Wedding planner at a desk

How to become a wedding planner

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

If you’re super-organized, empathetic and detail-oriented, wedding planning could be your perfect career. Perhaps you’re looking for a career pivot or maybe you already work in events and want to add wedding planning to your repertoire.

To be a successful wedding planner, you need strong project management, interpersonal skills, and a clearly defined brand. This article will tell you everything you need to know to get your new business going. Who knows, you could be planning your first wedding by this time next year.

Table of contents

What does a wedding planner do?

A wedding planner works with an engaged couple to design, plan and execute their upcoming wedding. Responsibilities usually start early from the engagement until the newlyweds are off on their honeymoon. 

As a wedding planner, you’re responsible for a wide range of tasks, including:

  • Helping the couple develop their budget and working realistically within it
  • Collaborating with the couple to define the overall look and design, including save-the-dates, programs and signage
  • Researching venues and choosing one with the couple 
  • Vendor coordination: acting as the contact person and reviewing contracts
  • Creating a wedding day (or wedding weekend) timeline
  • Designing and sending invitations, handling RSVPs
  • Supporting the couple through interpersonal challenges, such as guest list selection
  • Organizing logistics, such as transportation between venues, equipment load-in and vendor arrival, so the couple doesn’t have to worry about a thing on the day
A wedding planners helps create invitations, save-the-dates and much more

Source: via VistaPrint

Defining your scope is the first step to take when you’re planning a new business. This is because it informs all your choices later, such as your logo and branding design, marketing plan, the services you offer and the vendors you partner with.

As you develop your scope, determine clear answers to the following questions:

  • Which geographic area do I serve?
  • What size weddings do I plan? This could be measured by the invite list or budget
  • Are weddings my sole focus or one type of event planning I offer?
  • Am I focused on serving one specific community or niche?
  • Do I provide any ancillary services, like photography?
  • Do I have any existing partnerships with venues or vendors?

Remember that every wedding planner’s business is unique, so you probably won’t provide the same services as another planner. This difference is a strength, not a weakness; it sets your business apart and creates opportunities for you to collaborate with other wedding planners whose skills and services complement yours. 

The skills you’ll need to be successful

A wedding planner is essentially a project manager. To be successful, you need a combination of technical “hard” skills and interpersonal “soft” skills, including: 

  • Problem-solving: aptitude to think on your feet when unexpected issues arise
  • Team management: capability to efficiently manage catering staff, florists and vendors on the day
  • Time management: wedding planning is time-pressured, so you need to stick to a strict timeline
  • Creativity and vision: capacity to visualize how everything will come together on the day
  • Drive to see projects to their conclusion; potential to see a task through to the very end
  • Organization: as the person pulling the strings, you need to be on top of things at all times
  • Communication: ability to communicate personably with all involved, from vendors to the couple
teal, gold and white photo-heavy website

Source: Website design by Shilpa Khator via 99designs by Vista

“Anyone can learn the systems and standard operating procedures of event planning, but what makes a planner really great at their job are characteristics like problem-solving, empathy, professionalism and high attention to detail. Someone who likes to feel purposeful and strives to make others feel important and cared for are two factors for success in this unique industry.”

Francie Dorman, quoted on Brides.com

Then there are the skills any business owner needs to be successful, such as software, marketing, negotiation and budgeting skills.

If you’re missing one or more of these, don’t worry; you can still become a successful wedding planner. You can discover business tips and cultivate these skills through training, coaching or self-study. You could also work with a business partner with the skills you don’t yet have.

5 steps to become a wedding planner

  1. Create a business plan
  2. Develop your brand identity
  3. Build industry relationships
  4. Market your wedding planning business
  5. Market your wedding planning business

Step 1: Create a business plan

A business plan is a detailed document that outlines everything regarding your business. It includes your mission statement, target market, goals and objectives, vision statement, market research, company structure, services offered and projected expenses, revenue and profits.

If you seek startup funding, you’ll need to show prospective investors a comprehensive business plan and a pitch deck. Think of your plan as the business handbook; it should answer any question a prospective investor, partner, employee or customer might have.

Before you create your business plan, decide what you want your business to be and who you want it to serve. Jot down ideas for your business name, logo, ideal customer and how you’ll differentiate yourself from other wedding planners. 

Wedding planner logo for destination and beach wedding niche

Source: by vraione via 99designs by Vista

Remember, making business decisions that will help you succeed in a specific niche is more effective. Leaning into a niche makes prospective customers more likely to work with you if your branding aligns with their values and needs. For example, suppose you position yourself as an eco-focused wedding planner, partnering with venues that engage in sustainable practices, such as plant-based caterers. In that case, you’ll appeal to couples who prioritize sustainability.

Step 2: Register, research and practice

If you’re starting a brand-new business, rather than expanding an existing business to include wedding planning, incorporate and register with all relevant governing boards. Your business must follow compliance rules; non-compliance could result in fines, tax penalties and being barred from operating. Licenses differ between countries and sometimes even between states and provinces. 

Conduct industry research to ensure you have a holistic view and realistic expectations. There are multiple ways to do this:

  • Read industry reports and statistics
  • Get to know current and upcoming wedding trends
  • Connect with other wedding planners and those working in adjacent fields, such as venue owners and caterers. Ask them questions and collect their insights into what’s happening in the industry
  • Familiarize yourself with the common pain points, wants and needs of engaged couples
Wedding trends: bold, bright colors

Source: via VistaPrint

Finally, run through some hypothetical weddings step-by-step in a spreadsheet. Use real-life price points, target audiences and timelines to get a genuine feel for what planning a wedding is like. Planning and executing a wedding is an elaborate multi-stage process and hiccups will occur, so make sure you build contingencies and “uh-oh” moments that force you to pivot into unplanned scenarios. 

Step 3: Develop your brand identity

Your brand identity is the visual design elements you use to communicate your brand, such as the color palette, graphics and signature font. With a clearly defined brand, your business can stay visible in the sea of similar companies, making you invisible to prospective clients.

collection of white and pink stationery with gold swooping text

Source: stationery design by ElleGFXs via 99designs by Vista

Branding is the process of expressing your business’ values, message and market niche. For example, let’s say you plan vintage-inspired weddings, you could use a letterpress-style font on your website and business card, and your brand tagline should communicate your niche.

Tip

Research save-the-date quotes and wedding invitation ideas while considering how they might align with your brand identity.

A branding strategy fits into your overall marketing strategy by expressing what you offer, who your primary clientele is and why you’re the ideal choice for that clientele. This is where you can express your style and have some fun! You can lean into current wedding trends or stick with a traditional look.

Step 4: Build industry relationships

As referrals are likely to be your most significant source of leads, this step is crucial for any fledgling wedding planning business. Get to know local venues, caterers, entertainers, flower vendors, officiants, limousine services and formalwear retailers. Although your services might only include some of these, having as many connections as possible is advantageous. Remember, your role is to streamline the wedding planning process and eliminate as much stress as possible for your clients; if you can make a referral they need, you’re doing your job.

Minimal wedding idea sign featuring custom themed cocktails

Source: via VistaPrint

Connect with other wedding industry businesses at local and regional wedding shows. Wedding trade shows are attended by vendors and engaged couples, making them an opportunity to meet prospective partners and clients. Bring lots of business cards and prepare an elevator pitch, focusing on the unique value your service provides. Businesses are more likely to work with you if you demonstrate how the partnership benefits them.

Tip

If your friend is planning their wedding and you refer a caterer to them, that caterer is more likely to collaborate with you.

Finally, it’s time to deliver on your word. In the business-to-business (B2B) world, your reputation is one of your greatest assets. Be honest, reliable and authentic, and communicate with your network regularly so your business stays front-of-mind.

Step 5: Market your wedding planning business

Once you’re set up and networking, it’s time to connect with your target audience through word-of-mouth referrals, online ads, print marketing materials, your website and social media presence.

Website design by ninatailles

Source: website design by ninatailles via 99designs by Vista

Visually appealing marketing materials are non-negotiable. Ads, social media posts and your business card are potential customers’ first interactions with your brand, so they need to make a good impression. Hire a designer if you aren’t confident in your web design skills.

How to break into the industry

Perhaps you want to be a wedding planner but don’t have event planning experience. Or maybe you have some experience but don’t feel like you’re quite ready to go out on your own. No problem. There are plenty of ways to break into the industry. 

You could work for a wedding planner or a company that partners with wedding planners, like a caterer or florist. Even working at a wedding venue can introduce you to the process and people involved in the industry. Whatever the position, make it a priority to learn from the people who carry out wedding planning operations.

You can also help to plan a friend or family member’s wedding. If you have engaged people in your life, consider offering up your services for a reduced amount or even for free. Planning a wedding can be stressful, so your help will likely be welcomed and appreciated. 

Ready to start your wedding planner business?

Whether working out your brand identity or ready to launch, a well-designed logo makes your business stand out and connect with your target clientele. VistaPrint can help you design an amazing logo and print it onto business cards, mailers, signage and everything else you need to launch your successful wedding planning business.

Ready to get started?

Design your logo today and get your wedding business started.