Starting your own wedding planning business is an exciting journey – so you probably can’t wait to get started.
But you may feel a little daunted too. Don’t worry – we’re here to help you navigate the ins and outs of becoming a wedding planner.
Our guide will equip you with everything you’ll need to get ready to plan your first big day.
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What is a wedding planner?
As a wedding planner, you are responsible for organising a couple’s special day. The flexible, freelance nature of a planning and professional services business means it’s quite an attractive role.
What’s more, you might not need to pay much in the way of start-up costs.
Depending on whether you’re a full wedding planner or take more of a consultative role, your job may include:
Hiring specialists and vendors – for example, florists, caterers and hair and makeup artists.
Booking and dressing venues – including the church or ceremony venue plus a place for the reception and decorations.
Co-ordinating clothing – this often includes booking wedding dress shopping slots and organising suit and bridesmaid dress orders.
On-the-day management – you’ll be on hand on the wedding day itself for general support and in case of any hiccups.
Filling in the gaps – it’s your job to identify things the couple might have missed in their own planning and to always be on the lookout for the best prices.
What qualifications and skills do you need?
Getting your foot in the door
To become a wedding planner, you don’t strictly need any qualifications.
However, as you’re freelance, clients will be on the lookout for proof of your skills and credentials. They’re putting their big day in your hands, so they’ll want to be reassured that you’re going to do an amazing job.
There are event management qualifications out there, which will, of course, be helpful in your venture, but that path isn’t for everybody. To get your foot in the door, it might be a good idea to look into these other possible avenues:
Get an apprenticeship with a wedding planner. You might be able to source this through an educational facility or look online for any vacancies.
Volunteer to support a wedding planner. Planners are busy people who are often grateful for any help. If you’re keen, organised, and hardworking, why not give it a shot?
Find work at a wedding venue. Even if, at first, this means working behind the bar or as front-of-house staff, you’ll be surrounding yourself with people in the industry. It’s a great way to learn and build professional relationships.
The important thing to remember is to keep at it - don’t let rejection put you off your passion.
Desired wedding planner skills and attributes
Aside from getting the relevant experience and qualifications, there are a few personal skills you need to have. These include:
Communication and people skills – wedding planning involves speaking to a variety of different people, from couples to parents and other business owners. You’ll also need to master the art of negotiating prices, too.
Organisation - this might be an obvious one, but you’ll likely be juggling a lot of plates. From florists to wedding cake makers, caterers, dressmakers, and venue owners – everyone will be looking to you to know when and where they’re needed.
Composure – you’ll need to be able to keep calm and thrive under pressure. Event planning keeps you on your toes and you’ll need to go with the flow to fix any issues that might arise with a cool head. The happy couple will be looking to you to calm their panic.
There aren’t specialist regulators for wedding planners. However, if a couple feels like they didn’t get value for money, you haven’t done your job properly, or something went wrong on the big day, you could face legal action.
This is why you should always make sure your clients sign their contracts before the wedding. This will protect you and your business and make sure both parties understand what to expect. You can write your own contracts, though it’s a good idea to get these checked over by a solicitor to make sure everything would stand up in a court of law, should a dispute arise.
As a small freelance business, word-of-mouth and positive reviews are incredibly important to ensure you attract more clients. You need to keep your reputation in top shape, so it’s important you’re prepared for any eventuality.
Starting your wedding planner business
Preparation is the key to success and you need to make sure everything is as streamlined as it can be. There are a few important aspects you may need to tick off your list beforehand:
Have your contracts been written and checked by legal advisors?
Do you have a list of go-to industry contacts? This doesn’t have to be extensive, especially as you’re just starting, but a few names from any previous experience can go a long way.
Do you have all the equipment you need? It might be a good idea to invest in a dedicated work phone for clients and vendors.
Is your brand established online? As an independent company, it’s important to have a solid social presence across all platforms that makes you attractive and easily accessible.
As a new business, it’s easy to put too much pressure on yourself to achieve big goals straight away. Starting a business is exciting, but it can take a while to get off the ground. Don’t be deterred if progress is slow.
You need to ensure that any goals you set are achievable and aren’t copies of other small businesses’. Every brand journey is different, but there are a few tricks to getting these goals right for yours:
Be realistic – don’t push yourself too much and, also, don’t undersell yourself to… yourself. Look at where you are and where you want to be, your business plan, and your budget to make practical calculations.
Make SMART goals – SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. If you want to go a step further, make them SMARTER, and include Evaluated and Reviewed goals.
Focus on your own journey – the worst thing you can do as a start-up is to compare yourself to other businesses. Whether you’re in the same industry or not, your company was created from a different starting point and under different circumstances. It’s important to keep an eye on the competition, but try and learn lessons, rather than drawing comparisons.
Speaking of competitors, conducting industry research and analysis is an important part of business growth. As a small company, trial and error is important – and every misstep can make you stronger.
Look at what others in your industry are doing. Check out the services they offer, what they charge and how they promote themselves. This is key to creating a great, market-savvy brand. You can learn a lot from fellow businesses, either as friends or competitors, including how to strategize, market and price your services.
Creating a business plan
Creating a business plan is one of the first steps when setting up any brand. An effective business plan should set out what you stand for, your goals, and how you’re going to achieve them.
Your business plan should include:
Business description – who are you and what do you offer? Detail what you stand for and some of your key business USPs.
Plan of products and services – describe the products and services you sell as well as a development plan. How and where do you want to push your services?
Ownership and management structure – detail the hierarchy of who owns and runs your company, including any shareholders.
Budgets and financial information – include information on your budgets, profits and any financial factors that may affect operations. For example, what does your estimated EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) look like and what factors might affect this?
Competitor analysis – conduct research to see what has proven successful for other businesses and detail any learnings.
Marketing plan – a marketing plan sets out how and where you intend to advertise your services to attract clients.
Creating a marketing plan
Knowing how exactly you’re going to advertise your services (along with to whom and where) is an important first step. Remember, every business is different. So, in your search for the perfect marketing plan template, you should ensure that any plan you create is solely relevant to your business.
Some things to include are:
Unique selling points (USPs) – describe the key selling points of your business and services and what makes you stand out in the market.
Marketing tactics – make a plan for your services and show how you’ll best market them. Include social media campaigns, any local advertising sources and any contacts you have.
Distribution plan – once you’ve decided on your tactics, it’s time to think about how your clients are going to access your services. Do you plan on being an independent trader who relies solely on advertising, or will you be operating from a third-party freelancer site?
Budgets – carefully budget campaigns to ensure you’re dividing your finances effectively. You don’t want to get excited about a social ad campaign only to realise you don’t have the money.
Keeping track of your finances and taking payments is important – so you need a reliable way to do it. From clients to vendors, you’re going to have a few things to manage, which is where an all-in-one platform like Square Invoices comes in. With Invoices, you can send, track and receive money all in one place – perfect for juggling multiple suppliers.
When you’re negotiating with vendors and taking payments, it’s handy to have a platform like Square Virtual Terminal to work alongside your invoices software. This platform turns your desktop into a payment terminal so you can easily take and manage remote payments.
Finally, Square Appointments helps you to manage admin assets – from booking appointments to scheduling your business calendar and organising your point-of-sale system. This handy platform can be easily integrated into your operations to keep the wheels turning.
Getting started with your wedding planning business is an exciting time.
Although there are a few things to organise before you search for your first client, once you’ve got all your plans, contracts and goals ready to go, you can really hit the ground running. You’ll be dealing with four-tier wedding cakes, miles of fairy lights and supplier negotiations before you know it.