They’ve been glamorized and satirized in many movies, but a certain truth emerges: wedding planners must manage hundreds if not thousands of details with good grace and aplomb. So if you’re wondering if your high-energy personality, good listening and organizational skills and love of the unpredictable are a good match for this profession, you might wish to size up a general job description for a wedding planner. Just as no two brides are alike, no two weddings are alike. So keep the fundamental goal in focus: to implement the bride and groom’s vision of their wedding day.
Conduct an initial consultation with the bride and groom. This wide-ranging conversation could cover such basics as the day and venue of the wedding and reception to such nitty-gritty details as the color of the votives on the dinner table. At this point, the bride should communicate—and the wedding planner should understand—the vision for the event.
Clarify expectations and establish a budget. Some wedding planners offer different “service menus,” allowing the bride and groom to determine specifically which services the wedding planner will provide. Many wedding planners work in a 10 percent “wiggle room” factor to anticipate costs that can’t always be exactly pinpointed.
Solicit bids from vendors who will play a role in the wedding, including but not limited to, a florist, photographer, chair/table/tent suppliers, caterers, a band or DJ and a bartender. Over time, many wedding planners cultivate a team of strategic partners whose services they can vouch for and whose reputation is exemplary. This is one of the most valuable services a wedding planner can offer to ensure that the bride and groom’s wedding day goes as smoothly as possible.
Visit and tour the reception venue and sample the food. Determine exactly which services the venue will provide and learn who the all-important contact person at the venue will be on the day of the big event.
Coordinate ancillary details, including but not limited to coordinating transportation and lodging for guests, arranging for valet parking services and securing any special permits.
Create a paper or computerized contact sheet of every single person who will play a role in the wedding day. Taking nothing for granted, a wedding planner should gather business, cell and beeper numbers and email addresses to ensure that she can track down any one at any time.
Create an itinerary and schedule for the wedding day, working in some extra time for delays or late arrivals. Devise an alternative or emergency plan for outdoor activities, such as outdoor picture-taking between the wedding and reception. Confer with the bride and groom and make any last-minute changes to both schedules.
Monitor activities on the wedding day to ensure that they proceed according to schedule. A wedding planner must possess a good sense of rhythm, knowing when to nudge things along to avoid delays (and possible late fees) and when to indulge spontaneous surprises that may make the day extra special for the bride and groom.
Serve as a resource—if not the right hand—for the bride and groom. Many wedding planners smartly hire an assistant for the big day, knowing that an extra pair of hands can go a long way if, say, a floral arrangement topples over or if a bartender disappears for a long break.
Expect—and be prepared to deal with—the unexpected. Even the best-laid plans can go awry, and a wedding planner must keep her cool. This skill will come in handy if an ice sculpture due for a 2 p.m. delivery arrives at noon and is set down in the scorching sun.
Review invoices from the event. Check them against the bids and forward them to the bride and groom for payment.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners Do
- The Wedding Planner Book: What Does a Wedding Planner Do?
- The Knot: What Do Wedding Planners Do?
- The Washington Post: You're the Wedding Planner. Now What Do You Do?
- Real Simple: Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist
- Wedding planners fall under the category of meeting, convention and event planners by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job opportunities in this category are expected to increase by 44 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is much higher than other jobs that the BLS tracks. The median wage for these planners, as of 2020, was $45,260.
- Although states do not license wedding planners, the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants offers a certificate for those who complete a 40-hour training program in five class sessions or a home-study program in three months.
With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.