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How to live the dream and become a wedding planner

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a wedding planner?

Imagined how it’d be to help organise the most romantic, gorgeous day for a loved-up couple?

To rise to the challenge and be ‘that amazing person’ who finds the most stunning bride’s dress, who arranges the most delicious food or helps locate a true fairytale venue?

Whatever drew you to the idea of working in wedding management, you couldn’t have picked a more rewarding career path… and we’re talking $$$, as well as the emotional fulfilment of helping plan the most spectacular day!

In fact, research indicates that over 116,000 weddings take place in New Zealand every year, whilst this industry generates over $2 billion annually and the final cost of a wedding clocks in at around $31,368.

(In other words, there’s a lot of money involved when it comes to creating the perfect day.)

Not only that; the average salary for a wedding planner falls between $50,000 to $63,000. And it’s not difficult to see why, what with a wedding planner typically wearing multiple hats throughout the entire process; they are often a planner, advisor, creator, coordinator, stylist and decorator, as well as a source of calm and stability in what can be a highly emotional time for the wedding party (although we don’t reckon anything will come close to the film Bridesmaids!)

Yet it’s not really the money that first drew you to this career, is it?

Rather, it’s your own interests and passions that made the idea of diving into all things wedding so appealing… the prospect of immersing yourself in this dynamic, exciting and colourful industry.

Which is why today we’re going to walk you through 5 Essential Steps to Become a Wedding Planner, so you can make your dream career a reality.

Step One: Do your homework

Whilst this career can seem extremely attractive, it’s not one you should pursue lightly. That’s why the first step is to do your homework and understand exactly what responsibilities and skills make a successful wedding planner.

To begin, a wedding planner needs to be:

  • Determined
  • Driven to succeed
  • Creative
  • Level-headed under pressure
  • Detail-oriented
  • Flexible and proactive
  • Highly organised
  • Energetic and enthusiastic

(But don’t feel daunted by how intense these personality traits may seem, as these qualities can naturally emerge through your training and increased exposure to this industry.)

Generally, you can expect the key responsibilities of a wedding planner to include:

  • Outlining finances and ensuring budgets are adhered to
  • Helping to find a dress/dressmaker
  • Organising cake-tasting sessions
  • Securing venues for a ceremony and/or the reception
  • Providing recommendations for trustworthy subcontractors who’ll supply
  • flowers, filming, photography, food/beverages etc.
  • Arranging make up and hairstyling for the bridal party
  • Coordinating timings and transport options
  • Sourcing a quality DJ or band for the reception

And that’s just a few examples.

bouquet with rings on top

You should also understand that there are different levels of wedding planning and management, which can be scaled depending on your couple’s needs. These include:

  • Full wedding planning
  • Partial wedding planning
  • On the day event management

To expand, full wedding planning – as you can expect – includes organising essentially every element of the day. From the dress-showings to the cake-tasting, sourcing the perfect venue to liaising with the caterers/wedding band; it’s all of the above and more.

Whereas partial wedding planning can mean limiting your services to specific elements of the day, such as selecting a venue or helping to organise the food. On the day event management, in contrast, is what it says on the tin: you are there to ensure everything runs smoothly on the day itself.

Your working hours in this role can fluctuate and be irregular, with weddings taking place throughout the year, on all days of the week and often during evenings and at weekends. Surveys have even shown that Saturday weddings are the most popular, with spring the favoured season – so be aware that you’ll experience notably busier periods with increased competition for venues and services!

Lastly, you should note that the majority of wedding planners either work as partners in larger wedding planning companies or are self-employed contractors. This means you have the option to work autonomously or as part of an established enterprise – it’s really up to you.

Step Two: Begin Your Training

Now you’ve done your homework and established a more thorough understanding of what kind of person a wedding planner is and their key responsibilities, it’s time to make your education more official.

Wedding planning online courses in New Zealand will enable you to develop your skills and knowledge of the industry, in a way that’s both flexible (with studies self-paced, fitting seamlessly around your current obligations) and also brilliantly accessible.

Completing an online course will help to both hone your organisational and planning abilities, whilst aiding your understanding of topics like:

  • How to manage and connect with different people
  • How to direct and supervise locations
  • Creating and implementing a seamless programme
  • The scope and nature of event management
  • Marketing an event
  • Financial and risk management

And more.

Whilst an official degree in wedding planning is not necessary for this career, a Certificate in Wedding Planning & Event Management means you will have proof of accreditation to show to prospective clients and employers, legitimising your training and showcasing how committed you are to being a high calibre wedding planner.

With legitimate courses also curated by industry professionals, you will be tapping into the experience and expertise of wedding planners who’ve ‘been there, done that’, learning from the best of the best and discovering all the insider tips and tricks.

Step Three: Kickstart Your Business

So you’ve done your research and you’ve completed your first phase of training… what next?

Next comes one of the most exciting parts of your journey as a wedding planner, and that’s kickstarting your business! (If you choose to be self-employed rather than joining an established company, of course.)

This involves selecting your business name, developing your branding, choosing the location in New Zealand you’d like to service, designing wedding cards, attending local wedding fairs and developing your own marketing material and identifying lucrative advertising opportunities.

This isn’t something that can be achieved overnight, but something that will take focus, dedication and enthusiasm. Your passion as a wedding planner should be evident in how you present your business, so make sure that all these elements feel authentic and genuine to you.

After all, the couples who come to your business will be interacting with you directly, so it’s better to put your best foot forward!

married couple

(And don’t forget, it may be equally beneficial to consider further online business training if you decide to start your own business.)

Step Four: Reach Out to Potential Mentors

Step four is really something that is down to each individual, yet is also something we’d highly recommend you consider if you’re just starting off in this career.

A mentor can be an incredible source of support and comfort, helping to develop your confidence, capabilities and experience. They are a shoulder for you to lean on and can help guide you through any periods of uncertainty.

Of course, you don’t want to approach a direct competitor and request they be your mentor. Instead, you can reach out to an experienced wedding planner who targets their services to another area of New Zealand or niche. (That way there’s a reduced risk of stepping on one another’s toes in the future.)

As this industry is all about ‘knowing the right people’, a mentor can also help introduce you to trusted contacts. With these recommended contacts to rely on, you can be positive they will deliver quality products (food and drink, for example) or a fantastic service (such as wedding music or transport.)

Step Five: Make a Splash Online

Whilst quality event management online courses in New Zealand will teach you the fundamentals of event marketing, it’s also key that you understand the importance of marketing yourself.

Developing a powerful online platform which clearly signposts your services and positions you in a unique way will help to attract even more couples. A beautifully designed website, solid online identity and active social media presence can help your business appear more ‘legitimate’ than your competitors and increase your popularity.

It also means you can supply prospective clients with all the information they need – what services you provide, your rates, how to get in contact with you – in an easy and accessible manner. The more free value and support you can offer your prospective clients, from the very offset, the more likely they are to become paying customers.

In this day and age, it’s also the norm for businesses to have a website and selection of active social media channels. Think back to the last time you discovered a business didn’t have either of these things – it planted a seed of doubt in your mind, didn’t it? Made you question just how legit they were?

(Plus, if you decide to expand your business in the future and hire additional wedding planners to meet the demand for your services, you’ll already have a professional and sleek online platform to promote your business growth and celebrate all your achievements. Wedding planning empire, here you come!)

Step Six: Network/Attend Industry Events

We mentioned this before, but it’s worth saying again… the wedding planning industry is all about the quality contacts you make.

Which is why networking and attending industry events is a vital step to take, not only at the offset of working as a wedding planner but throughout the entirety of your career.

You can easily network using your established social media channels, making connections with florists, caterers, venues, photographers, graphic designers and printers (for your marketing material), bridal shop owners etc. etc. Whereas attending bridal shows and wedding conferences can be key opportunities to circulate your business card and help promote the visibility of your business even further.

The more contacts you make, the better equipped you’ll be when it comes to curating the perfect wedding for a range of clients. Moreover, when you have created solid connections with these other businesses, you will be able to negotiate more favourable rates for your couple, securing the best deal whilst ensuring you make a healthy profit in the process.

married couple

In conclusion, becoming a wedding planner can be an incredibly compelling prospect but you should be sure you’re ready to commit yourself fully to this career. It’s not really a job that you can drop as soon as the clock hits 5 pm or half-heart in any capacity. 

Yet if you’re someone who is after excitement, fun, variety, connection and tackling unique challenges, then this career could be extremely rewarding for you. 

Remember, it’s best to first establish a solid understanding of the industry and grasp all the essential fundamentals. And a great place to start can be our very own Certificate in Wedding Planning and Event Management

Truly, what’s not to love about love?


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