- First, think about the different elements of a wedding the planner must arrange: venues, themes, flowers, food and refreshments, clothes, photography, honeymoons, and other aspects of the wedding. Most people have had some experience in one or more aspects of these facets of a wedding and most wedding planners have converted a job as a florist, caterer, photographer or travel agent into a larger and more exciting career as a wedding planner. If you haven't had one of these careers, perhaps you'll want to start off looking for a job as an assistant to a wedding planner, or a job in the events planning department of a non-profit organization. This will help you develop the skills you'll need to be a successful planner.
- Make a list of the elements of the wedding. Find a number of vendors for the various elements you will not provide yourself. Interview them and decide which ones you want to use in your future weddings. See if you can get a discount for referring them on an exclusive basis. You may also be able to work out an exchange of references - you'll scratch their back if they scratch yours.
- Find ways to use your talent in helping friends and acquaintances plan their weddings. If you already have a career as a florist you can get paid for your floral work, but also offer to assist the bride with the rest of the wedding, first as an additional free service, then gradually offer to do these services for a fee. Or if your talent has been a hobby, offer to help your friends with their own or children's weddings. Perhaps you can volunteer to assist brides at your church with their weddings to gain experience. After doing several weddings on a voluntary basis, which you must document with photographs, you are ready to put together your own portfolio and begin your exciting new career.
- Put together a portfolio of your experience in wedding planning. Go to a good stationery or gift store and buy an attractive photograph album. Do not skimp on this purchase, because this will be part of your first impression. Brides will want to see that you are organized and know how to do things with style. Also write a narrative of your background in weddings, without mentioning that much of your history has been on a voluntary basis.
- Get permission from your friends to use them as a reference, and ask them not to mention that you helped them for free. After the wedding is over, and the friends are grateful for your assistance, tell them you are getting started in your new career as a wedding planner, and ask them to refer you to their friends who are getting married. Word of mouth will always be your most important source of new business. You may ask your friends to mention your name in their wedding announcements as the wedding planner. Mentioning that they had a wedding planner will impress their friends and you will get free publicity.
- Talk to local places of worship and catering halls about their weddings; particularly ones where you have a personal connection. Give your business cards to the wedding coordinator or whoever talks to brides about using the space for a wedding. These people may refer you to the brides long before they think about hiring a wedding planner. Try to get a list of future weddings from them, and send the bride a letter and a brochure.
Next: How to Advertise Yourself as a Wedding Planner