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.


How to Become a Wedding Planner, Part 1

Becoming a wedding planner can be a fun and exciting job, but also a high-stress one as brides of every type come to you for help in planning what should be the most special day of their lives.

Every bride wants her day to be perfect. The trouble is that perfect means different things to different people. Some brides will want the best of everything, while others will want a more simple wedding, and one that reflects their own style and personality, or of both she and her spouse.

If you have a romantic side and enjoy planning and organizing, and in particular planning live events, becoming a wedding planner may be an ideal career to consider.

The first step will be to become as familiar as possible with the wedding industry. And yes, it IS an industry. There is big money to be made in weddings, even in a bad economy. People may scrimp and save in some areas of their lives, but a wedding will usually rate splurging even if they have to max out the credit cards to get what they want.

You can find a variety of top wedding planning guides online that will give you many ideas about the kinds of things that are considered essential, and which are only optional, when it comes to planning a wedding. Creating a checklist so you can run through all the essentials first, with gold, platinum and diamond level options, as it were, for each essential, can help the bride and anyone else involved in planning for and paying for the wedding all get on the same page.

Traditionally, the bride’s family would pay for the wedding, and in some cases this might still be an expectation on the part of the bride’s family, in which case you might also have to deal with parents as well as the bride in reference to cost and final decisions.

Modern couples, especially those who have already established a household together and might even have children with each other already, will usually pay for the wedding themselves, but might have a range of particular needs because of this, such as being more frugal, or wishing to incorporate their children into the ceremony as much as possible. So if you are great with people, and detail oriented becoming a wedding planner might be ideal as part time or full time consulting work.

In the second part of this series, we will look at other aspects of becoming a wedding planner to see if it is right for you.


Bridal Bouquet Activities

When a bride orders her wedding bouquet, it might not seem that any “activities” will come from it other than as a thing for the bride to hold so she can look pretty and traditional.

But the bridal bouquet can be the source of many interesting activities to help make the wedding memorable.

During there ceremony there are all kinds of possibilities for the bridal bouquet. Certainly you can go traditional and have flowers for both the mother of the bride and mother of the groom.

But what if you turned that traditional gesture on its head and supplied flowers for both the mothers and the fathers?

If the bride supplies flowers to both the men and women, there are a couple of ways to do this. Dad’s flower could be enclosed in a verse that he will then get up and read at the ceremony? What if the flower is used as a symbol to recognize the members of the family who have passed, and it gives dad an opportunity to recognize those family members?

If the bride chooses not to have a unity candle, but wants to have a similar gesture, she can have her bridal bouquet designed by having several small bouquets put together.

At an appropriate time during the ceremony, the bridal bouquet can be “broken up” and various people might receive a share, such as the mothers and fathers of the bride and groom.

Now, if the bride wants to hang onto her bridal bouquet during the wedding ceremony, but is willing to have some fun with it at the reception, there are a few options there as well.

How about a dance involving the bridal bouquet? This is silly, but fun. The bridal bouquet is on display somewhere near the dance floor and guests must guess a flower that’s in the bouquet before they can enter the dance floor.

The first few guests might not have a problem as some flowers are obvious, like roses and tulips, but others might give people pause. Of course, this won’t work if the bridal bouquet is all roses or some other single and obvious flower but for a traditional mixed bouquet, it can work well.

For a naughty touch, the bride can hide her garter in the bridal bouquet and actually put it on her leg before the groom takes it off. Or she can have a couple of breakaway bouquets that are wrapped in garter belts, so hers doesn’t get thrown, but instead the tiny bouquets with garter belts attached are thrown.

When it comes time for the bride to throw her bouquet, there are several options. Some brides choose not to keep their bouquet and simply pluck one flower out of it before chucking the whole thing during the bridal bouquet toss. This is an alternative to having a special bouquet set aside for throwing, and there are others as well.

Are there are a lot of single women coming to the wedding? Maybe one thrown bouquet won’t be enough. Many brides these days are opting for something a little more fun.

One popular option is to have the florist create several small bouquets and then bundle them to look like one bouquet. They are tied lightly with a ribbon. When it comes time for the bouquet toss, the bride unties the ribbon, and throws the “bouquet” which is actually several little bouquets. Several women will catch the bouquet, rather than just one.

Other brides are opting for silk bouquets, so that they will have a lasting keepsake. You can have more than one bouquet like this, one to keep, and one that is thrown.

Whatever you decide, the bridal bouquet is an integral traditional part of a wedding ceremony. To help make your wedding memorable, try a bridal bouquet activity.


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Fun Activities Before the Wedding

Planning pre-wedding activities are a little something extra that’s not required, but certainly fun and entertaining for the guests.

If the bride and groom keep in mind the distance some guests have traveled and keep activities relevant to that level of fatigue, they’re sure to hit on some winning activities.

As you go about planning activities for the wedding, keep in mind other factors as well. Do many people have children with them? Will you provide childcare or will the children be participants in the activities? If you have several guests who are older, or have a disability, perhaps activities can be tailored in a way so that they can participate as well.

Some of the more popular pre-wedding activities include things like a group manicure. All the women in the wedding party or who are close to the bride (and certainly this could include men if they like manicures and want to hang out with the ladies) can head to a nail salon and get their nails done.

This can be relaxing for many women and provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the wedding weekend.

If the men don’t want to go, they might choose to golf or play a game of tennis.

Many brides and grooms choose to provide structured activities for their guests prior to the wedding. If the wedding is on a Saturday night, for example, they might choose to provide a Friday activity, especially if most guests are local to the wedding. You might have a wedding luau. Many times pre-wedding activities center around bachelor and bachelorette parties, but what about a stag party that includes all the members of the brides and grooms families?

You could plan some fun (and appropriate) games and head out to a restaurant for a night of fun and games. Be sure to limit the drinking and carousing as this might not sit well with some family members, and everyone will be way too tired (and hungover?) to really enjoy the wedding the next day.

Here is a fun activity that can be done right before the wedding. Have someone begin a gift basket. The theme of the basket is “advice for the couple” and could be started by the best man or maid of honor. They take the basket to someone else’s house, perhaps an aunt or cousin and leave it on the doorstep. That person adds an item (a book on how to end spousal arguments? Or a CD of romantic music?) and brings the basket to someone else’s house. This activity can begin a week or two before the wedding and everyone should know it is coming around.

The basket can also be circulated the weekend of the wedding, but this will only work if everyone is local and if they know the basket is coming. In this case, it also might be helpful to have someone bring the basket to a house, collect the item and the take the basket to the next location, reducing the need to have each person take the basket to its next location.

Once it’s full, someone can be in charge of putting the basket items together, wrapping it all up to make it look nice and bringing it to the bride and groom. It can be delivered right to the wedding as a gift in and of itself.

You can also have an evening of share home movies, a trivia quiz in which all of the teams are mixed between the two families, or a board game evening.

Whatever activities you choose, be sure to keep in mind the needs of your guests and the limitations of those guests. If some have travelled far, or don’t have a lot of money, you will need to pace yourselves and pay for your guests.

If you want to plan an activity that includes everyone, and you choose golf, but a relative is in a wheelchair or uses a walker, that might not be the best activity to plan.


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Wedding Reception Centerpiece Activities

The question of who will get to take home the centerpiece can sometimes be a real bone of contention with guests, particularly if the centerpiece is particularly pretty or original.

Making a game of who gets the centerpiece, then, can be an amusing diversion and one many guests will enjoy participating in. It will also take out the envy element, the bossy one and the sense of entitlement issue. Here are some ideas for giving away that reception table centerpiece.

How about a game of 20 questions? Give each guest a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. The MC or DJ asks a series of 20 questions, but first gives the guests the basic background information, that is, that the answer is place, person or thing. Once that’s taken care of, people can shout out questions and the MC or DJ will answer yes or no, and whoever figures out the answer first gets the first centerpiece, and that particular table is done playing. The game is repeated until one person at each table has won the centerpiece. Obviously, this will work with small receptions.

One of the most popular ways brides give away the table centerpieces is to put a number on the bottom of the centerpiece and give each guest a number. At some point in the evening, a number is called, each guest checks his or her number and whoever has the called number gets the centerpiece. There are many ways to put a twist on this traditional activity.

For example, you might provide each table with a number, but make it a lower number (ie. between 1 and 10) and the DJ or MC could move from table to table and have each guest do something a certain number of times. So, at the first table, for example, the guests might need to do “head, shoulders, knees and toes” six times and whoever does it first gets the centerpiece.

Or, at the second table, the guests might be required to sing the alphabet 3 times or sing “twinkle, twinkle, little star” three times and whoever does that first get the centerpiece.

Another fun activity for divvying up the centerpieces is to require guests to produce a certain item. The DJ or MC moves from table to table, announcing what guests at that table will be required to produce in order to get the centerpiece. Maybe it’s a Georgia quarter or a mint, or a doctor’s appointment card. Whatever it is, the guest at each table who produces the requested item will get the centerpiece.

You can always make it easy and offer the centerpiece to the oldest person at the table, or the one who took the least or most number of years to finish college.

Perhaps you could create an activity where the person who has the strangest talent (as voted on by the tablemates) wins the centerpiece. Then, if possible, that person might show off the talent for the entire reception party.

If you like musical chairs, you can play a game of musical salt shaker in order to give the centerpiece away. The music begins playing, and everyone at the table passes the salt shaker. When the music stops, whoever is left holding the bill gets the centerpiece.

Or this game can be played a bit more traditionally with the person with the salt shaker being eliminated, and the game continuing until only one person is holding the shaker. That person can then be awarded with the centerpiece.

Or, for a fun twist, the shaker can be passed around and when the music stops, the person holding the shaker is told to return it to the person who first gave it to them. That is the person who gets the centerpiece.

Some fun, and fairly traditional, ideas include the birthday person getting the centerpiece. At each table, the person who has a birthday closest to the wedding date gets the centerpiece.

Or if there are married couples at the table, the couple who have been together the longest can get the centerpiece, or the couple who were married most recently.

Perhaps the centerpiece should go to the person with the longest hair, or the strangest shoes (again, this would be voted on by tablemates).

The wedding reception centerpiece is an integral part of the wedding but it can cause a bit of turmoil if people set their eyes on the same flowers and won’t take no for an answer, so having wedding reception centerpiece activities can solve that problem and make sure there are no hard feelings.

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Top Tips for Saving Money on your Wedding Gown

Choosing a gown for your wedding day is one of those moments that every bride eagerly anticipates. It is an exciting feeling to go into a bridal store and sift through the wads of silk, lace and tulle, imagining the effect a certain dress will create when you make your entrance. As the bride, all of your guests will be looking forward to seeing what you wear. Your dress will be admired long after as well, when it is forever captured in your wedding photos.

When you are planning a wedding on a budget, though, you may not be able to spend thousands of dollars on the gown you’ve always dreamed of wearing. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a wedding dress you truly love. Here are some tips you can follow for saving money on your wedding gown, so you can be a picture-perfect bride while still staying within your means.

Rent a Dress. One very easy, affordable option is to rent your wedding dress. Many bridal shops offer this alternative to buying your own. If you won’t regret not having a wedding dress of your own to treasure, and maybe one day pass on to your own daughter, renting may be a very good choice for you.

Hire a Seamstress. For brides who do want a dress of their own, hiring a seamstress may be the answer. Find a dress you like then have your seamstress make you a less expensive version of the dress. Your dress may be made more affordable if you use less expensive fabric, follow a less elaborate style, or just make some adjustments, like having a shorter train. You will want to find a seamstress who is experienced in sewing wedding dresses to make sure it turns out like you hoped.

Look for Clearance Sales. Bridal shops often sell off-season dresses and discontinued dresses at incredible discounts. Keep your eye open for these sales and for your perfect dress. When shopping at a clearance sale, though, don’t let yourself get distracted by the full-priced incoming stock.

Buy a Used Dress. Some brides sell their dresses after their big day. Look on Craig’s List or eBay to find one that suits you. There might also be some consignment shops in your area that sell used wedding dresses.

Borrow a Dress. Your mother, aunt, cousin, sister or friend might have a dress that would look perfect on you for your special day. Wearing a dress that belongs to someone you love may make the day all the more special for you. If you do decide to borrow a dress, be sure it’s within two sizes of what you wear in order for it to be altered properly.

Buy from Brides Against Breast Cancer. One more place you can look for a wedding dress is Brides Against Breast Cancer This is an organization that women donate their used wedding dresses to, and they are resold at a discount to raise money for breast cancer. They have sales in various places in the United States.

By following these tips for saving money on a wedding gown, you will be able to make the entrance you envisioned without going over your wedding budget.


Planning the Perfect Wedding