In the wedding and event planning industry, experience counts as much, if not more, than any certificates and degrees. It’s great if you can find a seasoned professional who is willing to let you work beside them and help you get that valuable experience. Here’s how to find someone.
I’m considering getting into the event planning industry with a focus mainly on wedding planning. I have very little experience in the industry, I’ve only help plan and coordinate one wedding so far. I have a BA in Hotel and Restaurant management and an MBA. I’m trying to find an experienced wedding planner who is willing to let me shadow them. I’m not looking to be paid, just eager to learn.
How do I find this person? Are there networking groups that I can join to meet people in the industry?
Your education in hotel and restaurant management will be an asset to you as you plan weddings and events. You probably already have an understanding of customer service, negotiation and marketing which are important things to know in order to have a successful wedding and event planning business.
Here are 3 tips to help you find someone you can shadow:
1) Don’t be too quick to specialize in wedding planning
You may decide to specialize in weddings in the future but you’ve only helped plan one so far and there are many types of events that might interest you and many planners who specialize in different industries who could teach you. I suggest you be open to planning different types of events, in addition to weddings, so you can be sure it’s the best fit for you and so you can be ready to handle many different types of clients in the future.
2) Realize the person you shadow doesn’t need to be wedding or event planner
A professional wedding and event planner with his or her own business would be able to teach you a great deal. However, with a background in hotel and restaurant management, you may also want to approach venues and see if their catering and sales staff could use an intern with your education. They work with brides, event planners and people holding large social and charitable events so you would get well-rounded experience. You would also get to meet wedding and event vendors whom you may be able to work with in the future.
3) Consider joining an industry association
Some of the best places for you to network right now are at industry association meetings and events. For example, check out your local chapter of the International Special Events Society (ISES), they are located all over the world. Other wedding and event associations have chapters in many cities in the U.S. and other countries too and are worth looking into.
There may also be groups of event professionals in your local area who meet who don’t belong to a large association. Do a search on Google, Facebook and Meetup to find them.
And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.