I know starting a business can be overwhelming. It can be scary putting yourself out there and taking a leap of faith. Trust me, I’ve been there. Whether you’ve always known you wanted to start your own wedding planning business or it’s something that you came to love later on, I want to encourage and support you as you pursue this big dream of yours!
Today I’m sharing 8 things to keep in mind for any new wedding planner just starting out!
01. Find your brand voice
Focus on what sets you apart. What makes your approach unique? What are your values? Who do you serve? Whether it be when writing your website copy, crafting social media posts or even perfecting your elevator pitch, it’s important to differentiate yourself.
And while it can often be a daily struggle, try not to compare yourself to fellow Wedding Planners or creative business owners while doing so. After all, you need to be able to define what you do without influence from others.
02. Invest in professional headshots
We live in a digital world where our websites and social media profiles are the first things that a potential client looks at. And having high quality images of yourself and/or your team can make that first impression a great one! It shows that you are professional, you take your career seriously and that you value quality.
Nervous about having pictures taken? Hire a professional photographer whose work reflects your style, but is also someone you like and trust. Try scheduling a session with an activity; something that is part of your everyday workflow or just something you love to do that fits with your brand. Having images taken while you are actually doing something relevant to your craft will put you more at ease and the images will feel more natural and authentic.
Take our most recent team photo shoot with Ivan & Louise as an example. We popped into a local farm market that provided the perfect atmosphere that speaks true to the heart of JDWC in so many ways. It’s always important to me that our team photos not only capture the genuine approach we take to coordinating every client’s wedding day, but that they’re also in a comfortable setting that allows our true personalities shine.
03. Create systems + workflows
Creating and implementing systems into your business may take a lot of time and effort to establish on the front end, but having a seamless workflow you follow for each client will not only increase your productivity, but improve your entire client experience as well.
Write down everything you do from the first point of contact with a prospective client (hint: this may be them landing on your website and sending you an inquiry), to the very last touch point you have with them (hint: this could be sending a post-wedding questionnaire). From there, you may choose to convert your workflow into a simple checklist you place in each client folder, or transfer to a project management system like Trello.
Regardless, know that things may change and adjustments can be made as your business continues to grow. In fact, I encourage you to revisit your systems and workflows often to see if there are tweaks you can make to simply improve productivity or even eliminate something that may not be working anymore.
04. Track your time
There’s no better way to know if you’re actually charging your worth than to track your time. I know, I know. How annoying, right? Or you may even be thinking, there is NO way Jess! But I want to stress to you how crucial this step is to having a profitable business.
How do we know if we’re actually making money if we don’t know how much time we’re spending on each client project?
Make it a habit to jot down the time you spend emailing a client’s vendors, attending consultations, finalizing timelines and details, and ultimately how much time is spent executing the wedding and any additional wedding related events you’ve been hired to manage. By doing so, you should hopefully start to see patterns in the amount of time you spend per client type.
For example, you may average 100 hours on your full service clients, but average 30 hours for your Day of Wedding Coordination clients. Whatever it may be – knowing these averages can help you not only charge your worth, but also give you insight into exactly how much time you put into each type of client you and your company take on.
05. Get comfortable communicating
Develop good communication skills. As a Wedding Planner, it is essential to be assertive and to be able to communicate well with all those involved in a project – clients, vendors, family members, and even your team! It’s important to get comfortable communicating things like your service offerings and how your process works. What you may still need from a client and when you need to have it by. What you are working on and what the client can expect to happen next.
Always try to respond to emails or phone calls in a prompt and timely manner. At the very least, acknowledge that you received their message, give them a time frame in which they can expect to hear back from you, and stick to it.
06. Plan a styled shoot
I know it can be hard to curate a website portfolio or social media feed when you have no images to show for your work. Try teaming up with a local photographer whose work you admire, to create an on-brand styled shoot. And by on-brand, I don’t necessarily mean all about your company’s brand colors for instance. I do however mean to come up with a concept that will attract your ideal bride, while also showing your creativity as a Wedding Planner.
07. Trust your instincts
I whole heartedly believe that while there is a wedding planner out there for every couple who wants one, no one is the perfect fit for everyone. Some people are just not meant to be your client and while that is a hard lesson to learn when you are first starting out, it is a really important one.
When you first start out, you want so badly to get experience and build your portfolio that it is tempting to take on any client who happens to call – even if your gut tells you they are not a good fit. You must learn how to trust your instincts and pick up on “red flags” when a potential client may not be your ideal bride. Because please know, it will likely get harder down the road. Learning to turn away business is as important as learning how to find the business in the first place.
08. Be patient
Everything takes time. It can take several years before you feel comfortable in your business, and that’s okay! When first starting out, you are learning how the industry works, how to handle different situations, and even honing in on who your ideal bride really is. Take projects one at a time and know that you can tweak as you go.
For example, did you somehow find yourself agreeing to move 200+ chairs from the ceremony area to the tent for a client’s reception? All during Cocktail Hour? Yep, I did that once. And you better believe I now have a clause in my contract that states we do not physically set up tables and chairs on a client’s behalf. But I never would have realized how labor intensive doing so would be (or to at least clarify it in my contract) if it weren’t for experiencing it firsthand.
P.S. If you’re new here and looking for a way to organize all of your client’s wedding day details – download our FREE guide to building an Onsite Script so that your client’s big day goes exactly as planned! I’ll walk you through my step by step process to creating an Onsite Script that sets you and your team up for a successful wedding day!