As I start a series on how to become a wedding planner, I want to first address the ethics around starting a business and being educated in the process. In this post, I share what I did and what I wish I had done!
So let’s get at it….
Are you a new wedding planner that planned your own wedding and decided you really love it so you jumped into it as a career? I’m going to pick on you in this post, only because it’s a stereotype and the odds are, that’s how most of us got started.
That's actually how I became a planner. So we are in this together. Granted, I had experience in corporate events so it wasn’t totally new. Though, corporate and weddings are also very very different.
But with the mentality that they couldn’t be that different, I spent way too much time learning the hard way. Which meant it took me way longer to make real money than if I had just done it the right way.
As a new planner, I bet you have already picked up on the fact that ‘brides turned wedding planner’ are the laughing stock of the industry. And I bet it hurts a little.
Hear me say this, though: we are entitled to career changes. So good for you!
I don’t want you to feel beat down by a cut throat industry so I want to share why it’s that way. It’s that way because there are no barriers to entry. It’s that way because any Ma and Pa can pop up and claim they know what they are doing. It’s that way because people start a business without investing in it.
Friends, these are weddings we are conducting. Up to this point in their lives, it’s the.most. important.day for a couple. How dare we come in and practice on them? Like real question. Challenge your heart on that.
Proper education isn’t an option. Even after stumbling around on luck for a couple of years, the only way I made any real progress was when I invested in education.
I see it every day. One planner comes in, willing to spend a couple thousand dollars on a proper start and she nails it in the first year. Then, another planner comes in and boot straps it, not willing to spend money on more than a shoestring website with poor images and bad fonts… and she struggles for years. There are two things to unpack here:
Investments allow you to have the proper aesthetic, branding and message in order to attract leads and clients.
Investments allow you to charge a real number from the start. It creates profit.
When I started, I spent about a thousand dollars on a logo, a website, a professional email address, my LLC and all the state paperwork, business cards and some flyers. That was about it.
If I had to do it over again, here is what I would do:
All the things I mentioned +
Attend Wedding MBA (mass amount of education) or a smaller workshop (hands on, ask questions)
Join online communities until I found one with an educator I related to and trust. Invest in their training. (These didn’t exist when I started.)
Get to know local wedding planners.
I didn’t do any of that until three years into business and I’m telling you. The changes happened over night! I was an immediate success with the things I implemented from simple education and coaching.
And you don’t have to totally break the bank to do this either. Sure, you can come in and easily spend a $5k on a sparkly new website. Or, you could get Squarespace and spend a few hundred dollars on having someone on their team set it up. Get creative!
You can take all of that or you can leave it. At the end of it all, you’ll either quit or eventually land with the big dogs and if you do, you’ll look back and finally admit I’m right. But your journey to get there is your choice. Spending money never feels easy, but I can assure you it’s far easier than 2-4 years of battling a shoe strapped business.
There are a lot of options for education and it’s important that you really vet them. Get involved with someone’s platform before just buying something from them. Make sure you trust them and see them as a giver. Are they helpful? Are they smart? Are they encouraging? Do they challenge people and are they willing to have the hard conversations? Do they swallow their pride and humbly accept when they got something wrong? Are they real?
Ask yourself those things. You’re going to learn the most from the person you trust. Don’t just stalk the Facebook groups, get involved. Ask questions, answer questions. Respond to the moderator or other leaders in the group- get to know them. I’m telling you, it will move you forward and open doors. They’ll become connectors for you. They will keep you in mind for practice rounds on content. The relationships are as important as the education.
You simply cannot plan your own wedding, become a wedding planner, and just hope it works. If you literally don’t have $2-3k to invest from the start, I would encourage you to save until you do. Or ask yourself if that’s really even true. Is it that you don’t have the money or is it that you’re not prioritizing? It’s not ethical to serve your clients without education, even if you’re upfront with them about that. They don’t understand the ramifications any more than you do. On this side of things, having done it myself, I really believe that.
There is a reason there are ‘she planned her wedding so now she thinks she’s a wedding planner’ jokes. Defy them. Invest in yourself and show the world you’re not a joke.
If you’re not sure where to start, join our Facebook group. It’s positive, it’s not spammy, it’s supportive and there.is.a.ton.of.content. A ton of it! Sadly, the group is only accessible by mobile right now until FB can work out the desktop kinks.
Other resources I offer that fit well within the budget I mentioned above are: