Monday, January 25, 2010

Advice for Those Wanting to Enter the Wedding Industry

I came across this article and it summed up exactly what I'm thinking everytime I meet someone or get an e-mail from someone wanting to be a wedding planner. I was exactly in those shoes, only a short time ago, but in my time in the industry I have learned loads! One of the most important things, is that it's all about respect! You are a newbie and you have to earn your place. When I decided that this was my own destiny, I devoted so much time and energy to my goal. I did nothing 'halfway.' I went all in, and never looked back! I still work everyday to validate my position in this industry. I continue to reach out to others for assistance, shadow other vendors, and continue educating myself. It never ends!

Read this article, and decide if you are ready to go all in!!

"Becoming a Wedding Planner: by Saundra of Planning Forever

For some reason, I have been receiving a plethora of questions from aspiring wedding planners. This industry is hot, hot, hot right now with approximately 6-7 cable shows regarding weddings and all their glory. I can see how enticing this business looks.

Here’s an example of what I might get asked (in one week, no less).How much are your packages? Can you send me your contract? How did you get started? Are you hiring? I want to start my own business, how did you? Which online course is best to take? How do you market yourself? Where do you find clients? Can I job shadow for free? How do you get found in search engines?

I love that more people want to do this business. We need more professional planners out there to help raise the bar and standards.

Notice I said, professional planner? A prof is someone who has experience in event planning. If you have planned your own wedding and your BFF’s, this does not make you an experienced professional event planner. Just like naming and designing a business card does not make it a business.

There is so much information on how to become a wedding planner that I am going to do a three part series from my perspective. Keeping it real and giving you some personal insight, and not selling you anything. So here goes.

1. GET EXPERIENCE. Your own wedding does not count. Or any friend’s wedding. If you cannot find a planner to work for, then search out the hospitality industry or another vendor in the industry. Hard work and real-life experience will beat out reading books or taking a course. I have noticed that many aspiring planners are unwilling to accept an unpaid internship or pay for job-shadowing experience. That is a route you may have to look into.

2. PLAN IT OUT. You need seed money to get started. BEFORE you search for clients. BEFORE you network with vendors; have a business strategy. You will need an attorney for contracts, your business plan developed, liability insurance, a business license, know your tax liabilities, and more! Be willing to shell out some bucks.

*Part Two*

Why is it so important to have real-event planning experience before you tackle other people’s weddings?

For one thing, working with other wedding vendors. The real truth is many vendors don’t welcome wedding planners into the picture with open arms. I find it is because of past experiences with the newbie-planners-with-business-cards that have zero to little experience; suddenly making important decisions on the wedding day and reception.

Caterers, DJ’s, and photographers that have been in the business for many years tend to have little patience with these newcomers as they tend to be more of nuisance, than a help. Can you blame them?

Not because the newbie-planner is not earnest. Not because they are mean. But because of their lack of experience and gusto to direct the entire day and other vendors. Isn’t that what a wedding planner does, after all? Hmph. Invariably mistakes are made and it causes others to do double work.

Trust me, if you don’t have all your wedding vendors behind you during an event,you are looking at a very frustrating, loooong and exhausting day. Vendors can figure out how long you have been in the business by talking to you for five minutes. They are sizing you up.Always remember wedding planners do not create weddings. It is a combined effort of a team of wedding professionals that create weddings.

I have made some great alliances with well-respected vendors in this area; but make no bones about it; it took dozens of events and proving myself (and my company). Now they know if they see planning…forever events on the BEO; the vendors know things will be taken care of properly.

*Part Three*

I hope you understand why you need to have experience first before you plan a client’s wedding. We clearly outlined some of the pitfalls here when you are “learning” on someone else’s special day. So HOW do you get this experience?

It can be a vicious circle. It’s like trying to get credit extended to you but you don’t qualify because you have no credit history. Huh?

Obviously the best experience would be to work for a professional event planner. However, it’s not the only way; hospitality and catering would probably give you a more well rounded picture. But let’s focus back on working for us planners. There are some Do’s and Don’ts when approaching planners for potential jobs.

As always, I will get straight-to-the-point.

1. Do Not email us through our web inquiry form on our website. That area is strictly for potential clients. Imagine the disappointment to find people looking for work.

2. Do send an email requesting information if we are hiring.

3. Do Not tell us this has always been your dream job. As some planner’s will mimic; “It’s my dreeeeaaaaaaam to be a planner”. This raises a red flag. Can you imagine interviewing at a corporate job and telling the HR person it’s always been your dreeeeeam to be an accountant? I don’t think so. And get back to me if your dream is to be on your knees picking up a broken glass and mopping up spilled liquor on a dance floor at 1AM.

4. Do send us a resume with real job experience that is applicable to our industry. We get really excited to read that.

5. Do Not call us right away. A follow up phone call in a few weeks if we received your resume and email is fine. But email is almost always better. Please remember, you are one person out of dozens that contact us each month.

6. Do be open with starting at the bottom and working your way up. This may include internships or smaller part-time duties, easing you into the business. Businesses in general are looking more into internships; so don’t be surprised when that is an offer.

7. Do Not offer to partner with our company if you have no experience or established business in general. Yes this happens.

8. Do ask questions of other planners (go out of your immediate area if you aren’t getting a response). But ask the right questions. What are the pitfalls? What’s the worse part of your job? How hard was it for you to break into the business? You already have the iconic viewpoint of event planning, so at least do some research on the negatives so you can have a clear picture.

9. Do Not ask a professional event planner for copies of their time lines, checklists, budgets, contracts, packages, etc. And please do not copy their style of their website. There are 50 states out there, with most likely an event planner in each state with some online presence. If you want to do research; do so from another planner across the country. Not 40 minutes from you.

10. Do understand that we can’t hire everyone. This is a unique kind of business. Because of the creativity involved, it is treated more like a hobby instead of a professional business by many newcomers. There is a smaller market for our services, but we are gaining. Slowly.

*The Finale*

I know if you are dead set on this career path, I cannot scare you by telling you how much hard work it is. Glamorous moments are slim and the reality is that you are on your feet for 12-14 hours AND working weekends (more importantly Saturday evenings without your S.O. or hubby). You need a very understanding family. And you need to be willing to miss out on a lot of fun personal events.

Nope, I won’t touch upon those things because they are not pleasant to talk about.

What I WILL say that this is one of the most challenging and rewarding careers I’ve ever done (and I have a background in various sales and marketing areas). It’s new everyday and I have the ability to make an impact in someone’s family; helping to create positive memories that will last a life time. It’s so special and I (and my other coordinators) take this to heart. And that is what drives us every single weekend (even when our feet hurt terribly).

If you have that love, drive, passion and the business sense for this industry – then don’t let anyone squash your dreams. Just please be savvy about it."

(Article Credit: http://www.planningforever.com/)

1 comment:

smoments said...

Love the article!Just putting it out there shows how much you have grown in the last year... Kudos!I think I might use that article in the next Novice Workshop in April....

Keep up the good work!

Tammy Waterman
Special Moments