Fortunate is the bride able to afford a wedding planner to help morph a thousand details into a day to remember. Wedding planners are doubly important these days. Women immersed in careers find themselves perpetually squeezed for time and frankly, moms of brides are so busy themselves, the caricature of a harried “MOB” racing through bakeries with a clipboard has gone the way of the Dodo Bird.
Your willingness to do what it takes to become the most knowledgeable wedding coordinator on the planet showcases your enthusiasm, but if you want to rise above the crowd, become certified. This impressive credential can land you plum clients and your career will bloom like the flowers you recommend for the church.
1. Conduct a search among local, area and regional trade schools, colleges and academies to find wedding planner certification programs. If you can’t locate one in your geographic area, peruse websites offering distance learning programs, like the Association of Certified Wedding Planners, the Wedding Planning Institute, Ashworth College and the other schools and preparatory programs adding this specialty to their course offerings. Compare curricula, pricing and program length before you make your selection.
2. Sign up for the certification program you’ve picked and pay your fees. Set a reasonable time limit for completing your certification based on your work and family schedule so you’re not looking more ragged than the brides you’re trying to help. Take advanced classes in wedding budget management, client relations and vendor selection (e.g., how to choose florists, caterers, invitation designers and other wedding-industry professionals). Some programs require students to immerse themselves in ceremonial protocols and in this diverse world, you may even be asked to bone up on ethnic reception planning.
3. Add classes to your course schedule that address the business side of your consultancy. Learn how to manage finances, find clients, obtain business licenses and permits, how to create and manage client contracts and master sales techniques you’ll need to attract brides to your business. Take as many marketing classes as possible. Some will be offered within your certification program curricula, but if you think outside the wedding cake, you’ll discover plenty of marketing symposiums, workshops and classes that can be adapted to suit your particular business model.
4. Prepare for your certification exam. If there’s another student in your area (the school may be able to introduce you via the Internet) and you learn best in a give-and-take environment, work with a partner to study your material. Ask the program coordinator up front about the type of test you’ll be given so there are no surprises. Why spend days preparing for an essay exam when the test is multiple choice? On the night before the test, get some sleep and don’t sit down to answer questions with your stomach running on empty. To take the exam in the most efficient way, move through questions you feel confident answering and skip the ones you’re unsure about. Return to them later when you’re feeling more relaxed.
5. Make the most of your certificate once you receive it. Ask your program/school for copies of their logo in both high resolution (300 dpi) and low resolution (72 dpi) formats so you can add it to your brochures, ads, website and promotional materials. Make it a practice to sign all business letters with your designation (e.g.: Susan Sandler, Certified Wedding Planner). Send out a press release to local media letting them know that you have completed your course of study and attained this level of professional achievement. After all, you worked hard for it and there’s no reason why the world–and all of the brides in your area–shouldn’t applaud all of your hard work