However, many event managers decide to take the plunge and specialise in a niche that they have a particular passion for – and one role where passion is compulsory for the event is Wedding Planner. But what’s involved in the role and what do you need to be a success in this competitive area of event planning?
The role of a wedding planner includes all aspects of the day – from clothing and flowers, to venues for ceremony and reception, to food, drink and entertainment, and can even include arranging accommodation, comforts and facilities for wedding guests. Any wedding event project can be large or limited, depending on what extent the client couple want to be involved in arrangements. However, the wedding planner role will generally involve the following core tasks:
Of course, being able to do all of these things at the practical, administrative level is one thing, but offering the personality traits and key skills to do them in a way which means successful outcomes for the couple on their day and for your reputation as a professional wedding planner is a whole other thing … so what do you need?
Even if the couple have their own very strong ideas about the type of day they want, you’ll need a strong creative streak to be able to tap into their vision and bring it to life for them. The alternative, for a couple with no ideas, is that as a wedding planner you will use your knowledge, experience and creative flair to inspire them.
Whilst some couples will want to be involved in every aspect of the finances, others want to just set the budget and have all the negotiation done for them.
Being able to at least offer strong financial and negotiation skills (even if the couple decide to do this for themselves) will allow the couple to feel confident in your abilities as a planner and as someone they can turn to as need dictates or problems arise.
The term ‘Bride-zilla’ was coined for a reason, and whilst the majority of clients are sure to be pleasant and placid people, pre-wedding stress and the emotional aspects of wedding planning can get to anyone, so there will be times when the smallest of problems can become the biggest of deals to overwhelmed clients. To be a successful wedding planner, being able to problem-solve and placate (without taking any flack personally) can be one of the most essential key skills.
Similarly, and just as we don’t always get on with all of our work colleagues, it’s not always possible to gel with every client couple (or even an individual within the couple). Over the course of your career you’ll find some couples are much harder to work with (and please) than others – due to clashes of personality, unrealistic expectations or the fact that some people are just extremely difficult. The skill of diplomacy is called for when working in these situations, whilst having your own strategies in place to off-set work pressure can help you to manage the stress that comes from these situations and keep you going when the going gets tough.
Problem-solving also relates to the millions of possibilities of something going wrong just before the wedding. Generally couples hire a wedding planner as a way of distancing themselves from the stressful side of the planning, so any hitches need dealing with smoothly and professionally, and ideally without the bride or groom even realising there was a problem.
The thing about working with wedding clients is that the usual 9 – 5 demands of their own lives mean that evenings and weekends are often the only times they have available for planning the wedding.
Although you’ll be doing a lot of the planning and leg-work for them during your own 9 – 5 workday, the role does demand significant ‘out of hours’ contact and availability, something which really needs to be factored in, particularly as the majority of UK weddings still take place on Saturdays and your presence on the day will be essential!
Planning a wedding is time-consuming and exhausting and is one of the reasons that many couples employ a wedding planner to start with!
Combine this with the fact that a wedding planner may be working with more than one client couple at a time and it’s easy to see why stamina is a major part of the role. This is particularly important as the role includes lots of physical activity, mental hard work, and emotional strength.
In wedding planning, listening skills are everything. In general event planning, clients often have no idea of the type of event they want and are happy to leave the creative vision to the planner. This is a stark contrast to wedding planning where, in the majority of cases, at least one half of the couple will have spent years nurturing very clear ideas on exactly the type of day they want: their own very clear vision.
Being able to listen to the requirements and manifest this as closely as possible into a reality for the couple is all part of the role, even if this means organising a wedding which really isn’t to your own taste.
From dates to drinks, colours to cards, flowers to furnishings, weddings involve an innumerable number of decisions – some of which will take a while to communicate to clients and then require waiting to receive their feedback on.
Marrying patience along with the need to get things done is part of managing the timeline for the organisation and planning of the wedding, so being patient is not only a skill, but one that may influence effective planning too.
Weddings are all about relationships and planning an event where everyone from the couple to their families, as well as all of the wedding vendors, have something to say about how things should run can be extremely daunting – just working with two couple clients and their wedding vendors could mean communicating with around 50 different people in the course of a week.
Building good relationships with those involved can only be achieved through excellent communication and people skills. Being successful at this also requires you to remain professional across a range of communication methods, including face-to-face, emailing, phoning and messaging – and this includes those unscheduled, out of hours contact from anxious clients too!
Of course, no new wedding planner brings all of these skills to the table immediately, but if you’re coming into the career with some different events experience, hospitality or an event management qualification which has included wedding planning and work experience with an established professional wedding planner, you’ll be able to offer insight which will empower you and allow you to develop your skills within the role, as well as deliver your professional best to your clients.