Do you want to learn what it takes to become a wedding planner online? If YES, here is a complete guide plus requirements needed to become a certified wedding planner.
Due to the significance of weddings in the lives of people, and the willingness of couples to spend to make their weddings a memorable and yet organized affair, wedding planners have become essential especially when the couple work long hours, and would not have the necessary time to source and manage wedding vendors, or plan their own wedding.
The United States has the highest number of professional wedding planners. Wedding planners can either charge their clients through a flat fee, or take a percentage of the total wedding cost. Also, couples that are into destination weddings require the help of a planner who would have to take them through the different local procedures.
Most wedding planners get trained in event planning before specializing in wedding planning. Wedding planners are usually independent contractors, with a few working for an event or wedding agency. These people have to be meticulous, good at negotiating and mediating, good at budgeting, have the passion and determination, be willing to stand on their feet for long hours, as well as be away from home especially during evenings and weekends.
What is a Wedding Planner?
A wedding planner is a professional who is adept at designing, planning, and managing the wedding of a client successfully and satisfactorily. This professional has to have a knack for creativity, since it is one of the very requirements of being successful in the industry.
Duties of a Wedding Planner and their Job Description?
- Identifying the needs of the couple and even parents by interviewing them.
- Preparing the budget by meeting with couple to plan scope and the format for the wedding, as well as with their parents if they are playing any huge part like sponsoring the wedding.
- Scouting for venues and ensuring that the venue picked conforms to the client’s requirement.
- Styling and designing the event
- Preparing the attendee list
- Identifying, hiring, preparing and executing contracts of wedding vendors and service providers, and ensuring that they conform to the couple’s requirement.
- Assisting and preparing legal translations for destination wedding couples
- Coordination of services such as transportation, accommodation, signage display, printing, event security, and other special needs that might be required.
- Coordination of deliveries on the wedding day.
- Having a back-up plan in case the first one fails, or there is a disaster.
- Use of industry knowledge to inform clients on wedding trends, themes, attires, and décor.
- Ensure that the wedding activities comply with applicable laws and regulations.
- Maintain records of all aspects of the weddings, especially the financial details
- Hire and train the volunteers or support staff that will be requires for the wedding.
- Attend meetings with other professionals, read up publications, so as to keep abreast of industry standards, and trends.
Tools and Equipment Used by Wedding Planners?
There are several tools that a wedding planner must have in order to practice really efficiently. The tools and equipment used by a wedding planner in carrying out tasks, and achieving efficiency in jobs are both physical and online and they include:
- Two way radios
- Video conferencing equipment
- Wedding book guide
- Venue guide
- Vendor directory
- Seating charts
There are also the online tools, as the tools needed to practice aren’t all offline ones. Online tools are:
- Desktop publishing software
- Photo imaging software
- Map creation software
- Project management software
- Word processor
- Presentation software
- Financial analysis software.
How to Become a Certified Wedding Planner – A Complete Guide
Facts, Figures and Labor Market Situation for Wedding Planning Professionals
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics lumps wedding planners together with event planners. As at 2012, there were 94,000 people involved in event planning.
- Job growth projection is at 22% and above between 2012 and 2022. 44,200 planners will be employed between 2012 and 2022. 48% of people in this field have a bachelor degree, 29% has an Associate degree, and 15% has a college or no degree at all.
- The average cost for a wedding in the United States is $25,631
- The marriage rate is 6.8 per 1,000 populations.
- Nevada has the highest number of marriages
- 16% of weddings occur in June
- 47% of couples spent 1 to 9 hours a week on wedding planning.
- 18% of couples hired a day only wedding coordinator
- 8% hired a wedding planner from the beginning
- 74% of wedding planners work full time, while 10% worked part time, with 16% being self-employed. 44% of the wedding planners in UK are males.
- There is no set entry route for wedding planners, as most become one after organizing their wedding and that of their friends.
- Working long hours like 12 hours or more, are usually during peak periods between May and September.
- UK wedding industry generates over £10 billion.
- Only 2% of the total weddings in a year take place in January
- Average age to get married is between 30 and 31 for women and 33 to 34 for men.
- Average cost for a wedding is £22,236
- The median age for people getting married is between 31 and 32 years for males, and 29 to 30 years for females. There were only 5.5 marriages per 1,000 of the population as at 2007.
- Weddings in Australia are up to 120,000 a year, as an average of 332 weddings takes place per day.
- The Australian wedding industry generates more than $2 billion annually.
- March is the busiest month for weddings due to the weather. The other popular months are October and November, and this is due to long daylight hours.
- The average wedding cost in Australia is $20,000.
- Saturday is considered the luckiest day for weddings in Australia.
- Many couples have financed elaborate weddings through loans or credits.
- Brides spend over 200 hours planning their wedding.
- There is a decrease in destination weddings, due to the poor economic outlook.
- The median age for brides is between 29 and 30 years.
- As at 2013, about 165,297 couples got married.
- The most popular months of engagement is between December and February.
- The Canadian wedding industry is $5 billion per year.
- As at 2014, 1 in 5 couples hired a wedding coordinator
- 30,363 couples hired a professional wedding planner.
- The average cost of a wedding is $31,110 and this includes the honeymoon.
- The peak periods for wedding is between July and September, with August being the most popular month for marriage
- The average cost for a wedding venue is $9,430, flowers and décor $1,478 and music $1,250.
- The expected costs for wedding has continually risen yearly
- The average number of wedding guests is 124.
- 15% of Canadian brides will have a destination wedding.
- 79% of brides have a wedding beyond their financial means
Is the Demand for Wedding Planners on the Increase?
Due to the fact that most couples now have to work which gives them less time to plan any events of their own much less a wedding, the demand for wedding planners will continue to increase.
Impact of Internet Technology On The wedding Planner Profession?
- Wedding planners can network with other professionals to better their craft.
- Wedding planners can get clients through the internet especially if they own a website where previous jobs can be showcased.
- Wedding planners can drop tips or contribute to wedding discussions on social media, thereby helping intending brides, who cannot afford a planner.
- A wedding planner now has to offer a quality service, or else have their reputation tarnished on the internet.
Career Ideas That Exist within the Wedding Planning Profession?
There are several ideas that exist and can be adopted in the wedding planner niche. The career ideas that exist within this niche include:
- Public Relations Specialists: They act as a link or liaisons between a client and the public, and also maintain a cooperative relationship with the media, local communities, government, consumer, and other stakeholders on behalf of the client.
- Administrative Services Manager: This is a professional that plans, coordinates, and direct an organization’s supportive services.
- Human Resources Specialist: This is an individual that is responsible for carrying out a variety of clerical duties as regards human resources by preparing documentation as regards new hire, performing employee orientation, and promoting and maintaining good employee relations.
- Funeral Director: This is a professional who embalms and carries out the burial or cremation of the dead, and also plan and arrange the funeral ceremony.
- Travel Guide: A travel guide is an individual who is thoroughly informed, or has a deep knowledge about a place, and uses this knowledge or information to help tourists or visitors.
- Recreation Worker: A recreation worker leads and designs activities that are leisure inclined for groups in recreation facilities or volunteer agencies.
- Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes: They represent and promote artists, performers and athletes to prospective and financially able employers, and also handle contract negotiation and any other business matter for their clients.
- Tour Promoters: They are often referred to as concert promoters, are individuals or companies who organize live concerts, tours, or special event performances
- Advertising and Promotions Manager: This is one who plans, direct, and coordinate policies and programs relating to advertising, or produces materials that will create an extra interest in the purchase of a product for an organization.
- Events Manager: This is an individual who plans, directs or coordinates large events like trade shows, conferences, exhibitions, and other such events.
Professional Bodies That Exist within the Industry for Wedding Planners
- Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC): This is a membership service organization that strives to increase the awareness of the wedding business, as well as improve the professionalism of its members.
- Association for Wedding Professionals International (AFWPI): This is an international organization that is dedicated to providing quality service, as well as be a central source of information and referrals for those who are planning their weddings, and those who service weddings.
- Bridal Association of America (BAA): This is an association that intends to help its member planners in improving on their business results.
- National Association of Professional Wedding Services (NAPWS): This is a national wedding association that promotes exceptional professionalism and ethical standards so as to inspire client confidence, as well as enhance the reputation and interests of its members and the association as a whole.
- UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (UKAWP): The UKAWP is an association that seeks to uphold standards as well as professionalism amongst its members.
- The National Association of Wedding Professionals (NAWP): This is an association that seeks to promote integrity and professionalism within the UK wedding industry.
- Wedding Planning Association of Australia (WPAA): This association which is managed by an advisory board upholds and maintains the standard for all wedding planners, as well as provides support for all wedding planners in Australia. Annual membership costs $199.
- The Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners (CanSPEP): This is an association that is a network for independent event planners entrepreneurs, and also provides leadership and education in event management.
- The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada Inc (WPIC): This is an association for certified wedding coordinators, and trains as well as formally educates its members and those intending to join.
Benefits of Becoming a Wedding Planner?
- Pay: A wedding planner’s pay is usually dependent on the regional market, reputation, and how he or she charges. For example, the wedding planner can decide to charge a flat fee for services, or place a percentage on major wedding expenditures. The latter might be more favorable to the wedding planner, because the more elaborate and expensive the wedding is, the higher the fees for the wedding planner.
- Travel: Wedding planners get to travel to exotic locations for weddings, especially as they must be on the wedding site to help run and coordinate the client’s wedding.
- Food: Wedding planners get to sample beforehand a wide range of gourmet, and eat all kinds of exotic meals at the weddings they coordinate, and the costs is usually covered as part of operating expenses.
- Flexibility: Wedding planners have the advantage of working when it is only convenient for them, personally or financially. This means that they can either decide to go for a high workload, or scale back on getting jobs.
- Networking: Wedding planners get to meet different and diverse people, which might bring valuable personal and business connections.
- Personal Satisfaction: Helping create a memorable, beautiful, and stress free occasion for a couple is an intangible benefit that creates a personal satisfaction, as well as create a milestone for the wedding planner.
- Opportunity to be self-employed: Wedding planners can decide to be their own boss, or independent contractor especially as being a wedding planner requires one to be creative and intuitive.
- Minimal Training requirements: Being a wedding planner doesn’t require intense and rigorous training.
Factors Discouraging People from Becoming Wedding Planners?
Just the way there are benefits, there may be discouraging factors. In essence, there are several factors that might discourage one from becoming a wedding planner, and they are:
- Extreme Patience: Being a wedding planner requires that one has extreme patience, determination, and a thick skin. Most brides are usually difficult to handle, especially as they want so many things done at once without wanting to be practical about it.
- Stress: According to Forbes, wedding planners and by a large extension event planners had the 6th most stressful career. Wedding planners have to handle wedding day madness, deal with different vendors, solve problems, and ensure that everything happens on time.
- Weekend and Evening work: The career of a wedding planner isn’t the standard daytime 9-5 work week. Most weddings happen on weekends, and stretches till evening, also whilst planning planners have to meet with clients probably after work in the evening. This means that a wedding planner must be away from home – family time and friends – during this period.
- Physically and Mentally Demanding: Wedding planners have to be on their feet throughout the wedding to be able to coordinate activities, this is a task that is physically demanding. Also, they have to ensure that disasters are reduced to the barest minimum, by supervising all the different of activities either behind the scene or during the wedding itself.
- Tough clients: There are always clients that are tough to handle, and that will add to the mental stress of the wedding planner. The wedding planner has to be able to decide on if the client is worth it or not.
- Negotiation and Mediation: Wedding planners have to negotiate with other wedding professionals about the contract of the client. They also mediate and negotiate with the client, as regarding last minute change of plans in food, decorations, and other things that might crop up.
- Multi-tasking and organization: Planning a wedding involves handling different activities or even different couples at once, and a wedding planner who isn’t organized will have problems and find everything overwhelming.
- People’s person: Wedding planners have to relate with different clients and vendors. One who is shy or an introvert will either have to adjust or not be able to cope in the industry.
- Emotional connection: Planners have to deal with emotional clients, especially brides and their mothers. Planners sometimes emotionally close to their clients, and sometimes take issues that might crop up personal than they otherwise should have.
- Thinking small: As a wedding planner, one has to think of the big picture such as, networking, marketing, accounting, or finance except one wants to remain small. Most wedding planners usually work for themselves, and have to deal in all areas that might not be pleasant.
How Much Do Wedding Planners Earn Monthly/Annually?
- In the United States; the annual average earnings for wedding planners as at 2015, ranges from $20,000 to $68,000.
- In the United Kingdom, the average salary of a wedding planner is based on experience and industry reputation. Starters earn between £16,000 and £20,000 average a year, while those with experience earn from £25,000 and above.
- In Canada, the average annual salary for a wedding planner as at 2014 was $46,000.
How Long Does It take to Become a Certified Wedding Planner?
The length of time before one can become a wedding planner in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada could take between a day and 9 months depending on the course taken and the institution, since traditional schools do not offer wedding planning as a degree course.
Although a degree isn’t compulsory before one can become a wedding planner, but certain degree courses can be taken so as to give the planner a competitive edge in the field.
- The first step is to get a high school diploma or its equivalent a GED
- The second step is to either obtain an Associate or a Bachelor’s degree in a related field like Public Relations, Marketing, Hospitality Management, or Communications.
- The third step is to get certified, while shadowing a wedding planner or working as an intern for an event planning company.
- One can take a course in Marketing, Project Management or Hospitality and then get experience and certification.
- Get the basic educational requirement a year 12 and a degree in an event related management course, and then get certified.
- One would need a post-secondary education like a bachelor or an Associate degree in hospitality operations, tourism management education, and public relations. Then garner experience before going for certifications.
Educational Requirements for Becoming a Certified Wedding Planner?
In the United States, you can take the
- Certified Wedding Specialist course which focuses on the wedding planning business.
- Certified Wedding Planner course which focuses on wedding planners who have experience but no certifications.
In the UK, you can take the:
- Certificate in Wedding Planning, an accredited 12 weeks course on how to plan and coordinate a wedding.
- Diploma in Wedding Planning, Styling and Design, a 6 month course on how to design style and coordinate a wedding.
- Diploma in Wedding and Event Planning, a 6 month course where in addition to coordinating a wedding, one also learns how to manage and produce a conference.
In Australia, you can take the:
- Certificate in Wedding Planning
- Diploma in Wedding Planning, Styling, and Design or,
- Diploma in Wedding and Event Planning
In Canada, you can take the:
- Certificate in Wedding Planning and Coordination, which is a 2 days of in-class instructions with a 2 weeks home study before final exams
- Certified Destination Wedding Coordinator, which is a course for only Certified Wedding Coordinators.
How Much Does It Cost to Become a Wedding Planner?
In United States,
- The Certified Wedding Specialist costs $700
- The Certified Wedding Planner costs $300
In the United Kingdom,
- The Certificate in Wedding Planning costs £495
- The Diploma in Wedding Planning, Styling and Design would cost £895
- The Diploma in Wedding and Event Planning would cost £795
- Certificate in Wedding Planning costs $1,495
- Diploma in Wedding Planning, Styling, and Design costs $2,400
- And Diploma in Wedding and Event Planning cost $2,145
- The Certificate in Wedding Planning and Coordination would cost $899
- The cost for the Destination Wedding Coordinator Certification is $450
Can You Become a Wedding Planner By Taking Courses Online?
Yes, you can become a wedding planner by taking an online course. Being a wedding planner requires creativity, determination, and passion. Whilst there are online courses, designing and planning a wedding requires a practical experience.
Career Opportunities Opened to a Wedding Planner
- Marketing Manager: A marketing manager handles and manages the marketing resources of a business.
- Administrative Manager: This is a professional who organizes various services such as administration payroll, reception, secretarial, mails c and ensure that they are efficiently run.
- Receptionist: This is an individual who takes an administrative support post by attending to the company’s guests and replying enquiries.
- Travel Agent: This is an individual who helps people travel by getting plane tickets for them, as well as reserving accommodations in hotels.
- Fashion Designers: They are creative and artistic individuals who research on fashion trends and then interpret it to their audience through cloth design.
- Salesperson: This is an individual who successfully persuades others to purchase goods and services on behalf of his company.
- Personal Assistant: This is a personal aide who assists a specific individual in their daily business or personal tasks.
- Copywriters: They help in writing headings, sub-headings as well as the body copy of advertisements and brochures.
Skills and Traits Needed to Succeed as a Wedding Planner
- Negotiating skills: A wedding planner has to be skilled at negotiating for the couple as regards items like flowers, centerpieces, venue, food, the band and any other thing needed for the success of the wedding.
- Active Listening: This involves giving full attention to clients, listening to their wants, asking questions and clarifying at appropriate times on issues not clear to the planner.
- Time Management: A planner has to effectively manage the time of the client, as well as that of his or her own.
- Judgment and Decision Making: A planner needs good judgment as well as quick decision making skills in handling clients as well as issues that might arise before, and especially during a wedding.
- Writing: A wedding planner has to constantly write down ideas, clients’ instructions, vendor information, and so any other information that might be needed to ensure the success of a wedding.
- Problem Solving: Wedding planners must be adept at solving problems that might crop up during a client’s wedding.
- Speaking: A wedding planner must speak clearly, so as to effectively communicate the clients’ need to support staff, as well as understand the requirement of clients by clarifying where necessary.
- Reading Comprehension: A wedding planner should be good at reading and understanding documents and contracts, which deal with the vendors, service providers, as well as the couple themselves.
- Organizing: A wedding planner must be good at arranging, designing, and planning for a wedding in such a way that everything is organized, and that others – such as support staff – can fit in.
- Monitoring: The planner should be able to monitor more than one activity at once. This means that the planner must be good at multi-tasking.
- Persuasion: A planner must be skilled at persuading the couple, their parents, or the vendors and service providers in changing their minds as regards some requirements.
Tips and Advice That Can Help Advance your Career as a Wedding Planner
- Joining Professional Associations: The aim of a professional association is to keep the wedding planner informed of new and current industry trends, which will be of help to the planner with their clients.
- Get Certified: Certification courses allow wedding planners acquire more knowledge, and learn the ropes in a competitive market.
- Developing related skills: Most wedding planners are self-employed and so have to take care of their own book-keeping, marketing and other skills needed to move the business. A wedding planner that wants to advance would need to learn these related skills, either through a formal education or whilst on-the-job.
- Be fair to Vendors: Vendors are an important lifeline for wedding planners, and so they must be treated fairly by being paid on time, and sometimes referring them to other businesses.
- Professionalism: A wedding planner has to learn to keep calm and remain professional at all times.
- Creativity and Flexibility: While a wedding planner must be creative enough to plan a unique wedding, he or she must be flexible as well to accommodate ideas from the clients.
- Organized: This is a core function of a wedding planner. No matter how many clients a wedding planner handles at once, each one deserves to be treated specially and differently, and this can only work if the planner develops an organized system that can cater to as many clients as possible.
- Collaborations: Collaborating with other planners helps in widening the business horizon of the planner.
- Always have a back-up plan: Even though a wedding planner aims for perfection, he or she shouldn’t expect one and should have a back-up plan for every first plan.