Myth 1: Start up costs of a wedding business is minimal
Wedding planning is not a “get rich quick” business, and like any business requires a start up capital. Contrary to popular belief and some online resources, starting a wedding business is costly. At the very least every wedding planner requires a laptop/computer, printer, smartphone, decent ADSL connection, personal presentation items, portfolio materials, vehicle and an office space. Initial marketing and advertising costs are necessary. A professionally designed logo and a professional website will set you apart. Styled shoots are a great way to build a portfolio, and those too require financial output. It will take time to book your first client, having adequate financial resources to get through the ‘waiting time’ is vital.
Myth 2: You can keep you day job and plan weddings
In theory, yes you can. In practice, weddings are time consuming and very demanding. When couples hire a wedding panner, they are purchasing expertise and the time they don’t have to handle wedding planning arrangements themselves. Some weddings require as many as 600 hours to plan – 600 hours at 8 working hours per day equals to 75 working days.
Having a full time job means you have responsibilities and obligations to your employer who is paying you a salary. Any bride will demand attention because she is also paying you. Managing both will become increasingly difficult. Daily meetings, even working on the weekends and deadlines are realities of a full time employment. Using working hours to plan weddings can be considered as stealing from your employer. Leaving your wedding planning activities for the weekends may prove frustrating as it is when most wedding suppliers are working at weddings. And on top of it all, you are going to be exhausted, which means you will not be able to give your best to anyone.
I understand it is scary. In the beginning it’s going to be rough. You will make less than most of your friends, especially the ones doing the “normal” paths of things like finance. At the same time, sheer desperation often leads to unpredictable progress and success. Unless you are giving 100% of yourself you cannot expect anything great to happen.
If you are not ready, and being a full time wedding planner seems risky but weddings are you passion, then working at the wedding venue or an events company is a great option. You will gain valuable experience, establish a professional network and get exposure to how things work. In reality, events positions are demanding and generally not well paid. The only way to make money in this industry is by being your own boss and running a successful business. My advice is to calculate your start up capital, forecast your business expenses for 18 months then save up (or find an investor or a partner).
Myth 3: Meeting potential clients at the coffee shop is a good idea
Initial meeting with a potential client is the most important meeting you will have as it is your only chance to sell your services. Working out of a coffee shop is unproductive. It is noisy, busy and you will not be able to give your potential clients a clear idea of what you can do for them. Paying the bill at the end of the meeting can be an awkward moment. Track your expenses too, a parking ticket and a few cups of coffee will add up quickly.
Personally, I tried it all. I choose to work from my home based studio. I don’t sit in traffic, I do not mind when my clients are late. My studio has a separate entrance, ample parking for my clients. It is a safe set up and we recently installed a number of additional safety features. I gain trust from people who come to consult with me, because they know where I work and where I live. They see my space, my personality and they feel the ‘energy’.
I would advise against going to potential client’s home for safety reasons. If you choose to invite potential clients to you home, make sure you are safe and your space is presentable and quiet. Meeting at the wedding venue is another option, but you have to caution your potential clients from being swayed towards other suppliers they may meet at the venue on the day of your meeting.
Myth 4: It’s OK to lie about your experience to get the job
It is never OK to lie about your experience. Faking your portfolio or over-inflating your experinece is a bad idea. This industry is very small, and signature styles are easily recognised. Using someone’s work without any experience will be harmful to your reputation. As with any industry, you have to ‘pay your dues’ before you can be taken seriously. Always be honest about your level of experience and you will be surprised how much potential clients value honesty. You will have to live through a few rejections, that is part of the creative business reality.
Myth 5: You cannot make a decent living being a wedding planner
Being a wedding planner and owning a wedding planning business is a great way to earn an income whilst creating beauty and brining joy to people. There are many examples of successful, wealthy and thriving wedding planners in South Africa and around the world. Their success can be attributed to dedication, passion, hard work, constant innovation and strive for excellence.
Wedding planning business is fulfilling and needs to be financially rewarding in order to remain operational. In my upcoming workshop I will be discussing what works in the wedding planning business and how wedding planners can build a financially viable company. There are only 2 more spots left. Interested? Sign up here.