True or false. You are currently training your assistant wedding planner?
When I say train, I mean, you are telling them how a wedding timeline flows. Which linen goes on a 60″ round. How to line up a bridal party. Or line up a sparkler exit.
If you answered “yes,” then I would next ask you if they filled out a W-2 or a W-9. Because this little one-page document makes all the difference in the world whether or not what you’re doing is actually legal. Misclassifying your day-of help could mean heavy fines or even a loss of business assets imposed by the federal (or state) government.
And let me tell you, I once owed the IRS $257 and they were relentless about getting their money. They sent certified letters to my house and non-stop IRS calls (those are fun). Trust me when I say, “they are gonna get theirs.” The best part was when I found out I had to pay them interest on the money I owed them. So, the lesson I learned from that experience is that you never want to owe the IRS anything. I mean, ANYTHING.
Wedding Planner Assistants
Weekly I see questions about wedding planner assistants. Planners ask where to find one, how much they should be paid, or what tasks they should be doing. But to answer these questions accurately, we need to know if you are hiring them as an employee or as an Independent Contractor (as known as an IC). You should know that governments are cracking down on employment classification because there has been a lot of abuse in recent years. Now, this doesn’t mean you should panic. This just means you need to understand the rules and pick the best option for your wedding business needs.
What Is a Wedding Planner Employee?
An employer is typically responsible for their employee’s actions within the scope of that employee’s work. They are under the employer’s control. Employees are told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Employees have specific hours. As an employer you will have to withhold taxes, social security, and worker compensation. An employer also must obtain unemployment insurance. You, as the owner, are responsible for their actions and all the state and federal regulations. I know that all this stuff sounds scary. But if you’re finding yourself overloaded with clients and want to scale, an employee might be a good fit for you. If it’s time, don’t be afraid of hiring an employee. Check out Gusto. They can help make these tasks seamless.
What Is a Wedding Planner Independent Contractor?
Independent Contractors (ICs) are hired by a company to perform a specific task. The employer has the right to direct the result of the work, but they cannot be in charge of the where, what, or how it will be done. A true IC is not under the “control” of the employer; they are self-employed. ICs are their own “boss.” They have to provide their own insurance and file their own taxes. They tend to be less expensive for employers because the employer does not pay federal, state or local taxes, social security benefits, workers’ compensation and disability, or unemployment insurance. For many wedding planners, this sounds wonderful.
But on the flip side, you cannot make an IC sign a noncompete and you cannot supervise them. This makes training ICs challenging if they are inexperienced. Because weddings fluctuate month to month for new wedding planners, most prefer to hire ICs.
Your Employee and IC Tests
The very best way to figure out if you’re tilting on a big government “no-no” is by doing a little test. There are two tests you can use to help figure out if you’re treating your wedding planner assistant as an employee or Independent Contractor. The IRS 20 Factor Test is a list of guidelines used by the IRS to determine whether an employer has correctly classified their employment relationships. This test is used by most states; however, there are states that have much stricter employment laws. These states use the ABC Test. California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Vermont are just some of the states that use the ABC Test over the IRS 20 Factor Test. When it comes to the IRS, never assume anything. Do your homework and know how your state classifies ICs—or be prepared to pay the fines.
How to Keep Your Assistants as an IC
First, say no to training your ICs. If you are hiring ICs to help you run the wedding day, you should not be training them. That could make them an employee under law and you could be penalized with fees. Instead, send them to the Assistant Wedding Planner Certificate course. Or consider hiring a fellow wedding planner who already has their EIN number established and is ready to go with a W-9. An experienced wedding planner won’t need any training. They’ll show up and jump in. Second, always have a contract with your ICs. This serves as a record for the federal government if you are ever questioned about how you classify your helpers. If you need an Independent Contractor Agreement, go to Engaged Legal (Use this link and see 20% off at checkout). Lastly, your IC should be sending you an invoice—not the other way around.
The Assistant Wedding Planner Course Can Help You Stay Out of Trouble
If you are a wedding planner wanting to hire an assistant who has little to no experience, direct them to our Assistant Wedding Planner Course. This course is a great starting place to help them build their confidence in the wedding industry. It walks them through the skills and knowledge they’ll need to have so they can assist you like a rockstar. It covers wedding terminology, what goes into the setup and breakdown, various tasks they might be asked to perform, and even goes over a wedding day timeline event by event. They’ll learn all the ins and outs of what it takes to be a helpful wedding assistant. At the end of the course, they get a certificate (proof for the government you didn’t train them).
Last Words on Wedding Planner Assistants
I know this information can be a little dry and at times hard to understand. I get it, I really do. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 10 years of being an entrepreneur is that the federal and state governments don’t care about excuses. Meaning, “I didn’t know” will not give you an out. It will not excuse you from paying penalty fees. The government feels it’s on you to know. Most of us small business owners didn’t go to entrepreneurial college, where everyone gets the 411 on all things legal, so I know it can feel really frustrating trying to understand the legal side of our business. This is why I strongly suggest finding an accountant and lawyer you trust now so you can feel comfortable relying on them if ever the government comes calling (or auditing).