Wedding Planner Q&A – “How Do I Find an Experienced Wedding Planner to Shadow?”

 

How To Find an Experinced Wedding Planner to Shadow

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.

Question

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?

Answer

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 questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planner Q&A – “How Do I Choose a Business Name That Won’t Limit Me?”

 

3 Tips for Naming a Wedding Planning Business

If you haven’t chosen your wedding planning business name, or the one you have isn’t working, you can learn from the 3 tips I offer in my Q and A today.

Question

I’m trying to decide on a business name. I’m thinking of using my name, “Jane Doe* Weddings and Events,” but I’m not sure I could continue to use it if I decide to expand into other areas in the future.

*Name changed to protect the name of the wedding planner who sent in the question.

Answer

You’re smart to think ahead to what your business might look like in the future, you don’t want your business name to limit you.

Here are 3 tips that will help you:

1) Choose a name that evokes rather than explains exactly what you do

Although “weddings and events” clearly tells people the business you’re in, don’t feel your business name has to have words that say exactly what you do.

Consider using words that convey the benefits of your services or conjure up visions of the beautiful weddings and events you plan now and what you are considering offering in the future.

2) Decide if you would ever sell your business in the future

If you use your name as part of your business name, it may be difficult to sell your business when you become successful and want to retire. The next wedding planner won’t want your name as part of his/her business name.

3) Test your business name

Ask people to say it aloud and to spell it. If most people aren’t doing either of these things correctly, you could have a problem. People referring you by word-of-mouth may not get your name right when telling a bride about your excellent services. And, brides may not be able to find you in Google or in searches on social media sites such as Facebook or Pinterest.

Also ask them what the think of when they hear the name. Something elegant? Traditional? Offbeat? What they say should match the feeling you want to convey about your services.

Learn more about choosing your business name in my previous post on naming.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planner Q&A – “How Do I Bounce Back After a Negative Review?”

 

How Wedding Planners Bounce Back After a Bad Review

With the ability to be anonymous on the Internet, unhappy brides have easily posted unfair negative reviews about their wedding planners. But, wedding planners have been able to bounce back from them and get new clients.

Today I offer tips for improving your online presence to help you attract more brides whether you’ve received a negative review for just want more business.

Question

I’m a destination wedding planner. I have been planning events and weddings for over 8 years. However, last year I received an unfair bad review that was posted on several wedding sites and my business has been hurting ever since. I have considered launching a new brand helping brides and grooms find the right location for their wedding. My biggest challenge is finding the brides!

Please visit my website, read my blog and tell me how I can reach more brides.

Answer

Sorry to hear you had a bad review, I hope you reached out to the bride to see if there was something you could do, if appropriate, and contacted the wedding sites and tried to get the review removed.

One of the best things you can do to overcome getting a bad review is have a lot of positive information about your business online. Be sure you post any testimonials you’ve received and encourage brides to post their favorable reviews. Also, make sure you have a lot of content on the web, such as blog posts, articles and videos, to stop the bad review from coming up high on Internet searches.

Here are 5 ways you can get more visibility and attract more brides:

1) Consider changing your URL and/or using a different business name

The URL and name you are using have nothing to do with destination weddings. In fact, they seem to refer to your own wedding. Think about the brides you want to reach and the words they would use when searching online for a wedding planner who specializes in your country. Then create your URL and/or business name based on those words.

2) Show brides your best work

You have a great deal of information and photographs about your own wedding on your blog. Instead, show potential clients photos from the weddings you’ve planned in the past eight years. They’ll want to know how you have helped other brides.

3) Write more blog posts

Your blog has some great wedding tips that could attract many brides but you have very few posts and your last one is a few months old. Posting more frequently will help your site get more visibility.

4) Keep your social media accounts up-to-date

Your blog links to your social media accounts and I noticed it’s been well over a year since you used Twitter. Only link to sites where you post frequently or a bride seeing it might think you’re out of business.

By the way, it’s ok not to be active on all of the social media sites, find two that you’re comfortable with that your target brides use and focus your time and energy on only those two.

5) Remember “WITFM”

Brides look at your information with the thought, “What’s In It For Me?” You need to show and tell brides what you and your services can do for them, not just have a list of what you do, so they’ll want to contact you to learn more.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planner Q&A – “What Common Mistakes Should I Avoid When Starting My Wedding Planning Business?”

 

Avoid these common mistakes new wedding planners make

Knowing the mistakes other new wedding planners have made so you can avoid them may help you become successful faster.

Question

I’m thinking of starting a wedding planning business. If I do, I’d want to start out right and understand what I’d be getting into so I can figure out problems beforehand. I know planners talk to you their problems. What are some of the common mistakes you’ve seen them make that have hurt their businesses?

Answer

Good for you for wanting to be prepared! I’ve listed mistakes below but understand that no matter how prepared you are, you’ll still make some mistakes. It’s natural and it’s ok. You’ll learn from them, do things the right way and end up having the successful business you were meant to have.

Here are 4 mistakes I’ve seen wedding planners make and tips on what you should do instead:

1) They put too much emphasis on online marketing

When I first started mentoring, new wedding planners were spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on web design and investing heavily in advertising on wedding websites, with the thought that many brides would automatically find them and instantly want to hire them. Now people use Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn with the same idea.

It’s great to have a big presence on social media but you also need to get out and talk about your business to everyone you know. Don’t make sales pitches, as in, “I’m a wedding planner, do you know any brides?” Instead, shares stories about how you’ve made the wedding planning experience easy for brides who’ve hired you. People enjoy and remember stories and they tell them to other people, so word about you will get around.

2) They didn’t have a niche or picked a niche that was too broad

One of the first things I ask when I start to mentor someone is what their niche is. Quite often, it’s either one of these two: “high-end brides” or “professionals who don’t have time to plan their weddings themselves.”

You have to be more specific so you can create the wedding planning services that will solve their problems and the marketing messages that will appeal to them.

3) They didn’t use contracts

Many new wedding planners have told me stories of brides they wish they had asked to sign a contract. They didn’t do it because there seemed like there wouldn’t be any problems, then they ended up not getting paid.

You need to put your service and payment terms in writing so your client knows exactly what she is getting and when and how much she owes you for your services. Professional wedding planners use contracts, brides expect it.

Also, a few wedding planners I’ve helped had partnered with another wedding planner or wedding vendor to get more business. Partnerships also need contracts. It’s too easy for one person to end up feeling like they weren’t treated fairly. Clearly define each person’s roles, responsibilities and share of the profits.

4) They didn’t charge enough

The wedding planners I mentor are fabulous people who love what they do and would probably do it free. You may feel this way also. But you’re running a business offering valuable services and whether you’re new or have been planning weddings for a while, you deserve to be well paid for what you do.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planner Q&A – “After One Year in Business, I Don’t Have Any Clients at All, What Do I Do?”

 

Wedding Planner Q&A - What DO I Do When I Don't Have Any Clients

If your wedding planning business isn’t taking off, you may need to make these changes to your marketing and your mindset.

Question

What do you do when you’ve been in business for over a year and still have no business? I’ve had leads and interested brides but nothing has come of them. I’ve done weddings before going official but since forming the business, nothing.

I’m still marketing, by buying ads on wedding websites and attending networking events.

I’m trying to reach brides who are funky and eclectic.

Answer

A year is a long time to go without a client so I applaud you for hanging in. Getting your first brides can be tough but once you do, you can expect more.

Here are 2 important tips that can help you get business:

1) Your marketing image and style, both online and off, must appeal to your target brides

You have a very specific niche, which is great, too many new wedding planners try to appeal to every bride and end up not appealing to anyone.

But, looking at your social media pages and website, it appears you are looking for brides who want romantic, classic weddings not the type of brides that you say you want. The websites in which you advertise, although many brides visit them, are targeted to those who want traditional weddings. Your target market is probably not looking at them for help planning their weddings.

Do some research, look at different blogs and websites that show the weddings of funky, eclectic brides so you get an idea of their style, interests and wedding planning needs. Find out where you can meet them locally, get to know them and become a part of their social groups. With your new found knowledge, create the services that solve their unique wedding planning problems and a marketing plan and style that will attract them.

2) You must believe that you are worthy of getting work and being well-paid for it

This is an important factor to your success. I’ve seen the lack of self-worth sabotage the businesses of many talented new wedding planners. Some examples of lack of self-worth: you eagerly offer hours of free personalized wedding planning advice. You deeply discount your services because you think offering low rates is the only way a bride will hire you. You desperately accept a bride as a client knowing in your gut that she will be more trouble than she is worth.

If you don’t believe that you have valuable services to offer, neither will any brides and they won’t hire you, they’ll just get free advice from you, or, if they do hire you, they won’t pay you what you’re worth.

So, to get business and be successful, you have to do the outer work of setting up the services brides want and marketing them properly. And, you have to do the inner work of programming yourself to believe you offer valuable services and are worth the money that you charge.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planner Q&A – “How Do I Juggle a Job and My Wedding Planning Business?”

 

Wedding Planner and Her Assistant Help a Bride

Every year Forbes magazine lists event coordinator as one of the 10 most stressful jobs a person can have. And, it can be especially difficult when you’re new and still are maintaining a regular job, as the wedding planner in my Q&A today has found.

Question

I’m planning my first wedding now and love it but feel stressed and overwhelmed because I also have a day job. How do I manage having a wedding planning business while I still have a job? I’m hoping I can have enough business someday to plan weddings full time.

Answer

Many successful wedding planners started out doing it as a second job. You can too if you have passion, determination and can manage your life well so you minimize your stress.

Here are 5 tips that will help you succeed:

1) Start small

Only take on the work you can do in an excellent way. This may mean you start with consulting and planning and coordinating small, intimate weddings. Then, when you get more experienced managing your job and wedding planning business, you can add assistants and plan more and larger weddings.

2) Be super-organized and clutter-free

Not only does your wedding planning work need to be organized, your life does also. Write notes when you plan weddings so you don’t lose track of important details. Keep a schedule and put your job, business and personal “to-do’s” in one planner so you stay on top of all of your commitments.

Also, make your home and workspace clutter-free so you know where things are and don’t waste time and energy, which can be in very short supply when you have a job, a business and a personal life, searching for things you’ve misplaced.

3) Hire help

A business, part time or full time, can’t grow without the assistance of others. Get help with your chores at home and with your office administrative duties and/or social media marketing. Get assistants to help you onsite with weddings and include their pay in your rates.

4) Partner with others

Partnering with another wedding planner or a caterer or florist who handles weddings will spread out some of the responsibilities. However, make sure you have an agreement as to what each of you is supposed to contribute and how much to the profits each of you is entitled to.

5) Have downtime

Don’t spend every waking minute working. You need to pace yourself and take the time to recharge so you have more stamina, can think more clearly and can be ready to handle any emergency a bride and groom have during their wedding planning process. And, you need to be able to enjoy life!

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planners Q&A – “What Website Styles Will Help Me Be Successful?”

 

Website Tips for Wedding Planners

These tips for a new wedding planner who is putting up her first website will help you whether  you’re creating your first site or trying to refresh your existing one.

Question

I would like to know if you have example websites that would help me enhance my wedding and event planning business. Are there any website platforms, templates or website styles that seem to be most successful?

I’m focused on my local area but am considering including destination weddings.

Also, what things should I consider that would help make this website most successful? Should I portray a certain style to attract a certain customer such as high end, elegant or romantic?

Answer

You’re considering all the right things for a website. Now you need to define your target market. Once you do that, the answers to your questions will fall into place.

Think about who you want to work with and the type of bride who would benefit the most from your knowledge and skills. Whether it’s a high-end bride, someone who wants an elegant wedding, one who wants a romantic wedding or a bride who wants a destination wedding, you need to get a clear picture of who she is and what her wedding planning problems are that you can solve.

After you’ve determined these things, you’ll know what photographs from weddings you have planned to feature on your website and you’ll be able to write copy that demonstrates that your services provide the solutions to the wedding planning problems these brides have.

There aren’t website platforms, templates and styles that can guarantee success and  remember that your website is just one of the many ways you need to use to market your business in order to be successful.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planner Q&A – “How Do I Start a Successful Wedding Business with My Fiancé?”

 

Husband and Wife Wedding Planners

I know couples who have both a successful wedding planning business and a happy relationship. It can be done! In my Q&A today I offer tips to help you if you and your significant other are considering starting a wedding business together.

Question

My fiancé and I are planning to set up a wedding planning business of our own. Currently my partner has a few contacts with decorators and DJs. I am a designer by profession and he is a hotelier, sales manager. He is a graduate in hotel management and has an executive business MBA.

We really want your guidance on how we can go about this. What do we need to do?

Answer

Both you and your fiancé have great credentials and sound very ambitious. You’re taking on a lot if you’re planning to start a new life together and a new business at the same time. However, if you both feel you can do it, here are 7 steps to starting a wedding planning business that I think you and your fiancé should take:

1) Determine if you have the right business and marketing skills

Will you be able to write your own business plan? Successfully market your own services and products? Keep your business finances in order?

If there are gaps in what you know how to do regarding starting and running a business, you’ll need to hire people who can help you.

2) Assess  the knowledge, skills and experience that you have to offer

You mentioned you’re a designer but not in what area you specialize. Have you done wedding and event design? Have you planned any weddings? If not, start by working for an experienced planner and/or start planning weddings for family and friends without pay. Don’t start a wedding planning business until you’ve had experience planning weddings other than you own.

3) Agree on a vision for your company

The two of you need to share the same vision of what the company will look like, how big you want it to grow and how much you’re both willing to do to make it successful.

4) Know what role each of you is going to take in the business

Being life partners and business partners can be wonderful or put a strain on your relationship. Decide, in advance, who is going to handle the various business and marketing tasks as well as the how you’ll work with your brides and grooms.

5) Find out all you can about the couples you want to serve

Learn who they are, what their wedding budgets are and the wedding planning problems they have that bother them so much, they would hire a wedding planner to help them.

6) Create services and products to offer your target market

Match you knowledge and skills to the needs of the brides and grooms you want to reach and create the services and products they will want and buy.

7) Commit to spending 80% of your working hours marketing your business

When you have a new wedding planning business, spend a majority of your time and energy finding new clients and building your vendor network. Do this both online and offline, in other words, create your website and social media accounts and get out and meet people.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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Wedding Planners – 3 Ways to Get Brides to Want Your Free Consultation

 

How Wedding Planners Can Attract Brides with a Free Consultation

If you’re like many new wedding planners, you’re offering new brides free consultations to give them a chance to know, like and hire you. But, with many wedding planners offering this free service, you need to stand out above the competition to get to talk to the brides you want.

Here are 3 ways to get brides to choose you as the wedding planner they want to talk to:

1) Offer your free consultation around a specific topic

Most wedding planners just advertise a “free consultation.” Instead, find a specific aspect of wedding planning that keeps the brides in your niche awake at night and offer your consultation on that topic.

If, for example, many brides struggle with really knowing what they want their wedding to look like because Pinterest has made them feel overwhelmed and confused. So, you could offer a free session to help them named, “Create a Clear Vision of Your Wedding.” They would find this topic appealing and it would give you an opportunity to share the benefits of your services.

 2) Tell brides what they will learn from your consultation

Create a list of things you’ll do together. For the example above you could tell them:

  • We’ll review your ideas and help you get clear a clear vision of your dream wedding
  • We’ll discuss the steps you need to take to make your dream come true
  • We’ll create a checklist together to help you get started

3) Let brides know the value of your “free consultation”

Market the importance and high value of your consultation. You’re a professional wedding planner who can give wedding planning advice and guidance that their friends and family cannot. And, your consultation is personalized, so they can’t get the same help from a book or a wedding website.

Your free consultation need not be long. First, spend a few minutes getting to know the bride and groom. Next, discuss the things you told the bride you would review in your meeting then close by tell her the benefits of working with you to get the wedding she wants.

And if you want more help to become a top wedding planner, sign in to get my ezine “Wedding Planner Tips.”



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Wedding Planner Q&A – “Where Do I Find an Assistant Who Will Work for $10 an Hour?”

 

Wedding Planner Q&A - "Where Do I Find an Assistant Who Will Work for $10 an Hour?"

Even if you only recently became a wedding planner, if you are planning weddings, you need an assistant to help you

In today’s Q&A, I offer tips to a help a wedding planner looking for inexpensive help.

Question

How do I hire an assistant to help with administrative tasks? Where can I find someone who will work a couple of hours a week for about $10 per hour?

Answer

I think hiring someone to take on some of your office work is a great idea. The difficult part may be finding someone to do it for $10 an hour. Also, in some cities, the minimum wage is more than $10 an hour so that rate of pay would not be acceptable.

The first thing to do before hiring anyone is determine what tasks you want an assistant to perform and what knowledge and skills the person needs to have in order to do them. Then decide if you need your assistant to work in your office with you or if you would be willing to get a virtual assistant. Virtual help can be less expensive than hiring someone from your own neighborhood. And, even less expensive for you, if you want to consider it, might be hiring a virtual assistant who is based in another country.

There are a few things to remember though when hiring anyone. You often get what you pay for. Someone who is charging $10 an hour, if you can find them, might not be able to meet your high standards and may need a lot of supervision. If either of these things is true, you won’t be saving any time by having an assistant and the situation could be very stressful for you.

I suggest that you first review what you are charging for your services. Your rates should cover the expense of having knowledgeable, responsible assistants to help you in your office and onsite at weddings so you can deliver excellent service. If you aren’t making enough money to cover these costs, it’s time to raise your rates. Then you can hire someone who has the expertise you need and want.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I’ll answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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