Top Wedding Planner Skills

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Do you have them?

There are certain wedding planner skills and personality traits that are consistent among most of the truly successful in this industry.

Here is a list of skills that I believe are the most important for wedding planners to have.

WEDDING PLANNER SKILLS #1: COMMUNICATION

This is a people business and you’ll spend the majority of your time communicating with just about everyone–the bride, the groom, wedding vendors, wedding guests…

Professional wedding planners spend an unbelievable amount of time with their brides–sometimes communicating every single day! The bond you form with your client should be based on honesty, trust and mutual respect. With that kind of foundation, you can help her create a day that she, her groom and her guests will remember fondly.

It’s practically impossible to plan a wedding without the help of your wedding professionals. In your communications, never forget that these guys (and gals) are the ‘dream team’ that makes this very special occasion happen.

More importantly, though, remember that your vendors are ‘people’.   Treating wedding vendors with respect and professionalism will go a very long way in your career. Because, whether you know it or not, many wedding vendors do not look forward to working with wedding planners, but that’s another story!

As you plan weddings, you’ll come across situations that will test you and push you to the limits of your diplomatic skills. Fight the urge to react unkindly. Your personality is what people will remember. Make it a positive memory.

Know who you are. If you’re unable or unwilling to be personable in your communications–whether via email, telephone or in-person–you may want to rethink this wedding planner thing altogether.

WEDDING PLANNER SKILLS #2: REMAINING CALM

Weddings are such personal events. Many of my girlfriends were planning their big day since childhood. So it’s easy to see how things become so emotional.

Even with the help of a planner, brides can become overwhelmed and stressed out (and it gets worse as the wedding day approaches). As a professional wedding planner, it’s your job to remain calm and in control (without turning into a ‘planzilla!).

In the words of that deodorant TV commercial “never let them see you sweat.” On the wedding day, you’re the one person who shouldn’t appear to be flustered. Even when you know that your carefully mapped out plan seems to be falling apart (and it’ll happen!).

You are the individual that calms everyone else’s nerves. You gotta think on your feet and be ready with Plan B. How does the saying go: “Hope for the best and plan for the worst.”? That certainly applies with weddings.

As you plan more and more events this wedding planner skill gets easier and you’ll quickly learn what works and what doesn’t.

That is the experience and skill set your clients are paying for.

WEDDING PLANNER SKILLS #3: ATTENTION TO DETAIL

Details–managing them is another skill you will need to handle at a higher level than you may have ever done before. If you don’t like getting into the thick of things and dealing with details, there really isn’t any way around it. You’ve got to learn to love it! Or being a professional wedding planner will make you crazy.

WEDDING PLANNER SKILLS #4: CREATIVITY

Nobody wants their wedding to look like all the others they’ve been to (don’t you just hate that?!), so it’s up to you, the professional wedding planner to be the creative genius that wows your clients with one-of-a-kind ideas.

And I accept that not all of us were born with the ‘über’ creative gene. No worries. That’s why magazines, TV shows, books, wedding planning associations and the Internet exist. If you spend enough time utilizing all of these resources, inspiration will surround you.

And I’m not suggesting that you copy everything you come across, either. Instead, put your spin on the trends and ideas that see around you and then apply them to your client’s event.

When you stumble across that clever article or fabulous magazine photo, tear it out and stash it away in an ‘idea binder’ or file. (And this is not the same thing as your portfolio which represents all of the actual work that you have done.)

An idea binder is a collection of items that inspire you: photos, fabric swatches, samples…anything that makes you go “Oooh!” when you first see it. When you’re stuck and can’t seem to generate anything spectacular for a client, flipping through your idea file is sure to get the creative juices flowing.

Make it your business to stay current so that you’re an endless source of information,—a walking Rolodex–with the inside track on all the best local wedding resources, ideas and contacts. Brides want original and fresh ideas. You owe them that much.

WEDDING PLANNER SKILLS #5: ORGANIZATION

Being organized and developing systems is one of the wedding planner skills that separates truly professional wedding planners from the hobbyists.

Remember, this ain’t your sister’s weddin’!

As a professional wedding consultant, you will need to create systems to guarantee that every base is covered. Just one small forgotten detail can make all the difference in the world for such an important event.

As the wedding plans progress, it’s your job to remind your couple of what needs to happen and when—that’s why they hired you.

Whether you opt to use professional wedding planning software (and there are some great ones out there) or a paper-based system you’ve got to be logical and organized. Creating checklists is the order of the day so much so that your lists will begin to have lists!

The beauty of coming up with a great system is that you only have to create the system once. Once it’s in place, you simply follow it through, step-by-step, for every event that you plan.

And top-notch organization skills are not just limited to your client’s weddings. You’ll need this wedding planner skill to operate your very own wedding planning business.

If you have ever spent more than 30 minutes searching for that piece of paper that you know ‘was right here’, you understand the importance of organization. Thankfully, being organized is an acquirable skill (for some, it’s even a profession!).

WEDDING PLANNER SKILLS #6: RESOURCEFULNESS

Great wedding planners are like pack rats (well kinda, sorta!). What I mean is that you see stuff and remember where it is when you need it. Or you have some sort of system in place to capture lots of information (for example, your idea book).

You have the ability to take the look of a designer pair of silk satin bridal shoes that cost $400-plus and find a similar less-expensive pair of sling backs that your bride will love.

WEDDING PLANNER SKILLS #7: MONEY MANAGEMENT

Think planning weddings is all fun and creativity? Not quite. One of your less glamorous, but necessary, roles is that of money manager–making sure your clients remain financially on track and that they get the most bang for their buck.

With the average U.S. wedding costing $28,000, the professional wedding planner has quite a responsibility on her hands. Budget is not a popular word for brides planning a wedding. (And surprisingly, I’ve discovered, not all wedding planners know how to create and effectively manage one.)

Once hired, one of your top priorities should be to create a workable budget. Most of the professional wedding planning software packages include budgeting to help you with this, but if not any spreadsheet application, like Microsoft Excel, will do the job.

You’ll find that many couples have tons of ideas about what they want for their wedding. But very few will have any idea of the actual costs associated with their dreams. And that’s where you come in. With your industry experience, you can equate their visions to dollars.

JUST REMEMBER…

…that planning a wedding is all about your clients…not you! So, check your ego at the door.

If you’re serious–and I mean really serious–about planning weddings for a living, take some time to assess your skills and your personality. Be certain that this is a good fit for you.

Immerse yourself. Take the time to review the ins and outs of the wedding industry. Browsing this website is a great start! 🙂

If the decision has been made and you’re certain that being a wedding planner is what you want to do, then, fantastic! Work on developing your wedding planner skills and turn all of that passion into success.

HAPPY PLANNING!

 

35 Comments

  • Hi Debbie! Am so excited reading from you. It’s so insightful.
    Am an up and coming Wedding Planner in Ghana (West Africa). People are now warming up to the idea of Planners here. I’ve had some experiences already and with the tips you’re offering, I believe my passion-turned-profession will grow even bigger and more successful.
    Fantastic job, Debbie!

    • thanx so much debbie for dis wonderful indepth of hw to plan a wedding, I found it fascinating. debbie, pls I ve started something of this sort not long ago and I really need more materials that will enhance me on this job. please is there a way u could help me with some useful materials?
      gr8t work u doing, thanx once again.

  • thanks so much i have always wanted to become a wedding planner and this just helped me decide that ill be fit for the job. Really excited to get started on my dream job.

  • hi Debbie i have a passion in wedding planning and not that i have done any job yet, but the minute i went to google for tips on how to become the best in the industry i found you and your advise on how to become one and keep growing, and i believe that you are God sent. thank you for helping men and women out there who wish to make wedding planning their life. you are simply a star. i will take what you are teaching with me where ever i go and i will be proud to tell people that i learned the tricks of the trade from you.

  • Hi debbie! my name is vanessa and im a current student of event management. I read your article about skills to become a successful wedding planner and I love it. I would like to share this information with my class if that is ok with you. Of corse i would mention that is your article and that you are the creator of weddings for living.

  • Hi Debbie~

    I stumbled onto your website a few days ago, and can’t stop coming back to read more or your helpful tips and advise on being a wedding planner! I LOVE it so much! THANK YOU!!!! You are so generous and real about the information you provide. It actually reafirms that I am definitely in the right field and now have an invaluable resource to come back to!

    You ROCK sistaa!
    ~Diana

  • Thanks so much for posting these suggestions! I have been wanting to be a planner for 5-6 years now, and have stalled on the idea because I was discouraged by many people.

    I am now almost 27 yrs old with 2 kids, and I am afraid if I wait any longer (and keep listening to everyone else,) I will never do it. So, I am glad that I stumbled onto this page so I can gather sound advice and ideas!

    Of course, I am a bit scared and intimidated (thinking I am not cut out for it,) but I need to at least try, and you have given me a great list of basics to go by! Thanks so much!

  • Hi Debbie!
    I absolutely love this website! I just stumbled upon it today and it has taught me a lot and answered a lot of questions I had while creating a wedding planning business of my own. I just have one question….I am trying to decide on my niche right now and I was wondering, along with my specialty is it a good idea to offer services for traditional weddings as well?

    Heather

    • Hi Heather,

      Thanks so much for your positive feedback. Glad you’re learning lots.

      The great thing about a niche, Heather, is that it truly sets you apart. Once you figure out what it is, promote and make it part of your brand; don’t bury it. That doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t offer services to couples outside of that specialty. You certainly can. But just be careful not to ‘dilute’ what it is that makes you different from all the other planners in your area (who, no doubt are promoting their ‘traditional’ wedding planning services).

      Does that make sense?

      –Debbie :0

  • I want to start to be a wedding planner but dont know how to get stated please help me start a job i would love email me back asap

  • Found your article very inspiring and informative. As a wedding planner you must know the amount of hard work that goes in making the event an enjoyable experience. When everybody around is busy showering their best wishes on the couple, it is the wedding planner who takes care of the minutest details to make the event successful. There is an Irish saying – May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward, that is often quoted for the newly weds. Speaking of wedding quotes, the best that suits our profession is this one – Nothing else is required than to act toward God, in the midst of your occupations, as you do, even when busy, toward those who love you and whom you love by Alphonsus Liguori. There is so much pressure on a wedding planner to make everyone happy on the big day amidst all the chaos. As a wedding planner one has the responsibility to fulfill the bride’s most cherished wishes. But I can imagine the satisfaction one gets after a job well done. I was in two minds whether or not to choose this profession, but after reading your article, I am making a positive mind. Let me quote one of my favorite quotes here – Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. – William James

    • Thank you so much for such inspiring feedback, Emily. Please, let me know how things progress for you!

      –Debbie

  • Very helpful indeed! I am starting up my own business in February and after reading this I am certain I am making the right choice! Thank-you for your helpful information!!

  • Great article thank you so much this is extremely well put together and very helpful and motivating!

    We are looking for an all-in-one software to help us manage our upcoming weddings, manage our clients, events, share files, shared calendar, tasks, and invoicing.

    So far we’ve only found SalesForce.com and PayPanther.com, does anyone have any recommendations?

  • Thank you so much for the awesome tips and advice you’ve put here. It’s inspiring. I’m getting ready to begin my Wedding Planning business here in Australia. I always seem to choose careers which are dominated by women, such as I am a qualified massage therapist, but found most people male and female preferred female massage therapists, now in this case with Wedding Planning I find it said that most wedding planners are female. Will that make it hard for me as a male to get my business going do you think? Why do you think most wedding planners are female? Do you have any suggestions on how I might improve my website? Thanks. Cheers. Ken

    • Hello Ken,

      I remember you! Thanks for taking the time to write.

      I actually talked a little bit about you and your website on episode #366 of Confetti. I think working with a male wedding planner is a fantastic idea. And honestly, your gender might well be enough to set you apart from the other female wedding planners in your area. (Hey, if you’ve got it, use it!)

      Historically, women were charged with the planning of major social events such as weddings, so, I suppose it stands to reason that we’re in the forefront of an industry like this even now.

      If you have a moment, take a listen to the audio replay that I mentioned (you can find the specific time-stamp in the show notes). I hope it helps. Here’s the link once more: http://weddingsforaliving.com/366.

      –Debbie 🙂

  • How old is too old to become a wedding planner? I am 53 years old and obtained my certificate in wedding planning but I feel my age may be a factor.

  • This is way better than going to wedding planning institutes I must say.
    I seem to be finding everything here I always wanted to know Debbie!
    Thank you so much!

  • Hi Debbie! thank you so much for being so inspiring! I am starting now my own wp company but worked for years in the field of services. I have a question: i am always in a happy positive and smiling mood, it is my nature, but i often had to manage with people very rude that treated me like s***. Seriously. Starting my own business, i swear to myself that i would never ever worked again with such customers. I told myself that as soon as someone starts to be unrespectful, i prefer to earn less money but to stay “safe”. I really would like to know what you think about this. In the company where i used to work, my boss told me that yes, he knows that some customer are very rude and unpolite, but it is about money and that even if they seem to complain about everything, at the end very often they come back from us for our services. And it was true, they always came back from us. But always complaining and treating us bad. Do you think it is too risky for my business to avoid those people? or how could i manage them without being too sensitive?

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