THE BLOG
11/07/2016 05:41 pm ET

How To Become A Wedding Planner

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Wedding planners are in a special position and their daily lives are a dream job for many. How many people can say their job is to plan the most important day of their clients' lives--and get paid handsomely to do it?

Make no mistake: wedding planning comes with a lot of stress (especially once you get near the big day), but with the right personality and a healthy dose of hard work, wedding planning can be the perfect career. The impact that planners make on their clients and the satisfaction that planners have with their work is unlike any other job in the world. Best of all, weddings will never go out of fashion, so your job security is essentially guaranteed.

Given the unlimited potential of this career and of the wedding industry in general, more and more young men and women are trying to learn how to become a wedding planner and maybe even start their own successful wedding planning business. I did the research so all you have to do is read on to learn how to become a wedding planner in four easy [maybe...] steps!

Step 1: Learn the Business

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what wedding planning involves, and while it's a dream job for some, it isn't right for everyone. What you think wedding planning is may not be what is actually turns out to be, so the ideal first step is learning as much as you can about the business from professional wedding planners who have shared their real-world experience. Then, once you've got an accurate impression of the wedding planning industry, you'll be better equipped if you decide to officially dive in.

The most popular and widely respected book on becoming a wedding planner is the Wedding Planner's Handbook written by Kristie Santana, a professional wedding planner and board member of the National Association of Wedding Professionals (NAWP). The book has helped thousands of young men and women start their own wedding planning careers and offers an authentic insider's view of being a professional wedding planner.

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Before spending money on a certification course or spending months interning with an existing company, spend a day or two reading up on the wedding planning business and you'll be much more prepared to start your career on the right foot. Google is also your friend when researching as are local professionals in the business. You can never learn too much!

Step 2: Get Certified (Optional)

If you ask professional wedding planners whether they believe paying for certification is worth it or not, you'll probably get one of two extreme answers. Either they will believe wedding planner certification is valuable and highly recommended, or they will scoff and advise you to save your money for something with real value.

Like many difficult questions in life, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Let's be clear here. No certification is not necessary to plan a wedding. And no, it will not directly help you land any clients once you're up and running. But if you feel you can comfortably afford certification (tuition is usually $1-2k) and you don't take your certificate as a replacement for hands-on experience, there is a lot to gain and little to lose by enrolling in a certification course.

While you may understand how to successfully plan a wedding, this is only half of the challenge of being a wedding planner. The other half--and it can be the more difficult half if you've never started a business before--is understanding how to legally run a company. A certification program will guide you through this process and get you up to speed on business structure, tax considerations, writing contracts, etc. Either way, performing in-depth Google searches about the legality of running a company is never a bad idea.

Step 3: Get Hands-On Experience

Once you feel like you understand the industry, it's time to get out there and get your feet wet. There is absolutely no replacement for the experience of immersing yourself in a real wedding and there are many different ways you can find them. If you love weddings like me, this is the best part of the whole job!

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First, and perhaps most obvious, is calling local wedding planners and asking if they'd be willing to accept an intern. This method is effective because businesses can always use more help--especially if it's free! While it might seem counterproductive to work for free, think of it this way: it's always better to make your first mistakes on someone else's dime! Not only that, but you'll pick up dozens of little tips and tricks that you'll be able to apply to your own business one day.

If you're not finding any luck offering your services to an existing company, look through your contacts and find someone you know who is in the midst of planning their own wedding (or will be soon). Explain that you're working on becoming a wedding planner yourself and you'd love to plan their wedding, free of charge. If they accept, this will be an even greater responsibility than working as an intern because you'll be completely in charge instead of shadowing someone else.

Whether it's for a company or a friend, getting hands on experience planning a real wedding is the only way to truly immerse yourself in this business. You'll be glad you did!

Step 4: Land Your First Clients

Congratulations! You've opened your doors and you're waiting for the phone to ring to start booking clients. As you'll soon find out, finding ways to get the phone to ring more and more often will take up a large part of your day as a wedding planner.

Regardless of how many different marketing methods you choose to employ for your business, it helps to choose one of them to specialize in. For example, let's say you've chosen to allocate your marketing budget to three primary avenues: bridal expos, Facebook advertising, and promoting on Yelp. If you split your attention between all three equally, you might be decent in all three but still fail to really stand out in any of them.

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What you want to do instead is try several different marketing avenues and find the one that you excel at the most and perfect that strategy. Once you feel you're the leader in that marketing avenue (e.g. ranked first in Yelp, the busiest table at the bridal expo, etc.), move on to the next one. The goal is to eventually stand out across all marketing avenues, which will signal to your potential clients that you are the premier wedding planner in your area.

Conclusion

Ask ten different wedding planners what a "typical day" looks like and you'll get ten different answers. For some, this unpredictable lifestyle is the ideal work environment to exercise a creative mind; for others, it's absolute mayhem and they'd rather be working in a more structured job. To make sure you understand exactly what this line of work entails, take in as much information as you can before embarking on your journey to becoming a wedding planner. If it turns out that this is the right career for you, you'll be rewarded over and over again with every beaming bride you meet and service.

Happy planning!

You can find more articles written by Victoria on her personal blog www.followmeaway.com

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