As we have now reached the month of October it is officially Autumn wedding season...
Hello again and welcome to the penultimate edition in this 10 part series of How to become a wedding planner. This week is week 9 and I talk about that all important first job and learning from your mistakes.
Making mistakes may seem like a strange thing to suggest but believe me when you do get that first paid job there will be things you learn and things you will do differently the next time round.
I’ve been doing this for 2 years now and I’m still learning with each wedding I do.
The reason being is every wedding is different and every couple you work with will be different from the next. You are going to have different situations to deal with every job you do, this may be a huge learning curve to begin with but once you have been doing it a while, these different situations and challenges will become easier and you will learn to adjust a lot quicker……..just like any job I guess.
You will want the first job you do to be perfect, and it will be as much as you can make it perfect……. you’re a planner after all, there for you will plan for every eventuality…BUT from this first job many other issues will arise that you may not have thought about when planning it all on paper.
For this reason you need to be ready to adapt and change things as you go along, to be flexible and re structure your services as you go along.
Things you will learn as you go along are things like:
Timings: when you set out your first time line you won’t really know physically how long some jobs take to do, you may not leave yourself enough time to do stuff, to set things up, to run errands. As time goes by and you get more experience you will lean to allocate enough time for each job. i.e. seating guests and moving them from one area to another, this always take longer than you think, not allowing at last 15 minutes for guest to take their seats once they have been called to dinner can mean that service runs late and food is spoilt!
People: you will learn how to deal with people as you go along, different situations that arise from both suppliers and from the guests
Emergency Box: my emergency box that I take along to each wedding has grown enormously since I did my first wedding, in fact it is now 2 boxes and a bucket full of cleaning equipment (mainly for marquee weddings) you will find things that are missing from your box as you go along and will realise what is important and what you can leave behind!
What to wear: the first job I did I wore a pair of knee length boots with a tiny heal (it was winter)…..never ever again! Its flats all the way now. You will also learn what is comfortable and what isn’t also to take a change of clothes if you have a long set up time
What is in your job description and what isn’t: To be honest I am still struggling with this one! It’s more connected to on the day co-ordination and I discussed it in my post on the day co-ordination and what I actually do! you have to know your own limitations! There are certain things that you may not think are you responsibility and feel that these jobs need to be delegated to other suppliers or guests, but if you are hands on like I am you may feel that you need to do them yourself, or like me think it’s quicker if you just do it yourself. I admit that this is an area I still need to work on.
Time spent at a wedding: You will have your own ideas how long you should stay at a wedding, personally I do 12 hours 10am – 10pm on an average day, but you may get asked to do more. The very first paid job I worked, I did 9am – 1am..That’s a 16 hour day! Did I get paid any extra no, and that’s because I didn’t ask for any extra, I was there the day before setting up as well! But things have changed now, I made that mistake and made it again with other weddings. Now when I write out a quote I set very clear ground rules and state quite clearly what they are getting for that price. Extra hours added to those 12 hours mean an extra fee, it means travel expenses and also a hotel room if needed.
At first you will just want to do each job for free as you want the experience and you love it so much, as time goes on you will still love what you do but you will see it as a way to make a living, to pay the bills. You will also learn how tired the job makes you and if you don’t charge accordingly for your time then the only one losing out is yourself.
Pricing: very similar to your time! I have put my prices up 4 times since I started, because once I was actually in the job doing it, I realised how much I need to charge to make a living. It’s not me being greedy, it’s just me being realistic about what I need to charge to bring in enough money to support myself! You will learn with each job you do how much time is needed for each one………and time as they say is money! Some services will take more time than others, so you will need to charge accordingly. If you price too cheaply you will only resent the job you are doing when the time comes round for the booking!
Extras you need to charge for: My proposals are very clearly laid out now, what the price is, how many meetings are included within that price, exactly what they are getting for the price quoted. Then in an added section are the add ons…time, more meetings, hotels etc. You really have to think ahead for every eventuality.
Your website: As you gain more experience, your website will change, you will find services that work for you and want to expand on those while getting rid of things that don’t work! You will want to re word stuff, add in new ideas, so keep the website constantly changing (plus this is great for SEO)
The main thing is to realise that the job is ever evolving! Each time I take on a new wedding I learn more. This job is so varied and as I said every wedding and every couple are different! You will make mistakes along the way, but that’s fine as long as you learn from them and adjust things as you go along that is fine! No one gets it right first time. Just as long as you appear professional and hard working at all times the client will be happy.
So tell me about your first experiences in the job, whether it be as a planner, or a photographer or any other supplier in the business. Or if you’re a bride who hired a newbie planner or supplier what were your experiences? I’d love to hear your stories!
Come back next week for the final part: part 10- Think about add-ons and a side line to the business.
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
Week 7 – Get some experience and work for free
Week 8 – Go out and meet suppliers and venues
(Thank you to www.andertoons.com/ for the illustrations)