Wedding planning is a unique career in many ways. To start with, unlike other trades and professions, there is no one single approved path to become a wedding planner. In fact, there are probably as many stories about how most wedding planners got started as there are wedding planners! Here are some pathways into this rewarding career.
Get some experience in the wedding industry
Working in the wedding industry, for example, for a caterer or florist, is a great introduction a career in wedding planning. If possible, contact a wedding planner in your area, explain you are interested in becoming a wedding planner yourself, and as if he or she needs an assistant. If not, see if you can volunteer some of your time. You will gain valuable experience (and perhaps earn a paycheck) as you learn the ins and outs of wedding planning. The advantage of this path is that you can learn the skills you need right on the job, as well as make valuable social and professional contacts along the way.
Take a course offered by a wedding planners association
There are several professional associations for wedding planners, including the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners, the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants, and the Association of Bridal Consultants. These associations offer courses and certification opportunities for aspiring wedding planners. Courses are offered in a variety of formats, including self-study in-person week-long seminars, and online webinars. One big advantage of learning through an association is that you will also become a member of the association, which gives you access to opportunities for support, networking, and further learning. In addition, the courses offered by professional associations often lead to certification as a wedding planner.
Earn a certificate or degree in wedding and event planning
For those who are interested in formal credentials, many community colleges offer certificates in wedding and event planning, usually through their continuing education programs. Some schools offer associate’s degrees and even bachelor’s degrees in event planning. These degrees are not wedding specific—they usually fall under the category of hospitality management. These programs may be offered in person or online. One major advantage of event planning programs is that the curriculum is generally broader than those offered by wedding planners associations, including courses in business management and administration. This gives graduates the versatility to enter related careers like conference or event planning. But if your dream is to become a wedding planner, a degree isn’t really necessary, at least not yet—more and more industries are moving toward requiring degrees, and wedding planning may go that direction in the future.
As you can see, there are multiple ways to become a wedding planner. The right option for you depends on your personal goals and your experience.