When you're a newcomer to planning weddings for others, you're bound to have questions. This episode is the first part of a live broadcast dedicated to answering questions sent in by WeddingsForaLiving listeners.
Here are the questions (and answers) discussed in this episode:
What Should I do if my Clients are Unhappy with a Wedding Vendor's Service or Product?
This question comes from Kathy about her role as a day-of or month-of wedding coordinator (thank you, Kathy!).
When hired as a day-of wedding coordinator, your primary function is to make sure that the wedding your clients have invested so much time and money planning goes off without a hitch. One area that is not your domain, however, is the hand-picking and hiring of professional wedding vendors. Your clients do that.
By the time you – the day-of wedding coordinator – come on board, your clients will/should have already confirmed, executed contracts with and booked their wedding vendors.
Keeping this in mind, Kathy, in her role as a day-of wedding coordinator asked what her position should be if her clients are unhappy with the service or product that a vendor provides on the actual wedding day? Should she say something to the vendor, or not?
What's the Best Way for a New Wedding Planner to find Clients?
Joe asked for help with finding clients. “Thank you Joe!”
Begin with your family and friends and let them know that you've transitioned from being a dabbler or hobbyist to being a professional wedding planner who charges for your services.
Business cards are an inexpensive yet memorable way to spread the word about your wedding business.
A professional website that reflects the style and budget of the weddings you aspire to plan is a must and lets the world you know you mean business!
Develop a shortlist of professional wedding vendors and venues in your area and build relationships with them. They deal with engaged couples all day long and will likely send potential clients your way.
Should I charge more for an extended or long-distance wedding?
Ashley typically is the last person to leave her clients' wedding, but, wondered what she should charge if the wedding goes on past midnight or is located several hours away from her office. “Thanks for writing, Ashley!”
You should have a baseline price for your wedding planner services that includes a certain number of hours. Charge extra for any additional planning time.
If you're asked to travel beyond a certain radius from your office, you should also charge extra for travel and accommodation costs. Don't forget your incidentals.
Don't price these types of services – extended time or travel – on the spot. These are custom or bespoke wedding planning services. Take time to calculate all of your associated expenses and then get back to your potential clients within 24-48 hours with your fee.
What's the best way to set-up a wedding planner agency?
Sabrina asked for help with setting up her wedding company similar to the way a law firm operates. “Love this idea, Sabrina!”
Assuming you know what planning a wedding entails, creating a system is key when setting up an agency type of wedding business. Document all of the steps involved so that your clients are getting a much more consistent result when working with members of your staff.
RESOURCE: DayofWeddingBusiness.com – Debbie's online course for starting and running a wedding coordination (not planning) company.
You also have to consider how much control you, the agency owner, will have with each wedding planner. Will you let each wedding planner select his/her own clients, for example? How will you ensure that each wedding planner is skilled enough to plan each wedding? Will you offer training?
Consider building your agency around a specialty or niche so that you're not wasting time chasing the wrong type of client.
TAKE ACTION: Visit the Small Business Administration SBA and/or SCORE for advice on using independent contractors vs. employees for your wedding planning agency.
TAKE ACTION: Connect with the owner of an existing employment agency or a law firm (since this type of business model was referenced in the question) to find out how these types of businesses operate. Then, see if you can somehow apply any of their systems to your wedding planning agency.
TAKE ACTION: Create an informal board of advisors or an accountability group and meet monthly to brainstorm business ideas
What if I become labeled as the ‘day-of' or ‘month-of' wedding planner?
Pamela likes the idea of being a day-of wedding coordinator for now but is concerned that she'll be stuck with the ‘day-of' label throughout her career. How should she deal with this?
Specializing is a good thing! You can command a higher fee and you'll instantly standout among the sea of wedding planners in your area.
Being a day-of wedding coordinator is also the perfect complement to working a 9-to-5 job (less hand-holding).
As you work more weddings you'll soon learn if your clients need more help. THEN you're in the ideal position to add more comprehensive planning to your list of services.
What's the Best Way to Market my Wedding Business to Family & Friends?
Pamela also asked for help with marketing her wedding business without a website or a portfolio. “Thanks, Pamela!”
A website for your wedding business is a must. But until then,a blog focused on the local wedding scene, for example, is an effective way for you to get noticed. Each time you come across a great wedding find, whether it's a venue or a unique idea for a bridal gown, post it on your blog and then tweet it, post a link on Facebook, share the pic on Instagram…you get the idea, right? By the time you're ready to launch your official wedding business website, you'll have loads of your very own content to link to.
Also, check out the response to this earlier question about finding clients for your wedding business.
Please share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section on this page.