Wedding Planning Qualifications | Do I Need One?
If you are new to my blog, I’m Lauren, wedding planner and owner of Bluebird Creative. I provide a weekly dose of wedding planning goodness for the modern couple, I promise to bring you some weekly awesome tips and tricks to help you on your wedding planning journey!
So, this week’s topic is wedding planning qualifications, do you actually need them to be a wedding planner? And Should you be asking your wedding planner if they have qualifications? Let’s jump in.
How I became a wedding planner
I get asked a lot how I became a wedding planner so I thought it would be good to touch on how I became one. I did not come from an event based background, I’ll be totally honest with you guys, I was an ice skater for 22 years of my life, I started ice skating when I was ten years old and was a British champion when I was 16 in ice dance, and I became a qualified coach at the ace of 20 and then coached for 12 years after that.
I absolutely loved my sport, super passionate about it and still love it to this day so, I do not come from an events background, I didn’t start making my way up the ladder, I didn’t go to London and do an Events Management degree or anything like that, I was an ice skating coach. When I was pregnant with my daughter, my first child, I decided that I needed something that was going to work better for the life that we were creating. My husband and I had a long chat, he worked in events already, actually for 12 years at that point, we thought that it would be a really good time for me to start my own business, in fact we started the business together as co-directors.
Now the reason that I thought wedding planning would work for me was, when I was 21 I had thought that I was going to be a wedding planner, so even back in the early days of my ice skating, I always needed something else and I always knew that I had this kind of entrepreneurship bubbling away inside. I knew I needed something for myself that I could grow and create. At the age 21 I realised that wedding planning was something that I really wanted to do, and I knew I would be good at it, so I kind of set up a business, with a terrible name I may add, and did some market research and I educated myself and spoke to a mentor and I learned a fair bit about weddings.
I then just decided that actually, imposter syndrome got the better of me and I decided that I wasn’t old enough, that I didn’t have enough experience and hasn’t really been to many weddings as I was only 21, so it wasn’t something I was going to pursue.
The 35 year old me now wants to slap 21 year old me and say, ‘don’t listen to those voices in your head you can do it’, but it happens that the timing just wasn’t right for me clearly. However, many years later here we are and I’m a successful wedding planner, so it obviously wasn’t my time, but I didn’t appreciate those imposter syndrome voices jumping in to my head, but that confidence came with a bit of age and experience!
So, it was something I always wanted to do and then as I say when I was pregnant with my daughter, I must have been about 28 at the time I realised I needed something now to create a work/life balance something to work around children as the coaching just wasn’t doable with having kids, not in my option anyway.
So, I went about setting up my own business. Now I didn’t go and do a qualification, I didn’t have a degree, I didn’t go off and do courses and training and I certainly hadn’t set up a business before, I just had this confidence in myself. Now, what I did do was contact the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners and they did have some courses that you could do, mainly about becoming a wedding planner and there was one about the business of weddings. After I contacted them I realised I didn’t want to go on these courses I just wanted to get the ball rolling. I felt confident in myself that I could learn along the way and just went for it!
I booked a one to one session, just one day with one of the directors of the company and just selected the modules of the course that I wanted to cover. The majority of them being about running a wedding planning business, rather than being a wedding planner but there were things that we did touch on like, budgeting a clients wedding and traditions and etiquette, I remember those were specific topics that I wanted to make sure I knew, plus a little bit on marquee weddings too. I spent this one whole day learning and gathering as much information as I could and then I set my business up.
We are now six years in to me running my own business and we have seen amazing growth and I am in a really good place. Most of my experience and knowledge has just come from being confident and putting myself into situations where I have to learn, grow and research and I have to put myself out there.
It hasn’t been an easy journey, but I think within this industry, this is the controversial moment, you don’t have to have a qualification you just have to be willing to act and put yourself out there and be confident enough in yourself. It really isn’t rocket science, but there are a few key traits that are so important for you to possess and a few things you can do that will help you on your journey to being a great wedding planner.
Do your clients ask you about your qualifications?
If you are a client asking me do I have a qualification in wedding planning my answer really would be no, I mean I did this one day course and I have a certificate and badge I can put on my website to say I have been trained but essentially, no I don’t have qualifications. I do however now have experience and I have a lot of knowledge in this industry.
Has anybody ever asked me if I have a qualification in wedding planning in the six years that I’ve been doing this? No, not one single person, because I assert myself as an expert and YouTube has been an amazing platform to showcase that I really do know the industry and I do understand wedding planning, and that I am an expert in this field. So, for those of you that are perhaps thinking about going into this industry, don’t panic and think that you need to spend loads of money on a degree and multiple courses.
My top tip to you would be, be willing to research, be willing to build knowledge. You don’t have to pay a lot of money to understand how weddings work. Simply by reading my blogs or watching my YouTube channel, you will see that there are loads of videos you can watch for free that teach you about planning a wedding.
Obviously my videos are targeted at couples, but at the same time you are learning how to plan a wedding. Perhaps you are a bride or groom who is reading this right now and you are absolutely loving this journey and planning your own wedding and thinking, this is something that I could truly see myself doing in the future. You are learning so much just from watching and reading and upping your knowledge in this area.
The streamlining of running your own business or understanding how a wedding day works, will come from experience, so what I would say to you, in order to wrap this up, is you do not need to have a qualification to become a wedding planner, what you do need is to be willing to research, to gain knowledge to up your understanding on how weddings work you need to try and get experience where you can. This isn’t always easy in our industry because there are a lot of independent wedding planners who run small businesses and they don’t have the funding to take somebody else on and teach them. However, if you are willing to go and help someone and be an intern to learn, as this will benefit you in the future, then 100% go and do it.
I personally think that the best way to understand this job is to just do it and go and learn from people who are doing it well. I honestly think that is the best way to learn, opposed to going and doing an online course maybe its controversial saying that, but I honestly believe that the best way to learn how to do this job is to just do it and get the hands on experience. Get in touch with wedding planners or mentors out there or anyone who works in the industry who can coach you with starting your wedding planning business.
What is the best advice you have if I want to become a wedding planner?
I work with a lot of planners and do a lot of business coaching for creative female entrepreneurs and a lot of the businesses that come to me are wedding planners because they know that I am an expert in that field and I understand what they are trying to do completely, as it is what I have done!
I’ve worked with a lot of wedding planners helping them start their businesses, helping them understand how to market their business and help them with what services would fit the clients that they want to reach. I think there is definitely a gap in a lot of the mentoring right now, you get taught to do specific services and we don’t have to do this, we can tailor our businesses to the type of clients we want to work with, in fact this is what I specialise in.
So, be willing to learn from other people, if you have to invest in learning this trade, invest in a mentor don’t invest in an online course as you can get that information from researching blogs, YouTube and all the other info out there on planning weddings. The hardest part is running the business and I would definitely work with a mentor to learn how to position yourself properly as a wedding planner.
I think what is ready important is to ask yourself these questions:
Do you have the right skill set?
Are you approachable?
Are you down to earth?
Can you make a couple feel confident, happy and trust you with their wedding day?
Are you a good communicator?
In my opinion these are the most important things. because you need to be able to communicate with your couple easily and understand their vision, you need to communicate with the other suppliers on the day and be a team player! A good wedding planner is always a team player, it is not going in and wanting to assert your position, it is about working with the team onsite as one unit and being that person for your couple that they trust 100%.
There is also the skills of being a good problem solver, as during weddings, things happen, it is a live event at the end of the day and things are going to happen. Can you deal with those problems without getting in to a flap? There is also the obvious skills of good organisation, time management and being able to work in a team and above all, you have to have a true love and passion for weddings.
I was at a site visit this week and the uncle of the bride asked me if I was married, I replied yes and told him I’ve been married for almost 8 years, and he looked at me and said ‘wow you are just still so passionate about people’s weddings’ I told him that I truly was and after 6 years I still absolutely loved what I do. I think that’s really wonderful that this still comes across to my clients.
It is really important that you do truly love weddings because otherwise perhaps it isn’t the thing for you to be doing, you need to come across to your clients that you are really passionate about their day and not that its just another wedding. Once you no longer feel this, you are probably not going to be as successful as you were, you have to stay in love with the job!
And finally, have confidence, just jump in with two feet and go for it honestly don’t sit back and think ‘oh no I don’t have a qualification, I don’t have enough experience’ because I didn’t and look where I am today.
So, there you have it! Do you need a qualification to be a wedding planner? No, in my opinion, no you do not, but you need to be willing to learn.
A little bit of a different blog this week guys but I know that there are so many of you out there who will decide that this is something you actually want to do as a job, as a career and I know we have a lot of wedding planners who already read this blog so I hope you find this info helpful, and I will be back next week with more wedding planning goodness.
Check out our helpful tools on planning here!