A few weeks ago I had a lovely email from a gorgeous bride telling me...
Hello and welcome again to part 7 of the 10 week series of How to become a wedding planner. After last weeks break in the series due to the Riots we are back on track! so today I am going to be discussing the importance of gaining experience before you take on paying customers!
When you start out as a wedding planner it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation, as you are offering a service you have nothing to show prospective customers as it’s yourself you are selling not a product! So you are only as good as your last job and if you haven’t got any wedding planning jobs under your belt, then what?
I started this series calling this chapter, get work experience and shadow other planners, I changed it to gain experience and work for free, as that is basically what you need to do!
As discussed in Why does everyone want to become a wedding planner I and many other wedding planners get numerous, emails, phone calls, letters even texts from wanna be wedding and event planners asking for work experience, work placements, part time jobs or full time jobs! And as I discussed in the discussion on that blog post I gave my reasons to why I can’t do this….time, space and money!
BUT don’t let that stop you on your journey to gain experience as there are ways round it!
What I did!
The most valuable experience I got was working for free. When I decided I was going to be a wedding planner I already had experience of running big scale events, I’d also organised my own wedding….but believe me planning your own wedding does not make you a wedding planner! planning your own and planning a complete strangers wedding are two very very different things!
So I asked my friends if they knew of anyone getting married to see if I could volunteer to be their wedding planner. I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested but I got two tackers! One couple who were a friend of a friend who wanted help on the day, and another one who was a good friend who basically wanted help with the wheel planning experience.
The on the day was pretty straight forward and it gave me my first insight into what went on the day of a wedding and what was going to be expected of me. I got to take responsibility, write out a time line, attend final meetings with the bride, sort out a problem at the registry office the day of the wedding as well as learning never to wear heals to a wedding you’re working at, even if they are only 2 inch!
The full wedding was invaluable! I helped my friend chose her dress, got her discounts, chose her florist, her photographers, chair covers, I went to the whole salers for her, co-ordinated the whole thing for her from start to finish! The good thing is it was a working process and the experience went on for 6 months, yes it was time consuming, but it was experience that I would never have got from just assisting on the day!
So ask about, put a shout out on facebook or twitter…someone somewhere will want a wedding planner for free (not trying to do myself out of a job of course.)
I was also lucky enough to be able to shadow a planner and assist on the day of a wedding myself. It was a great day, a Gothic wedding with an outdoor ceremony, but because it wasn’t my wedding I didn’t get to keep any photos for my portfolio, but never the less it was good experience that I got though my tutor from my wedding planner diploma!
Also when writing to planners think about what you are saying, most work from home and simply don’t have the space to put an extra body, so offering to shadow them for the week isn’t going to be beneficial to them.
Despite what I said in my Post on why does everyone want to be a wedding planner, I have recently taken on an assistant, Rachel, she’s fab and I hope to use her a lot more next year! Yes she sent me the obligatory email with her CV attached and I ignored it (bad planner I know) but then she sent me a written letter through the post on funky paper with the first line reading ‘I want to work for you for free!’……………you see where I’m going?? The letter came at a time when I was in the middle of a wedding that had got bigger than first expected and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do it all on my own on the day, so I called her up and arrange for her to assist me on the day……..perfect! I had an assistant and she had a day with a planner gaining valuable experience.
As it turns out I love her! She made that wedding so much easier for me, so I am now going to be incorporating her into my wedding planning proposals for the future.
But the moral of this story is offer to help at time when a planner is going to need you. asking for a weeks work experience isn’t going to be ideal for anyone who is self-employed as a lot of our time is spent at the computer, BUT offering to help out on the odd day here and there on an add hock basis may be the answer to gaining that valuable experience that you need!
So let me know your experiences, how did you get started? did you work with any other planners? are you currently looking for work experience yourself? I’d love to hear about your stories.
Come back next week for part 8- Go out and meet suppliers and venues
Have you missed any of this series? ‘How to become a wedding planner’
Week 1 – Get business advice
Week 2 – Start a wedding planning course
Week 3 – Research your competition & the market around you, find a niche
Week 4 – Create your Brand
Week 5 – Networking and Social Networking
Week 6 – Get a Website and a Blog
(Thank you to www.andertoons.com/ for the illustrations)