A wedding planner is a professional event planner who will use expert knowledge of the wedding industry to plan a couple’s wedding.
This role can include planning every event from the engagement right up to the honeymoon, including pre-wedding parties and post-wedding lunches.
A wedding planner’s primary goal is to feed inspiration, advice and support to the couple while planning a seamless string of events that culminates in an exceptional day for family and friends.
Love may be in the air but in reality, the average wedding takes a staggering 250 hours to plan.
A wedding planner can cut this time in half for the couple. Even more importantly, they can use their established relationships with reputable suppliers to get the best deals, at the best prices, for the big day.
Due to the emotional nature of a wedding, a wedding planner acts as a neutral and objective professional to stave off stress, pressure, and arguments, ensuring the couple enjoy their engagement.
The job begins with an initial consultation where a couple will describe their wedding dreams, likes and dislikes, list any special requirements and talk through a preliminary budget.
From this consultation, the wedding planner then sets about turning these dreams into a creative reality.
A wedding planner will have been to hundreds of weddings and have seen it all. They will know which suppliers to work with and which suppliers to avoid.
They are trained to know what type of wedding gown suits every body shape, how the colour wheel works for themes, what the best time of the year to take a cruise is, and hundreds more details that prevent upsetting mishaps for the happy couple.
Wedding planners can also advise on inter-religious, or inter-cultural weddings. This is a vital part of the role as wedding traditions vary greatly between cultures and countries but most will have their own rigorous traditions and proper etiquette that should be followed. Planners need to be well versed in this to guide the couple through unfamiliar territory seamlessly.
Wedding planners also use negotiating skills with the suppliers for the wedding to get the best discounts, deals and/or upgrades during the contract phase.
Although the wedding planner assists in styling and theming the event, they never take over. Final decisions are always left to the client as a wedding is an emotional celebration and must be a reflection of the couple’s personality.
Working as a wedding planner is a time-consuming profession but one of the most rewarding and varied jobs in the market.
The benefits are that most wedding planners own their own business, set their own schedule and work with a variety of clients.
However, the hours are long since effectively most planners run two businesses: ‘wedding planning’ and the ‘business’. Planners also often work seven days a week as most weddings tend to take place at the weekend.
Wedding planners also spend a lot of time travelling as, after a busy week, they may need to drive 200 miles to dress the venue late Friday night for a Saturday wedding or drive out to the country on a Thursday for a weekend wedding.
However, despite the dedication required, most wedding planners will testify that there is nothing more satisfying then seeing a happy bride as she walks into the reception venue for the first time.
Every wedding planner will find their own way to charge for their services and, depending on location, salaries will vary.
In the UK, a wedding planner could start off earning between £16,000 and £25,000. An established planner could make £30,000 – £70,000 and a high end planner with an impeccable reputation could make £300,000.
- Working directly with the vendors to cut out unnecessary time and stress for the bride and groom.
- Monitoring and tracking budgets and finances.
- Monitoring and tracking guest lists and RSVPs.
- Conducting site visits and risk assessments.
- Compiling comprehensive itineraries for clients and vendors.
- Project managing and dealing with unforeseen problems in the lead up to the wedding.
- Working with the wedding co-ordinator, a venue staff member who will assist in executing the agreed itinerary for the wedding, as well as help with any problems that may arise on the day.
- Executing the agreed wedding itinerary seamlessly on the big day.
There are no formal qualifications required to become a wedding planner; however, since a wedding will be the most important, and expensive, event in someone’s life, they will want to commission someone with real credentials.
A wedding planning certificate is a great selling point and can be undertaken online through a reputable Wedding Planning School such as QC School of Wedding Planning.
As a wedding planner you will need:
- Communication skills
- Organisational skills
If you’re going to start your own business you will need to be competent in areas such as:
- Human resources
- Legal affairs
You will also need computing skills such as the ability to use word processing and data management programmes such as Microsoft Excel.
There are tons of free services for business start-ups, however, so take advantage of the free seminars and events and be sure you make an appointment with your local business advisor.
Using the Internet is a great advantage as the web is a great tool for wedding inspiration. For example, there are free trials of great tools such as Perfect Table Plan so you can plan the table and seating plans for the event.
The wedding industry is female dominated but some of the country’s leading planners are male.
Monday to Friday is often spent working with vendors, creating proposals and catching up on e-mails. At the weekend you will usually work onsite at the venue, where the wedding is taking place.
The job can be strenuous. For example, it may require carrying stacks of chairs from one room to another, decorating high areas at the venue in fairy lights for example, and carrying wedding gifts back and forth from the ceremony to the reception and then from the reception to the car park.
The work location varies constantly. Client meetings usually take place in a convenient and public location such as a coffee shop or hotel lobby, and vendor meetings usually occur at the vendor’s location so that a planner can work with their products and see what they have to offer.
A background in events is very beneficial to the job but not necessary.
If you are interested in breaking into the industry then it would be worthwhile to try and team up with an established planner for a summer to get some work experience.
Learning from an experienced planner means you can see what works and what doesn’t without ruining your reputation from day one. It is advisable to work at a couple of events before deciding to go out on your own.
Most wedding planners are self-employed but there will often be vacancies as an administrator or assistant in a wedding planning or event management company.
Starting off as a wedding co-ordinator in a venue such as a hotel would be a great start to a career as an independent wedding planner.
Working for the Designer Wedding Show, an exhibition for the wedding industry, will help ease you into the industry and connect you with suppliers.
Confetti is a large wedding retailer throughout the UK which could provide a good base from which to break into the wedding industry.
If you are an experienced planner looking for a change, you may want to consider specialising in one particular field of wedding planning such as Nautical weddings or Novelty-themed weddings.
Also known as…
- Wedding Consultant
- Bridal Consultant
- Wedding Co-ordinator
- Event Planne
What’s it really like?
When Sam Ketterer and Marina Nazarova got engaged in 2003, little did they know that a few months later they would both be following very different career paths!
Sam has a degree in Philosophy and a background in publishing, whilst Marina has a degree in Business & Marketing and a background in catering. But when they started to plan their own wedding they fell in love with the task in hand and began to contemplate setting up their own wedding planning business. A few months later Absolute Perfection was born!
The foundations for the business were laid during the dark winter months in late 2003 and early 2004. At the time were we holding down our own jobs, setting up a new business and planning our own wedding all at the same time. It was the start of the 70 hour a week that rolled on for almost 6 months!
Our very first client was booked in March 2004 – an American couple living in Colorado who wanted a simple humanist wedding on the Isle of Mann. It was a small budget, only a handful of guests attended and we didn’t make any money from it. However it was a beautiful wedding that we designed and planned it as if it was our own.
Indeed we still approach and manage each wedding today in exactly the same way we did our first wedding on the Isle of Mann. It is a philosophy that has become deeply ingrained within the company.
Although we strive to achieve perfection, it is an ideal concept and therefore impossible to attain at all times. Wedding planning is a difficult job to do well. There are few more important occasions in a person’s life so it is only natural that stress levels will rise during the wedding planning process. And when even the little things go wrong in the world of wedding planning, sparks can fly. You therefore need a huge amount of patience, understanding and tact, along with a thick skin and the ability to ‘crack the whip’ when called upon.
It’s tough, arduous and immensely stressful job at times, with long, unsocial hours, often working on your own, up to 7 days a week. Then there is the steep learning curve in the first 18 months, during which time you need to learn to deal with the knock-backs and learn quickly from your mistakes!
As a wedding planner you are always dependent on your vendors and suppliers delivering a first class service to your clients. So when a supplier falls short in the service expected of them it will be your problem to resolve the issue with the minimum of fuss.
Thankfully the highs of a wedding planner far exceed the lows. Given the significance of a wedding for all concerned, the highs one encounters are often more personal, intense and emotional than you will find in many other industries. And they are only enhanced by the fact that you are likely to be working for yourself in a vibrant, young, exciting and rewarding industry, driven by the aim of fulfilling the hopes and dreams of a couple that have come to depend on you. Wedding planning… it’s a job most people can only dream of!
For those of you considering a career as a wedding planner, yet lack experience or training, check out the in depth article on our blog that examines How To Become A Wedding Planner.
Nowadays there is so much to learn about the industry and the role of a wedding planner that most people will enrol on a respectable training course. The best courses offer an advanced syllabus and will teach you all you need to know about setting up and running your own wedding planning business. Most are distance learning courses since they tend to offer the best value for money but there are some decent classroom based courses also worth considering.
One or two courses also offer work placement opportunities for strong students which can be invaluable when you are trying to get a new business off the ground. See further links for more details.
A small selection of some of our favourite blogs:
- 100 Layer Cake
- Rock n Roll Bride
- Style Me Pretty
- Off Beat Bride
- Elizabeth Anne Designs
- One Fab Day
- Rock My Wedding
Absolute Perfection is the longest established wedding planning company in London. They also run a popular Wedding Planning Academy that trains aspiring, young (and not so young!) wedding planners.