When I tell people I do wedding/event planning, the response I hear a lot is, “Oh my God! That is so cool! That is something I have always wanted to do myself!” It seems like being an event planner has become the new every girl’s dream job. About every couple months, I get an email or phone call from someone who wants to pursue event planning; and asking me I am hiring or offer internships. I speak to several people, and some that I can tell get it and would do well; others see the job through rose colored glasses.
Though doing it this is a rewarding experience (one I enjoy), there are some cons and harsh realities those considering this line of work need to consider. It is not all flowers, cakes, and pretty dresses.
It’s more than just decorating
When I ask people why they are interested in wedding planning the most common answer is, “Well I just love decorating and have all these different ideas for a variety of wedding styles.” Honestly I cringe a little bit when I hear this response. I am not saying that having wonderful ideas and liking to decorate is a bad skill set; it’s just that it's a small part of what this job entails. If event design/styling is what you do best at, there are people out there who just offer those types of services. Just make sure you are marketing yourself as an event stylist and not a planner.
It’s a lot of organization, office work, and problem solving
I am calling it “office work” but it's things such as sending or answering emails, making telephone calls, attending meetings, reviewing contracts, listening and taking lots of notes, organizing a timeline, finalizing details, figuring out logistics, and working out all the hiccups that come up to ensure your clients day goes smoothly. To me this is the stuff I love the most. I have always enjoyed doing puzzles and a wedding is a massive puzzle with various pieces. My job is to put all those pieces together.
Also keep in mind that if you plan to operate your own business and not work for someone, there is general business office work that needs done. Social media, marketing, accounting, and insurance are just a small list of some of the functions that a business owner must handle.
Wedding days are long and demanding
Then there is the big day itself. It is a exciting day to see the finished product of that puzzle you pieced together. Be warned though, this is when things get physical. I once heard of someone who wanted to go into planning, because they were sick of their job that required them to be on their feet for a long shift. Sorry to say that this job is not for you! Most wedding days I work an average of 12 hours, with little time to sit down. Based on the pedometer on my phone, I tend to walk around 30,000-40,000 steps on a wedding day. I am lucky if I get more than 10 minutes to eat at some weddings. That is where the “demanding” part comes into play. I am constantly on the move doing last minute details, helping a guest or fellow vendor, checking on the status of something, trying to keep the timeline moving along, replenishing stuff, and the list goes on and on. I tell my clients, there are a million little things a wedding planner will do for you the day of the wedding that you will never know about. I personally like keeping busy, but I do feel it the next day. It is what some of us in the industry call “wedding hangovers.” You wake up tired, with a headache, dehydrated, and every muscle in your body hurts. It just like a regular hangover except no alcohol and you remember everything you did the night before
It can be a dirty job
Not all of it is glamorous and unpleasant stuff happens you will have to handle. If it’s outside there are things like mud, insects, animals/reptiles (I have had snakes show up), and weather to contend with. I have been soaked wet doing what needed done, in pouring down rain. I have run through 6 inches of snow after a shuttle bus. Wind is a constant battle at any outdoor wedding or ceremony.
You will have to deal with a drunk people and you will have to clean up vomit. Spills are a guarantee, as well as broken glass. Not to mention the joys of a clogged toilet. Wedding guests are messy in general. I know most people can be good, but you get a group of people together, the trash piles up. I pick up so much garbage and for various reasons, some of it ends up on me. The worst is a leaking garbage bag. There is a reason I go home and shower after every event.
It affects your personal life
Weddings typically take place on weekends, and a lot of clients will book your services a year or more in advance. A lot of stuff happens on the weekends, and life doesn’t always give you an advance notice. I have had to miss things like birthday parties, funerals, family gatherings, or impromptu friends game nights because I have a wedding. Community events may pop up that you want to attend, but can’t. It is not just weekends either. I sometimes have to cancel plans I may have through the week because something came up for an upcoming event that requires my immediate attention. Also keep in mind there is no such thing as a sick or vacation day if decide to start your own business.
This is also part of the reason I run my business boutique style and accept a limited number of events in a month/year. The main reason is to make sure I am not burnt out, and my clients occasion gets the attention it deserve. The second reason is to make sure I am allowing myself free time to spend with those that matter to me. I don’t want to work my entire life away. I am lucky that I have an awesome regular full time job and planning is my side business. I can control my schedule more. I know not everyone has that luxury in this industry.
You have to deal with people
I have pretty much always had a job in customer service. I have never not had to deal with the public, and honestly can't imagine having a job where I wouldn't. However, you will encounter difficult people at some point. Whether its an upset client, family member, or other vendor; at some point there will be conflict. Especially when it comes to a wedding; as we are talking about an event filled with several emotions. You will probably get blamed for something that wasn't your fault, or get criticized by someone in the bridal party for something you did. Everyone will have an opinion. Just remember to take a deep breath, and do what is in the best interest of your clients.
I feel like I may have made it sound all doom and gloom; and it isn't. There is a lot of wonderful things about this job; such as the people. I have met a lot of wonderful people who have become friends. Some are past clients and some are fellow wedding vendors. You also get a chance to celebrate love. Maybe its because I am hopeless romantic at heart, but I truly believe in the magic of love. Two people committing themselves to each other is a beautiful and wonderfully awesome thing. To be a small part of that, is a wonderful experience. Just know if you are considering a career in event coordination, there is some other aspects to this job to consider.