Friday, March 26, 2010

Everyone's a Wedding Planner....

So, you planned your own wedding, it was a success and now, well, of course, NOW you want to be a Wedding Planner.  Since you did plan your own wedding, you have plenty of experience in working in the wedding industry, so great, let's go! 

NO, no sorry to tell you, that isn't how it works.  I know that everyone who ever watched The Wedding Planner with Jennifer Lopez, has decided that just watching the movie, made them experienced enough to become a Wedding Planner, but I'm here to tell you it just isn't true.  I'll even go so far as to say that the people who spent that $500 to become "certified" as a planner, that doesn't always cut it either.

Before everyone gets worked up about the discussion (these days "New Planners" is a hot topic) let me review my thoughts.

So, you planned your own wedding...
The biggest issue here is that you were the BRIDE and you weren't involved in any part of the process that allowed you to see the major issues that a planner handles.  When working directly with the vendor it is a one time deal.  You do your meetings and find the person who you decided would work best for you.  That's not going to help everytime.  The vendor that worked best for you and with you, won't be the BEST vendor for  all of your clients.  The vendors you might not have liked, they might be the vendors that would work best with some of your clients.  So that part of your exeprience is thrown out the door.

Now onto the ceremony.  This might seem like a small part, but to a good planner, this is a BIG deal.  Handling the family, friends and bridal party through the ceremony is a scary process.  You want everyone to be on their best behavior, do the right thing but still have fun.  All the while you have this very limited timeline to get everything, exactly right.  All eyes are on the ceremony, if the music is off, the bridal party too slow or too fast or if the bride doesn't come out at just the right time, that's all on YOU.  When you were the bride, you were in that moment, YOU were the one walking down the aisle, ready to get married.  That left you out of a huge chunk of that stress/mess.  So there goes your ceremony experience.

Reception issues/drama/problems, those you were either not paying attention to, drinking during or so personally involved in, that you didn't get to process them the way someone who is "working" an event does.  How a Wedding Planner handles your drunk brother is going to be different than how you, as the Bride, handle your drunk brother.  Learning to focus on weddings from a business standpoint and to take yourself out of the equation is the biggest part of being successful in the industry.  Your job, as a planner, is NOT to have an opinion or any emotional attachement to the situation, it is to make sure the wedding goes off as smoothly as possibly and that the Bride knows NOTHING of ANY issue.  As a Bride, you knew about all of it and didn't have to work through it because, well, you were the Bride.

The key is, you weren't working with a Bride, you WERE the Bride.    That's the point, that's what is the difference.

NOW, with that being said, everyone starts somewhere.  Every Wedding Planner that is giving you a hard time because you are a "new" wedding planner, started out as a "NEW" Wedding Planner.  No one starts out with 10 years of experience, that's just the black and white of it.  The issue isn't the experience, it is coming in without "knowing" enough, not having not done enough.What should you know- (write this down)
-Know that the people that plan weddings, take this very seriously.  This is a real career and they have invested money, time and their life into doing and being the absolute best.  If that isn't your interest, then maybe rethink becoming a Wedding Planner.
-Know that the people that plan weddings, dedicate their social time, personal time and "work" time, to wedding planning.  This isn't something they do in their "free" time, this is typically ALL they do with their time.  Ready for that aspect of planning?
-Know that pricing for planners is based on experience and experience is what matters.  It isn't to say that you can't be a good "new" planner but you should understand that trying to undercut other planners on pricing, isn't doing anyone any favors.  You are basically keeping the price expectations for a Wedding Planner down so low, that when you are ready to raise your pricing, you have setup a market to expect "cheap" pricing and now your stuck doing Day of for $300. 
-Know that (most) other wedding planners WILL help you along the way.  I'm more than happy to give advice, have meetings and give feedback on your process through becoming a planner.  You just have to be honest.  I would absolutely appreciate an email that said "I want to become a planner, can you help?" More than I would anything else.
-Know that "fibbing" to make yourself look better or more experienced is not okay, ever.  You are who you are right now and accept your level of experience and work with it.  Don't try to compare yourself to more experienced planners because you can't. 
-Know that being "sneaky" or getting a bad reputation with other wedding planners won't work out for you in the long run.  No one Wedding Planner has control of the market in any region but if enough people dislike you or don't trust you, you aren't going to get any assistance along the way and eventually that will hurt your ability to grow.
-Know that you will eventually be contacted by another "new" planner that wants to start Wedding Planning.  Think about what you would like them to say/do/be when talking with you.  How would you like your "new" competition to handle themselves?  Set the bar HIGH, so that it stays HIGH for all of us.

There is my feedback on "new" planners.  I think the more good planner the better the industry becomes.  I must seriously emphasize the word GOOD in reference to planners. 

What do you think?  "New" planners, how tired are you of hearing the gripes from experienced planners?  What do you wish everyone that is learning about your "new" interest in planning would know? 

Happy Planning!


  1. I'm afraid that most self-start businesses say this... especially now with people loosing their jobs. People who like to plant flowers are becoming landscapers. People who like taking pictures are becoming photographers. People that sew are becoming dressmakers. The list goes on.

    Be the best you can be. Everyone is new sometime. No one starts with 10 years experience (unless you fudge numbers as is a big thing in the wedding photography industry). There's always going to be someone new. There's always going to be someone cheaper. There's always going to be someone better. Just hope that all three aren't the same person! :)

  2. My entire blog could have been summed up in that one comment that you just posted Corey!! Thank you, PERFECT!

  3. I just want to thank you for writing such a great blog and for being kind to the "new" planners (such as myself)and giving advice and words of wisdom.

  4. I think that the challenge we face is not necessarily the newbie planner so much as our ability to establish a value equation that resonates with our customers so that they can appreciate our experience level.

  5. I agree, to have people realize the value of what we do is most important. I never wanted to be the biggest, just the best! - By the way,
    Is there a way to anonomously pass that on to someone I know??? ;-)

  6. I have to agree with Corey and Terri...

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  8. Thank you so much for this post!!! While I am NOT against new planners, however you are exactly right when you say they are driving experienced planners' prices down. They too will be experienced some day and until then they must pay their dues like the experienced ones who have gone before them have.
    Your post was tactful and frank and so truthful. Really appreciate it!!!

  9. Thanks for this, I'm a new planner myself,its hard to get started when you have so many experienced planners, but hopefully I will get there one day.

  10. I definitely agree. I think that the new and the experience planners really need to rally around each other. After all, we are all in the same industry.

    Great post!

  11. So it's not just a wedding PHOTOGRAPHY thing? :)
    Not sure if I should feel relieved .. but .. I do feel your pain.

  12. Great blog and I really appreciate
    this post. A good wedding planner is worth her weight in gold. Thanks for sharing.

  13. I remember getting started over 11 years ago. After completing an apprenticeship with a Master Planner in the ABC, I went about introducing myself to local venues only to run into reluctant banquet and catering managers who had had bad experiences with so- called "wedding coordinators". I definitely had to prove my worth in order to break down those walls and gain the trust of the very people I was hoping to not only work with, but get referred by. I am honored to say that I am on the preferred vendor lists of many of the preferred sites in the area due to my level of expertise and professionalism. I'm all for new planners coming on board but have often been put in the same "pool" to those brides shopping planners based on package price versus experience. I lost a potential bride recently who stated that she knew I was the best choice but had found a new planner who gave her an "incredible offer" and they felt she would be "sufficient" for what they needed. "Sufficient"? How am I going to compete with that? The cheapest option does not equal the value that a trained and experienced coordinator can provide.
    I do agree that new planners need to be honest as it will come back to bite them. I actually had someone contact me claiming to be a bride to get information on my services, As I was interviewing her her story started to fall apart, at which time she admitted that she was actually not a bride but a wannabe wedding planner. Not cool.

  14. I always appreciate working with wedding planners when I perform at weddings. I love what I do but it makes my job so much easier.

  15. Love this post! I totally agree. This reminds me of the wedding planner of my sister told me last summer when we had a little chitchat in the ballroom (Denver, CO). She said one, one of the sophisticated things she needs to fulfill is the Denver wedding receptions. She has to make sure everything gets delivered on time, and mostly, prepared ahead of time. So yeah, I guess being a wedding planner takes BIG experience.

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  19. You are so right. We don't need ten years' experience to successfully plan our own wedding. Every couple has their own ideas. If you're the wedding planner and not the bride, then you should be attentive, listen to what the bride wants in her wedding and be creative as well.

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