So you just started your business as a wedding planner. You’ve advertised and have secured your first client. Now what? The best way to prepare for your new role is to get training. There are many online and in-person wedding planning courses available, some offering certification once completed. But if you’re pressed for time, or money, here is a free lesson on wedding planning to jump-start your career.
Get organized with timelines
One of the keys to planning a successful wedding is organization. A planning timeline helps you get organized and to stay on track. In planning a wedding, timing is everything. Your wedding timeline will help ensure you accomplish the most important tasks first.
Know who will be invited to the wedding. When compiling the guest list, both the bride’s and the groom’s families should be involved. They can assist in deciding on guests to invite and securing the addresses once the wedding date is set. It’s best to start this preliminary list before selecting the ceremony and reception site to ensure adequate space.
Secure the date and the place. The first contracts your clients need to sign are for the ceremony and reception location and for the officiant. Once you have secured a place for the wedding and the officiant, the wedding date can be securely announced.
Select the photographer. Once the location and the wedding officiant have been finalized, you should begin assisting the bride and groom with interviewing photographers. Most quality photographers book at least 6 – 12 months in advance. You want to select quality photographers, because when it’s all said and done, what will the bride and groom have to show for their wedding? One of the maid things will be the photographs.
Reserve the musicians early. The most popular entertainers will book quickly, especially during the holidays. Reception musicians should be put on hold as soon as the wedding location is determined. Ceremony musicians should be interviewed and contracted between 6 – 8 months prior to the wedding. If time is short, they can be contracted even as late as 2 – 3 months prior to the ceremony.
Your next area of priority is thewedding gown. Have the bride look through magazines and wedding catalogs to identify the style of dress she likes. Next, call different bridal salons to see which designers’ gowns they carry and how far in advance they should be ordered. A top quality gown may take 3 – 6 months to arrive.
The bride’s slips, shoes and undergarments should be purchased before scheduling any alterations. Alterations take anywhere from 2 – 4 weeks to complete on a ready-made gown, so remember those times when scheduling the bridal portraits. Once the bride has made the decision on her wedding dress, she should then select her headpiece and veil. She will want to allow 6 – 12 weeks for the headpiece and veil to arrive.
Bridesmaids’ gowns generally take from 6 weeks to 4 months to arrive. You should allow at least 2 – 4 weeks for shipping and alterations. So encourage your brides to begin looking through bridal magazines or bridal shop catalogs early to select her bridesmaids’ dresses.
Selecting the florist. Now that the ceremony site, reception site, the musicians, the bridal gown and the bridesmaids’ gowns have been selected, it’s time to visit some florists. This order of making these selections is important because florists can now offer suggestions specifically tailored to the selected locations and attire as well as the chosen color scheme. You don’t have to talk in generalities once these decisions are made.
Book a quality videographer. Like the photographers, you will want to book the videographer soon after the ceremony location is booked. Most quality videographers book 6 – 12 months in advance, but there are usually quite a few quality vendors to choose from.
Best timing for wedding invitations. Approximately 5 – 6 months before the wedding, the couple should begin the process of selecting their wedding invitations, inserts and wedding-related stationery. It will probably take them about 2 weeks to look through the volumes of invitation books and arrive at a decision, so factor this timing into your schedule.
Find the right tuxedo. About 3 – 5 months before the wedding, the groom should register his wedding party at the tuxedo shop. Those who live nearby can be measured at the salon. Measurement cards can be mailed to any out-of-town attendants. They should be professionally measured at a local tuxedo shop and then mail in their own cards.
Choose the caterer carefully. About 3 – 4 months before the wedding, you should schedule a meeting with the caterer or the facility’s catering manager to determine the menu and to finalize the seating arrangements. Be sure the selected caterer can meet the desires of the bridal couple.
By sticking to your timeline, you can help your clients’ planning go smoothly while building your credibility as a Wedding Planner.