How to Become a Wedding Planner, Part 3

Once you have learned the ins and outs of wedding planning, it is time to start networking like crazy. If you have never attended many weddings, now is the time to make the most of any invitations and study each event with a critical eye. What went well? What could have been done better?

You will also want to vet various vendors, so do not be afraid to network at these events and get the details. Whenever you are out and about, collect business cards and think about the ways that you could use a reliable person for X task. We discovered the most fantastic hotel and caterer during a fun brunch cruise recently that we never would have known existed had we not enjoyed the food so much and asked questions of the cruise manager.

Your spreadsheet of contacts will soon start to swell, as well ideas for menus, flowers, cars, formal wear rentals, and more. Do read reviews and pay attention to word of mouth. Price does count too, but any red flags should be paid attention to as well.

Your business as a wedding and event planner will only grow as your reputation for organizing successful events starts to grow, so be very careful who you do business with. Sadly, we have tried to support our friends in their business endeavors in the past, and been let down. Their excuse always seems to be that since we were friends, they did not really think we would mind if they cut corners.

We did mind. Very much. If anything, you should go out of your way to impress friends and family even more than complete strangers, so that people will take you seriously in your new business and rave about it to others.

Once your studying and fact finding is well under way, you will also want to take care of the more formal aspects of opening a business. These tasks will include:

*registering your business
*writing a business plan
*creating a website
*creating a budget
*creating your payment policies and procedures
*outlining your marketing strategy
*setting up an efficient home office
*gathering ideals into files and books
*creating a scrapbook of your successful event
*getting testimonials
*creating a website for your business
*creating checklists, fact sheets, your database of contacts, and more.

You may feel as if there is no space to store anything in your home, but make the most of the space you have for your home office for meetings. The rest of the room should be designed with practicality and storage in mind.

Once you are ready to start taking on clients, it will be time to market your business. Online marketing will draw attention to your business. Free information such as articles, reports on how to have your dream wedding, and tips for brides-to-be, will help position you as an expert and attract clients.

Social media marketing will also be key-after all, there will be a lot of people at a wedding, and all of them can pass along the word about what a great time (or not) they had at a wedding you helped organize.

Offline marketing will be invaluable too. For example, you can contact local caterers and partner to promote each other. You promote their catering services to your clients and they can promote your wedding planning services to theirs. Word of mouth is a great marketing tool that should not.

Being organized and having a great attention to detail will be two of the most important personal qualities that you can possess. You might also want to specialize in a particular type of wedding. You might wish to specialize in outdoor venues, become a Vegas wedding planner, and so on. Make the most of your local contacts, or alternately, become a destination wedding specialist for a couple of popular destinations, or a cruise wedding specialist.

You will find that you might not have as many clients as a wedding planner who will take just any client, but you can also rest assured that you are doing a great job with a wonderful wedding package which has been tried and tested on various brides and guests.

Being a wedding planner requires a great ability to plan and execute. You must be organized, efficient and of course a good salesperson. It also pays to be very patient because some brides can be difficult. Being able to work with them and forge a mutually beneficial relationship takes a little extra skill but the rewards are that they will be happy to recommend you to others and word will spread about your skills.

A steady stream of happy customers is the best way to stay in business successfully, but a wedding planner is one of the jobs which is most dependent upon customer satisfaction, so be sure to do your research and be proactive about problem solving, to help brides have a great day no matter what their budget or the weather.


How to Become a Wedding Planner, Part 2

In the first part of this series, we discussed how to get started as a Wedding Planner and some considerations to keep in mind when working with clients. You can get organized to offer a range of choices for the people planning the wedding, such as the bride, the bride and her parents, or the bride and groom, but no one will want a cookie-cutter wedding.

So, where else can you learn all about wedding planning besides researching it thoroughly online and in books? There are also a number of online courses that you can take in order to get certified as a wedding planner.

Planning a wedding can also help you learn a great deal about the logistics of planning any large event involving a lot of people. You may have gotten the bug from planning our own wedding, attending lots of them, and/or being asked to help a friend or family member plan theirs. Whatever the reason, it is one of the most fun and exciting things you can do, but also nerve-racking if things do not all go according to plan.

Naturally, some weddings will be more romantic events than others, and some will involve more food and audience participation than others.

The bride’s wishes are paramount when it comes to wedding planning, but it is also important to set the scene for the wedding in such a way that it not only reflects her personality, but that of the couple, and will be enjoyable for a wide variety of guests, from small children (who might or might not be invited, depending on the bride) to more senior and perhaps traditional wedding guests such as grandparents.

Making a list of styles and themes and sources for these items can also help keep you organized, and your clients happy.

In the next part of this article, we will discuss what to do once you have gotten yourself organized and want to set out your shingle as a wedding planner.


Wedding Weekend Activities

Weekend weddings are becoming more popular, particularly as families are spread further apart. They usually begin on Friday night, continue with the wedding Saturday and conclude with a post-wedding breakfast on Sunday before everyone returns home.

Planning activities for these weekend-long celebrations doesn’t have to be difficult; in fact, it can be quite a bit of fun if you keep everyone’s needs in mind.

First, consider the wedding. Will this be a formal wedding with a sit-down dinner at its center? If so, you might want to avoid a formal rehearsal dinner and replace it instead with an informal barbecue or picnic.

How will you keep people occupied during the long weekend? There are many activities to consider. Will the wedding be near a lake? How about planning a day at the lake on Saturday, filled with pre-wedding activities like swimming races and beach volleyball?

One popular pre-wedding activity is a scavenger hunt. Prior to the wedding weekend, a list of items can be gathered, and guests placed in two teams. The list should include things like “get a brochure from the jewelry store where (groom) bought (bride)’s ring” or “take a picture of the group at the location where the couple got engaged”.

You will have to tailor the scavenger hunt list to the location of the wedding and the age and energy of the guests who will be participating.

You can even offer lavish prizes for the team that wins the scavenger hunt, such as gift certificates or gourmet food and wine baskets. It might seem an obvious choice to divide the teams into groups who know or are related to the bride and teams who know or are related to the groom, but it might be a little more fun to mix it up a bit. You can create teams of friends versus family, or men versus women (always a popular choice).

Another activity that’s popular during wedding weekends is a competitive sport activity, such as soccer, baseball, softball, or tag football. Again, you can add a special twist to your game.

Offer prizes for performance (first home run gets a kiss from the bride). Or you can make silly rules, like members of the bridal party have to wear tiaras while running bases or members of the groom’s family should always have their shirts on backwards.

It’s important that during the wedding weekend, planners keep in mind that the weekend itself might be expensive for some guests, particularly those who had to fly in for the occasion, and do many of the activities should be free, or inexpensive. If they are more expensive, and planned for the entire group, they should be paid for by either the bride and groom, or by their families.

There are plenty of activities that don’t have to be expensive, but can provide big bang for a little money, such as the scavenger hunt suggested above. If the wedding weekend guests will mostly be family, you can schedule a home movie-viewing event, including home movies from both the bride and groom’s families.

For even more fun, consider an activity where the movies are mixed up and the guests have to guess which family’s videos they are watching. This might sound easy, but depending on the contents, it could be hard, particularly if the bride and groom are babies in the photos.

You can also plan video rentals, a hike in the woods, a board games evening, anything to make sure people are not just sitting in their hotel rooms or guest rooms just waiting for the big day to arrive and be over.


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