Imagine a job that allows you to pitch your best ideas about what will create the most spectacular day in a bride’s life. You’re thinking the pitch will take place in a pleasant restaurant or maybe a garden setting. And you are creating the most unique experience and setting for the day: flowers, catering, photography, the wedding service and more. The bride is thrilled to hear what you have to say.
Okay, reality check.
While many wedding planners establish their own network of suppliers that include many of these services, perhaps some of the best advice to take before pursuing wedding planning careers is to understand that there are differences in roles between the wedding planner and many of the other services hired by a bride.
“Before considering a career in wedding planning, one should understand that there are only a handful of event companies that can hire a wedding planner,” says Marsha Ballard, past president/secretary for the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners (AACW) and owner of Stardust Celebrations Corporation, Dallas, TX. “Many venues hire catering mangers which is very different position than that of an independent wedding planner. In most cases, wedding planners are independent professionals who have started their own businesses.”
Ballard advises that the potential wedding planner should answer several questions before becoming a wedding planner, and shares her views as follows:
- Are you in a position to work weekends and to meet clients after normal business hours? Weddings usually take place on the weekends and most of the planning meetings with the bride take place after normal business.
- Will you continue to work at your current job and try wedding planning part time? This ensues that you will not have a drop in income, but on the other hand may lead to a very slow business growth rate. If a person can devote full time, expect the business to take about 3 years before becoming successful.
- If you decide to start a wedding planning business, how much capital do you have to invest? Certainly you will need some office equipment, stationery, a marketing/advertising budget, etc. Most planners I know started with $1,000 to $10,000.
- Is there a Professional Association that offers education and a path to certification, as well as networking opportunities with other wedding planners? Ballard has been a part of three other wedding organizations. AACWP is dedicated to the professional wedding planner, and in my opinion the best in the Southwest.
- Is there a reasonably inexpensive manner available to promote the business? Getting your name and services in the market can be expensive, be diligent in researching the available options and be sure to evaluate the best possible return on your investment.
AACWP (the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners) was founded in 2006 by seven Dallas wedding planners, and has expanded to include the central region of the country – and intends to serve as a national voice for wedding planning certification and expertise.
Ballard, a registered nurse and holds an MBA, started her firm with her lifelong friend and colleague Jenny Cline after leaving a career in health care management. Established in 2001, Stardust Celebrations Corporation, Dallas, owns two bridal Salons, employs about 40, and serves as wedding planner for more than 20 weddings each year.