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.
…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.