What Does a Wedding Planner Do?
Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More
If you enjoy and do a great job of planning big parties, like working with people, and have serious skills when it comes to networking and negotiating, consider becoming a wedding planner. People who work in this field are also known as wedding or bridal consultants. Many are self-employed, but others work for wedding or event planning companies.
Even though fewer people are getting married, according to various statistical sources, those who do so are typically taking this step at a later age. Generally speaking, couples who wait longer to get married are more established and have more money to spend on their weddings. It also means that because they are so busy with work, they don't have a lot of time to plan their own events. They need and can afford to pay for the services of a professional wedding planner.
Working as a wedding planner can be very rewarding, and your start-up costs won't be overwhelming if you decide to go into business for yourself. The costs of starting up a wedding planning business can be less than $2,000, according to Entrepreneur.com, since you can work from home rather than having to rent office space or a storefront. You will need to budget for office equipment, invest in marketing for your business, and purchase appropriate work clothing.
Wedding Planner Duties & Responsibilities
Successful wedding planning requires you to be a jack of all trades. The African Wedding Guide describes what the job entails: "...the role of the wedding consultant is that of a facilitator, mediator, money manager, artisan, and constructor of dreams."
If you've ever been a bride or groom, or even a bridesmaid, you also know the kind of stress that planning a wedding can bring about. A wedding planner often also ends up also being a therapist, sounding board, and even punching bag, figuratively of course, when frazzled nerves come into play.
Although the job can involve a wide variety of tasks, certain typical duties and responsibilities are involved in the day-to-day life of a wedding planner, such as the following:
- Meet with engaged couples to understand the couples' vision for their wedding
- Discuss and plan the scope of the wedding event, including the time, location, and cost
- Find venues and vendors including invitation designers and printers, DJs, bands, photographers, and caterers and obtain bids for services
- Negotiate contracts on behalf of the bride and groom
- Inspect the venues to ensure that they meet the couples' requirements
- Deal with any difficulties that occur before, during, and after the event, making sure things go smoothly
- Coordinate additional services such as rooms for the couple and guests, transportation, and catering
- Monitor wedding event activities to ensure that the couple and guests are satisfied
- Review wedding event bills and approve vendor payments
Wedding Planner Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wedding planners are part of a larger group of meeting and event planners, and this government agency reports statistical information about the overall group. The salary varies based on the area of expertise, level of experience, education, certifications, and other factors. The range of salaries for event planners is as follows:
- Median Annual Salary: $49,370 ($23.74 /hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $84,900 ($40.82/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $27,560 ($13.25/hour)
Earnings for self-employed wedding planners vary depending on their fee structures. According to The Knot, a website focused on weddings, they charge either a flat fee, an hourly rate, or a percentage of the total wedding bill that ranges from 10% to 20%. An average wedding costs $28,400, according to The Knot, which would mean that self-employed wedding planners could earn average fees of between $2,840 and $5,680 for the event.
Education, Training & Certification
While a college degree is not required for this job, many employers prefer candidates to have one or have applicable work experience, which can be from a similar or related field. Education and training preferences are as follows:
- Education: Many wedding planners train to become event planners who then specialize in wedding planning. To prepare for this career, some people earn a bachelor's degree in hospitality management or a related field.
- Training: Not all wedding planners participate in formal training. Many planners learn their skills on-the-job.
Wedding Planner Skills & Competencies
To succeed in this career, you must have specific soft skills— character traits you have either acquired through life experience or with which you were born. This includes skills such as the following:
- Calm demeanor and interpersonal skills: The ability to remain calm in the face of adversity is essential, as are excellent interpersonal skills.
- Negotiating: You must be a superb negotiator. As the bride's and groom's representative, it will be your responsibility to get them the best service, for example, venue, food, photography, and music, for the lowest price. Your reputation will depend on it.
- Networking: Your ability to network will help you get the best deals possible.
- Time management and organization skills: Excellent organizational and time management skills are also a must.
- Marketing and financial management: Running your own wedding planning business requires you to be adept at handling finances and promoting your business.
- Knowledge of color, design, and current trends: Expertise in color, music, and flowers are needed as well. Plan to spend a lot of time reading the current bridal magazines, of which there are many, to keep up with the latest trends.
- Knowledge of various religious customs: Knowledge of religions is imperative since a wedding ceremony is often a religious one. Related to this is a knowledge of customs and traditions, which are also part of many wedding ceremonies.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for event planners over the next decade relative to other occupations and industries is faster growth than average, driven by sturdy consumer demand for professionally planned events.
Employment is expected to grow by about 11% over the next ten years, which is faster than the average of 7% projected growth for all occupations between 2016 and 2026.
Wedding and other event planners divide their time between working in an office and working at event locations, such as hotels, churches, and other entertainment venues. They may travel to visit prospective sites for events and to attend events they've organized.
Their workday may be demanding and fast-paced, and planners typically manage and oversee several different aspects of an event at the same time. They may also work on more than one event at a time.
Most event planners work full-time schedules. They must often work additional hours as the date of an event approaches, to finalize the preparations. They may work on weekends and put in more than eight hours on busy days, such as the day of an event.
How to Get the Job
Attend events put on by trade associations such as the Association of Bridal Consultants or the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners (AACWP), and meet industry members who may be able to hire or refer you to a job.
Comparing Similar Jobs
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