How to Be a Successful Wedding Planner

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Wedding planning is a unique career choice. The work centers around ensuring two people have the happiest day of their lives, stay within budget, and stick to a schedule.

Planning weddings can be a very rewarding career. You will never experience a downturn in job opportunities, people never stop getting married, and weddings are almost always fun. There are some key items a traditional wedding needs to have, but there are many other aspects, tangible and intangible, that make a wedding both successful and fun.

While most people are able to plan basic weddings, those who are exceptional at wedding planning share a few key characteristics.

Listening and Understanding

Active listening is one of the most important abilities a wedding planner can have. This is the ability to prompt the people you are talking to for information, take part in a conversation, and find out what they are truly trying to communicate.

Culturally Diverse Understanding

You should be culturally aware of the potential clients you could come into contact with. You could specialize in certain cultures or clientele, but to be successful a planner should be able to organize a wedding across a wide spectrum of cultures. Not only would this create an ability to work for anyone, but it would also be tons of fun to see and be involved in the plethora of different cultural wedding experiences.

If you'd like to build your clientele, study weddings across a variety of cultures in your area. If you know more about these cultures and their wedding traditions, you will be able to create a wide assortment of successful and fun weddings.

A Goal Setting and Achieving Ability

You can't be a wedding planner and not be able to plan. The ability to plan and execute is paramount to a successful wedding and a lasting career. The keys to planning a wedding are nailing down the needs of your clients, establishing a timeframe, and coordinating events and supplies.

Set goals with your clients, and create a timeframe for events. You could break down each event into phases, and as each phase is completed you move to the next one.

Each phase should have specific events (goals) to be completed. For example, you may want to set a goal of having the venue location solidified before ordering decorations.

As you progress through each phase, sit down with your clients and make sure that they are happy with the progress you have made.

A Visionary Outlook

This is where wedding planners shine. After communicating with your clients, you should begin to develop a vision in your head, seeing the wedding unfold the way the bride does. Use your creative abilities to develop the scenario, and confer with your clients to ensure it's what they want.

You could try communicating your vision to your clients through sketches, computer graphics, or photos and videos of other weddings you have planned.

Enthusiasm for Emotional Events

If you are not genuinely passionate about every part of the wedding planning, clients will detect it. Weddings are about passion, and fun planners know how to harness passion and create an environment around it.

Use your enthusiasm to design events that will bring out the emotions of all of those in attendance. As strange as it may sound, this is one of the few careers where you are trying to make people cry. If you can make people cry with the ambiance, theme, music, and feeling in the event, you will have had a successful endeavor.

You should love to be involved in weddings, and love to be part of your client's lives—because you will be. Your clients will remember you forever as a special person who cared about their day as much as they did and made it memorable.

A Shephard and Negotiator

Professional wedding planners are project managers. They are the leader of a very complex team of vendors and the couple's families and friends. Maintaining control of the event, without being domineering or rude, is an essential skill.

The wedding party and guests will generally need to be herded and led in the direction the event is supposed to be heading.

You not only should be good at coordination and moving people around, but you also need to be able to negotiate with your vendors to be able to keep a wedding on budget while maximizing the deals.

There will be compromises that need to be made for any number of items, and some emotional brides/grooms-to-be will need to understand that some actions and wedding dreams cannot happen within the budget that they set.

Flexibility

Even the most carefully laid plans may go awry on the wedding day, whether it be a delay in the catering, a stain on the bride's dress, or an AWOL groomsman.

Planners are able to solve the problem without panicking, and often turn it into the best part of the event. Having back up plans for each phase of the wedding can help keep everyone and everything on track.

Diligence With the Details

"Attention to detail" is a buzz-phrase, but it remains a cornerstone of professional wedding planning. Clients are paying for trained eyes and ears, and planners need to be able to spot problems before they happen.

Managing a large group of wedding guests and vendors, maintaining a timeline, and making sure that everyone and everything looks great at all times is no easy task, and would be impossible for someone who wasn't naturally vigilant about even the smallest details.

Willingness to Do It Yourself

Movies with weddings always depict an impeccably-dressed wedding planner flitting about with their clipboard, while other vendors scurry to meet their demands. In reality, the job is much more hands-on than that.

Professional wedding planners spend their time doing everything from folding programs to assembling favors, hauling boxes, or pinning table skirts. They are on their knees helping to bustle a bride's dress, rushing discarded napkins and dirty glasses away from a food display so they don't ruin the photos, and, at times, practically sprinting from one end of a venue to the other—smiling the entire time.

Orchestrator of Chaos

Wedding planners are conductors, people that bring an unorganized group of instruments together to create something wonderful. Their organizational skills allow them to deal with the tremendous amount of paperwork, client appointments, vendor issues, transportation problems, or any of the other issues that are inherent in wedding planning and coordination.

Final Thoughts

The ability to stay on schedule, prioritize tasks and goals, keep records of transactions, ensure all supplies and people are present and accounted for while guiding them through the different phases of the wedding plan and event can be trying, to say the least.

The last characteristic of a fun and successful wedding planner is patience. With patience, it will all work out. With patience, all the work and emotions that have gone into the wedding plan will pay off, as you see the focus of your work whisked away at the end of the event to begin their life together.