If you have no experience, starting a wedding planning business can be intimidating. Today we have a special treat on the blog. One of our up-and-coming wedding planners from our Facebook Group has volunteered to share her planner journey. Today Keely of VenYou Planners is sharing with us the 7 most important things that helped propel her wedding planner business. If you would like to learn more about what it takes to launch a wedding planner business, be sure to check out our Launch Your Wedding Biz Masterclass.
Starting a Wedding Planning Business
All I knew at the time was that I loved creating captivating atmospheres and I loved seeing people smile. I have always been a planner in all things in my life and so I just assumed that those skills would just automatically show in my business.
These skills did, but I quickly found out that it would take much more than being a good planner to actually make an income. So, I want to share a little of what I have learned so far in my journey and what has worked in helping me grow!
1. Network, Network, Network
You must start talking and meeting new contacts. If nobody knows you, or if they don’t know what you do, they can’t hire you or recommend you! Therefore, you should reach out to local vendors of all sorts.
Caterers, venues, bands/DJ’s, hair stylists, makeup artists, rental companies and more.
Through my experience and being as outgoing as I am it was easy for me to justify simply sending messages to these other vendors that I wanted to work with.
It can actually be that simple, but when you decide the vendors that you want to reach out to just make sure that you make it about them. Send them a message, briefly telling you who you are, but for most of the message explain to them how you plan to help grow their business. Say things that show they will benefit from working with you. For example, tell them how you plan to send them potential brides, how you will present them in your own social media and blog posts to give them exposure.
Pro Tip: Everyone loves to talk about themselves and will usually take business when being offered too.
Lastly, look for any local business groups, creative groups are best! If there are not any established, don’t be afraid to create your own. Getting together with other local creatives in the industry will keep your business in the loop with the community and soon everyone will know where to send those potential brides too!
2. Social Media and Website Creation
Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and more! There are so many social media outlets available now that it can be very intimidating. You don’t want to be only on one platform, but you don’t want to overextend yourself and have weak content.
Try starting with two and grow from there, see if either of these works and if not, they can always be adjusted. Attention, social media takes a lot of time to grow organically. You won’t know if your Instagram is going to work overnight, it is going to take several months and maybe even close to a year to get the followers that you think is a good amount.
Focus instead on your content. Make your feeds pretty and easy on the eyes. Give free tips and free advice, bring value to your audience, so that they can justify hitting the follow button!
I recommend Instagram and Facebook to start because that is where you will hit the two biggest target audiences when starting a wedding planning business.
Keep your content relevant. Use seasonal colors, so if it is fall and a bride is looking at your feed to get some inspiration, she will of course want to see those fall colors, it just makes sense! Stay up to date on trends.
3. Collaborate like your life depends on it
Constantly reach out to other wedding professionals. When I first started my business and I had no weddings booked, I did kind of have to fake it till I made it. I would email venues and vendors and ask if I could come by, meet them and even interview them a little about what they have to offer. Nobody ever said no, because I always made it about them! I constantly asked all about their business and naturally in return, they asked about mine! This gave me the chance to honestly get to know the vendors, and the people behind the face of many venues.
I started to learn the ins and outs of each professional and location, which gave me leverage when brides would ask for my expertise. This is important in the booking process, if you can speak to potential brides as if you have already done many weddings and speak in confidence about your area, they are much more likely to hire you, with ease.
4. Use the basic sites such as WeddingWire and The Knot
Although it is extremely important to have your own website that you can send clients too, I have utilized sites such as WeddingWire and The Knot to help bring traffic to my own website. You can use these resources for free, so I always recommend to everyone that they at least try it for free, it can’t hurt. I started using WeddingWire and The Knot when I first started my business and I did not pay a penny for it, mainly because I was not making any money and so I did not have any money to spend here- yet. After a few months, I was getting some traffic to my page and some inquires. It was working- but it was working slow.
I decided after about four months in, that I would dedicate a little of my earnings into one of these sites. After extensive market research, I decided to go with WeddingWire. What I mean by market research, is that you need to find out what your competition in the area is using and how it is working for them. I am in a large beach town where destination weddings are 90% of my bookings and therefore brides were relying on WeddingWire to find their vendors, venue and almost everything! Once I dedicated about $120 a month, I was getting about 50% more inquiries and I was able to book several weddings each month for the rest of the year. To me, it was worth it.
I earned enough to cover more than what I invested, and I probably never would have been able to book the rest of the year without it. Bottom line is, you have to figure out what works best for you. Look around you at who is successful and literally – do what they do. After all, that is exactly what they did before you as well!
5. Create strong offers that match your market and ideal client
Always, always, always, have at least three offers to give to your clients when starting a wedding planning business. High priced, medium and low price. This of course, so that you can fit the needs of more than just that one bride, but also because on average, almost every client will go with the middle option and they will think it is a good option because it is not the biggest but not the smallest. It is just the average rule! So, if you did the math and you know that you really do not want to make, lets say any less than $2,000 on a wedding, make your middle price something like $2-2,500. People are more likely to choose this and so you are both winning!
Just make sure that when you are building those packages, you offer things that you can charge more for. For example, my packages go like this. Full planning, partial planning and day of coordination. I find that a majority of my clients go for the partial planning because they want to do some of the work on their own but they also know that they need your help. With this plan, they get to make the decisions and I am only slightly involved and invested into their wedding, which is great for me because it means half of the time, but it also means I am still making a good profit.
6. Do not be afraid to ask for reviews after weddings
You will find that most brides will be excited to write a review for you- however I do know that there have been a few times where I had to push people to write me something! If you have to do this, do not feel bad. I find that a good way to do this is to send a gift card in an email, also asking for them to give me an honest review. The gift card is their wedding gift, I like to give each couple a little something, sometimes from their registry or sometimes just from a common store. I like to send this email about a week after the event, usually by then they are back from any honeymoon or trip and they will be more willing to spend the time to write a review as well as appreciate the gift that you are sending to them at this time.
7. Find the one thing that makes you different and sell it
This is to me, the most important when starting a wedding planning business. There are many people in this profession, and although that may be scary to you, think about it this way. If there are people doing this full time – you can do it too. The money is there, the demand is there, and it is possible, but you MUST find what sets you apart and sell every client on this.
For me, it was the type of package I focused on. I did some research and found out that no other wedding company or single planners offered just day of coordination. I was already getting several brides that were asking for this service specifically and then it hit me that this would be the big money maker and best way to spend my time. I began to create ads and my website focal point was day of coordination, I even was advertising this heavily to the venues and vendors I was already working with.
Now, because I am the only one who offers this, and pushes it hard, those same people are recommending me to every couple that also inquires about their services too! Find what you are great at and sell it!! Sell it to those who ask for it and push it to everyone if they do not ask, so when they are asked, they won’t have any other thought in their head, except your name!
These are all things that I have learned when starting my wedding planning business. I was planning weddings on the side when I had a 9-5 job in the beginning and when I decided to work on my business full time, I had to implement all these things. To make sure I was generating enough leads, to make sure I was making a name for myself and to make enough money to get traction these things made it possible for me. I believe that if you choose at least 3-4 of these things and work on them, spend time on them and master them, you will be able to take your business full time or get it to produce the income that you really want!
If you want to succeed at building a thriving wedding planner business, but didn’t know which technique to use or road to take that would get you there faster (and not lead you in 100 random directions), check out the Launch Your Wedding Biz Masterclass.
Keely has served the panhandle area for four years, planning and coordinating all levels of weddings! She believes that every couple is unique and that every wedding should be as well. She owns VenYou Planners based in Destin, Florida and she started her wedding planning career solo with absolutely no experience.