The new “glamour career” includes a combination of romance, faith in the future and flowers – lots of flowers beautifully coordinated to a bride’s personal tastes. This career, of course, is coordinating weddings. Becoming a professional wedding coordinator, glamorous as it is,
Requires a high level of patience and organizational skills. In fact, without these skills, your days as a wedding planner will be short.
If you can’t soothe a nervous bride with a few calming words, off the top of your head but that have the magic required when dealing with brides, you might want to reconsider this as a career choice. Ah, but if you can, a spectacular career is in store for you. Of course, it takes far more than this, but passing this test determines a lot, just as failing it will too.
After you’ve been contracted to oversee the wedding coordination, you’ll spend a lot of time with not only the bride and groom, but with their families, caterers, jewelers, photographers, the gown designer, the tailor who’s handling the tuxedos, the baker who’s designing the wedding cake and those in charge of the venue. That’s just in the first half of the planning phase! Your first goal, as you might expect, will be to sit down with the bride and groom and speak extensively about their expectations, the guest list, the invitations, the date, the “plan B” in case of inclement weather, the bridesmaid’s gowns, the theme, the food, the champagne, whether or not it’s an open bar or even if alcohol will be served, the honeymoon and many other details that will surely rest on your shoulders.
Your goal is to take the burden off of the families so that they can enjoy this exciting time. This is where your organizational skills will come into play. Most wedding coordinators will find the best software program or better still, many create their own programs, complete with templates, calendars and reminders of upcoming deadlines so that nothing is left undone. It’s an overwhelming task. But when you pull it off and it’s beautifully coordinated, you know you’re hooked. Despite the exhaustion and the stress of trying to remember what you forgot – and yes, coordinators spend many sleepless nights trying to remember what they forgot – it’s an incredible sense of accomplishment knowing you played a role in the first important day of a new marriage.
Your career in wedding planning will require you to be part psychologist, teacher, negotiator and errand-runner. You’ll spend hours sweating over the bows for the chair backs, meeting with the baker to insist every iced rose petal is perfectly placed and hovering over the seamstress to double check every stitch made. You’ll have a budget that’s sure to fluctuate from day to day and you’ll have an increasingly nervous bride up until the big day when your nervous bride becomes a basket case and you just know if you can get her down the aisle before her makeup runs, you’ll have accomplished the impossible. And lest we forget the in-laws; you may find yourself playing referee at times.
So is it worth it? Actually, yes. Experts say as long as you remain both patient and dedicated and are willing to bend with the almost-certain changes along the way, wedding coordinators have the potential earn handsome incomes. According to the Association for Wedding Professionals International, nearly 80% of wedding planners work for themselves. About half of those have an assistant. Because there are no universal accepted minimum requirements or guidelines, many find themselves learning through experience and holding on to what works best and quickly dropping those efforts that weren’t as effective.
You’ll also have to determine how you’ll define your services and what you’ll offer. Will you organize the entire wedding? Perhaps you’re more comfortable with a shared workload between you and the engaged couple where you’re involved to an extent, but you won’t carry the lion’s share. There are also those coordinators who are involved only on the day of the wedding to ensure guests are seated, the veil makes it to the church, and the bridesmaids are coordinated and other unexpected happenings.
Income levels are as varied as the planners themselves. There are those extremely successful coordinators who bring in $200,000-plus per year and then there are those who work part time and may earn less than $10,000 annually. Unlike many careers, those in this industry determine how much they make. The work is there for the truly gifted. After all, there are thousands of weddings every weekend of the year across the country. And a growing number of these weddings include the services of wedding planners.
Although there are no required certifications or even state regulations wedding planners must adhere to, it’s always wise to back up your name with a certification in hospitality or other areas. Another recommendation is to become a member of your state’s Better Business Bureau. When you’re contacted, encourage your client to ask questions, provide reassurance in your abilities and don’t forget the references. Before long, you’ll be booking these happy occasions every week. And finally, it’s important to remember that word of mouth plays a large role in your success, so be sure the bride and groom are pleased with the final project. Your success is only as good as your last event.