Looking to switch careers? A career as an Indianapolis wedding planner can be just what you seek. Starting a new career or business can be scary but also very rewarding. Being an Indianapolis professional wedding planner is not just decorations and parties, rather it’s a profession with its own unique set of faces and new responsibilities. We went right to the source to find out exactly what it takes for someone to get started in the wedding planning industry. We sat down with professional event planner, Monica Richard, with Detail + Design, to get the low down on the best ways for someone to break into the wedding planning business.
What’s the best way to get my wedding planning business started?

The number one thing Monica recommends to new wedding planners is to get involved. Join organizations such as the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC) and the International Special Events Society (ISES) to start networking yourself and meeting other people in the wedding planning industry. A great book that can help get you off on the right foot is “Wedding Wisdom” by Mary Dann, Wedding Planner and marriage & family therapist. Participating in large-scale industry events and charitable groups such as Wish Upon a Wedding is also another great way to learn new things and meet new people. She also recommends that a careful session with an attorney to get the 4-1-1 on all business-related requirements and decisions before starting a business is a great idea. This way you learn to do everything correctly the first time to avoid a potential challenge in your business later.

How do I establish my wedding planning fees if I don’t know where to begin?

Everyone knows that discussing money can sometimes be a sticky situation, but ultimately it needs to be addressed. When it comes to this topic, Monica suggests two options. First, spend some time on the internet browsing other professional wedding planners’ listed prices. Compare the services and experience they have with what you plan to offer. Second, remember that a wedding planner also has to remain unique from their competitors. Don’t be offended if they are reluctant to give away any of their secrets, including pricing. It is important to first build a relationship with an experienced planner, gain their trust and then approach them for their advice on pricing. Make sure to do this face to face and NOT over email! Just remember to always let your clients know that an Indianapolis wedding planner saves them more money in the long run.

Can I approach an experienced wedding planner for advice?

When asking a seasoned wedding planner for guidance, make sure to not go in empty handed. “A planner will be more willing to help you when they know you are putting in time and effort, when they know something about you (get involved in organizations and become known) and when they know the integrity of your intent,” Richard notes. “Offer your services to them for their next event. A hands-on experience is a great way to gain knowledge to help you with your own wedding planning business. It will also allow you to really observe all the little details that go into planning a wedding and all the effort and pressure it takes to pull off a wedding from behind the scenes,” she adds. Monica continues, “It is also very important to always be honest. Show your fellow wedding planners respect by simply letting them know that you are new, that you respect them and that you would love their advice and guidance.”

What tactics should I avoid entirely in getting my wedding planning business off the ground?

It is always important to get off on the right foot with your fellow co-workers when starting a new job. The same goes for the wedding planning industry. From Monica’s many years of experience, she has developed a few guidelines for all new Indianapolis-area wedding planners to follow to help keep you from jeopardizing your business and your own personal reputation. First, never represent a fellow wedding planner’s work as your own. A wedding planner puts in a great amount of time, creativity and effort into each one of their events and deserves the recognition for having done so. While it may be true in some other instances, imitation is not always the sincerest form of flattery when it comes to creative works. Always be sure to credit others for their work. Second, never secret shop your industry competitors. Secret shopping is a method by which one professional sends another contact to pose as a potential bride or other client. An experienced wedding planner will know when this is happening. “What you will gain in limited inside scoop is much less than what you will lose in credibility,” Monica underscores. “You will achieve so much more by admitting that you are new and asking for advice, then trying to steal someone’s work as your own,” Richard adds. Third, never take images from a previous employer or your own wedding and pass them off as your experience in event or wedding planning. “That is somebody else’s work. You were the client, not the planner.” Following these simple guidelines will definitely start your career off in the right direction and help you enlist immediate referral and network resources.

How do I start my business when I don’t have any event planning clients yet?

Now that you’ve started your new company you need to figure out how to go about getting clients. Monica’s advice on this one is straightforward and simple—network! Get out there and get your brand and image known. Join organizations such as ABC and ISES to start meeting people. Monica also recommends first considering becoming a DOC (Day of Coordinator). By being a DOC you will gain more hands-on experience in the wedding planning industry and start to build your clientele. You will be able to witness the time and effort that experienced wedding planners put into a wedding and maybe even garner some inspiration. Weddings are a great place to meet future brides and to help promote yourself and your new business. If you’re new to the industry or want to stretch your wings a bit, Richard also suggests setting up a professional photo shoot to showcase the types of events that you can plan. Be as elaborate as you want to be. Even though it may not be a “real event” it will still allow you to show your creations to future hopeful clients. Remember, part of what clients are seeking is someone who can take their ideas to a new level and do so with savvy professional skills. Richard is grateful for her situation at Detail + Design because she works alongside one of the preeminent designers in the Midwest, Gene Huddleson. He makes all of the events she plans look like a magazine spread. “Regardless of your vendor team it is very important that you give credit where credit is due,” notes Richard. Honor the team that helped you create any event or photo shoot, from the designer to the photography team and everyone in between. This will help you gain respect and credibility in the marketplace and to potential clients.

Starting a new wedding planning business can be difficult and sometimes scary at first, but by following these tips and suggestions can make the process much easier! Hats off to Monica Richard for offering her best advice on making it a smooth route!