Starting a wedding planning business doesn’t take a lot of money to get started, and having experience in event planning or the hospitality industry can be beneficial. Consider that the median price of a wedding in the U.S. is around $20,000 and you’ll see immediately that it’s a high-ticket item that people are willing to pay premium for.
Do you think you have what it takes to start your own bridal or wedding consulting business? Maybe you’ve seen that movie with Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey and deep down, you just know you could do better.
And, you’re right. We all can. We can all do better than that movie. And we should.
- Running a wedding planner business allows you to do what you love while making money, picking the clients you want to work with, and choosing your own schedule.
- The wedding planner market is set to be over $70 billion in 2023 with over 400,000 wedding planning businesses.
- Being a wedding planner gives you the chance to interact with people from all different kinds of backgrounds, giving you the opportunity to meet with vendors for the events you plan and expand your network of business contacts.
If you’re thinking about starting a wedding planning business but don’t know how to get started, then read our tips today on what you can do to maximize your success when you launch your very own successful wedding planning services.
Starting Your Wedding Planner Business
Wedding planning businesses may benefit from starting up in the spring, given that most engagements take place between Christmas and Valentine’s Day and that couples hire photographers 9–12 months before their wedding. Spring gives you enough time to find the best venues in your area, make connections with professionals in the area, and meet leaders in your field. The wedding planner will be a newcomer, so they will be able to compete on price because established professionals will want to charge more.
Wedding planners can also take advantage of the season’s energy and optimism by starting their businesses in the spring. This can help them build a strong brand identity and attract clients who are excited about planning their weddings. Also, spring is a popular time for couples to start planning their weddings, so wedding planners can expect a steady stream of inquiries and bookings during this time.
How Much Do Wedding Planners Make Per Year?
The typical annual salary of a wedding planner is around $32,000. Having said that, successful and experienced planners can easily earn more than $100,000 per year. Some wedding planners only book a few weddings (say, 8–10) per year, while others book 15–20 weddings.
It’s up to you whether you want to perform as many weddings as you can. In fact, many wedding organizers manage upwards of 50 weddings or more each year.
Most wedding planners, though, charge based on a percentage of the total cost of the wedding, which is usually between 12 and 20%. Therefore, the planner would charge between $3,600 and $6,000 for their services if a couple had a $30,000 budget. Of course, this figure may change depending on the size and scope of the wedding as well as the experience and skill of the planner.
Wedding Planner Business Startup Costs
Fortunately, starting a wedding planning business is light on the pocketbook when compared to other popular business startup ideas. Wedding event planning mainly requires you to know how to wheel and deal with vendors, schedule and negotiate with venue and location owners, pick out and manage caterers, wedding designers, musicians, photographers, and anything else extra special
The cost to start a wedding planning business varies depending on several factors, such as location, services offered, and marketing expenses. However, on average, it can range from $2,500 to $10,000 for initial startup costs. Your main financial concerns as a wedding planner don’t show up in startup costs but appear as complications with making the wedding happen: vendor cancellations, missed payments from clients, honest mistakes and liability issues can bring down your bottom line, which is why you’ll want to be protected.
More on that in a second.
Wedding Planner Business Plan and Tips
Wedding planning requires a lot of planning itself. So much planning. If you’re like me, you’ll appreciate a visual chart you can use as an example to help you map out your progress from new client to happily wed couple.
But, to be successful at wedding planning and protecting your assets, you’ll need to stay organized and protect yourself legally before you take on a client who puts you in a situation that could hurt your finances.
The Wedding Planner Contract: Get it in Writing First
Make sure these provisions are in your event planning contract in order to protect yourself.
- 1. Payment plan: When do you want customers to reimburse you for your work? The majority of event planning tasks require an upfront deposit, with the balance due after the event. Make sure to include a due date for the initial deposit in both your contract and your schedule for event planning. Declare in writing that you won’t start working until the client pays that sum. The client has the option of making smaller payments for each planning milestone or the balance in full at the conclusion of the event. Make sure to include taxes and other supplemental costs and to break down the line items (such as venue rental, supplies, and catering). From contract to breathtaking event in a matter of minutes
- 2. Cancellation policy: A client could decide to cancel in the middle of the event planning process. If you’ve already planned a portion of the event, what do you do? Your contract may be able to shield you from financial loss in this situation. Please be aware that none of the payments you made prior to the cancellation are refundable. Also mention that clients are liable for any event expenses incurred after the last payment. This will ensure that, if the last payment was the initial deposit, you are paid for all work completed since that time.
- 3. The cancellation-by-you provision: Clients often withdraw in the middle of a transaction. What if you, the event organizer, want to decline? It happens; perhaps you receive a last-minute request from a high-profile client, a hired vendor cancels, or you experience an unanticipated medical emergency. A cancellation-by-hotel clause is a term used frequently in the hospitality sector to describe this kind of provision. Include the scenarios that give you the option to withdraw from the contract for event planning. However, you must also make provisions for the client whose business you are canceling. This could mean finding a different outside planner for the client or giving back the deposit.
- 4. A clause of termination: The terms of cancellation should not be confused with a termination clause. Termination refers to cancellation due to unavoidable circumstances outside of the control of either party. This could apply to natural disasters like pandemics, weather-related incidents, and government shutdowns. A termination clause specifies the circumstances under which neither party is responsible. These scenarios are obviously extremely unlikely, but crazy things can happen at any time! In your contract, you must provide for your protection.
- 5. The indemnity clause: If the client is negligent, an indemnification clause will shield you from liability in the event that a third party sues you. The clause, for instance, ensures that an injured attendee cannot hold you liable in court. The venue being damaged is another illustration. The venue managers should hold the client accountable in this situation, not you.
- 6. A photo release provision: Even though this clause isn’t necessary, it can be useful if you want to use event photos to advertise your company. You are authorized to use and edit photos taken during the event for promotional purposes by a photo release clause in your event planning contract. Contracts for wedding planning and photography frequently include this clause. The majority of clients shouldn’t have any issues with this because it means more exposure for their own business. You must, nonetheless, put it in writing.
Your safety net is your contract as an event planner. Never accept a job based solely on a verbal agreement. This is true even when working with a dependable client you have gotten to know well. The contract protects your financial interests and keeps you from getting into pointless fights that could hurt your business.
Also, if you set up your business as a real company or LLC, your personal assets will be protected in case of damage or a lawsuit. Forming an LLC and doing your business research for wedding planning will help protect you and let you know what to expect.
Wedding Planning Pricing
As a wedding planner, you’ll be chargine some hefty sums, as is the nature of the business. Collecting those sums while causing the least amount of pain should be a priority to make your clients’ lives easier and your bottom line grow.
There are a few ways to charge your clients in a way that makes their big day possible without causing anyone financial hardship.
- Flat – You can charge your clients a flat fee for the entire wedding, allowing you to take greater flexibility with resources and bill without tracking the hours in a spreadsheet or accounting software.
- Commission – Many wedding planners charge a small flat rate and then take a commission after the total amount spent on the wedding through vendors and otherwise.
- Retainer – You are encouraged to charge a retainer fee of 50% to ensure no one bails on you at the last second and leaves you liable for footing the bill.
- All-Inclusive – Similar to charging a flat fee, you take the entire financing and accounting aspect into your own hands at the behest of the client, allowing you all the benefit from saving on vendors where you can, at the cost of greater responsibility.
- Lump sum – Offer a standard 10% discount if they’re willing to pay in full, up-front.
- Payment plan – Many people may prefer a payment plan to break up the financial obligation into more manageable pieces.
Without the ability to offer an automated payment plan, you could be making the decision to work with you more difficult. Providing greater flexibility to people looking for a wedding planner, especially during economically troubling times, can help you get business you might otherwise have lost.
You can accept half up-front and then split the remaining payments into equal monthly payments until the balance is completely paid off, which should be the same month as the wedding, preferably.
Destination Wedding Planning
Your clients can travel together with all of their loved ones when they have a destination wedding. They are spending the moment with their favorite people while also being in an exciting location. It’s a great mix of marital institution and vacation inspiration. Think of literally any Adam Sandler movie made in the last 10 years as an example.
Destination wedding planning is a really special experience, and nobody can really guide you through all of the difficulties you might run into in a foreign country like someone who has already been there and done that. People versed in international travel or who speak several languages can often achieve great things in this subcategory of wedding planning.
Recommended Insurance for Wedding Planners
There’s a lot that can go wrong when planning a wedding. It requires a lot of moving parts, personnel, coordination, funding, and positive attitudes to pull off. Sometimes things go wrong, and you’ll want to be protected in those cases.
Getting the following business insurance can help:
- General Liability: protects you from third-party claims against harm or property damage
- Professional Liability / Errors and Omissions: protects you in the event a mistake was made that costs the client
- Commercial Auto: Make sure your plan includes some form of commercial auto insurance if you or any of your employees drive a car for work-related purposes. When driving for work, this feature can shield you from any potential incidents or accidents involving vehicles.
- Workers Compensation: Most states demand workers’ compensation for companies that hire event planners. Additionally, it guards against costs associated with work-related accidents that health insurance might refuse to cover.
Wedding Coordination and Concierge Services
There are now both wedding planners and coordinators for the day of the wedding because there is so much to do. While the wedding planner oversees a lot of the decisions and planning beforehand, working out prices and getting everything organized with vendors beforehand, the wedding coordinator is there for the big day to run the show on time.
The great thing about wedding planning is that you can offer this in addition to your wedding planning services. Since you already know the venue very well, you or someone you hire can also go to the event to make sure the brides are happy. Why not be the wedding concierge or coordinator for the day of the wedding since you already know who to contact to ensure everyone does their part?
Negotiating Tactics for Wedding Planners
The wedding planning industry has shrunk by over 50% since just twenty years ago, and with the world reopening after a tumultuous 2020 and higher demand for wedding venues, negotiating can be difficult. Everyone wants a good deal and to be rewarded for bringing a vendor business.
One of the best things you can do is not get upset or frustrated when dealing with a venue. If they are making some of your bigger ideas impossible, ask for concessions, like suite upgrades or other perks that a hotel or property might deliver at little cost to itself. Ultimately, be kind and gracious, since you might have to work with them in the future.
Wedding Planner Software
In order to keep everyone informed of dates, plans, tasks, scheduling, and milestones, it’s a great idea to sync everyone up using a wedding planner software or app. By automating the communication and setting up reminders, mistakes, errors, and missed tasks will be less likely to happen. This will keep everyone in the loop and on track.
Wedding Proposal Event Planner
In a similar vein to wedding planning, wedding proposal event planning requires the same thoughtful and creative approach, just in a different way. But what better way to get your foot in the door for future business than to be the one helping people get engaged? Use your moral compass on this one for obvious conflicts of interest.
But with your added experience and contacts, it’s an easy way for you to plan out events for the rest of the year when people aren’t necessarily getting married, but are proposing and thinking about marriage. You can test for demand on Facebook with some ads and promotional videos. Or, do a free case study for a new client to gain experience and document your service so that you can then show it off to people on Instagram or TikTok.
Conclusion: Becoming a Wedding Planner
Wedding planners help grooms and brides-to-be organize and coordinate every part of their wedding day, from choosing vendors to making sure everything goes according to plan. This way, the couple can relax and enjoy their special day without having to worry about anything. They also offer creative ideas and advice to make the wedding unique and personalized to the couple’s style and preferences.
Wedding planners and coordinators benefit from a lot of different perks, like getting to spend weekends at exotic locales in lavish settings, at holiday resorts and hotels, and on scenic getaways sure to inspire awe and majesty. Additionally, wedding coordinators get to work with a variety of vendors and professionals in the wedding industry, which allows them to expand their network and gain valuable experience along the way.
Frequently Asked Questions – Starting a Wedding Planning Business
There are many ways to succeed as a wedding planner, like formal training, seeking a diploma in event management, hands-on experience and interning, finding a mentor, having a solid business plan, and making it easy for your customer to pay in separate payments over time.
A wedding coordinator has a tighter time frame than a planner but is still logistically focused. They typically start assisting you a month prior to the wedding and serve as the team leader on the ground for the big day. They won’t be involved in earlier planning stages or managing your budget, but they will confirm the vendor scope of services, develop a day-of timeline, and make sure things like payments and guest counts are in order.
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