Have you ever thought about becoming a wedding planner? If you dream about helping couples craft the most special day of their lives, get a thrill every time you hear “I do” or see a bride in her wedding dress for the first time, and love organization, details, and design, then it might be the profession for you.
While it's one of the most rewarding jobs a person can have, becoming a wedding planner takes more than just good taste. "The top skills for a wedding planner in my opinion are communication, organization, creativity, and impeccable attention to detail," notes Nicole-Natassha Goulding of Chic by Nicole.
In order to share what the road to becoming a wedding planner is really like, we tapped some successful industry insiders to share what skills are needed to make it in the industry and how they got their own start in the field.
Meet the Expert
- Nicole-Natassha Goulding is the creative director and founder of full-service wedding planning company Chic by Nicole.
- Heather Hoesch and Lindsay Ferguson own LVL Weddings & Events, known for producing one-of-a-kind weddings in California, Hawaii, and Colorado. They are also co-owners of Planner Life Academy, which offers workshops and virtual training programs to prepare leaders to open their own wedding planning businesses.
- Francie Dorman is the owner of 42 North, a full-service wedding and event planning firm. She is based in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and specializes in high-luxury celebrations across New England. She also mentors young wedding planners through a sister company, Mavinhouse Events.
- Teissia Treynet is the founder and CFO of Firefly Events, a high-level event planning company with offices in New York, California, and Wyoming. She also runs The Firefly Method, a community and education platform for thousands of wedding planners and small business owners across the world.
- Michelle Rago owns Michelle Rago Destinations, a wedding and events company considered one of the best in the world. Her office is based in New York City, but she is known for organizing elaborate destination weddings in far-flung locations.
Ahead, learn about the qualifications you need to become a wedding planner, straight from the experts.
Skills and Qualifications for Wedding Planners
Like in most career fields, you need certain skills, personality traits, and qualifications to become a wedding planner. Ahead, see some of the most important ones, according to the pros.
Be a Great Leader Under Pressure
Being a wedding planner requires you to wear many hats. At any one time, you have to deal with vendors, couples, their families, and finances. Of course, there can also be a lot of drama. “Being a good leader and being able to stay calm, delegate, listen, and lead in a time of stress is your most important skill,” wedding planner Lindsay Ferguson says.
Learn these skills by interning or shadowing with wedding planners, so you can be immersed in different situations and learn how to address the chaos.
Having Empathy While Remaining Professional
“Anyone can learn the systems and standard operating procedures of event planning, but what makes a planner really great at their job are characteristics like problem-solving, empathy, professionalism, and high attention to detail,” shares planner Francie Dorman. “Someone who likes to feel purposeful, and strives to make others feel important and cared for are two factors for success in this unique industry.”
Being Organized and Attentive to Details
Wedding planning requires you to be uber-organized and attentive to details. After all, so many components go into the event from schedules to menus to dance playlists. “These skills or traits can be built on as you grow into your role,” explains Dorman. “They are muscles that can get stronger as they are flexed.” If you don’t have these traits naturally, consider an internship or entry-level job to help you develop them.
Getting Hands-On Experience
While you don’t technically need any certifications or degrees to become a wedding planner, getting experience from a veteran is essential. “As a wedding planner, you’re also safeguarding one of the most important times in most people’s lives so it’s imperative you know what you’re doing,” says Teissa Treynet. While getting experience in regular event planning is helpful, Ferguson notes that wedding planning is a different game. “Corporate planning or non-profit planning does not count," she says. You must seek out quality education from a reputable source and couple this with hands-on experience by working under a wedding-trained and experienced planner.”
Seeking Out Learning Opportunities
While having a pro show you the ropes is important at the beginning of your career, expect to continue that education over the years. “The best wedding planners have a ‘never stop learning’ mindset,” says Hoesch. “They read, they watch webinars and social media lives, and they collaborate and listen to wedding podcasts. They take courses, and attend workshops and conferences.” Many of these resources are available online, so you can start your education in your free time. As Rago puts it: “If I have learned anything over the last 20 years, it’s the importance of constantly learning and keeping up with what is tried-and-true.”
How Real Planners Got Their Start
For those who want to pursue this path but don’t know where to begin, we interviewed five renowned wedding planners—many of whom run courses to teach up-and-coming event organizers—on how they began their careers in the field.
Lindsay Ferguson got her start by working part-time for a wedding planner in Chicago as a young professional. “I always had a love for hospitality and customer service-focused careers,” she says. “I grew up with an entrepreneurial mom who really encouraged me to find something that I loved and was passionate about.” Meanwhile, Heather Hoesch worked for a family friend who owned the local bridal salon in high school. “She hired me to clean, hang, and steam dresses,” she recalls. In college, Hoesch worked for a catering company that primarily did weddings. “It was a crash course in weddings,” she continues. “I learned a ton about food, service, timelines, flow, logistics, guest experience, and catering to couples' needs for their special day.” Five years later, she was ready to start her own company. Ferguson and Hoesch now are co-owners of LVL Weddings & Events and of Planner Life Academy, which offers workshops and virtual training programs to prepare leaders to open their own wedding planning businesses.
Early in her career, Francie Dorman worked as an event hostess, an executive assistant, and a GM at a restaurant. “These experiences helped me build fortitude and a deep understanding of what happens in the ‘back of the house.’” Dorman explains. Her first wedding planning job was for a small, local company where she took on more responsibilities before getting clients of her own. She now is the owner of 42 North, a full-service wedding and event planning firm, and mentors young wedding planners through a sister company, Mavinhouse Events.
Teissia Treynet started a career as a development coordinator for a nonprofit in Los Angeles, where she planned large-scale, celebrity-driven events. A year later, she helped her best friend plan his wedding on the island of Holbox, Mexico, and started Firefly Events soon after. (Fun fact: She booked her first paying client off Craigslist!)
Michelle Rago attended the New York Restaurant School, worked in hotel sales, and operated a flower business for years before landing on weddings. Those experiences gave her a “more holistic approach of producing with an emphasis on design, food and beverage, and service,” she says. She now owns Michelle Rago Destinations, a wedding and events company based in New York City, and is known for organizing elaborate destination weddings in far-flung locations.