There’s no doubt that the wedding industry is a special one. Being a wedding planner means you’ll be an integral part of some of the most important days in other people’s lives, so here’s our step-by-step guide to starting a wedding planning business.
Although many people come into the wedding industry after planning their own its not prerequisite. If you have planned your own wedding, you may well find it quite a different experience to be planning weddings for multiple people at once.
What is a wedding planner and is it for you?
The role of wedding planner requires a wide range of skills. The exact definition may be hard to pin down but essentially you are there to help couples plan and execute their ideal day. The role will likely involve planning, designing, negotiating and troubleshooting.
A good wedding planner will be meticulously organised and cool under pressure. Weddings are hugely complex events and chances are that something will go wrong at the last minute so it’s important that you consider whether you’re the kind of person who can think on their feet and find a solution.
Good communication will also be an invaluable skill, as you’ll need to communicate effectively with the bride and groom, their family and a host of venues and suppliers. Weddings can be a stressful time and having a wedding planner who brides and grooms feel comfortable around and can put their trust in will be important.
Around 80% of the work of a wedding planner is administrative, meaning only a small amount of your time will be devoted to the creative side of the wedding. If you’ve previously had experience in a PA or secretary role you may make an excellent wedding planner.
Although the wedding industry is well-known to be a lucrative one, becoming a wedding planner is no route to riches. Particularly in the first couple of years growth is likely to be slow because you will probably be a one-person operation, meaning you’re limited in the amount of work you can take. However, being a part of so many special days may well make it worth your while.
Planning your business
As with any business, having a well thought through business plan is essential. You can find our guide to writing a business plan: here.
When writing a plan for a wedding planning business its especially important to consider the seasonal changes, as the amount of work available will change dramatically over the year.
In the UK weddings tend to take place between May and September, when the weather is better. Between October and April, it will be wise to focus on securing new contracts and improving the logistics of your business.
Because work will be seasonal your earnings are likely to fluctuate. Its advisable to pay yourself a modest wage throughout the year instead of taking money at will from the business. You can increase your wage as and when the business can comfortably support it.
One advantage in the wedding planning business is that your upfront costs should be quite low. You may need to factor in the costs of web design but the vast majority of your work can be done from a laptop or phone.
Because wedding planners are unregulated you won’t need any kind of certificate or even experience to set up in business.
However, if you have no prior experience with planning or organising, you could consider specialist wedding planner training. Some recommended option include:
As with most self-employed service businesses, you should take out professional indemnity insurance in order to protect your business from a claim if something goes wrong. It’s also worth considering public liability insurance as you’ll be working with lots of guests on the big day.
You will probably want to start off your business as a sole trader, meaning you won’t need to register with Companies House, just register with HMRC.
Pricing your services
If you’re offering ‘full’ planning (that’s the entire process start to finish) you should generally charge a percentage of the entire budget of the wedding – typically 10-15%. Ensure that this percentage is subject to a minimum fee to make sure the wedding is worth your work.
Especially in the early stages of your business you may well want to take on partial planning as well. ‘Final eight weeks’ packages, or even ‘on the day’ packages, are popular with brides and a good way to get your name out there.
Building a brand
In such a crowded market how well you market and present yourself will be the single most important factor in your success as a wedding planner.
The key to standing out is developing an identifiable brand; a niche. Your brand should be a reflection of you and of the area your business is in. Do you love a Boho beachy vibe? Or is your style sophisticated cocktail party? The important thing is to find something that works and run with it.
It’s worth investing in a good website, it needs to be a clear reflection of your brand. With such a key tool for your business it will pay to hire a web designer to build you the perfect website. Services will generally cost in the region of £300-£500, but will pay for themselves in the long run.
A strong voice on social media will go a long way in this business. Developing a clear style will make clients feel as though they know you and can trust you.
Beyond the normal platforms (Facebook, Twitter etc.) Pinterest has a massive following with brides-to-be and should therefore be a key part of your social media strategy.
Pinterest lets users create virtual ‘boards’ of images centred around a particular theme. For weddings, it’s a perfect way to see what your clients are looking for and for them to get well acquainted with your style and brand.
Most of your business will probably come through word of mouth recommendations, so it’s important to build a strong relationship with your clients and ensure they’re satisfied.