Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner (2001) and Ranveer Singh & Anushka Sharma in Band Baaja Baaraat (2010) through their characters as wedding planners allowed us a glimpse into the lives of professionals in this field. In this article, let us further explore wedding planning as a career.
Wedding planners also known as bridal consultants are experts who design, plan and manage weddings for couples/families who do not have the time or resources to manage wedding venues and supplies. As fulfilling as it is to see the culmination of the event on the D-Day, the job involves hard labour and wedding planners may have to be on their feet for 10 to 15 hours a day. From assisting couples in choosing a venue, colour schemes for decoration and even their attires, wedding planners do it all besides managing the logistics and finer details of the wedding, and reception ceremonies. Weddings are emotional times for people and wedding planners also often involuntarily become the psychologists, mediators and confidants to the family members involved in the wedding.
A wedding planner is different from a wedding coordinator. Wedding coordinators are exclusively hired to take care of the details on the day of the wedding. They look after the needs of the guests and ensure that the wedding goes according to the set plan. In short, a wedding planner plans the wedding and sets it up while the wedding coordinator executes the wedding. In India, most wedding planners double up as wedding coordinators.
Advanced education is not mandatory for pursuing a career as a wedding planner. In fact, a high school diploma is all that is required. However, many event management companies that hire wedding planners for their high profile clients mandate a bachelor’s degree and sometimes even an MBA qualification. And although experience in this field holds a lot of value, better educational qualification has become increasingly necessary to advance career and to beat the stiff competition.
The best path to follow in order to become a wedding planner is to secure an associate or bachelor’s degree in event planning and management/ hospitality management, and then get further professional certifications in specialized areas like destination planning and management, food and wine selection and pairing, cake decorating, floral design, food preparation for catered events, colour theory, interior design, event promotion, negotiations and agreements, hospitality law, and entertainment.
Since a large part of a wedding planner’s profile is to manage the food & beverage, hospitality, special events and entertainment services, it makes professional sense to pursue a Bachelor's degrees in one of the following areas: Hospitality & tourism management Business &marketing Public relations
The United States has some of the top colleges for hospitality and event management. The University of Central Florida offers BS programs in Event Management, Hospitality Management and Restaurant, and Foodservice Management. The Purdue University Calumet campus also offers a BS in Hospitality & Tourism Supervision program and the University of San Francisco (USF) has a Hospitality Industry Management course.
The UK also has many top colleges offering courses in hospitality, tourism and event management. The University College Birmingham has over ten courses in event management. These BA and BSc. (Hons) courses take 3 to 4 years to complete. Some examples of the courses on offer are Hospitality and Tourism Management, Hospitality Business Management, Hospitality with Events Management, Events Management, Food and Consumer Management, etc. The Coventry University offers a 4 years B. A. Event Management program. The University of Sunderland has several courses in International Tourism and Hospitality Management, International Tourism and Hospitality Management, Events Management, and Tourism Management. The University of East London (UEL) also offers 3 years courses in B. A. Events Management (Hons.), B. A. Hospitality Management (Hons.), and B. A. Tourism Management (Hons.).
In India, the Kohinoor International Management Institute (KIMI), Khandala, offers two B Sc. courses in Hospitality Studies. The Asia Pacific Institute of Management (APIM) has five courses in Bachelor of Hotel Management & Catering Technology (B.H.M.C.T). It also offers MBS and BBA programs in Tourism & Hotel Management. The National Institute of Management & Technology (NIMT), Ghaziabad has a 4 years Bachelor of Hotel Management & Catering Technology (B.H.M.C.T) course.
The Amity School of Communication has postgraduate courses in event management. The National Institute of Event Management also offers a variety of event management courses like Diploma in Event Management (DEM), Post Graduate Diploma in Event Management (PGDEM) and Post Graduate Diploma in Advertising, Media & Event Management (PGDAME). Students from the National Institute of Event Management take part in 700 events in a year including mega award functions like Femina, Gladrags, Screen, Filmfare, Zee Cine Awards, and others like Mumbai Marathon, Femina Bridal Show, Ad Asia and Abby.
Duration: 3 - 4 Years
Fee per course/annum: ₹ 56,000 - 95,000
The largest wedding industries are in USA, India, Western Europe and China. Summers months from May to October are the busiest for wedding planners in the USA. In India, the wedding season begins in October and lasts till February – exciting and busy times for wedding planners as well.
The Indian wedding industry is huge (over Rs.100,000 crore) and growing at 25% annually. Big budget weddings which need wedding planners range from Rs.500,000 to Rs.50,000,000. Wedding in metropolitan cities cost anywhere between Rs.2,500,000 and Rs.7,000,000. Destination weddings cost twice as much. People in India are culturally motivated to splurge on weddings. That makes a wedding planner’s profession quite a lucrative one.As part of their job, wedding planners interview the family to understand their needs.
A budget is prepared accordingly.Once the theme of the event is decided, the wedding planner creates a detailed checklist of activities to be accomplished, scouts for locations, identifies different venues for events, contracts wedding professionals and service providers, prepares and manages the invite list, helps with preparation of legal documentation and translations, and even has a disaster/backup management plan.
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There are no national-level credentials available for wedding planners in the US. However, students interested in furthering their career in this profession can get certifications like - Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) by the International Special Events Society. This certification requires wedding planners to have at least three years of professional experience in this field. Aspiring wedding planners are also recommended to become a member of organizations like the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners (AACWP). It gives them credibility and creates opportunities to network. Being a part of industry organizations like ABC, ILEA and NACE can be an added advantage.
People are emotionally involved in weddings and spend a considerable amount of money to ensure a hassle free and organized wedding. Wedding planners usually charge either a flat fee or a percentage of the total wedding cost; either way, it is big money!
While most wedding planners are independent consultants, some also work for event planning companies. Some of the common job profiles for wedding planners are:
In the US, Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco are the best cities to secure a wedding planner’s job. Entry level wedding planners make an average of around $3,400 a month. Professionals with experience can make up to an average of $6,800 a month.
In India, entry-level wedding planners with up to 5 years of experience make an average of Rs.17,000 a month. At the senior level, a marketing manager makes an average of Rs.80,000 a month and a director of events makes Rs.125,000 a month.
Wedding planners are employed to do things that couples/families cannot do or prefer not to take responsibility of at weddings. Negotiating with vendors, managing budgets and coordinating event flow requires specific skills. A wedding planner must have budgeting, negotiating, planning and organizing, time management, problem solving and networking skills. Apart from that, they should also have a basic sense of aesthetics, knowledge of different religions and cultures, positive attitude and compassion..
Named as one of the best wedding planners in the world by Vogue Magazine, Preston Bailey transforms ordinary spaces into grandiose wedding venues. His clients include celebrities, athletes, royal families and CEOs. Bailey’s art installations have been showcased in New York, Las Vegas, London, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Jakarta and Macao. His A-list celebrity clients include Oprah Winfrey and Michael Douglas.
Wedding planner Marcy Blum has had Billy Joel, Kevin Bacon, Salman Rushdie& Padma Lakshmi, George Soros and the Rockefeller family for clients. She has appeared as a guest on The Today Show, the CBS Morning Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show. The New York magazine, Vogue Magazine and Harper's Bazaar – have all described Blum as one of the top wedding planners of the current times.
One of India’s top wedding planners, Neeta Raheja is the unofficial founder of the wedding planning industry in India. She took a summer course on wedding planning at Columbia University and then started her wedding planning firm - Very Truly Yours. Her clients include industrialists, celebrities, fashion designers, NRIs and media moguls.
1981 ADPrince Charles & Diana have the most expensive wedding ever ($110 million)
1991 Elizabeth Taylor & Larry Fortensky spend $4 million and get married at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch
2002 The music legend Paul McCartney and entrepreneur Heather Mills spend $3.6 million to get married at a castle in Ireland
2004 The daughter of Lakshmi Mittal (one of the richest men in the world), Vanisha Mittal gets married to Amit Bhatia at a $66 million wedding
2005 Singer Christina Aguilera gets married to Jordan Bratman spending $2.2 million on the wedding festivities
2007 British model-actress Elizabeth Hurley weds Indian businessman Arun Nayar. $2.6 million is spent in the events that included a performance by Elton John
2010 Ex-US President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton’s daughter gets married to investment banker Marc Mezvinsky in a $5 million wedding ceremony.
2011 $34 million is spent at the wedding of the century of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
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