Joining a professional wedding planner association is not a requirement for your wedding planning business or career, but it is a good first step.
Membership in a professional wedding planner association means:
— The opportunity to meet and network with others who ‘get' your passion and share your desire to plan weddings for a living.
— Credibility for you and your business from clients and other wedding professionals; membership in a professional association demonstrates just how serious you are about your profession.
— Taking part in educational wedding seminars, training courses and leadership programs. Once you become a wedding planner, never stop learning!
— Breaking industry news about the wedding industry like professional software, wedding products, publications, etc.
— Bridal leads from engaged couples searching for a local professional wedding planner.
— The chance to interact with celebrity wedding planners who typically serve as keynote speakers and guests for association events.
— Media opportunities and Inquiries from reporters, journalists and TV producers about your involvement in the wedding industry.
When I was a member of the Association for Wedding Professionals (AFWPi)a few years ago, I remember receiving an email from a TV producer scouting for bridal clients to be contestants on a special wedding edition of the then hit TV show ‘The Fear Factor'– how cool is that? Unfortunately, none of my clients at the time were gutsy enough to respond to this once-in-a-lifetime offer, but can you imagine the exposure you and your business would receive if one of your clients landed a spot on a national TV show? Priceless!
So, Which Wedding Planner Association is Right For You?
That's a great question! The answer: It depends!
You have several professional associations to chose from with each offering different benefits. Some associations cater to the general needs of all types of wedding planners. Others are for specific types of wedding professionals, like the Caribbean Wedding Association, which as you might imagine is an association for professionals who specialize in planning destination weddings in the Caribbean.
The key is to do your research. Look beyond the membership information packets and go one step further. Talk to the folks who know firsthand–current members of the wedding planning association.
Members are usually listed on association websites so that brides can locate professionals for their wedding. There's no rule that says you can't utilize this tool to contact members, too.
Don't be afraid to ask association members for their honest feedback about their experiences. After all, you want to get the full value of your membership dollars (or pounds)!
When you're weighing all of the feedback, try and remember to take notes and compare your situation to the person you're communicating with.
A wedding coordinator employed by a national hotel chain, has a different expectation from a professional association than an independent, home-based, bridal consultant who is trying to launch a business as a part-time venture while holding down a 9-to-5 job.
Some of the more prominent Wedding Planner Associations include:
ABC – Association of Bridal Consultants
AFWPI – Association for Wedding Professionals International
JWI – June Wedding, Inc. an association for Event Professionals
ACPWC – Association Certified Professional Wedding Consultants
NAWP – National Association of Wedding Professional
UKAWP – UK Alliance of Wedding Planners
Don't Just Join…Lead!
How much you get out of your wedding planner association membership depends in large part on the effort you put into it.
You can join an association and show up at all the meetings. That will help. But if you truly want to build your wedding planning business it takes more than minimal effort. It takes leadership.
Once you join a wedding planner association, take the initiative and volunteer and/or serve on a committee or two. When you do, others will sit up, take notice, and they won't likely forget you…which translates into more business than you could ever imagine!