Name: Leslie Weekes
Job Title: Wedding Consultant (and events)
Where: Washington D.C.
Employer: Self-employed, Leslie-Manning Events, LLC
Years of Experience: 6
Education: BA in English
Salary: See PayScale's Research Center for the median wedding planner salary.
How to Become a Wedding Planner
In the film The Wedding Planner, actress Jennifer Lopez made working as a wedding planner appear to be a barrel of laughs, but in real life, being a wedding planner is a lot of work. We recently spoke to professional wedding consultant Leslie Weekes about how she decided to become a wedding planner and what it's like to run her own business. Leslie gave us great info on how to become a wedding planner, wedding planner schools, and the salary of a wedding consultant.
According to Leslie, if you want to become a wedding planner, it helps to be someone who is naturally organized with great attention to detail. Becoming a wedding planner may be challenging, especially as the profession becomes more competitive, but a wedding planner salary – and the ability to create a memorable event – can be highly rewarding. If you're looking to get hitched to an interesting profession, don't miss this Salary Story!
Wedding Planner Job Description:
There are two parts to my job – planning and execution – careful planning leads to flawless execution. When I was a teenager, my friends criticized me for not being spontaneous; little did I know that in a few years it would be a good thing. My strength is seeing the big picture and plotting the course while focusing on the details. In short, I have to keep my clients organized (i.e. create timelines, maintain the budget, create schedules) and build strong vendor relations.
Then on the day-of, I have to execute this plan while staying on schedule. This can be hard, because most people are in a festive partying mood and are not focused on the clock, neither do they see the urgency in getting from one place to the next, but in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “My clients just spent $4,500 for this photographer” and I want them to get their money’s worth in photos and then some. A lot of times I am a sounding board (for everyone in the family sometimes, not just the bride and groom).
What were your steps in becoming a wedding planner?
I was working full-time as a meeting and event planner when I decided to start my own wedding and event planning business along with a friend and ex-colleague. I knew it was going to be easier for me, because I could easily transfer my planning skills; however, I needed to learn about the nuances of wedding planning, so I took a course through the Association of Bridal Consultants. I currently attend at least one seminar, lecture or networking event every month. You have to stay on top of the trends.
Do you recall any humorous moments from working as a wedding event planner?
I had a groom show up for the ceremony (with plenty of time to spare), and I asked him if he had the ring (he didn’t) and everything went into a downward spiral. He insisted on having the ring rather than using a prop from our emergency kit, but then he became so panicked that he couldn’t find his car, then when he got to the hotel and found the ring, he couldn’t find his car keys; he was a wreck. We laugh now, but at the time we were very worried for him.
What are some of the details on how to become a wedding planner?
I would say to get some training. Here are a few associations that offer wedding planning courses and certifications: June Wedding, Inc. An Association for Wedding/Event Professionals, Association for Certified Professional Wedding Consultants (ACPWC), Association of Bridal Consultants; they do not offer a training course, but it’s a great resource.
As for the job outlook, there has been a boom in the industry lately (I blame television). In the short three years that I’ve been in business, I’ve seen the number of coordinators in my area triple. I average daily at least four emails with regards to employment or internships. However, the number of people hiring planners has remained constant, so now, more than ever, wedding planners have to build a strong network to get the business that you would have gotten before just by placing an ad on The Knot.
What is the salary of a wedding consultant?
Typical wedding consultant salaries are wide open; from a few hundreds to a few thousands. I know planners who earn wages of $100K a year easily and those who could barely cross $15K. The difference in a wedding consultant’s salary is the number of years they’ve been in the business. Good word of mouth referrals and a solid reputation definitely helps your wedding consultant salary.
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