Weddings 101: 25 Musts for Wedding Planners

by Editor on Mar 16, 2012

Wedding planners are different than other event planners in that they serve an important role in the one event that marks the beginning of a couple’s life together. Everyone, from the bride to the guests, wants this event to be beautiful, memorable, and stress free. That makes this career different, as not everyone is cut out to create this type of event without losing some objectivity about each wedding. The more prepared you are to tackle a wedding event, the better you’ll handle any issues that may arise as you plan and execute the event. The following list contains 25 “musts” that a wedding planner might consider when thinking about this career.

Personal Qualities

    Wedding

  1. Anticipation: The ability to look ahead to what clients might need from you in the immediate or even distant future will help you rise to the top in this profession.
  2. Calmness: The bride and groom both may be anxious for this event, but they also may be nervous. It is your role to provide the calmness needed in the eye of any storm that brews during the planning and the actual wedding and reception.
  3. Ethical: The ability to spend other people’s money wisely helps to develop trust. Being respectful of a wedding budget is paramount. If you can keep within a budget without spending every dime, word will get around that you can be trusted to create magic from thin air.
  4. Interpersonal Skills: The ability to relate to all types of brides, from the very shy to the diva, and her groom and all the family members involved is imperative in this career. Without the ability to communicate, you won’t provide the bride with what she wants for her special day.
  5. Leadership: You are in control over how a wedding and its reception turn out. Taking a leadership role is important…but, it’s also important to know when to step back to let the bride shine, too.
  6. Passionate: If you love your career and you become proficient and creative with your skills, this passion for wedding events can put you over the top in this industry. Brides will seek you out as the person who cares about creating the perfect wedding.
  7. Patience: A wedding planner requires patience in every detail of a wedding. Since you will rely on so many other people — such as vendors and even the wedding couple — to be on time and accurate with their assignments, you may be disappointed more than once. If you learn that the unexpected occurs more often than not, you can learn how to cope with lateness and mistakes.

Business Acumen

    Long Wedding Dress

  1. Financial Skills: The ability to balance the bride’s budget (and your own) will go a long way toward creating a successful bridal consultant and event planning business.
  2. Innovation: You don’t need to come up with creative ideas on your own. Attend bridal fairs, study online venues, and brainstorm with others to generate sparks for your creativity.
  3. Marketing Skills: You’ll need these skills to help promote your own business. You’ll need to learn about newspaper, magazine, and other print ads and their schedules in addition to networking skills. Organization plays a key here, as you’ll need to maintain an accurate calendar for yourself to make sure you don’t miss appointments or meetings.
  4. Negotiation Skills: Event planners know how to negotiate services, products, and prices successfully without becoming demanding or abrasive. The ability to negotiate can help your bride hold a successful wedding without spending the entire wedding budget.
  5. Organization Skills: Even small weddings can become chaotic. Organizational skills are essential to know what you need to accomplish and when and to keep every detail in order. Organizational skills also are essential for balancing budgets and for marketing your own business. Plus, when you have your event organized, you might have more time for yourself to relax and remain balanced.
  6. Problem-Solving Skills: Even the smoothest wedding will hold a problem or two. The ability to solve problems can help you maintain calm and appear professional.
  7. Project Management Ability: No matter the event, each one requires this skill. You’ll need to efficiently and effectively schedule time, manage budgets, meet deadlines, and get what you need from others in time to complete your event successfully.

Starting Out

    Oriental Wedding

  1. Learn About Weddings: You can learn how to plan weddings by taking continuing education classes or through self-study. You also can learn about weddings by attending and helping out with as many weddings as possible, attending bridal shows, reading wedding magazines, and watching wedding television shows. Finally, don’t feel shy about conducting informational interviews with clergy of various faiths, florists, and caterers. You can build your vendor list during these chats.
  2. Create a Portfolio: A portfolio is a collection of photographs that show people your skill at planning weddings — similar to the one shown through the link. Offer your services to friends and family who are getting married in exchange for the initial pictures for your portfolio. To show your creativity, you can also include photographs of table settings or room decorations you have created in your home.
  3. Find a Job: Even if you plan to start your own business, consider getting a job in the industry first. These positions can be used as stepping-stones to gain valuable experience and contacts. Many other job opportunities for “bridal consultants” are available with companies that supply products and services for weddings including bridal shops, department stores with gift registries, florists, and caterers.
  4. Choose a Specialty: Wedding planners offer a variety of services and packages based on their specific skills and interests. You might offer complete wedding planning services, wedding day coordination only, or consult with brides and grooms who want to plan their own weddings.
  5. Develop Vendor Relations: Vendors are suppliers of any product or service related to weddings, such as limousine companies, musicians, photographers, party supply companies, invitation printers, etc.
  6. Join the Association of Bridal Consultants and/or the Association of Wedding Professionals International to network, be listed, and to obtain information on creating the best wedding for your brides.

Other Skills

    Bride

  1. Culinary Knowledge: Taking classes in various culinary skills can help you know whether or not your vendors are treating you fairly. Take a cake baking class to learn what it takes to make a simple cake, let alone a complicated wedding cake. Also, learn about meal planning, so you can make logical suggestions to a caterer about changes in a basic menu.
  2. Cultural Competence: For themes or ethnic weddings, it helps to learn about other cultures and their wedding traditions. Don’t always trust the Internet or books…sometimes the bride and groom will know more about what they want, or they may want to add a twist to their traditional cultural or themed wedding. Art history and world religion classes can help you learn more. Engaging in other cultures can help to build your business, too.
  3. Fashion Sense: You’ll need to stay on top of the bridal fashion scene, as it changes seasonally and yearly. Colors, music, flower choices, and other items also have seasons and palettes. Studying color theory is a great way to start. Your own fashion sense in the way you dress can tell others that you are in tune with seasonal fashion as well as providing others with the sense that you are organized and trustworthy.
  4. Photography Skills: With the advent of digital cameras, it is easy today to take photographs of possible wedding venues to offer to the bride and groom. You also don’t need to rely on professional photographers to take photos of weddings you’ve planned for your portfolio. You might want to learn more about the simple basics behind photography to make sure you end up with better photographs.
  5. Technological Savvy: You need to be proficient with computer hardware and software. This skill includes knowing about and using any programs that might make your career run more smoothly, such as calendars and shared files.