What books and websites do you recommend people check out if they want to be wedding planners?
The association of bridal consultants is the best starting point across the board, and it offers an affordable training program. And Xochitl also authored a program, but it’s a bit more expensive and for someone who is really clear that they want to make this a career. It’s a complete course in weddings and event design, and you can find it at www.sheffield.edu.
What pitfalls should folks look out for on this path?
You should be careful about your contracts, and you should never be signing contracts for someone else. We have to make sure our contracts state that we’re not responsible for our vendors, though we use and recommend them. In the beginning we weren’t that savvy and we could have been liable for the poor performance of a vendor. Having a lawyer vet contracts early on is worth the money.
You also need to decide who you are going to be in this industry—you need to have a clear and distinct point of view, like a fashion designer. You have to distinguish yourself from everyone else; are you modern or traditional? Otherwise there is not a good reason for someone to call you and not someone else. We spent a whole year on our business plan—it’s such a great tool. You don’t even realize that you’re working toward the goals you’ve laid out. Every Tuesday after work and all day Sunday, we would work on our business plan. What was our logo? Our marketing tools? Percentage profit? You can’t get so caught up in the excitement of building a business that you don’t take time to take care of prep. We try to revise our business plan annually.
—Carmen Wong Ulrich