When most of us think of a professional wedding planner, we envision the fictional characters portrayed in films like Father of the Bride and The Wedding Planner or celebrity wedding planners like Preston Bailey and Marcy Blum who are often responsible for creating the extravagant weddings that the media makes sure to share with the world.
Several companies that provide a wedding-related service, for example, a full-service hotel, a banquet facility, a country club, a cruise ship, a department store routinely hire employees to help with the wedding planning process.
But, most aspiring wedding planners want to work independently as the owner of their very own wedding planning business.
But, what, specifically, is a professional wedding planner paid to do? (Because, on the surface, planning weddings for a living looks like a pretty cool gig.)
Wedding Planner Job Description
As a professional wedding planner, you should expect to:
- Meet with clients to learn what they want for their wedding
- Complete venue visits and walk-throughs – both ceremony and reception sites
- Be a wedding know-it-all who provides ongoing wedding etiquette advice and solutions
- Find amazing professional wedding vendors who bring your client's wedding vision to life – e.g. band to provide music, caterer to provide food, florist to provide flowers, etc.
- Negotiate, on behalf of your client, the details of a professional wedding vendor’s contract
- Create and skillfully manage a budget for your client’s wedding
- Come up with original design ideas and the overall look for your client’s wedding
- Create a detailed wedding-day timeline/production schedule
- Act as the liaison and point-of-contact for all professional wedding vendors on your client’s wedding day
- Prepare a contingency plan for the wedding day
- Create a detailed layout of the wedding ceremony and reception seating for wedding guests
- Oversee and train your own wedding-day staff
- Maintain constant communication with your client throughout the wedding planning process
- And a much more…
You can see why the average wedding takes at least 100 hours to plan. It really is no small feat!
Types of Wedding Planner
But being a wedding planner doesn’t mean that you have to plan your clients’ wedding from beginning to end. You also have the option to have limited involvement:
Day-Of Wedding Coordinator – helps clients who have completed most, if not all, of the planning for their wedding by coordinating the events of the wedding day.
Wedding Consultant – meets with and provides wedding planning advice to clients who are planning a wedding, however, in this role the consultant doesn’t attend the actual event. Clients are, in essence, picking the consultants brain.
Partial Wedding Planning – as a professional wedding planner, couples may hire you to help with a single wedding planning task, only. For example, manage the guest RSVPs or locate a wedding reception venue. Typically, with the partial wedding planning service, the wedding planner does not attend the actual wedding.
Wedding Designer/Stylist – creates the overall look and style of a wedding. In this role, your focus is more about eye candy and has little if anything to do with the logistics of putting the wedding together.
By the way, in most instances, your clients will have separate contracts with individual professional wedding vendors. As a wedding planner it isn’t your role to actually provide the food, the flowers or the music for each of the weddings that you’re hire for. Instead, your role is oversee each of these services.
Wedding Planner Hours
Planning weddings is not a 9-to-5 job. On the contrary, evenings and weekends are when you get to do what you do. Expect to spend a lot of time behind closed doors planning the details of your client's wedding day. In fact, most wedding guests won’t know you were even hired!
Wedding Planner Pay
How much money will you make as a professional wedding planner?
Well, that varies. (Sorry, I know that isn't the answer you were hoping for.) Most wedding planners run their companies privately and don’t readily disclose their earnings.
If you’re working as an employee, then your employer establishes your rate of pay. This may be a straight salary or the position may offer a commission-based rate of compensation that directly ties in with the amount spent by your clients on various elements for their wedding.
As an independent wedding planner, the rule of thumb is that full-service wedding planning accounts for approximately 10% of the couple's wedding budget.
The cost of weddings in your area, the number of annual weddings, your level of involvement — i.e. the type of wedding planning service you provide — and whether or not couples are even hiring professional wedding planners, directly impacts the amount of money you can expect to make.
All That Glitters…
Personally, I don't know of anyone who got into the wedding planning business for the money (and yes, that includes me); but for some bizarre reason, that doesn't seem to stop us.
Wedding blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, celebrity wedding planners…each play a part in the myth of what a professional wedding planner does. Hopefully, Weddings for A Living will help as you figure it all out; just expect a huge dose of reality. 🙂