How to Start a Wedding Planning Business in 7 Steps
If you love romance and have a knack for designing and organizing events, a wedding planning business just might be for you. Although learning how to start a wedding planning business takes some initial legwork, it can be a lucrative venture — especially with the U.S. wedding service currently valued at over $62 billion.
Here are some key steps on how to be a wedding planner, plus how to decide if this is the right industry for you.
How to start a wedding planning business in seven steps
Whether you’ve organized weddings for friends and family or are new to the industry, here are the basics to launching your wedding planning business.
1. Look for educational and networking opportunities
Although you don’t need formal training to plan weddings, taking courses or attending conferences can help strengthen your knowledge of the industry. The more you can keep up with current trends, the better you can provide high-quality services for your clients.
Organizations like the Association of Bridal Consultants offer certification courses for wedding planners. You can also explore general event planning and business classes, such as marketing, customer service, financial management and more.
Consider attending networking meetups for wedding and event planners to learn from other business owners. Alternatively, you can contact well-established wedding planners about internship opportunities — they’re often grateful for extra help, plus you’re bound to learn how to get into wedding planning by working side-by-side with an expert.
2. Decide what type of services you want to provide
Some clients want a wedding planner to handle every detail of their upcoming event, whereas other couples only need a last-minute coordinator on the big day.
Here are some services you could offer:
- Week-of or day-of coordination: Your job is to finalize last-minute details the week before or ensure everything runs smoothly during the wedding day.
- Month-of coordination: You’re responsible for putting the finishing touches on whatever the couple has already accomplished on their own during the month leading up to the wedding,
- Full-service management: You coordinate the event from beginning to end, which could include sending invitations, setting up the event space, hiring vendors and being on-site for the big day.
The price usually increases based on the type of service you provide. Consider your other obligations when deciding what to offer. For example, if you’re juggling a full-time job and children, you might want to start as a day-of wedding planner to ensure you can devote adequate time to the event.
3. Choose a business name and take care of legal documents
Having a catchy name can go far in the wedding industry. Think of a business name that captures the love and specialness of marriage. A DBA or “doing business as” allows you to conduct business under a name separate from your own. Also, check if the domain is available since creating a solid online presence is crucial for growing your business.
Next, you’ll need to pick your business entity. A limited liability company (LLC) generally works well for this type of business, but it’s best to consult a business attorney to discuss options. Once you select the name and entity, you’ll need to register your business with your state.
You may need to obtain an employer identification number (EIN), especially if you plan to hire employees. Even without employees, an EIN can come in handy when tax time rolls around, plus it’s often needed to open a business bank account or a business credit card. You can apply for an EIN directly through the IRS and receive your number within minutes.
Most importantly, keep your personal finances separate from your business spending. Not only will it make filing your taxes more manageable, but it can also help build your business credit score, opening the door for more financing options down the road.
4. Create a detailed business plan
As a wedding planner, you likely have stellar organizational skills. Put those talents to good use by writing a detailed business plan.
Make sure to include an overview of your business, such as a mission statement and company details. You’ll also want to outline your plans for market analysis, products and services, marketing strategies, overall budget, estimated earnings and more.
Ultimately, your business plan works as a roadmap, helping guide you through the initial phase of starting a business. Detailing every anticipated aspect can help you avoid any pitfalls that may arise along the way.
5. Set competitive prices
Before booking your first set of lovebirds, you need a clear idea of your overall price structure. Determine how much you want to earn and how many weddings you can feasibly plan per year. Add in your overhead, such as website, advertising and marketing, business taxes, contractors and other related costs. Then crunch the numbers to calculate an hourly rate or specific package deals.
Compare wedding planners offering similar services in your area to ensure you’re not aiming too high or low. Remember, you want to be competitive in your local market — not nationwide.
Also, if you’re working with a limited budget, it might be best to start with low-scale weddings to ensure you satisfy your customers’ expectations. The last thing you want is to overstretch yourself and disappoint clients.
6. Build relationships with trusted vendors
You’ll often need to coordinate every wedding detail, such as hiring a florist, catering company, rentals and more. You can work to establish long-term relationships with local vendors which may help to, secureing discounted prices for your clients. The more reliable vendors you know and recommend, the more customers will trust you and your brand.
For those just getting started, you can find local vendors through online directories like WeddingWire and The Knot. Make sure to read reviews and meet each vendor ahead of time to ensure they’ll provide a top-quality service. It’s may even be worth paying a little extra for a vendorvendors if you have a strong working relationship with them. you loveIf they provide a high quality service, it may also to help to boost your company’s reputation and dependability.
7. Develop your brand and build your client base
Advertising on social media is crucial to a wedding planning business. Brides tend to favor Instagram and Pinterest, but it’s worth expanding your presence to other platforms to reach a wider audience. You can also advertise your business on wedding-specific sites, like The Knot and WeddingWire. Attending bridal shows and expos could be a worthwhile investment as well.
Your marketing endeavors should lead potential clients to your business website, with fresh content and quality photographs illustrating what you provide as a wedding planner.
Branding is also a fundamental aspect of starting a wedding planning business. Your brand should be consistent and recognizable across all platforms, reflecting the personal touches that make your business stand out from the competition.
Costs of starting a wedding planning business
Although you could start a bare-bones wedding planning business with practically nothing, wedding planning startup costs typically range from $2,273 to $9,237. This isn’t too high in the scope of small business startup costs. Unlike other businesses, wedding planning typically doesn’t require office space, inventory or employees.
However, how much you spend to launch the business depends on the level of sophistication and quality you have in mind. If you want to go above and beyond basic services, you’ll likely need more capital to get things up and running.
Here are some standard startup costs for a wedding planning business:
- Website: Because a website would be an integral part of your business, expect to invest in hosting a quality site. Additionally, you could hire a professional to design the site.
- Software: As a business owner, you may want to invest in accounting software to help handle your invoicing and expense tracking.
- Professional memberships and education: Organizations like the Association of Bridal Consultants charge membership fees, and certification costs extra. A first-year membership for the Association of Bridal Consultants costs $220, while the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners charges $195. The AACWP also offers a four-day training course for $1,500.
- Photo shoots: Hiring a photographer to take a professional headshot and photos of your events can boost the quality and appeal of your website. Although this is a significant investment, it can pay off since couples usually rely on photos when choosing a wedding planner.
- Advertising: Marketing your business at bridal shows and on wedding websites like The Knot can put your business in front of potential clients, but that exposure comes at a cost. However, you typically need to fill out a prospective vendor or advertising partner application to find actual prices.
- Business licenses: You may need a business license to operate a wedding planning business in your state or city. Depending on your state and local regulations, you may need to pay government entities to obtain a general operating license or a professional license.
- Coworking space: If you need an area other than your home office to take care of business tasks, you could purchase a membership at a local coworking space. A coworking space could be an affordable alternative to renting or buying an office.
Although the costs of running a wedding planning business can add up, you would likely spend less than your clients would on the wedding. The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is $34,000, according to research from The Knot. And most couples plan to take on debt to cover wedding expenses.
Funding options for a wedding planning business
While it’s possible to bootstrap a wedding planning business with your own funds, especially if starting small, a small business loan can help cover initial expenses. Lenders typically consider your FICO Score, business credit score, time in business and business plan when reviewing your loan application.
However, securing financing for a new business can be challenging, especially if you have a limited credit history. Here are some additional options to consider.
- Startup business loans: Although certain lenders work with startups, they often impose a minimum time in business and annual revenue requirements — making it hard for brand-new companies to get funding. Also, these loans tend to have higher interest rates and fees.
- 0% intro APR credit card: Getting approved for a business credit card is typically easier than a business loan. However, be careful about maxing out credit cards since they generally charge significantly higher interest rates than business financing. That said, snagging a 0% APR offer can provide extra funds with extra wiggle room to repay the debt (be sure to pay the balance in full before interest kicks in).
- Personal loan: Similar to credit cards, it may be easier to get a personal loan than a business loan. Yes, you can use personal loans for business expenses, but it’s generally not the best option for small business owners.
- GoFundMe campaign: Crowdfunding can be a great way to rally friends and family to pitch in and support your project. You don’t need to repay the funds either.
Is a wedding planning business right for you?
A wedding planning business has relatively low startup costs compared with other types of businesses and offers flexibility not found in many industries. Before jumping into wedding planning with both feet, you could keep your day job elsewhere while building the business in your spare time, especially since most weddings occur on weekends.
However, the wedding planning industry has plateaued in the U.S. as the marriage rate continues to decline. Americans are staying single longer and are more likely to live with a partner without being married.
Although the rising divorce rate could scare off couples, remarriage is also on the rise, which could lead to increased business for wedding planners. And with 1.7 million marriages in 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, there is still a lot of business to go around.