How to Become a Wedding Planner

To become a wedding planner, you typically need to have completed a certificate or diploma program in wedding or event planning, or have work experience in an area that has allowed you to develop transferrable skills. Ideally, you have both.

 

First and foremost, you'll need to determine if this career path is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. Does the following describe you?

 

• Interest in weddings, décor, business, planning and organizing events

• Exceptional organizational and time management skills

• Ability to see projects through from conception to completion

• Ability to take and delegate tasks

• Ability to remain composed and be a source of comfort for others in high-stress situations

• Client-centered approach to work activities

• Interest in a career path that offers self-employment

 

Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career in this field. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as salary expectations, an outline of the skills you’ll need, educational requirements, a list of possible employer types, and much more!

 

 

Education You'll Need

Although it is not a formal industry requirement, many employers and clients prefer to hire wedding planners with relevant education.

 

In addition to demonstrating a certain level of competence to those who will be hiring you, pursuing a wedding planning education will allow you to gain skills, knowledge and competencies in areas you will need to succeed as a wedding planner, such as:

 

• Design and décor fundamentals 

• Planning and coordinating material goods

• Managing vendor contracts

• Marketing, advertising, merchandising and bookkeeping for your business

 

Educational programs for wedding planners may be offered in the classrooms of local universities and colleges, and well as online. Wedding planner educational programs typically range widely in cost, and range in duration from one weekend to two years.

 

Completion of a continuing education or certification course in wedding or event planning may be sufficient to gain the necessary skills (especially if many of them come to you naturally), although a diploma program that is two years in duration will likely offer a more comprehensive education.

 

Although not directly related to wedding planning, a diploma or a degree in a field such as business administration, human ecology, communication or public relations, offers a knowledge base and skill set that are highly transferrable to a career as a wedding planner.

 

In fact, a degree or diploma in one of these fields becomes quite an asset for aspiring wedding planners when it is supplemented with on-the-job training in wedding or event management, or a short certification course in wedding planning.

 

 

 

 

What is a Wedding Planner?

Job description

 

Wedding planners are responsible for helping couples plan their weddings. When a couple hires a planner, they may do so to have the planner organize and coordinate the entire wedding, and every aspect thereof from start to finish, or they may simply hire them to sort out certain aspects of the day, such as décor, transportation, and other aspects.

 

Services typically offered by wedding planners include:

 

• General advisory and consulting

• Décor planning and coordination

• Venue planning and coordination

• Food and beverage planning and coordination

• On-site coordination and supervision (day of wedding)

• Complete planning and coordination  

 

They might plan a variety of different types of weddings, or may specialize in one type of wedding, such as:

 

• Religious weddings

• Non-religious weddings

• Destination weddings

• Outdoor weddings

 

 

What Does a Wedding Planner Do?

Job description

 

The job duties of a wedding planner can vary from one professional to the next, and from one job to the next. For example, some planners may only be responsible for providing design consulting services to help their clients determine the look of their wedding, whereas other wedding planners may oversee the entire wedding from start to finish.

 

In general, they're responsible for performing the following duties:

 

• If self-employed, marketing wedding planning services and managing business finances

• Meeting with clients to get a thorough understanding of their needs, wants and budget

• Helping clients design the look and feel of the wedding

• Sourcing venues for ceremony and reception

• Sourcing vendors for décor, lighting, food and beverages, music and other wedding elements

• Negotiating rental and purchase contracts with vendors

• Preparing quotes for clients

• Performing décor and design setup the day of the wedding

• Ensuring event and surrounding activities are compliant with local by-laws and regulations

• Ensuring event runs smoothly and resolve any problems that may arise

• Maintaining list of industry contacts

 

 

Who Creates Jobs?

Most wedding planners are self-employed as freelance contractors, or as owners of their own planning business. There are however, opportunities for them to work as in-house employees of an organization.

 

Whether as an employee or as a freelance contractor, a wedding planner may be hired on a temporary, contractual or permanent basis by the following types of organizations:

 

• Convention and conference centres

• Event and wedding planning companies

• Interior design consulting firms

• Hotels and resorts

• Individuals 


 

Do You Certification?

Wedding planning is not a regulated industry; therefore you do not need certification. Certification is however, available on a voluntary basis by a number of organizations, such as the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada, and the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners.

 

These organizations may offer programs that vary in cost, duration, and area of specialty. They may also vary in depth; ranging from courses that are meant to act as a new wedding planner's primary industry education, to professional development courses for experienced wedding planners.

 

While it may not be an industry requirement, certification does offer several benefits, including:

 

• Teaching you the basics of wedding planning

• Teaching you how to start your own wedding planning business

• Membership into professional associations

• Having certification demonstrates a level of professional competence and dedication 

 

 

 

 

Experience Needed

Having practical experience in organizing and planning events is a definite asset if you want to become a wedding planner.

 

There are many ways to gain this experience. One way is to gain experience as part of a job role in a position with some of the same duties and responsibilities as a wedding planner. For example, those who work as event coordinators, personal assistants, purchasers, marketing coordinators or human resources coordinators often perform duties similar to those of wedding coordinators, such as:

 

• Negotiating purchase contracts with suppliers

• Scheduling and planning meetings

• Working within specified and strict budgets

• Arranging services like the delivery of audio-visual equipment

 

Another way to gain experience related to wedding planning is by working in an entry-level planning jobs. Working as a wedding planner or event planner’s assistant, either directly for an independent event planner, or for an events management company, is a great way to learn while on the job. Working in an entry-level capacity for such as employer would allow you to work into planning weddings and other events yourself as your experience and competence grows.

 

Landing an internship or other form of work-integrated learning opportunity (paid or for school credit) is another great way to develop event planning skills while you are still a student, or as a recent graduate.

 

Success Tip: Having a great reputation is key if you want to become a successful wedding planner. Gaining as much related experience and education as you can will help you hit the ground running when you get your first client…who will then give you rave reviews that will help attract a second client, and so on.

 

 

Characteristics and Traits You'll Need

In order to enjoy performing the duties of a wedding planner, you need to have certain personal characteristics. Taking enjoyment from your job duties is important, as it helps you maintain a positive attitude towards your work, which can lead to having a long and successful career.

 

• An interest in weddings, compiling information, organizing events and negotiating

• Willing to make yourself available before and after the normal 9-5 work day

• Able to take unscheduled calls and consultations in stride

• Willing to hold the client’s best interests as your first priority

• Willing to address issues that are beyond your control, such as a DJ not showing up

• Sensitivity to the needs of many people

• A calm personality; able to be a source of comfort for others in high-stress situations

 

 

Skills You'll Need

You'll need a variety of skills in business, communications, design, event management, and project planning.

 

Business Skills: Since most wedding planners are self-employed, they need to possess skills in business in addition to the skills they posses in planning weddings. Knowing how to market you services, sell your services to your clients, manage your finances, and manage multiple projects are key if you want to grow your business.

 

Communication Skills: Wedding planners must be able to listen to the needs and wants of their clients, and must be able to keep them informed regarding important details regarding the planning of their wedding. Good wedding planners must also be able to take and give orders, and must always have tact, such as when gracefully declining prospective clients that won’t be a good fit for them.

 

Design Skills: Having knowledge of design fundamentals is key if you want to become a wedding planner. For example, wedding planners should have knowledge of which colour schemes go best within certain lighting conditions, and during which seasons. Even if clients want to design their own wedding, a good wedding planner can provide design consultation and prevent clients from creating an aesthetically unappealing wedding.

 

Project Planning Skills: Wedding planners need to be able to effectively plan the biggest day of people’s lives. This means they cannot overlook any detail with regards to sourcing vendors, working within a budget, and most importantly juggling the needs and wants of two people and their families. In order to maintain their reputation, wedding planners must also be able to keep planning mistakes to an absolute minimum.

 

Event Management Skills: Wedding planners need to see their projects through to completion by ensuring the big day they planned for goes off without a hitch. They must be able to supervise the work of vendors and venue staff (which involves being able to delegate), as well as using time-management and organizational skills to ensure that everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing, when they are supposed to do it.

 

 

Job Postings

Check our job board below to find Wedding Planner postings in your area.

 

What Could I Earn?

The amount a wedding planner earns can vary greatly from one professional to the next; some may earn an inconsistent and fluctuating income, while others may earn a more stable and reliable income. It largely depends on what kind of employment structure they have.

 

For example, some wedding planners may work as part-time or full-time employees of an organization, in which case they are likely to earn a more consistent income, whereas other wedding planners may work as freelancers and self-employed contractors, in which case they may earn an income that is reflective of the amount of work they are able to secure, the amount they charge for their services, as well as the amount of services they offer to a client.

 

Regardless of their employment structure, the amount they earn may also be influenced by the following factors:

 

• Their level of aptitude and the quality of their portfolio

• The size and type of their employer/client

• The region in which they work

 

Salary in Alberta: According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Conference and Event Planners occupational group earn an average salary of $46,854 per year.

 

Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadian workers in the Conference and Event Planners occupational group is $41,698 per year.

 

United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners occupational group is $45,810 per year.

 

 

Typical Work Environment

Working Hours: The working hours of wedding planners can fluctuate greatly. Many wedding planners work long hours, particularly during wedding season (May to September). Wedding planners rarely stick to a traditional 9-5 schedule, as they often must meet with clients during the early mornings, evenings and weekends. During the days leading up to a wedding, including the wedding day itself, a wedding planner may work up to 16 hours a day.

 

Work Setting: Wedding planners are typically based out of an office or home office, where they perform many administrative duties. They must however, travel frequently in order to meet with clients and vendors, as well as conduct site visits. During the wedding day, the planner must typically be present in order to ensure everything is running smoothly. Some wedding planners may be required to travel to international locations for destination weddings.

 

Working Conditions: The work of a wedding planner can be quite rewarding at times, and often quite stressful. Prior to the event there are many opportunities for a planner to experience stress; trying to work within a tight budget, having the bride and groom throw last minute changes into the mix, and dealing with different personality types with the bride’s and groom’s families are all elements that can try the patience of a wedding planner. During the wedding day, planners must deal with issues such as melting cakes, DJ no-shows, and other such issues.

 

 

Similar Careers

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Wedding Planner, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.

 

Event Planner

Human Resources Coordinator

Interior Designer

Personal Assistant

Retail Buyer

 

 

References for this Career Guide

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a wedding planner.

 

Alberta Learning and Information Service website: alis.alberta.ca

National Careers Service website: nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk

The Wedding Planner Book website: www.theweddingplannerbook.com

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website: www.bls.gov

 

 

Relevant Scholarships

Scholarships in Canada and the United States listed for majors that apply to becoming a Wedding Planner can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.

 

Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!

 

 

Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for a career in this field. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!

 


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