How to Become a Wedding Planner in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a wedding planner. Learn about training and education requirements, certification options and job duties to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Hospitality Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Wedding Planner Do?

A wedding planner, also called a bridal or wedding consultant, coordinates the logistics of marriage ceremonies and wedding receptions. Planners meet with the couple getting married to understand their preferences and expectations of their big day. They then begin to plan the details of the wedding, like the location and time, but while staying within budget. They will book the venue and work with service providers, such as caterers, to ensure everything meets their clients' requirements. The day of the wedding, wedding planners oversee the day's activities to keep things running smoothly and make sure everyone is satisfied. Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Education Required High school diploma; certificate or associate's degree recommended
Education Field of Study Tourism management, event planning
Certification Certification is optional
Key Responsibilities Discuss and implement clients' needs, coordinate vendors, troubleshoot problems
Job Growth (2014-2024) 10% (for all meeting, convention and event planners)*
Median Salary (2016) $41,434 (for all wedding planners)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

What Is a Wedding Planner?

A wedding planner is similar to an event planner in many ways. Essentially, you'll discuss a clients' wants for the event, and you'll plan the event after agreeing upon a budget. You'll work with caterers, location managers and other people that contribute to the event. You'll be at the event the day it happens to guarantee that everything goes as planned and nothing is amiss. The mother of the bride or the bride usually hires a wedding planner.

Step 1: Research Wedding Planner Job Duties

Common duties include booking venues, ordering flowers, choosing caterers, hiring entertainment, finding a photographer or videographer, offering advice on wardrobe selection and mailing invitations. You'll also coordinate travel arrangements, rehearsals, the ceremony and the reception. You'll work in an emotionally charged environment, and you must be able to keep peace between all elements, including grooms, brides, families, guests and vendors, to keep the wedding and reception running smoothly.

Step 2: Complete High School

To enroll in a college program you'll need to complete high school or earn the equivalent. During high school you might shadow a wedding planner to see what a typical day in this career entails. Consider volunteering for committees that plan events and dances to gain some experience in the organization and planning of a major event.

Step 3: Earn a Degree

Many wedding planners are self-employed, so earning a degree or at least taking courses in business, marketing and accounting could be a good investment. Community colleges offer associate degrees in tourism management and event planning. Both of these programs teach you the essentials to working with people and organizing an event in another person's life. You'll learn how to meet a client's needs and desires while staying within budget. Community colleges also offer floral, hospitality and artistic classes that may provide additional skills.

The Wedding Planner Institute works with colleges to provide wedding planner certificates. These programs also prepare you for eventual certification. Most certificate programs cover wedding traditions, cultural differences and colors and patterns of clothing. Courses in negotiation and working with vendors and clergy may also be offered. Along with training you on party planning, you'll also learn about the details others may forget when planning a wedding.

Step 4: Obtain Certification

The Wedding Planning Institute provides the Wedding Planner Certification, which is recognized throughout the industry. The institution is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges, the National Organization for Competency Assurance and the Learning Resource Network.

Step 5: Cultivate Professional Contacts

A large part of your day will involve contracting vendors who work with events and weddings. Florists, caterers, cake makers and bands all come together to make an event happen. You'll want to develop professional connections to these vendors so that you might be able to negotiate lower rates for clients with tight budgets. During internships and pre-certification, you'll want to look for opportunities to work with established wedding consultation firms. The contacts you make with venues, such as casinos and hotels, could also lead to a job planning weddings for that business.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Lodging managers, travel agents and food service managers are related careers that require a high school diploma or equivalent. Lodging managers oversee the activities of their establishment and ensure their guests' satisfaction during their stay. Travel agents manage the details of a clients' trip or vacation, including booking lodging, transportation and entertainment. Food service managers supervise staff and the daily operation of their eating establishment. They may also handle the business side of their restaurant.

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