Are you interested in starting a wedding planning business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a wedding planning business from home with little money and no experience plus a sample wedding planning business plan template. Wedding planning is a good business if you are looking into how to start your own business.
This is because you get to express the creativity within you which gives you a feeling of satisfaction from within alongside the financial gain that comes with it. To excel in this field, you must be passionate about the business and like everything associated with weddings.
Being a wedding planner requires that you become involved in helping couples plan their wedding and everything that surrounds the wedding day. You are solely accountable for the success of their wedding event and you have to ensure that you please everyone that is involved with the wedding by rendering them top notch services.
A wedding planning business requires that you pay keen attention to detail, have good organizational skills, patience and a level head to deal with the emotional problems that arise before and on the wedding day on the part of the people you have to deal with as weddings can be very emotional for the people involved. If you have the love of events, parties and weddings, then you should consider starting the business if you are thinking of the kind of business to set up.
Clients that use wedding planners are those that have bought into the idea of the service the wedding planner is offering and they trust that you can organise what is to them their important personal event. You therefore need to have the ability to make your client feel at ease with you.
Another way to gain experience in this field is to pay close attention to what wedding planners do when friends and family are getting married or offer to assist more established wedding planning outfits at no cost so as to gain the much needed experience you need to set up your own company.
23 Steps to Starting a Wedding Planning Business from Home With No Money
1. Understand the Industry
According to the Association of Bridal Consulting, 2.4 million weddings are held every year in the united states and weddings make up billion in the United States. According to a market research firm, the money spent on weddings has increased by 47% since 2009. It went up from $995 per weddings to $1,466 in 2012.
The wedding planning industry has an annual growth rate of 1.5% and it employs about 13, 492 people. The expansion witnessed in the industry is as a result of stronger economic conditions. With increased disposable income, it is expected that couples will be encouraged to get married and spend more money on services that are related to wedding activities. Wedding planners are also now more accessible to clients that need their services as a result of increased use of the internet, this has led to a decrease in the costs incurred by the industry for marketing activities and has increased their profit margins. The industry growth is expected to accelerate in the next five years if the economy keeps on getting stronger.
The wedding planning industry is still growing and as a whole, it is an industry that represents a lot of money, but the industry is made up of other multiple smaller enterprises. These smaller enterprises that make up the wedding planning industry include wedding consultants, caterers, photographers and a host of others. The industry cannot be said to be saturated because if you find a niche that you can occupy, you will continue to attract lots of clients for your business.
The factors and incentives that encourage people to go into this line of business is the ability to get good returns on little investment in the business as long as you are passionate about the job. It is a cost effective business that can be started with little initial investment.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of the people who require the services of a wedding planner cuts across men and women who are planning for their wedding ceremony. The following represents the list of people that needs the services of a wedding planner.
- brides family
- grooms family
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
In setting up a wedding planning business, there are a couple of niches ideas in the industry that you can choose from as an entrepreneur. Tapping into the niche market helps you distinguish yourself in what is now a crowded industry. Once you have decided on the niche you want to work in, then you can go ahead to own it.
The following are some of the niches / areas that a private a wedding planning company can be specialized in;
- encore weddings
- same sex wedding planning
- high end wedding planner expert
- theme weddings
- celebrity weddings
- price conscious bride weddings
- hurried weddings
- ethnic weddings
- destination weddings
- vintage weddings
The Level of Competition in the Industry
Survival in the wedding planning industry is dependent on a number of factors which include your organizational skills, ability to manage different people effectively and deal with different emotions. Survival in the industry is also based on your contacts as these are the people who will give you jobs and keep you in business.
There are a lot of big investors in this industry such as Martha Stewart Weddings and Sarah Haywood, but that does not mean that there is no room for new wedding planning companies that are just emerging. To survive as a start-up company in this industry, you should concentrate on getting your friends and family to know your business so that they can patronise your business and spread the word around about what your company does.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
There are some well-known brands in the wedding planning industry and you can hardly talk about wedding planners without mentioning the likes of US based Sasha Souza of Sasha Souza events and uk based Sarah Haywood.
The following is a list of leading wedding planning companies:
- Sasha Souza Events
- Sarah Haywood Wedding Design
- Marcy Blum Associates
- David Tutera
- The Bespoke Wedding Company
- Mindy Weiss
- Designer Wedding Planner
- Yifat Oren& Associates
- Along Came Mary
- Lady Elizabeth Anson
- Rafanelli Events
- Kevin Lee Productions
- Preston Bailey
- Colin Cowie Weddings
To start a wedding planning business, you need to carry out critical economic analysis to make sure that the risks and threats that which are associated with starting a business or putting your investment in a business idea are reduced.
Opening a business is not just about getting a nice looking office space and furnishing the place. A major concern you should have as a business owner is how to get customers for your business and how to ensure that the existing customers keep coming back to use the services your company offers.
On the average, starting and running a wedding planning business is cost effective. This is because you do not have to spend a lot of money in starting up the business. If you are able to deliver quality services to your client, the quality of your service you render will attract more customers for your business, as the invited guests for the wedding you planned for will always remember the good job you did and they will use your services if they have a wedding to plan as well.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
In starting your wedding planning business, you need to consider the best approach for your business, whether to start the business from scratch or to become part of a network that has already been established? If you have the intention of starting your wedding planning business from scratch, you will have absolute control over all areas of your business and in the process you will end up building a brand that can be transferred to your children or a brand which you can sell as a franchise in the future. Starting a business from scratch can be a refreshing experience but it can also be exhausting.
If on the other hand, you are more interested in making money and becoming a part of a network that is already established, you should consider buying the franchise of a successful wedding planning company. This way, you get to become part of an already established community which can be helpful in some ways but limiting in some aspects.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
In the wedding planning industry, new and established companies are subject to threats and challenges from various angles and one of the greatest challenge is the influx of new wedding planners with no trainings and certifications in the industry who are in the habit of charging ridiculously low amount of money and providing poor services to people thus giving the industry a bad name.
There is also the challenge of a lack of industry standards with which to hold vendors accountable for the quality of their services, products and ethics. This is because there is no regulation in the industry and these set of wedding planners give the good wedding planners a bad reputation with their activities.
Newly established wedding planning companies are also faced with the problem of competing with other well established businesses in a location where their business has got a strong presence.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
The legal entity you choose for your wedding planning business will go a long way in determining how big your company can grow. Before making a choice, there are a lot of things you need to put into consideration. Speak to an accountant and an attorney before making a decision; this is because different laws exist for business structures in different states. The decisions you make will affect your personal liability, the amount of money you pay as tax and how much money you can borrow and so on.
Different legal entities exist for a wedding planning business that you can choose from. They include sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Company (LLC), partnership, C corporations and S corporations. Each of them has got its own advantages and disadvantages so it is imperative to choose the right one that is applicable to your situation.
If you are just setting up your wedding planning company, sole proprietorship and LLC are the best legal entity you should consider using as the legal entity for your business. Sole proprietorship is not difficult to set up and it gives you total control over your business.
Choosing an LLC gives you the benefits of a corporation without the hassles involved and a sole proprietorship. This legal entity protects the business owner from having their personal assets confiscated when the company runs into debts.
You can start your wedding planning business as a LLC and later upgrade it to a corporation or S corporation whenever you have plans of going public. This way you will be able to compete with major players in your industry.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
There are a lot of factors to be considered in the process of choosing a name for your wedding planning business. You should also remember that some of the names you are considering for your new business might have been taken already by other wedding planners that are already in the business. At t the end of the day, the name you eventually settle for will go a long way in defining your brand and your business.
The following are a list of catchy business name ideas that you can choose for your wedding planning business:
- Early Bird Planners
- Turtle Dove Weddings
- Weddings on a Budget
- Marital Bliss Wedding Planners
- A bride’s best friend
- Unique Nuptials
- Wedding Bells Planners
- Elegant Weddings
- Simply Natural Planner
- The Wedding Planner
- Sophie’s’ Wedding Planners
- Wedding to Remember
- Weddings on Edge
- Destination Weddings
- Weddings to Die for
- Weddings R Us
- One Sweet Day Weddings
- As You Wish Planners
- Save the Date Planners
- Victorian Wedding Planners
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
As a wedding planner, you need to think of cases where things can go wrong in the event of planning a wedding. This is because there are so many aspects to co-ordinate such as booking of the wedding venue, booking of entertainers and getting the right wedding band amongst other activities that needs to be done to ensure that the wedding day is a success. Something can still go wrong despite all the backup plans you might have put in place to ensure your client has a perfect wedding.
As a result of this, you need to protect your business adequately in the case that a disgruntled customer decides to sue you. Having an insurance cover will shield you from such problems when they occur as you can be forced out of business if you are not careful. You can get in touch with an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best insurance policies needed for your business. They can help you assess your risks and give you the necessary advice.
The following are the basic insurance covers that you will need if you intend to start your own wedding planning business:
- General Liability Insurance
- Property Insurance
- Business Owner’s Policy
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- Errors & Omission Insurance
- Umbrella Insurance
- Cyber Liability Insurance
- Commercial Auto/ Hired and Non-Owned Auto Insurance
- Professional Indemnity
- Business Interruption
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
You should consider filing for intellectual property protection if you are considering starting a wedding planning business. Asides from protecting your company documents and company logo, filing for intellectual property can also serve as a form of protection for your company name and software applications.
Filing for intellectual property protection and the registration of your trademark requires that you begin the process by filing your application with the USPTO. Getting the final approval for your trademark is subjected to a review of attorneys which is required by the USPTO.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
A lot of professional associations offer accreditation and some form of educational program in the field of wedding planning. These can be helpful in helping you to learn a lot about running a business though this is not a guarantee as to whether your business will be successful or not.
You should consider getting the following certifications for yourself and staff if you have any.
- Association of Bridal Consultants
- Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants
- Weddings Beautiful Worldwide
- Professional Wedding Planner Certification
- American Association of Certified Wedding Planners
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
In the wedding planning industry, you are required to meet up with the legal document needs as stipulated by the constitution of your country and register your business name in your state and get the necessary business licenses required at both state and local level.
To operate your wedding planning business successfully, the following is the list of legal documents that you need to put in place:
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Business Plan
- Non – disclosure Agreement
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
- Employment Agreement
- Operating Agreement
- Company Bylaws
- Insurance Policy
- VAT certificate
- Federal tax identification
13. Write a Business Plan
To start a wedding planning business, one of the first few steps you should take is to put a well written business plan in place, this you can do by hiring the services of an expert to help you write one. Your business plan is the blue print that you need to run a successful business.
With a well written business plan, the trial and error method of doing business becomes a thing of the past and you have a well-documented plan in place with which you can use to take the appropriate actions towards managing your wedding planning business in terms of how to handle growth and expansion within your business.
A business plan is a detailed guide for the business which tells you how to run your business effectively from inception. The strategies you need to put in place to manage and grow the business should be detailed in the plan. When putting figures to your income and profits, put in realistic values as it is safer to underestimate than to be disappointed when reality finally sets in.
The following are the key areas to be covered when writing your business plan:
Executive Summary and Company’s Descriptions
Here you are expected to write about the concept of your wedding planning business, the company’s description, the mission and vision statements and also include information about the company’s location and if you intend to sell out franchise or open outlets in different places around the world.
Your business plan should have a SWOT analysis which will provide information that will help your company match its available resource and capabilities with the competitive environment where its business operations take place.
The other important components of your business plan includes product and services offering, target market, competitive analysis, , market goals, publicity and advertising strategies, marketing and sales analysis/strategies, costing and financial projection, expansion and growth strategies, start-up generation and budget.
14. Prepare a Detailed Cost Analysis
To successfully start your wedding planning business, you will incur several expenses. The location you want to set up your company will have an impact on the total cost you need to start the business. As a result of this, it is important to carry out a proper feasibility studies and market survey before you create a budget and source for capital to begin your business.
The following are the basic cost you will need to incur in order to set up your wedding planning company:
- The Total Fee for incorporating the Business – $750.
- The budget for Insurance, permits and license – $5,000
- The Amount needed to rent a suitable office facility with enough space (Re – Construction of the facility inclusive) – $50,000.
- The Cost for equipping the office (computers, printers, fax machines, furniture, telephones, filing cabins, safety gadgets and electronics) – $15,000
- The Cost of Launching an official Website – $700
- Additional Expenditure (Business cards, Signage, Adverts and Promotions et al) – $2,500
- Other miscellaneous – $1,000
According to the report from our research and feasibility studies, you will need about $8,000 to set up a small scale private wedding planning company.
On the average, you would need over 150,000 dollars to start a medium scale wedding planning company. If you decide to start a large scale wedding planning company, then you should consider starting the business with about 1.5 million US dollars and above.
15. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
If you want to set-up your wedding planning business on a small scale, you won’t require a lot of capital for it. On the other hand, if you want to open the business on a large scale, the capital requirement needed to start the business will be huge. You will then need to raise more capital apart from what you have personally to be able to set up the business as you might not be able to put down all the money on your own.
Starting a wedding planning business on a large scale requires that you get an office space, equipment, furniture, capital for supplies and capital to pay the salaries of your staff for about 3 months. You can fund your wedding planning business through the following means:
- Raising capital from properties, personal savings, and selling off personal stocks.
- Applying for a loan from your bank
- Raising capital from your business partners and investors
- Pitching your business idea and applying for funding from donor organizations and angel investors
- Sourcing for loans from your friends and family members.
- Using money from credit cards
- Getting cash advance against income from credit card
- Raising money through grants and subsidies
- Raising money through venture capital
16. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
In starting a new business, choosing the right location is vital to the growth and survival of a business, the same rules apply when you are setting up a wedding planning business. If you have to, you can consider getting the services of a consultant when you are making the decision on where you intend to set up the company for your wedding planning business. If you set your office in the wrong location, it can affect your business negatively and you might keep on struggling to make ends meet in the course of running your business, this can also lead to the eventual closure of your company.
Nevertheless, if you become successful at building a flourishing wedding planning brand, your Business model will be a huge success anywhere it is in the world. If you are a newly emerging company, ensure that your business is located within an area that has good business potential.
You should consider the following factors when you want to choose a location for your wedding planning business.
- Your style of operation
- Amount of foot traffic in the area
- Availability of competition
- Closeness to other businesses and services
- Accessibility of the place
- Availability of parking space for your clients
- Presence of traffic and security
- The building’s infrastructure in terms of the requirements needed to support the high technology needs of contemporary business
17. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
If you are toying with the idea of starting your own wedding planning business, then you should invest in good wedding planning software to manage all the details for the weddings you are planning. Having a software gives you control over itineraries, budgets, guest lists and information about the wedding process such as the venue, transportation and helps you know what stage the vendors you are working with are in the planning of any wedding.
Concerning the space where you need to set up your office, you can start the wedding planning business from your home initially if you don’t have much money at the beginning and as the business begins to grow; you can then consider moving out to get a proper office space. Renting or leasing an office space is dependent on the size of the company you wish to set up. If you have enough capital, consider leasing an office space, it will enable you work with long term planning.
You can start a wedding planning company as the only member of staff since you mostly work with external vendors in this industry. If the need arises to hire extra hands, you can pay them per wedding event handled instead of putting them on a fixed salary. If you are going to be hiring staff, that will depend on your financial capability. You will need a Chief Executive Officer or a president, you can occupy this role as the business owner, a human resource officer, an Events Manager, Accountant, Front Desk Officer and 2 other members of staff to work with you in planning wedding events.
On a medium scale, you can run the business with an average of 7 key staff. You can also go into partnership with other wedding planning businesses to be able to offer client services in the niche that you are not specialized in. Take for instance; if you offer wedding planning services on ethnic wedding and a client wants you to plan a Victorian wedding, you can form an alliance with your partners to help you get the job done.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
The service process involved in the wedding planning industry depends on the niche your company caters to. The service process is initiated by the customer who calls to ask for your services, depending on the niche you cater to in this line of business; you will know if you can handle the customer’s request or if you need to get in touch with your partners to get the job done. Once you accept to plan the wedding, you need to make an appointment to see all the parties involved in the wedding process to know the kind of wedding they intend to have so that you can be able to bill properly for the service.
Once the issue of the payment process has been agreed on, then the wedding planner can begin to put the plan in place for the wedding. Over and above, it is the practice for the wedding planner to sit down with the key participants in the wedding before billing them for the services to be rendered.
18. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- Marketing Ideas and Strategies
A wedding planning business needs to market its services and advertise in order to get customers. Online and traditional marketing strategies will help your business to get a desirable company growth and advertising exposure.
You can market your wedding planning company through the following means to potential customers:
- Advertising through your company website or through magazine ads
- Take advantage of social media and put updates about your company on it
- Inform local media to put word out about your company
- Design and print business cards, fliers and some inexpensive things you can give out that has your company info
- Give special incentives to your first set of clients so that they can spread word around about your wedding planning business
- Create a company brochure to show clients
- List your company on local directories/yellow pages
- Advertise on radio and television stations
- Network by attending local events and other activities that enable you to meet people and introduce your business to them
- Feature past weddings you have handled on a wedding blog
- Write guest posts for blogs and articles for magazines to give your business exposure
- Publish helpful wedding guides for brides and grooms
- Give discounts and special offers for repeat customers
- Give a special offer to people who recommend their friends to you
- Team up with industry colleagues and start a referral system for when you are fully booked
- Attend industry shows and other wedding events
- Network with other industry professionals in your field
19. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
It is quite challenging to be in competition with old hands in the wedding planning business. Based on this, carefully choose the type of people that you want on your management team so that you can be rest assured that they will be able to lift the visibility of your business.
Take time to study your competition in the industry and compare your business ideas with theirs. Find out what their strengths and weaknesses are, and compare them to yours to see if you can build on your existing strengths and improve on the weaknesses. When your customers get better services from other wedding planning company, they won’t use your services again so make sure you give them the kind of service that keeps them coming back.
Alternatively, you can go into partnerships with existing wedding planning companies in the industry to have an advantage over your competitors. Doing this will put you in a position to get more customers for your business.
20. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
In every business one does, customer satisfaction is important in retaining customers for the business. If you satisfy your client with the quality of service you render to them, they will come back and bring more business for your company by telling others about the quality of service you company renders.
If on the other hand, your customers in the course of doing business with you have a bad experience, they will abandon your services and take your business to your competitors making you lose other potential customers in the process. Bad customer service therefore is a major reason that makes businesses lose their customers. Improving on the quality of your service delivery will make your client base increase.
In the wedding planning industry, practising good customer relationship management practices is vital to retaining your customers. You can achieve this by investing in good software for your business, this will help you keep track of all aspects of the business and keep up with your client. The relevant information concerning your business and your clients is at the tip of your fingers and you can use it to keep in touch with them on important events like anniversaries, birthdays and public holidays.
21. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
The caliber of your past client is essential to the branding of your business. Discuss with a consultant who can assist you in putting together a strategy for publicity and advertising which will be directed towards your target market. The platforms that you can use for brand awareness includes the following:
- Placing advertisement about your company on websites and magazines
- Listing your wedding planning business on local directories / yellow pages
- Advertising on satellite TV and radio stations
- Direct mail
- Take advantage of social media advertising like Facebook, twitter and YouTube
- Through branding of your business vehicles and shirts
22. Create a Suppliers / Distribution Network
There is room for networking in the wedding planning industry; this can be done by joining existing associations of wedding planners in your community. You can join the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners. Alternatively, you can form an alliance with other wedding planning companies in the business. By doing so, you can learn from one another and trade valuable information with each other in the business.
23. Tips for Running a Wedding Planning Business Successfully
A business becomes successful if all the workers work in line with the vision and mission of the company. The driving force behind the company who is the CEO is responsible for giving direction to the members of staff.
Staff meetings should be held regularly to keep the CEO informed about what is going on in the company and the feedbacks from the meetings should be implemented. Performance appraisals should also be carried out from time to time to determine if members of staff are following the standard operating procedure of the company and the results got from it should be used to correct any errors found.
Finally, give your staff training to assist them in carrying out their duties promptly; praise them and encourage them to get them motivated, reward those that are hardworking to promote healthy competition and have a listening ear to encourage staff to open up to you.