It’s great to hear that someone like yourself wants to come and join our industry – it’s one of the few lines of work where everything you do really has a huge impact on people direct, and it’s great to know that what you’re doing can help make someone’s big day that little bit more special.
First of all I should say that the Wedding Planner/Coordinator industry is very, very competitive. Each year there are loads of new businesses/individuals setting up shop as Wedding Planners, each of them fighting for couples’ custom from across the UK. However, on the plus side, it is estimated that some 10-20% of weddings these days now enrol a planner to help co-ordinate their big day and this number is growing – with an average of 250,000 weddings taking place each year this equates to between 25,000 & 50,000 couples who are actively seeking someone to help them out.
So how do you get started?
Well first of all I should say that there is no set route into the industry – no essential qualifications are needed, no essential experience is necessary, and no professional body membership is required. In short, anybody can do it. That said, I am aware of a number of ‘courses’ that exist to help you get started and links to a couple of them are attached below – but please bear in mind what I have said about the fact there is no set route into the industry – even with one of these behind you, it is no guarantee of a job. A good (perhaps better) alternative to the Wedding Planner qualifications that are linked to below is to go for an Event Planner or Hospitality Coordinator qualification – both will teach you much the same things and may even carry a little more weight – your careers advisor should be able to point you in the direction of some local ones. Anyhow, here are the links to the Wedding Planner courses:
One of the big reasons why there is no guarantee of a job once you’re ‘qualified’ is the fact that there are a very limited number of employers. If you really want to become a Wedding Planner, then in some respect you also have to want to be your own boss and run your own business. The vast majority of Wedding Planners operate alone and take on a manageable small number of clients per year. They will either charge a set fee up front or, more than likely, charge a percentage of the overall budget – some however run their service for ‘free’ and take a percentage cut from whichever stationer, photographer, venue etc that they give the business to. This last route is becoming more and more popular, but unless you have a good portfolio of suppliers then often the selection you can provide your client with is weak in comparison to what your competitors (who operate one of the two former pricing mechanisms) will provide. It is best to operate one of the two initial pricing routes until you are established and have a good set of relationships with local/national suppliers.
Whilst you are getting qualified (or perhaps even instead of), it might be a good idea to approach local wedding venues and see if they are recruiting staff. Anything in the hospitality line would be useful and venues often employ people to assist in coordinating events, conferences, weddings and alike. This should give you a taste of what you can expect and will also give you something decent for your CV. Alternatively, for a more basic route, why not sign up with something like Yahoo Answers and try answering all the wedding questions that are asked – you will find that many of the questions posed are similar to the ones you’ll get asked during the course of your career so it’s always good practice (most of the answers can be found on Weddingsday in case you’re struggling and want to point them in the right direction J)
Good luck with your exams this year hopefully we’ll be welcoming you on board to the industry soon.
Hope this helps and best of luck.