If you’re interested in starting your own wedding or event planning business, investing in an accredited wedding planning or event planning course is an excellent first step in doing so. If this is an educational or career move you’re currently exploring, there are several relevant factors worth considering before you dive in.
From hosting your first consultation to learning how to charge clients for different services, there’s plenty of industry standard knowledge in circulation that all aspiring wedding and event planners should research before getting started. To help you begin your research, below we’ve outlined some answers to a few of the most common and important questions we’re asked by aspiring wedding and event planning professionals:
What Do Wedding Planners Do?
The initial consultation between a planner and the client is when all expectations are set. During this meeting, the client explains what he or she needs from the wedding or event planner, and the planner responds by explaining what they are capable of fulfilling. Any number of people may attend this initial meeting. If it is a wedding consultation for example, a planner may just meet with the couple. Other times the couple’s parents join in, and some couples even bring friends or siblings. However, one of your jobs as a planner is to establish who the “true” client is. Since many involved parties on the client end may have differing opinions throughout the planning process, during the consultation you need to explicitly determine who the real client is, and therefore who gets the final say in all matters at the end of the day.
Once the true client is established and he or she has shared a general overview of the services needed, the wedding or event planner then typically shares a summary of the packages they have available that seem to fit those needs. Usually, this is the difference between Full Service or Day-Of Coordination packages, and it’s extremely crucial for the planner to thoroughly and explicitly explain the difference between the two. In short, day of coordination involves taking care of all the logistical details of the wedding on the day of the wedding itself, whereas full service planning also involves managing budget, vendors, venues, and any other details.
Most wedding and event planners offer both of these services and leave it up to the clients to decide which they need. Typically, you should have a printed list handy that details what is included in each respective package. However, it’s important to remember that every client is different, and their needs will always vary. The best planners can be flexible and accommodate these special requests as they arise.
Learn more about planning a wedding and event consultation.
What is a Day-Of Wedding and Event Planner?
If you have been hired to provide day-of wedding or event planning services to your client, the first thing you should do is obtain a list of contracts corresponding to each contributing vendor the client has decided to work with. From there, you need to contact each vender (about a week before the event itself) and introduce yourself. During that call, you need to make sure you have all accurate information about what that vendor will be providing on the big day. You should also be sure to have the most convenient contact information so you can get in touch with them ASAP if necessary.
To make sure the day goes smoothly, it’s also important to create a detailed timeline to follow. Make sure to include everything from the photographer’s photo ops to the DJ or band’s arrival time. From start to finish, you need to know what time every piece is scheduled to come together on the big day. To keep everyone on the same page, a copy of this timeline document should be handed out to everyone in the wedding party (you can do this at the rehearsal).
Keep in mind, the phrase “Day of Coordinator” is a bit misleading, as it’s important for these planners to attend the rehearsal as well. The rehearsal is truly your last chance to confirm all the scheduling details with the couple.
On the day of the wedding or event, the planner should arrive at the venue early enough to supervise all vendor set-up, answer any questions and handle any issues that may arise. For weddings, planners need to make sure the couple, the DJ/band and the photographer are all on the same page as far as the event timeline (grand entrance, first dance, cake cutting, garter toss, etc.).
The day-of planner should also be the person who coordinates all interactions between all the vendors and the hosts on the day of the party. Essentially, the hosts should be able to enjoy the event and socialize with their guests without having to worry about issues with catering, music, etc. That’s where the day-of planner should really step in to make decisions on their behalf. As the planner, you should be familiar enough with the client’s vision to be able to make these calls without having to interrupt the hosts for confirmation- you can really serve as the liaison here.
If you’re working day-of coordination for a wedding specifically, once the ceremony is about to begin you should be making sure the guests/ wedding party are all in the right place. You are responsible for cueing ushers, greeters, etc. and making sure everything goes smoothly and begins on time. You will also likely be responsible for cueing the musicians at the appropriate moments.
After the ceremony, you will also be responsible for smooth transition of guests to the reception. If you’re an event planner, the same applies for day-of coordination for things like conferences or bar mitzvahs. The ceremony, keynote speech or church service is often followed by a reception. Whether you have arranged transportation or the event is near enough to walk, you need to make sure guests move from one to the other promptly and without confusion.
What is a Full-Service Wedding and Event Planner?
In some cases, your clients would much rather relinquish control of the event planning process to your expertise entirely. If that is the case, you will truly be working with them every step of the way, making every single event or wedding planning decision by their side, per your professional guidance. While this service is obviously worth much more money, it will also take up a great deal of your time- so be prepared for a long-term project made up of many important details.