How to start a wedding planning business

From legal documents to qualifications, get everything in place to make your new venture a success.

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If you have event management or hospitality experience and have a passion for weddings, launching your own wedding planning business can be the rewarding next step in your career.

In this guide, we've put together some key information to help you get your wedding planning business off on the right foot.

What is a wedding planning business?

A wedding planning business helps couples with the planning, organisation and management of their wedding. A wedding planner can do everything from finding the venue to keeping track of the budget to liaising with vendors on the day of the event.

How to start a wedding planning business

Starting your own wedding planning business can be challenging, especially if you're building your business from ground up. Following these steps can help you turn your idea into a business.

    1. Find your niche. You can be a generalist wedding planner, but if you're in a saturated market it's important to have a niche that sets your business apart. Think about specialising in wedding trends that are in vogue. For example, you might choose to focus on wedding trends that could be popular in 2021 like microweddings, elopements and "wedding parties" after the couple is legally married.
    2. Develop your business plan and products. Developing a comprehensive business plan is key so you know exactly what you're selling to customers. It's a good idea to come up with several different packages to suit the couple's needs and budget. For example, you might offer three different packages: a full package which covers planning the entire event, a day package which involves coordination on the wedding day and something in between.
    3. Get certifications. You don't need formal qualifications to launch your own wedding planning business. However, you might decide to do a short course to fill gaps in your knowledge and brush up on your skills.
    4. Create a business name and logo. Once you have decided on your niche and business plan, it's important to decide on a business name and a logo that reflects your style. You may need to hire a graphic designer to create a logo for your business. If you don't have a budget for a graphic designer just yet, you can use these graphic design tools and services to work on your logo and branding.
    5. Choose your business structure. If you're starting your wedding planning business on your own, entering into business as a sole trader will be the easiest and quickest way to set up your business. Below we discuss the pros and cons for each business structure.
    6. Consider your legal requirements. It's a good idea to get your basic paperwork like a wedding planner contract in order so your hard work is protected if the customer changes their mind. You might also decide to hire a small business lawyer to go over your paperwork.
    7. Get your first customers. It can be difficult to get paying customers if you don't have an online portfolio. You might need to reach out to recently engaged couples in your social network and offer your services at a discount or on a complimentary basis.
    8. Work on your online portfolio. Use the photographs and testimonials from your first customers to build a website or social media page showcasing your work.
    9. Market your business. You can use paid advertising on social media such as Facebook and Instagram to promote your services. You can also advertise on online wedding directories and attend local wedding conventions. It is also a good idea to connect with like minded wedding vendors such as marriage celebrants, photographers, florists and caterers so you can get referrals.
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Skills needed to start a wedding planning business

As a wedding planner, you'll have the huge responsibility to make sure that everything goes to plan on a couple's wedding day. It's a good idea to build your skills as an employee in the wedding industry, for example as an on-site event coordinator for a reception venue or catering company. That way, you can build experience working in a high pressure environment and network with wedding vendors such as photographers and florists without starting your own business.

As well as having experience in the event management or hospitality industry, it's also important to be:

  • Well-organised
  • Have great time management
  • Project planning skills
  • Quick at problem-solving
  • Thrive in fast-paced environments
  • Sensitive and perceptive
  • Creative
  • A good listener and communicator
  • Have attention to detail
  • Budget-savvy
  • Be able to cope with stressful situations
  • Calm and collected.

Once you're confident that you've amassed the right skills and knowledge to start up a wedding planning business, it's time to put together a business plan. This should address everything from outlining what kind of services you're going to offer to on-going expenses and a marketing plan.

couple consulting a wedding planner

Courses or qualifications

While you don't need an official certificate or qualification to start a wedding planning business, having one can help you develop skills in wedding planning and help you promote your business.

If you're considering doing a university degree, a bachelor's degree in event management, hospitality or business can help prepare you for a career in the wedding planning industry.

You also have the option of doing specific wedding planning courses online to learn important skills and knowledge such as modern and traditional wedding etiquette, marketing strategies and handling wedding disasters. The Wedding Planning Association of Australia (WPAA), for example, offers online courses in wedding planning starting at $600. The Wedding Planner Institute provides a 12 week online course for approximately $700.

A host of nationally-recognised wedding planning certificates can also be found on websites like Training.com.au and Online Courses Australia.

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    Equipment and software needed to start a wedding planning business

    You don't need a lot of equipment to start a wedding planning business. Most of the work will involve liaising with suppliers, venues and, of course, happy couples.

    To keep you organised in anticipation of the big day, consider investing in the following:

    There's a host of online platforms that can help wedding planners to organise their workflow. These include:

    • Social Tables. This software is an event planning tool to find venues and plan seating arrangements. It helps you create a safe in-person event.
    • The Knot. This all-in-one planning tool provides you with a checklist, a budgeter and ways to connect with local vendors.
    • WeddingWire. WeddingWire offers a range of tools to help you build a wedding website, budget, wedding checklist, organise guests and vendors, and create seating charts. The platform also offers an inspiration gallery which you can filter by type, season, colour palette and location.

    wedding planner making some calls

    How to structure your wedding planning business

    One of the first steps you need to take when you open up a wedding planning business is to decide what type of business structure you want to set up. Your decision will depend mainly on three things:

    • How many people will own the business
    • The level of control you wish to have over the business
    • How you want to pay tax.

    Most of the time, you will be setting up your wedding planning business on your own. In that case, registering as a sole trader is the simplest structure and requires minimal costs compared to the other structures.

    If you are launching your business with another person, you could also set up your business as a partnership. The primary difference between a sole trader and a partnership are the people involved. As a sole trader, you'll be responsible for making the key decisions for your business alone, and will be financially liable for it too. In a partnership, there may be two or more people making these decisions, and taking the financial burden of the business.

    You can also set up your business as a proprietary or public company if there are external investors involved, or if you want to better protect your personal assets from business debt liabilities. Remember this structure has a higher set up cost and more reporting requirements.

    You'll also need to register with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), get an Australian Company Number and apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN). Keep in mind that the requirement for a business license varies by state.

    Do I need any legal documents?

    It can be helpful to seek legal advice when you're setting up your business. This can protect your hard work if the customer or supplier later changes their mind.

    Once your customer agrees to engage your wedding planning service, it's important to get a wedding planner contract signed as soon as possible. You might be working with a client for up to two years on the build-up to their wedding day, and a clear contract of what is expected from both parties is essential to avoid any disagreements during the process.

    The wedding planning contract should include:

    • Service description. The contract should set out a comprehensive description of what services you will provide so there is no confusion.
    • Deposit and payments. It's standard to accept a non-refundable deposit from customers so you are compensated for your time if the customer cancels. You may also wish to state when the balance needs to be paid and if you offer any payment plan.
    • Cancellation policy. This will help you to reap back any losses in time or money from last-minute cancellations or unreliable customers.
    • Acts of God. This part of the contract includes the payment you expect in the event of a disaster such as a flood or pandemic, so you can be compensated for your work.

    You can access online legal services and legal document templates with service providers like Sprintlaw, Lawpath, LawDepot, LegalVision and Wonder.Legal.

    Name Product What's offered? Starting price to become a member Annual Fee from Free legal documents available?
    Lawpath
    Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
    $79 per month
    Essentials: $288, legal advice: $828
    You can view samples for free and you can create your first document for free.
    Choose an annual plan from just $288 and get unlimited revisions to your legal or business documents. Plus, unlock exclusive partner offers.
    LawDepot
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides
    $4.99 per month
    $59.88
    Free one week trial available which gives access to hundreds of documents.
    Customise and download legal documents in as little as five minutes. Plus, LawDepot offers peace of mind with two service guarantees.
    Legal123
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides
    Varies per template
    N/A
    No
    Legal123 offers a range of individual templates or document packages for consultants, app developers, personal trainers and more.
    LegalVision
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides, Legal advice
    $49 + GST per week
    $2,548 + GST
    No
    Your business can take advantage of unlimited lawyer consultations, fast turnaround times and free legal templates with LegalVision.
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    How to find customers

    Having an online portfolio is essential for any wedding planning business. It's a great way to demonstrate your skills and expertise to potential customers and to collect testimonials from past customers.

    As your wedding business grows, you'll want to revisit your online portfolio and fill it with written testimonials, pictures and videos of weddings you've contributed to along with a list of your certificates and samples of wedding timelines you've created.

    There are loads of different ways to host and advertise your portfolio. The most popular is to by building a website, but you can also use Adobe Portfolio, Wix, Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest as well.

    To attract more customers, it can be a good idea to use wedding specific directories to advertise your services. Popular directories in Australia include Easy Weddings and ABIA. You can also advertise with blogs that resonate with your niche, such as Polka Dot Wedding, Hello May and Nouba.

    To drum up even more business, you could advertise your wedding planning business on websites like Airtasker and Oneflare. On these online job marketplaces you can actively reach out to job posts posted by potential customers in your area.

    How much should I charge my customers?

    Every wedding is different and your rates will largely depend on the level of service you provide. Some clients may just need some guidance on planning their day, while others will want you to take complete control of everything. To suit couples with different budgets and needs, consider providing several packages.

    For basic assistance and coordinating on the wedding day, you can charge upwards of about $600. That might include coming up with a timeline and liaising with suppliers and guests on the wedding day.

    If you're doing everything from finding vendors to budgeting to designing thank you notes, you can offer more expensive packages priced at $7500 or more.

    Rather than charging a fixed fee, some wedding planners prefer to charge a percentage of the overall cost of the wedding, while others might charge an hourly rate for their time.

    When you're starting out, it's worth trying out different pricing strategies and finding the one that works best for your wedding planning business.

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    Pros and cons of starting a wedding planning business

    Pros

    • You can start your business at home.
    • A wedding is a significant milestone that people are willing to spend a lot on
    • There's no formal education, training or certification required
    • There are several types of software to help streamline your work.

    Cons

    • You'll often need to work weekends and expect some long hours
    • Emotions tend to run high at weddings, which can be stressful
    • The industry's seasonal, which can lead to an inconsistent income
    • It might take a few years for your venture to see a strong return.

    Frequently asked questions

    What's my next step after I gain qualifications?

    Once you've gained the right qualifications, it's worth getting some industry experience. This can be done by shadowing an already established wedding planner, or by finding a job as a wedding planner's assistant. Both of these options will give you the opportunity to see a wedding planner in action, learning the ins and outs of how a wedding is planned and managed.

    How much can I make as a wedding planner?

    When you first start working as a wedding planner, you may find that your earnings are lower. Once you've gained a good reputation and more experience, you can start charging more.

    Do wedding planners need a business license?

    You don't need a specific license to operate as a wedding planner. However, if you want to open your own wedding planning business, you will need to register it with the state.

    What is the difference between a wedding planner and a wedding coordinator?

    Wedding planners will help the couple plan the entire wedding from choosing the venue to finding suppliers to figuring out the logistics.

    On the other hand, wedding coordinators are responsible for organising members of the wedding party, suppliers and guests on the wedding day so the wedding ceremony and reception run smoothly.

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