March 30, 2020
I started in weddings while I was still working in Corporate & Association Meeting Planning full-time. Because the worlds were so different, there wasn’t any concern of overlapping clients or vendors that would make the lines blurry (which I recommend!) I worked really hard at night and on the weekends on building my website, portfolio, network, and gaining experience.
Because weddings book 1+ years out, you’ll have a couple of wedding seasons that are quieter than you might like but these are crucial in your development. These are the seasons where you can really focus on the foundation of a sustainable business. So here are my tips for how to start in weddings while you’re still working 9-5…
- Reach out to other planners and offer to assist weddings and events for them. This is by far the best thing that I did when starting my business and I continue to work for other planners to this day. I always learn something incredibly valuable from these experiences. Something unexpected happens, you learn a different way to handle a part of the wedding day, you meet amazing vendors (and working together on a day is the best way to build a real relationship!), gain new ideas, and you’re exposed to all different kind of wedding venues and locations. I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough!
- Take a personal day or vacation day to execute an editorial shoot. When you aren’t booked up with business (yet!) editorial shoots are really important to build relationships with like-minded partners and to create work for your portfolio that you completely control. Not all of the weddings you work on will be your design aesthetic and that’s ok. But while you’re in the early stages of your business, creating something high quality, that you’re really proud of, and that reflects the work you can do is really important. In addition, think about where you want to work – can you have your shoot there? This way you’ll have proof of the work you can do in that space…and will be able to tag it on social media.
- Work on your brand. Spend time on your logo, website, and social media. When clients find you, you want them to land on a website and social media pages that reflects the kind of clients and events that you want to attract. Make sure you are consistent on social media – it makes a world of difference. I would spend time on the weekends creating content for social media with little mini shoots at home. This, along with photos from other events, would give me bulk content for days that were slow. In addition to creating content, be thoughtful of the locations you tag as this is how many people will find you.
- If possible, work in a related field or industry. Ideas include working at a hotel (in their events department or front of house), for a catering company (you could also do this on the side), event venue, florist, rental company, etc. The list is long of associated businesses! There are major benefits to knowing the other side of events. Whether it’s understanding how a hotel operates (from sales, to event management, and room blocks) or what goes in to staffing for a catering team – these are really valuable lessons that you’ll carry to your own business.
- Build your network. Spend time online and on social media researching the best vendors and partners in your area. Create an excel sheet where you can track all of these vendors. I also encourage you to reach out and introduce yourself to different vendors – setup a meeting in person or a phone call to simply get on their radar. Have some relevant questions ready to ask them so it’s a good use of their time and yours. You can also research local event related networking events – put yourself out there even when it’s uncomfortable. These are still uncomfortable for me to go to but I do! You never know who you could meet and what relationship might come from it.
If you’re working to get your business off the ground, I hope you find these tips helpful! If you’re looking to take your business to the next level, did you know that I offer one-on-one mentorship opportunities? You can read more about them here! The focus of these sessions is on building your business and ensuring you’re strong on the logistics side of events. Either way, wishing you the very best as you begin and grow your wedding planning business!