What is it really like being a wedding planner?
Throughout my 18 year career in the wedding industry I have noticed even wedding professionals have a misconception on what it is really like to be a wedding planner. Many people view wedding planning as a hobby. Or ultra glamourous. Very few understand what is is really like. Many envisage our days are filled with dress fittings, cake tastings and deciding which bloom we love best. And then there are those friends and family that think the job involves making a few phone calls and voila “all organised”. I remember one ex friend used to say to me countless times “I just don’t get it, why would anyone hire you? It’s not exactly hard to plan a wedding is it?” Lets just say she said that one too many times for me!
So I’m here to throw some truth bombs at you. And if you still want to be a planner? Well get in touch and I can get you started the right way through our training courses.
Planning someone else’s wedding is very different to planning your own, mostly because people have such different tastes. Can you deal with that? You need to view the wedding design objectively; does the design suit the personality of the couple? Your job is to make the couple’s dream wedding materialise, it should match their vision perfectly. It isn’t about you. It isn’t about your portfolio or social media. Yes of course we want beautiful weddings to share, but occasionally you might have weddings that are not to your personal taste.
It might surprise you to know that most wedding planners only manage 8-10 weddings per year (assuming full planning, more if partial planning/on the day coordination). Let’s do some maths: multiply 8 x 150 hours = 1,200 hours. Assuming you will take four weeks as holiday per year that’s 25 hours per week organising client weddings. The rest of the working week is spent ‘running your business’ (marketing, accounts, PR, admin). So, a wedding planner needs to make sure she/he is earning enough from those 8-10 weddings per year to cover their wage, tax, and business running costs as a minimum.
The role of a wedding planner is 80 per cent administrative. About 150 hours are needed to organise a client’s wedding ensuring all key suppliers have been booked and within the clients budget. Despite popular opinion those cake tastings amount to probably just 1% of our actual time (sadly – although our waistlines thank us)
The rise of messaging apps means couples invariably message you through social media and not just email. So not only are you responding to emails you need to keep checking your messaging apps as well. At times you might get messages pinging on a Saturday night. But please, that doesn’t mean you have to answer. Unless urgent, leave it till Monday to respond.
You will be working evenings and weekends so make sure your family support you in this. Take a day off in the week instead as a compromise. On a wedding day it is not unusual to be up for 18+ hours and working a wedding for 14+ hours. It doesn’t matter how physically fit you are, you will be both mentally and physically exhausted after a wedding. In the industry we call the day after a “wedding hangover”. Just like a hangover except no alcohol was involved.
At times, couples might take their stresses and frustration out on you – do you have the strength to shrug it off? Do you have the patience to guide them through any difficult decisions they are currently experiencing? Do you have the maturity to never take any such stress personally? Remember being the centre of attention to so many can be difficult for a bride and they can get a tad emotional leading up to the wedding. Listen to the concerns of the couple and answer, as succinctly and calmly as you can, this isn’t the time to get argumentative. Are there any duties you can take from the couple to ease the stress?
You might be working on eight weddings simultaneously, that’s approximately 120-160 supplier emails, contracts, negotiations, schedules and meetings to arrange! If you’re not organised this isn’t the job for you.
On a wedding day a wedding planner is invariably the first person to arrive and last person to leave, frequently never sitting down until late in the evening. But despite being tired a wedding planner always needs to be in control and still look presentable, a couple won’t want to see a wedding planner looking tired and disheveled.
Working on your own on so many weddings, invariably within a short timescale of the summer months can be stressful and tiring. Make sure you have the support you need, if you need to hire a virtual assistant and bookkeeper to keep on top of the office admin then do so. Try to book a weekend away once your season has finished, if you’ve had a wedding that weekend then don’t work on the Monday.