Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dear Kelly, I want to be a wedding planner.

How do I do it?

I get this email every single day. I'm really quite flattered by it to be honest. So, thanks for asking, it makes me smile. This answer is NOT for everyone. I guarantee there is going to be someone who thinks that this is the stupidest answer ever. Hopefully though, it will mean something good to someone out there.
Hi, my name is ______, I'm a 20 year undergrad at University of _____, and am addicted to your blog. As a young college student, the question of my career path has come up quite often, and with much research and thought, the one job that constantly is in the back of my mind is wedding and event planner. Ive had my hand in planning a few events and parties, and loved every tiny detail. I'm originally from _________, and with a large high end mall, and many gated communities popping up on the west side of the city, I'm wondering if soon would be the time for someone like me to start up something and see if the city can support it. It's been slightly frustrating as every search for "Becoming a wedding/event planner" comes up with results of online courses/ guide books... and finally your blog, and many other wonderful sites like junebug and weddingbee. I don't think for a second I could make a website, open doors and succeed, none the less have a clue what I'm doing and would rather do this right to make a career, and not a failed attempt :) Ive contacted a few local businesses but am not receiving the friendly response I'd expected and don't know if this is due to my approach. I'm wondering if I could throw a few questions your way, and maybe get some advice on how to approach this subject. Thank you so much for your time, and I really appreciate anything you'd be willing to offer.

My response:
Hi ______,
Thanks for reading my blog! I understand your frustration. I was there once myself. The reason you aren't getting a great response from the local wedding industry is probably one of two things. Either you're contacting them during wedding season when they are all extremely busy and can't deal with someone calling on them for help at the moment, or (and more likely), they are afraid of helping the competition.
Are you at a school that has a Hospitality & Resort Management major? If not, that might be your 1st big decision...that's where you need to head to. If you are looking to get a small business degree and use that as your foundation- then stay put and start learning events from a different angle. If you can't find a wedding planner who will let you come on as an intern, look for internships with photographers, florists, wedding cake bakers, and videographers. Photographers and Videographers are your best bet so that you can actually attend as many weddings as possible. You'll also want to get a job in sales and catering at a local resort. I say resort and not country club because a resort will allow you to hold several positions outside of food and beverage that you can learn from and use in your career as a wedding planner.
I want to tell you that you are 100% doing the right thing...look for the areas that are growing and are going to need a wedding planner in the next couple years. Get in while nobody else is there so that when it does "boom"- you are it. In other words, learn how to plan in a market that has already been built, and then open shop in a market that shows signs of becoming big.
Best wishes to you _______- let me know how it goes!

Here's the thing gang. It is HARD and I mean really hard to be a wedding planner. I am not even going to try and deny that. Is it fun? Yes. I love it. I am totally addicted. When I talk to a bride and I say, "I am so excited!" I am not kidding- I really am. You have to have a passion for it. A passion for planning your own wedding does not mean you will have the passion to plan 15 weddings at the same time, with 15 different personalities, tastes, and styles. And if you're going to do this for a career, that's what you have to plan on doing. Also, you have to be prepared to work your arse off. I work a minimum of 60 hours a week, and during our wedding seasons, there are weeks on end where I don't get a day off and I work 14 hour days 3 weeks straight. Why do wedding planners have to work so much? Because on top of the weddings that we're planning, It's a business that has to be run. Accounting, marketing, public relations, administrative- it's a long list. I so wish that there was a wedding tv show that showed what this job is really like. I think so many people would be surprised.
Is it worth it? Absolutely! I LOVE BEING A WEDDING PLANNER. And _____, I hope that you will love being a wedding planner too.

P.S. For those ready to pick up the phone and call a bunch of wedding pro's and ask for internships- don't. Check their websites first to see if they have a preferred method of contact for such inquiries. I pick all my interns via email.

101 Destination Wedding Planning Tips

From the editors of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons