From Kylie – When we are small we all dream about what we going to be when we grow up. For me it was a world-famous pianist, as I played the piano from the age of 3 and even got as far going to the Royal College of Music in London, but alas it was not meant to be. Most of us don’t actually see those childhood dreams become a reality. In fact, it isn’t until we are much older that we find out where our heart truly lies.
Why I am telling you this? Well as a reader of this gorgeous blog you will be one of three things; a wedding professional, a bride or a newbie/wannabe and it is the latter that I am referring to today.
Within my role as CEO of the Wedding and Event Institute I hear the stories my course consultants tell me about the type of students we now have studying with us. And do you know what? About 70% of the stories are the same. Boy meets girl, girl falls in love with boy, boy asks girl to marry him and girl becomes a bride and falls in love with the wedding industry. Boom! There it is. There’s that dream once again, only this time it’s a grown up dream that has a very real possibility.
It’s exciting isn’t it? All of a sudden you’ve found a passion, something you are really interested in, something that will take you away from the desk job that doesn’t allow you any degree of creativity. And as for flexible working hours you can forget about those, as you are answerable to someone else. But now it is all about to change as you’ve discovered the world of wedding planning, styling and design.
For most people it is what comes next that is the hard part, and that’s what I want to talk to you about today. What do you do when you realize you’ve fallen in love with the wedding industry and want to start a new career?
The first thing you don’t do is jump in feet first and then think about it later. The thing you have to understand is that being a bride and being a wedding professional are two different things. As a bride everyone wants to please you, help you and make sure your day is a success, or at least that is the experience you should have had. As a wedding professional it is very different. It is your career, business and profession.
Many newbies make the mistake of thinking that because their own wedding was a great success they will automatically make a great wedding planner or stylist. Now although you may well be very organized, creative and full of amazing ideas that is only a part of it. Can you run a business? Do you know what to do when a supplier doesn’t turn up? Can you create budgets? Do you understand floor plans and production run sheets? Can you speak AV?
Now I don’t want to scare you, far from it. I think it is wonderful that you want to embark on a new career and that you’ve found something that excites you. What I do want to do is make sure you’re prepared, so I’ve created these steps for you:
Step 1 – Do Your Research
Make sure you really understand the industry and what you’re getting into. Conduct some research in your local area and scout out your potential competition, so you can see if what you want to do is viable. This will help you to find your USP (Unique Selling Point). This is important because if you don’t have a niche, or something that makes you special, then you don’t have a viable business. You need to know your point of difference.
Step 2 – Do a SWOT Analysis
I know this isn’t exactly sexy but it is kind of essential. You need to know what your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats are, otherwise you can’t see what areas you need to improve in or what areas you can really use to your advantage.
Step 3 – Have the Honesty Talk
Read up on what life as a wedding planner is really like. Are you prepared for the long hours? Do you understand that this isn’t a glamorous job where you’ll be running around with a headset on and sipping champagne? Can you handle stress? Are you a people person? Are you prepared to lug tables and chairs around and climb up and down ladders? Ask yourself the questions and give yourself an honest answer.
Step 4 – Tell Friends and Family
Your friends and family are the people who are going to be the most honest with you. They know you the best. My advice is to tell three people your plans and ask them for their opinion. For me I always choose my Mum, my best friend and my daughter. My daughter is only sixteen but she gives me a younger perspective, which can often prove interesting and make me look at things from a different angle.
Step 5 – Do the Math.
Can you sustain yourself financially for the first six months? Contrary to popular belief creating a website, doing some social media and maybe writing a blog post or two won’t see clients flocking through your door. You need to be prepared for it to take time for that first client to materialize. If you don’t have money set aside to pay your bills for the first six months at least then you need to look at doing this part time until you are ready. Don’t give up your day job just yet.
Step 6 – Educate Yourself
It sounds simple enough right? But you will be surprised how many people don’t do this. Take the time to learn your trade from those who know how. We offer some great courses at WEI that are all self-paced and studied online. You have a tutor to guide and help you as well as lots of videos from current wedding professionals to complement your coursework keeping it fun and interesting. If you don’t want to take a full course then at least consider taking a business workshop, as this is the area most people fail in. We offer a Business Basics Course, which covers everything you need to know to get you up and running.
Step 7 – Find a Mentor
Running a business is hard work and it takes a different set of skills to those used to plan weddings. Most people have never run a business before and the wedding industry can be a very lonely one if you’re working on your own. This being the case the best thing you can do is find yourself a mentor. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone in the industry, although it can help, but just someone who knows a thing or two about business. Someone who can see you through the hard times, celebrate with you in your successes and really be there to guide you through.
Step 8 – Do Your Reading
There is no excuse in the age of Google to not do your homework or reading. There are so many great industry blogs out there all offering fabulous advice for the new, aspiring and seasoned wedding professional. I have what I call a reading day each month set aside to catch up on what is going on in the industry. I have around twenty blogs that I subscribe to and I really enjoy my time reading them. This is a form of continued education, which helps to keep me inspired and up to date with what is going on. As a newbie it is essential, as it will really help you find out more about the industry very quickly. We offer Free-To-Air videos on our YouTube Channel that offer lots of tips and advice on getting started in the industry, so check them out as well.
Step 9 – Attend Workshops
You never stop learning and the wedding industry is no different to any other. Take the time to continue your education and commit to at least one great workshop every year. We are currently offering our workshop for wedding planners called REFINE, where our Director of Education, Alison Howard, will be giving a foolproof plan on running a wedding planning business including sharing all her processes, templates, pricing structure, marketing strategies, social media campaigns and business planning. Something like this is invaluable to new planners. We are going to Dallas and NYC so if you want to join us click here for the dates…
Step 10 – Start Networking
One of the best ways to get known in the industry is to go out and meet people. There are some fantastic wedding associations that offer regular networking events and this is invaluable to someone just starting out. You will find that the vendors you work with will become your biggest advocates, but you have to make the effort to get to know them.
I hope this helps all you aspiring planners and wedding pros out there. It is a fantastic industry and I certainly have never regretted my decision to become a part of it. Good luck and I hope to see you all in the industry soon!
Read part one & see more images from this inspiration shoot here.
Photography: Anneli Marinovich Photography // Styling: Louise from B. Loved Weddings // Floral Design: Bo Boutique // Cake & Desserts: Andi Freeman Cakes // Paper Goods: Itty Bitty Bijou // Venue:Fulham Palace.
Burnett’s Boards is a member of the Wedding & Event Institute Advisory Board.