Weddings are big business. In fact, the UK wedding industry is worth an eye-watering £10 billion a year, with each individual wedding day and honeymoon costing nearly £27,161 according to hitched.co.uk.
With such a high price tag, and a lot of pressure placed upon the couple to tie the knot in a picture-perfect way, it’s not surprising that brides and grooms are turning to the professionals to help them organise and manage their wedding.
So if you’re considering setting up a business as a wedding planner, here’s everything you need to know…
Why setting up a wedding planning business could be a good idea
Today’s bride is too busy to pull off the perfect wedding on her own.
Friends and family members may typically live too far away to pitch in, and plenty of couples feel the pressure to have a fairytale day thanks to the rise of social media. As a result, many couples are turning to professional wedding planners for assistance.
A wedding planner’s calm disposition, head for organisation and eye for detail helps to dial down the stress any couple might feel in the run up to their wedding day.
So, if you’re willing to put your skills and experience to good use, you can help your clients to make it down the aisle feeling cool, calm and collected.
What does a wedding planner do?
No two days will look the same for a wedding planner. One day you’ll be meeting florists and designing table settings, and another day you’ll be liaising with caterers and sending rehearsal invitations.
Some of your duties will typically include:
- meeting with a couple to discuss their ideas and budget
- helping to decide upon a theme and colour scheme
- contacting suppliers to discuss availability and prices, negotiating on your clients’ behalf
- booking suppliers and coordinating them to ensure it all comes together for the big day
- managing the day itself to ensure everything runs smoothly
- offering emotional support to the couple throughout the process, and on the day
Every wedding is unique. So, answering the question, “what does a wedding planner do?” is never as straightforward as it sounds. Your duties will always change, but one thing you can count on is variety and excitement.
The potential costs and earnings of a wedding planning business
The average wedding planner in the UK can expect to earn in the region of £21,000 a year. However, there’s no reason you can’t earn more than this, particularly if you have the tenacity to stay in the industry for a little longer.
With five-plus years experience and a sizeable portfolio, you could command a much higher salary, working with couples with larger budgets and earning referrals through word of mouth.
And once you’ve been in the industry for ten years or more? Well, the sky’s the limit and it simply depends how many weddings you can juggle at once.
The costs of setting up a wedding planning business aren’t as high as other types of businesses.
You’ll certainly need a laptop or computer and perhaps some software to keep track of your clients and the details of their special days. A mobile phone with significant quantities of data and minutes is a good idea too, just so you can always reach your clients or find your way to a supplier’s premises.
But beyond this, your overheads are fairly modest. Just consider taking out insurance for your business for extra peace of mind.
Who’s suited to starting a wedding planning business?
Do you see a empty room and see its potential for a candle-lit reception dinner? And do you care about every last detail that will make your client’s day unforgettable? If so, you might have what it takes to become a wedding planner.
It almost goes without saying, but anyone setting up a wedding planning business needs to be passionate about weddings. You should be a die-hard romantic, a champion of marriage and someone who’s ready to throw themselves into a couple’s special day as if it were your own.
You should also enjoy variety, responsibility and unpredictability. Wedding planning is dynamic and exciting, and perfect for those who want to feel that there’s a real sense of purpose to their work: there’s nothing more rewarding than the heartfelt thanks of a couple who’ve enjoyed a truly perfect wedding day.
Key practical skills
- Problem solving
- Excellent communication skills
- Ability to stay calm under pressure
- A positive attitude
- Ability to see someone else’s vision
- Patience (for clients how have a difficult time making decisions or feel easily overwhelmed).
Ultimately, you’ll need to be able to discern what the bride and groom truly wants, and use a little bit of magic to turn their dream into reality.
You’ll need to be every bit as passionate about the 100th wedding you plan as the very first one. You must also be willing to work hours beyond a standard working week: weekends, evenings and holidays (particularly throughout summer) are typical of the wedding planning industry.
And if you can do all of that while maintaining a cool head and remaining calm under pressure? Well, you’re a born wedding planner.
Do you need any experience?
There’s no strict requirement that you have any previous experience of planning weddings in the past. But, it will certainly help to secure contracts with clients if they know that you’ve planned a few weddings before.
See if you can plan a wedding for friends or family members for a discounted fee, and remember that you can count your own wedding too if you can highlight how you learnt from it.
Considerations for a wedding planning business plan
Like any other business, your wedding planning business is going to require a business plan. But, you’ll need to write it in light of particular factors unique to the wedding industry.
Firstly, consider the fact that the majority of your work will be seasonal. Summer is the most popular time of year to get married, whereas significantly fewer couples choose to tie the knot in winter.
You’ll need to consider the fact that you won’t be relying on repeat business… hopefully! But that said, second and even third marriages are becoming more commonplace, but generally not for many years down the line: so you will have to write your business plan knowing that you’ll be scouring for new clients constantly.
As a result, word-of-mouth recommendations are going to be particularly important for your business, so it could be worth considering devising a referral programme of some sort to bring in new clients.
You’ll also need to consider whether or not you’ll be charging an hourly rate or a fixed fee. Some wedding planners charge a percentage cost of the overall wedding at 10 or 20%.
Finally, work out a few packages to offer your clients. Some will want a full wedding planning service (including everything from the initial consultation to managing the big day), whereas others will require assistance for day-of coordination (which includes managing the venue and caterers, seating guests and even rounding up the groomsmen).
Regulations and qualifications for starting a wedding planning business
There are no set entry requirements or qualifications needed to become a wedding planner. But, it will certainly help if you have some real-world experience of planning weddings or other large events. Perhaps you planned your own wedding? Or maybe you’ve been working for an events management company and have some transferable skills?
Whatever the case, there’s no need to take a wedding planning course, unless you want to.
A degree in communications, marketing or events management may prove useful, but again, remember they’re not essential. Building a portfolio of clients by organising weddings for friends and family members will see you off to a good start when it comes to finding paying clients.
Setting up a wedding business – the marketing
Finally, if you want a successful wedding planning business, you’ll need to make sure couples can find you.
One of the best ways to do this is to have a strong website and social media presence showcasing some of the weddings you’ve planned and managed. It will be especially convincing if your website is full of testimonials from previous clients as it will help to build trust with prospective clients.
But just remember – clients will form their first impression of you based on what you’re showing them online. Paying attention to beautiful presentation, including the photography and typography (as well as perfect spelling and grammar), will suggest that you’ll pay similarly high attention to their special day.
Also, contact bridal blogs and websites to see if they’re willing to list you as a professional supplier, and be sure to attend bridal fairs – it’s precisely the kind of place your clients will be hanging out.
Traditional methods of marketing such as business cards are essential too, and there’s no substitute for building relationships – getting to know other wedding businesses (be they caterers, dressmakers, florists or something else) can lead to mutually beneficial relationships… something that’s invaluable when you’re building a business of your own.
So, you think you have what it takes to become a wedding planner?