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Career Qualifications of a Wedding Planner

by Lisa Finn

A wedding coordinator helps engaged couples plan and manage their wedding day. Everything from the couple's attire, reception venue and caterer to the florist, guest accommodations and music is coordinated by the wedding planner. With so many responsibilities that can make or break the couple's big day, a wedding planner must be detail-oriented, well-connected and organized.

Education

While there is no accreditation or recognized degree in wedding planning, a bachelor's degree in hospitality management is a good precursor to a wedding-planning career. However, companies such as the Association of Bridal Consultants offer aspiring planners online courses in wedding etiquette, sales and marketing, planning and consulting, and wedding-day timelines. Once course work is complete, usually within three to nine months, the student is allowed access to the company's resource database, receives bridal referrals generated from the company's website and can use the association's logo.

Experience

Customer service or experience in the hospitality industry are good paths that lead to wedding planning. Planning fundraisers or corporate events, such as organizing your company's holiday party year after year, also gives you experience in coordinating large functions. College students can benefit from an internship at a hotel or restaurant, where catering services are used for a variety of parties.

Business Savvy

In addition to having marketing and public relations skills, wedding planners know enough about the basics of accounting and sales to create useful contracts, negotiate prices and stay within a couple's budget. Everything from the flowers to the flower girl's shoes can be negotiated, and it takes a savvy wedding planner to educate brides on where to go and what questions to ask so that each dollar spent is maximized. In addition, a wedding planner must market herself through online and traditional advertising, in addition to offering referral discounts and partnering with wedding suppliers, for example.

Good Communication Skills

To execute a couple's dream wedding, a wedding planner must communicate well with the photographer, florist and caterer, as well as vendors, the bridal gown shop and the tourism companies. A wedding planner must be clear and concise when speaking, have patience with the couple and practice active listening. She should also pay attention to details, such as matching adornments in a floral bouquet to the bride's hair accessories, so that the overall theme flows nicely.

Reliability

The wedding planner helps the couple gather resources and hire the necessary people and vendors needed for the perfect day. In doing so, she must attend meetings on time and refer the couple to the best vendors she knows, while staying within the set budget. In addition, she calls the venues a couple days before the wedding to go over details and timelines; she must also be readily available and dependable on the wedding day to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Critical Thinking Skills

Wedding planners know that rarely does a wedding go off without a glitch happening somewhere. The cake might be delivered with the wrong shade of fondant, flowers could freeze in a refrigerator having the wrong temperature, or a ring bearer's pants could rip an hour before heading down the aisle. A wedding planner has to work well under pressure, taking care of any problems -- as quickly and quietly as possible -- so that the bride and groom don't have to worry or contend with such situations. The wedding planner's experience and connections, properly applied, make mishaps difficult for the couple -- and guests -- to detect.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.

Photo Credits

  • Getty Images/Lifesize/Getty Images