner is likely to be responsible for. They are the subject of a separate post: WEDDING PLANNING CHECKLIST
Wedding Industry Facts & Figures
Some background facts and figures for you:
- ONS data shows that 250,000 couples get married in the UK each year
- According to surveys undertaken by 2 leading UK bridal magazines - You & Your Wedding & Brides Magazine - the average cost of a wedding the UK in 2019 was £25,000
- The wedding industry is therefore worth a staggering £6,250,000,000 (six and a quarter billion pounds) to the UK economy
- 15-20% of couples hire a wedding planner (source: UKAWP)
- That's 37,500-50,000 weddings annually that using a wedding planner
- We estimate there are approximately 2,000 full and part-time wedding planners operating in the UK, each working on up to 25 weddings per year
How To Become A Wedding Planner
Having decided that you want to become a wedding planner, how do you take the next step? Well if you intend to seek employment, unfortunately most people fail at the very first hurdle. Let me explain...
Over the past 15 years there has been an increase in the number of people interested in a wedding planning career and we know this from the steady stream of C.V's we receive each month. HOWEVER unfortunately the vast majority of applicants (85% in 2019) either:
- did not possess any relevant experience in weddings and/or events AND
- had not completed any weddings planning qualifications and/or events training courses
Unless you are extremely fortunate, simply possessing the desire to become a planner without any experience or training is just not going to 'cut the mustard'. That includes even if you offer to work for free for a month!
So for those of you who lack qualifications and experience, the first thing you need to do is get yourself trained up! Research and enrol on a reputable wedding planning course - there are a number of decent courses out there, all easily enough found online. Most take between 6-12 months of part time study, ie studying in your leisure time whilst holding down a 9-5 job and cost between £500.00-£1,500.00.
Then whilst you are studying you can look for some opportunities to put your training into practice, for example by offering your services for free to family or friends who are getting married. Accept any wedding planning opportunities that come your way, even if you think they might be too small or even too large for you to handle. Any practical, hands-on experience will help you to get a foot on the wedding planning ladder.
You should also offer your services for free to any local couples who are getting married. You could do this via local wedding fairs or leafleting local bridal stores, or even putting a small classified ad in a local wedding magazine. Online wedding forums are yet another great way to tout for business/experience.
Once you have completed your training and qualifications you will be in an excellent position to start seeking employment. But don't restrict yourself to local wedding planning companies, apply to local wedding venues and even some larger local caterers or florists too. Venues such as local hotels or country houses will offer the greatest chance for you to land a job as a wedding planner, albeit working for a venue as an in-house coordinator. It's a role that's similar to a wedding planner and will provide some excellent experience for your C.V.
Failing that, you could contact the larger local catering firms or even local florists. Some will offer a full planning service and may be looking for an extra pair of hands during peak season or on Saturdays. Vacancies frequently arise within such establishments and as long as you have completed a reputable course or possess some wedding or events experience, the offer of working for free for a short while is often enough to get your foot in the door and allow you to demonstrate your aptitude for the job.
From a time perspective, you should expect to have found a suitable wedding planning job within 6 months of completing your training, and sooner with experience
Set Up Your Own Wedding Planning Business
The benefits of setting up your own wedding planning business include:
- Working for yourself, being your own boss
- Flexible working hours
- Low overheads (and low set up costs too)
- A decent income
- No two days ever the same (unless you're doing your tax returns!)
It is also seen as the easiest and therefore the most popular way to start a career in wedding planning, but it's not without its pitfalls and it's not for the faint hearted as a diverse set of skills are required in order to succeed when running your own business. For starters, you must possess first rate administrative, organisational and planning skills, as well as the ability to multi-task effectively. Exceptional research and sourcing skills are also essential. There are a host of additional useful attributes below, in no particular order.
- Research is key. The more research you undertake the better your knowledge and understanding of the wedding planning world you are about to enter.
- Business skills - setting up and managing a business on a daily basis; dealing with accounts, the bank and HMRC for instance.
- In order to promote and grow your business you need to have an understanding of some sound ideas on how to market and advertise your services.
- Negotiation skills are another essential attribute for a wedding planner. You need to be able to get your client the best possible deal from a wedding venue or wedding service/supplier. This often requires a somewhat ‘hard nose’ and a willingness to push the boundaries even if you don’t necessarily feel comfortable about doing so.
- You should be proficient with a range of computer software (MSOffice - Word, Excel, Publisher, Access; Photoshop; Wordpress; Illustrator for example).
- You should possess an outgoing, personable nature with good empathic skills. You must be able to communicate and get on with everyone at the wedding – from the lowly glass collector to the Father of the Bride who might manage a high profile law firm in the City.
- And be able to display a creative and artistic flair with an eye for detail.
- Not forgetting the ability to keep calm under pressure, think on your feet and thrive on stress.
- Oh yes, and a positive, professional, 'can do' attitude…
Of course it doesn’t stop there. It helps to be extremely driven and focused. Unless you go into business with a friend or family member you will be working on your own for much of the time. And it goes without saying you have to love the job because there is no 8am-6pm in the wedding planning industry. Be prepared to work long, hard hours, especially during the first year or two. If your background is in the City – those long and lazy lunch breaks or the Friday afternoon in the local bar will for now be a thing of the past…
Then once you have mastered all those skills, you must then be realistic. As in all industries, a regrettable number of start-ups fail to make it to their second year of trading because they fail to set realistic, achievable or practical targets. Most want to run before they can walk. It takes time and a huge amount of effort to set up and establish a business, in any industry you care to consider.
Our advice to aspiring young wedding planners who lack any wedding planning qualifications, experience or training yet dream of entering this industry is to undertake a reputable wedding planning course. Simply get on google and type ‘wedding planning courses UK’ for a shortlist of options. Request brochures and then carefully evaluate course content and structure. Look for one that's in-depth, up-to-date and designed and written for the UK industry. There are a few decent courses out there that you could undertake and we happen to run one of them. We also offer placement opportunities to strong students. Click AP WEDDING PLANNING COURSES for further details.
A Day In The Life Of A Wedding Planner
It's a Thursday in May and I'm currently focussing on 3 full coordination clients whose weddings take place in the next few months.
Some early online research into new American wedding stationery suppliers, then finish sourcing 6 piece jazz bands located close to Edinburgh.
Get into the office and answer overnight enquiry emails.
Phone calls to the preferred 3 jazz bands to check availability, fees and request demo cds for client. Then draw up email for the client with shortlist of bands and links to sound clips online.
Phone call to update same client on band status and confirm that their caterer has agreed to reduce the champagne corkage fee.
Email to advise another client that they need to issue a bank transfer in order to confirm the booking and the services of their chosen magician.
Start sourcing a selection of venues based on a (new) client's particular requirements. Wedding not until next year, location Italy.
Phone call with (same new) client to discuss her thoughts on the wedding dress she tried on yesterday and for her feedback on the shortlist of videographers.
Phone call to a dress shop in town to try to secure a last minute appointment for a client wishing to try on a wedding veil. Seems she had been told the earliest slot was Friday week. Thankfully manage to get a drop in slot at lunch time the following day. Call client to confirm.
Answer new general email enquiries received this morning.
Start sourcing a supplier who has some ornate silver candelabra in stock to hire out. And some suitable battery operated candles - naked flames not permitted by venue.
Add suitable new venues to database.
Lunch - a sandwich - eaten whilst clicking through a variety of online resources looking for some new creative inspiration.
Meet with a new photographer who seems suitable for a client, in order to review his portfolio and make final judgement on whether or not to book an appointment for him to meet a client.
Respond to a client’s call to say that she’s close to tears because of the continued delays with the stationery (she sourced the stationer herself!). Then, donning the ‘impartial mediator’ hat, call the stationer to find out what exactly has happened and attempt to confirm a delivery date that the client will be satisfied with.
Phone call with a wedding venue to try to close the deal on whether they will agree to reduce the number of bedrooms a client must take and instead accept a higher minimum spend on food and drink.
Prep work for a consultation tomorrow with a potential new client who wants to get married in Italy. In essence, reviewing suitability and compiling a small selection of images of wedding venues that they could consider. Also ensuring the consultation file is up-to-date.
Answer new general email enquiries received this afternoon.
Review the terms and conditions of a contract sent through for a venue search client from a venue and forward onto them with recommendations on how to proceed.
Started early today so signing off now to spend time with the family - hopefully that is, unless something crops up before I’m asleep…
UK Alliance of Wedding Planners
Office of National Statistics
You & Your Wedding Magazine
National Careers Advice Service