Getting into the Wedding Industry
The United States currently hosts 2.5 million weddings a year, and the wedding industry as a whole makes $40 billion annually, according to The Boss Mag. A recent survey from The Knot reported that the average couple spends $27,800 on their wedding, meaning this is one of the largest amounts couples will ever spend on one thing, excluding major purchases like a house. Obviously, there is a lot of money in this sector.
The wedding industry is a varied market made up of many smaller enterprises. This means there are many options to consider when entering the industry, based on your interests and skills.
To get started in the wedding industry, you should research your potential market. Make sure there is a healthy need for what you are planning to do in the region you are planning to operate in. “The Wedding Report” offers a resource for wedding statistics and research for U.S. markets. The Library of Congress’ Wedding Industry Research website is also a great place to start.
You should consider starting out with an assistant or intern job to get experience and contacts in this very competitive industry.
A solid business plan should be completed as soon as possible to ensure that you have all of the details figured out. This will include getting and keeping clients, branding and marketing, and hiring help if needed. You should always consider what state and local business licenses you will need, as well as insurance to cover you in case problems arise. Our “How to Start a Business” course can walk you through the initial steps.
This guide explores some different ways to get into the industry and provides a basic overview of how to get into these fields.
Careers in the Wedding Industry
Wedding Photographer or Videographer
The photographer or videographer plays an important role in documenting and capturing moments at marriage ceremonies. This field is becoming easier to break into with today’s highly digital world, which also means there is more competition. Stand out by taking local photography or videography classes. This field is unique because you always need to keep up with technology, so be sure to keep up with the latest photography trends, editing software and cameras.
Gain experience by working with an established photographer or videographer, which can also help you build your portfolio. Your portfolio will be vital in gaining new clients and getting referrals. You can also consider offering free or discounted services to friends and family until you build a solid portfolio. Also, be sure to invest in the highest-quality equipment you can afford for your budget, since these will be important to your final product and ultimately your sales. You may be able to use an older camera body, but invest in higher-quality lenses.
Videographers should consider joining the Wedding and Event Videographers Association International to gain credibility as well as to have access to resources that can improve your business. The Wedding Portrait Photographers International Association offers similar benefits for photographer members.
Wedding and Event Planning
The wedding or event planner is in charge of many tasks, such as finding a venue, securing entertainment (such as a band or DJ), booking a caterer, decorating and sending invitations, etc. For this reason, a potential event planner should be well-connected, organized and energetic, as well as good at delegating, prioritizing and problem solving. Sometimes, you will also be in charge of the small details, such as the centerpieces, flowers and the overall theme, so it helps to have a background in design or a keen eye for color palettes.
To get started, many colleges have related classes you can take in event planning, or you can get a leg up in the industry by working for someone who is already an established wedding planner to gain experience. You should also consider getting professionally certified to increase your credibility and improve your reputation. Certification is available through the International Special Events Society or Meeting Professionals International. Also, consider joining the Association of Bridal Consultants for credentials, resources and referrals. It will take time to familiarize yourself with the best wedding venues, establish connections with DJs, florists, photographers and event equipment providers that you trust, and to build a reputation as a reliable wedding planner. The most powerful source of business any wedding planner has is a strong referral from a happy bride.
Caterer or Chef
Caterers and chefs may not work exclusively with weddings once they are established, but this can potentially be a very large market. This career requires someone who is skilled at customer service and has a keen attention to detail. You should also have a passion for food and drink.
Most employers will require you to have a culinary degree. Research local community colleges, technical schools or culinary institutes to find out what programs are offered and to enroll in classes to gain the right education and experience. The American Culinary Federation is a great resource for professionals looking to gain credentials and access to continuing their education.
Gowns, jewelry and bridesmaids dresses are a very integral part of most modern weddings. You have the option to design these key pieces or to open up a place of business to sell or rent wedding clothing and accessories. For either of these options, it is important to have an eye for design and art. Stay updated on current trends by researching bridal magazines and blogs.
To get started in wedding design, see if your local college offers any classes or programs in fashion. Or you can simply start making pieces for others and practice your craft. Then you can work on creating your designs, gathering materials and pitching your pieces to stores. You could also considering opening up a retail store, which requires building an inventory and finding an adequate space. For either option, consider joining the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists to gain credibility and referrals.
Wedding Ideas and Blogging
This field is great for people who love staying ahead of the trends, scouring the web for interesting wedding ideas and sharing their discoveries with others. A wedding blog can feature real weddings and brides or can curate ideas and trends to give advice on wedding planning. However, bloggers do much more than blog. They must utilize social media, update and create their website, study SEO, respond to emails and work with sponsors and advertisers (learn how to make money off your website with a guide to AdSense).
To get started, try following a few popular wedding blogs for ideas, such as MountainSide Bride and Burnett’s Boards. Create a blog and a website and utilize sites like Pinterest to get traffic by sharing inspiring photos as well as your own creative ideas. You should also join The Love Collective, an online community for professional wedding bloggers.
DJ or Cover Band
While you most likely won’t work exclusively with weddings, an experienced DJ or cover band both have a large market in the wedding industry. A DJ isn’t just someone who plays songs; a DJ must be comfortable in front of large groups of people and be ready to entertain a crowd. You should be able to interact and be playful, getting people to dance and enjoy themselves.
To get started, you need a large music library (or in the case of a band, a collection of well-rehearsed songs) so that you will be prepared for any occasion and request. You may also need a lot of equipment, including speakers, a mic and party lights, if those are not provided by the hotel or venue. Consider buying these used if you have a small budget. Connect with anyone you know in the wedding industry, since a large part of your business will come from referrals. Play for local businesses at events, and introduce yourself to local wedding venues. Joining The American Disc Jockey Association or putting your band on listings like Gig Masters can also help you make connections online.