The average UK wedding is said to cost somewhere in the region of £20,000 – and with most wedding planning companies charging fees of around 10-20 percentage of the wedding budget there is plenty of money to be made in this thriving industry.
Why start a wedding planning business?
It is often said that a wedding day should be the happiest day of your life – however it is also a stressful and expensive event, requiring months of meticulous planning and organising. That’s why wedding planning services have become increasingly popular in recent years, with many couples prepared to pay large sums of money in order to take away some of the stress and ensure that their big day goes smoothly. If you’re organised and good at planning then this is a business that can bring both big rewards and lots of satisfaction – and there is the potential to specialise in a particular aspect of wedding planning should you have a particular skill that you can utilise or particularly enjoy.
What skills will I need?
There are no formal skills or qualifications required to start a wedding planning business. Perhaps the most important skill is being extremely organised because essentially that’s what your clients will be paying you to be! Your clients will be placing trust in you to organise a highly important personal event and thus they will expect a high level of service and a great attention to detail, on which you will need to deliver. You will need to be personable and have the ability to spot problems before they develop further. In addition, the more prior experience of wedding planning you have, the easier it will be to win clients and build up their trust – so make sure you build up a portfolio of your work.
Sue Page, founder of wedding consultancy Ice the Cake, said: "If you are starting out with relatively limited experience and are more focused on the dream I would highly recommend you attending some courses on event management because while it is not compulsory, it is definitely good practice to have some experience before charging to plan someone’s special day. Key skills on top of this you will need include: tenacity, integrity, creativity, being incredibly organised, resourceful and having the ability to trust your intuition and think on the go is a real must. You should be able to offer exceptional customer service at all times, have the ability to mediate between couples and their families should the need arise and generally offer a calming influence over the whole proceedings and while everything else is heated around you, you need to always stay positive!"
What are the keys to success with this business?
Good marketing is absolutely essential, as you will need to make people aware of your service and make them want to use it. Remember that when it comes to weddings people tend to buy on emotional as well as practical reasons, so your marketing communications will need to convey that you know all there is to know about weddings, that you can help people to make their dreams a reality and that you have the practical experience to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Testimonials are an important part of wedding collateral, so make sure you get feedback comments from as many clients as you can, as well as building up a photographic portfolio of weddings that you have helped to plan.
In order to find leads, you’ll need to make yourself visible to anyone and everyone who is getting married within the area you are operating. Running a stand at a wedding fair can be a good way of finding leads, as can advertising in wedding and bridal magazines. Another widely used method is to strike cross-promotion deals with other wedding-related companies, for example wedding cake suppliers, dress makers, photographers, reception venues, etc. You could strike up joint venture deals where they promote your wedding planning service if you agree to promote their company to your clients.
Sue Page of wedding consultancy Ice the Cake believes that people are the most important part of any wedding planning business.
"As a wedding planner the clients buy into you as much as they do the service you offer. This also means that your USP is you and not a product which can definitely be a positive. But if you do not ‘click’ with the couple, it may be that you need to give them the opportunity to find someone who is going to offer the right personality fit. You need to know you will be able to keep things calm when it gets a little more hectic further down the line."
It is possible to start a wedding planning business with very little cost. Most wedding planning businesses start-up from home – and this is a great way to save money, especially in the early days. Once your company begins to expand you may want to consider moving to a commercial property in a central location, such as London. Your biggest source of expenditure is likely to be marketing – as we covered previously, and you will also need to budget for a reliable vehicle to travel around in, internet and phone access, insurance and admin costs.
Your next steps
First of all it is essential to check out the competition. Start by doing some market research in your local area and find out how many wedding-planning companies there are. How much do they charge? What sort of services do they offer? Some wedding planning companies provide a full-service offering, whilst others concentrate on consulting or specialise in a particular area. From there you can then establish the unique selling points of your own wedding planning company and set out why people will want to use your service.
Sue Page of wedding consultancy Ice the Cake recommends that entrepreneurs get in touch with the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners.
"Their website is extremely informative and they run courses so if you are new to the industry it’s a great place to start," said Sue.