My path to becoming a wedding planner wasn’t via the route so many planners and coordinators find themselves travelling.
A lot of people that get involved in wedding and events coordination do so because they have, or are planning – their own wedding. Its a great experience and one filled with so many emotional stages – after their own wedding has concluded they are left with a bit of a void, a void that had, for the past few years at least, been filled with the world weddings, all the talk of logistics, researching suppliers and picking the right details.
Its an all consuming process requiring years of mental dedication, and no small number of filofaxes.
Usually, they will find that their wedding went without a hitch, they had two hundred of their friends and families telling them it was the best event they had ever been to, and that they had never before seen such a beautiful, magnificent wedding.
So, of course, they must go into wedding planning professionally.
Some of these people have success in the early stages of their business, they are riding the high of their own wedding, they are brimming with enthusiasm and on top of the current trends.
Maybe they get involved in a few of their friends weddings, building a portfolio in the process and racking up a little experience.
Inevitably, there comes a moment when the enthusiasm for their own wedding runs out. Their knowledge of trends is getting a little dated and the new wedding enquiries aren’t flooding in as they expected.
This is the point most have-a-go planners, as we call them, pull the plug on their business.
Some people will push through this stage, they’ll keep immersed in weddings, stay abreast of the hottest trends and find a natural rhythm within the wedding planning industry. These are the people that become wedding planners.
My own Journey.
So, how did I get into the business. Well, I have only recently planned my own wedding and have been a planner for well over a decade. So clearly, not taking the above route.
I planned my first wedding for a private client (read. not a family member, or existing friend) in 2004. A beautiful couple – R and J. R and J were bankers, but we’ll get onto their story later. I had been planning and assisting with friends weddings and events for a few years before this – all the while researching and building a portfolio of contacts. I had contacts at Royal Estates and with media publications from a previous career, I established wedding specific contacts by networking, building trust and being an actie member in the wedding community. I made personal friends with many of the top venue managers, I was on first names with the finest wedding photographers, I got to know all the high end caterers and even had a few relationships with their chefs 😉
About this time bloggers started to show up to the party.
This was an amazing opportunity for anyone in the industry at this point – a sudden influx of highly sociable, highly connected individuals who were all immensely friendly and lovely people to know. Not only were they lovely people, they were gold for anyone running a wedding business. My relationships with Abby from Style me Pretty, Kat at Rock and Roll Bride, Charlotte and Rebecca at Rock My Wedding were some of the most beneficial relationships I’ve had throughout my life. From just two features we obtained on SMP, we booked weddings with total budgets of more that 3 million pounds.
This was in our second year of business.
Building media relationships was another path to huge success, by this point we had already established a name for ourselves within the wedding community around London and the sudden focus on weddings ended with us being invited to contribute to articles for the BBC, the Guardian amongst other publications. Combining this exposure, with our existing network enabled us to expand and take on three new planners – each of whom came with their own network and connections.
By the end of year four, we had 75 weddings under our belts with a combined wedding budget of upwards of 27 millions pounds. We usually work to around a 10-20% commission, so you can imagine the scale of our business.
By building our planning business via organic connections we were able to grow in a sustained way, not a rapid grow and fizzle. One of the defining moments was our involvement in planning the wedding for G and A, their wedding budget eclipsed anything we had worked on before, but our experience planning high net weddings gave us the knowledge and expertise to pull it together flawlessly. This wedding propelled us into new realms and resulted in us creating a second business to cater to the High Net Worth market, a market exclusively covered by Non-Disclosure Agreements.
Our original business continues today working with around 30 clients worldwide, with budgets between £50,000 and £1Million, at a commission rate of around 10%.
Our second, more exclusive business caters for around 10 weddings a year, with budgets above £1 Million and operates a commission of around 15%.
Both businesses have different joys attached to them, but personally I love overseeing the smaller, lower budget weddings as I find working with NDAs to be somewhat unfulfilling, I also love the media opportunities afforded by the more relaxed privacy concerns of the lower budget market.
Today we have offices in London, Paris, New York – I personally oversee the London office, but travel between the others for events and consults with our clients.