Dream Job: Wedding Planner
So you want to be a wedding planner? Before you embark on a new career, read about the realities of saying ‘I do’ from a woman who has already done so (hint: it’s not all romance and roses).
I had no idea I would end up in the world of wedding planning when I moved to the Scottish Borders – about an hour away from Edinburgh and Newcastle – from Shropshire with my family. I just fell into it. I think people are drawn to wedding planning because they see it is a glamorous and romantic job. It is most certainly both of those things, but it is also a lot of hard work and requires plenty of dedication.
How to get started
I frequently get approached by people asking me how they can get into wedding planning themselves. My advice to anyone is to first get a job in hospitality – working in a hotel which caters for weddings is a great way in. I originally applied for a receptionist position at a local hotel and was lucky enough to be offered the role of the wedding planner at the same time.
The most important thing to do is to gain some work experience, both at a venue and with a wedding planner. This will give you a real insight into what the job entails, especially what goes on behind the scenes and the amount of work required. It is a very different perspective to being a guest at a wedding!
Realities of the job
If, after gaining some work experience, you decide wedding planning is definitely for you, you need to apply yourself wholeheartedly to the job. You will need to have a passion for the industry, be willing to work long and unsociable hours, be dedicated and organised, and you must have excellent social skills.
Before going it alone, you will need to do a lot of research and networking, connecting with other businesses, venues and suppliers to engage in conversation about what your plans are. These are the people who will be able to give you contacts in your local area and move your career forward. There are lots of business networking groups and breakfast meetings which allow you to meet new people and learn from other people’s experiences, not necessarily in the wedding industry but in general business too. Don’t forget you will be running a business as well as providing a service to your clients.
Immerse yourself in all things weddings. Take time to visit bridal shops, and read wedding magazines and websites to keep abreast of current and forthcoming trends.
Choose your location wisely
Many of the well-known and glamorous wedding planners are based in the city, where it is all going on and demand is high. However, like myself, there are many others who live and work outside cities, in rural areas or smaller towns, who are just as passionate and work just as hard – if not harder – on their wedding planning businesses.
While established city wedding planners have access to clients with higher budgets, the rural wedding planner’s story can be different. Living in the Scottish Borders, I fall into the latter category. I remember feeling isolated when I was denied membership by a wedding planning association for being affiliated with too many venues (isn’t that what independent wedding planners should be doing?). Working in a rural location, I had no one to compare notes with and needed to devise my own way forward. Before long, I realised I would need to add other services to my business to be able to make a living. Surviving on wedding planning alone in a rural location would have been very difficult.
I managed to find work with my first venue whom I met at a local wedding fair. They wanted to start a wedding business, so we joined forces. I turned my hand to anything and everything, and got paid a commission for every wedding I sold and organised. The relationship worked really well; they didn’t have to pay someone a full-time wage, but at the same time they still had someone to front their wedding business. Since my first venue, I have gone on to represent other venues on this basis.
Working with a variety of different venues has led me into other areas. I am now frequently approached by property owners who either want advice on how to start a wedding business or who want some help with an existing business. I give them ideas – whether it be about styling their venue or photo shoots to promote the business – and help with any questions they have to make their business more successful.
I would never have been able to survive, let alone expand my wedding planning business, if I hadn’t looked at adding various other strands. I have added styling, floristry, prop hire and I also make vintage brooch bouquets. Having taken the leap into other areas to compliment my business, it is satisfying to be able to offer services and products my clients would previously have had to go to a city for.
Wedding planning is a tough yet very rewarding career. I’ve had various heart stopping moments, especially at the beginning, and have made mistakes like anyone, but all my experiences have been useful.
I set up my own wedding planning business during a challenging time in my personal life. I had parted company with my husband and not only did I have to earn a living to look after myself and my two young children (as well as move house seven times within ten years), I also had to take the vertical learning curve of weddings and the industry during the weekends and evenings. It was tough at times, but if you are passionate about something and you want it enough, you have to take a leap of faith and just go for it.
I will never look back (except to see my beautiful brides walking down the aisle).
For more information about Lindsey’s wedding planning business, visit Get Knotted.