Here comes the bridal consultant!
by Stephanie Abba
Wedding planners, bridal consultants, whatever you call them, they're part of a growing industry well worth looking into to see if you've got what it takes.
There are quite a few organizations which offer home-study courses and many books on the subject are available on the Internet, but you do not have to be licensed or have any credentials to operate as a wedding planner.
Here is some advice that I hope you would-be wedding planners will find useful:
- Know about a lot of things. You do not have to be licensed or have any credentials to operate as a wedding planner, and while I'm not aware of any college-level courses offered for wedding planners, you may find one offered by a smaller school or maybe a community centre in your neighbourhood. There are quite a few organizations which offer home-study courses and many books on the subject are available.
What I do know is that you will need to have a wide knowledge base to succeed in the business. Read bridal magazines and books, and check out wedding-related Web sites. You also benefit from courses in marketing, event planning, floral arranging, decorating, crafts, interpersonal skills, hospitality, negotiation, photography, calligraphy, etc. ... anything and everything that might be useful to the business.
- Ask the experts. Maybe an established wedding planner would let you volunteer to assist them. Learn from them; learn by doing. You won't make money doing this, but you'll gain valuable experience. If your eventual plan is to branch out on your own, remember that the people you work for or with now will be your competition in the future. Treat them with respect. You never know when your old boss will be too busy to take a job. If you've made a good impression, she may recommend you for the contract!
- Know what you're in for. You'll be dealing with brides and grooms who don't know what they want, brides and grooms who know what they want but don't want to pay for it, brides and grooms who change their minds as often as you change your socks ... you get the idea. And don't forget that you'll also be dealing with both sets of parents, suppliers, banquet halls, churches, reception halls, government officials, and so on and so on and so on. While some couples will want you to help only with one part of the wedding, others may just write you a cheque and tell you to do it all. You could be dealing with flowers, tablecloths, chairs and tables, dresses, tuxedos, limos, horse-drawn carriages, timing, churches, mosques, synagogues, parks, boats ... again, you get the idea.
- Do it because you love it. If you're doing it to make money, you probably won't be too focused on giving 100% of your efforts to your clients. The day is about the couple and their happiness, not about your pay cheque. I'm not saying work for free, but if you're not doing the job because you like to help people have the best wedding they can have, maybe you're in the wrong line of work.
Try checking out http://www.BridalAssn.com - this is the Association of Bridal Consultants. Based in Connecticut, they offer various membership levels, educational programs and other services to established and up-and-coming wedding professionals worldwide.
As well, check out a great article by author and wedding consultant Sara Ambarian at http://www.the-wedding-planner.com/aplanner.htm and read interviews with some wedding planners at http://www.schoolfinder.com/careers/spotlight.asp.