I Want To Be A Wedding Planner
The other day I was asked to do a 10 to 15 minute presentation regarding the challenges faced by wedding planners. I was absolutely awful. Possibly due to the wrong brief, or because I did not have enough time to prepare. Was asked on Monday late afternoon and had to do it on Tuesday afternoon and I had more pressing jobs to deal with, anyway perhaps I should have said no but you live and learn.
I had never really thought about challenges to be honest, for me it was always about the client and how I felt really did not come into it. However, since I was asked to think about it here is what I came up with. So just in case there is anyone out there who wants to become a wedding planner, perhaps this may help?
Being a wedding planner is not just about the romance of it all. When I am asked what I do, as soon as I say arrange bespoke weddings and travel to Italy, everyone smiles and says How wonderful.
Like most businesses it has its challenges.
I have now been organising weddings and travel to Italy for over 25 years and throughout this time we have arranged many weddings and trips. For the wedding part, the market (Arranging Italian weddings) is getting smaller and smaller and this is all due to the number of wedding planners that now exist. Everyone can now organise weddings, even the small Agriturismo with 5 rooms (not to say that there is anything wrong with them) but just to say that there are now lots of people organising Italian weddings, even though they may not be wedding planners. Again this is not something which only affects this type of business, lots of businesses are affected unless your product is unique.
CNBC which is an American pay television business news channel, listed that being a wedding and event planner as the 5th most stressful career. I still have butterflies and a nervous twitch each time I organise a wedding or event or even a bespoke trip to Italy and I have always told myself that once I stop getting those butterflies, then it is time to close up and start something new.
Any way before I go into one of my monologues, here is a list of what I would consider challenges.
- The first challenge is finding clients. There are like any businesses ways to do this, web sites, building a presence with social media tools, liaisons with journalists, advertising etc. This in itself can take a long time as any promotions or press releases need thought and you need to keep a momentum going. There is no point doing something today and then leaving it for a month before you post something new. (….Guilty as charged).
- Once you have found the client, it is all about converting it into a sale. To do this you need to show knowledge, professionalism and you need to build a rapport with your client. You also need to be aware that your client is not just asking you but has been in contact with other planners, so it is important that you stand out and demonstrate that you know what you are talking about and what you are able to do. If clients get the feel that you do not know what you are talking about, you have lost your client.
- Once the client books with you, you need to build trust and keep a rapport. If you lose this relationship, I guarantee that it will affect the wedding day as the slightest error will turn into a major one. Treat your client with respect and always be there for them. Try to be as transparent and as honest as possible, even though on occasions it has nothing to do with you but with the venue.
- You need to be able to deal with difficult clients. You need to appreciate that the senses are heightened and can become explosive as this is one of the most important days of your client’s life and any loss of detail becomes a drama.
- You need to be able to deal with complaints in a professional and courteous manner to avoid any further repercussions. If you are to blame, then you need to admit to it, so for example if the bride requested a yellow bouquet and she got a red one, then that is blatantly an error. It may be the florist who is at fault but then you need to take it up with them and not with your client.
- You need to have a strong relationship with your suppliers and if you think something is wrong, then you need to tell them and not be afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings, as the most important person here is your client.
- Finding financial support to set up your business. You may need it for an office, telephone, web site, advertising. When I started up, banks were reluctant to give me any money so the business grew slowly, but it still grew.
- Making sure that you get all the main parts of your business right for example do you have adequate insurance cover like professional indemnity, do you need to be VAT registered, do you have an accountant or an accountancy package. Usually we are so taken in but what we are doing that we forget the basics.
- Always be a step ahead of your competition and again there are various ways of doing this. You need to work on being unique, different. Does this mean giving your clients more choice, less choice, venues which no one else is promoting or perhaps it is all about you.
- You need to constantly keep your eyes on the market, what is going on, the trends at the time. Be forward thinking which also means being creative.
- Lastly but also very important, is being able to sell.
Finally, I suggest taking a good look at yourself and asking the following questions. If some of your answers are negative, then you need to work hard to improve on them and remember that you can improve during your business life because as you do more and more weddings or more and more trips, things will start falling into place and you will only get better.
So here are the questions.
- Are you dedicated enough
- Are you able to invest the time required
- Can you handle the stress
- Are you able to liaise with suppliers
- Are you able to solve problems
- Can you multitask
- Are you organised
- Are you patient and determined
- Are you able to communicate
- Are you aware that you are dealing with a bride and the mother of the bride. This is one of the most volatile situations
- Are you able to deal with complaints as they can be trivial like the bouquet was not the right shade to you having ruined the best day of their life
In conclusion, you need to have clarity and be realistic but fundamentally you need the confidence. Without confidence in yourself and your business structure, it will be a difficult road ahead.
My final piece of advice is to set yourself a vision and set up your business based on that vision. The more you go on, the more your vision may change but that is fine. You need to set yourself a goal and just keep on going.