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How to Start a Wedding Planning Business

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Wedding Planning Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$2,250 - $7,600

Revenue potential

$36,000 - $120,000 p.a.

Time to build

0 – 3 months

Profit potential

$32,000 - $72,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Declining

Commitment

Flexible

Oh, that big day that children dream about. The day when they get to be the star and marry the person of their dreams. It has to be perfect!  But planning that perfect day can be a monumental task. In comes the wedding planner to (hopefully) make it the best day of their lives. If you’re someone who loves that planning process, why not turn it into money in your pocket? You can start your own wedding planning business for just a small investment. 

First, however, you have to go through the planning process for your business. You’ll need knowledge about the process to do so, and it’s your lucky day! This step-by-step guide is chock full of tips and insights to put you on the path to becoming a successful wedding planner.

Step by Step Business values real-life experience above all. Through our Entrepreneur Spotlight Series, we interview business leaders from diverse industries, providing readers with firsthand insights.

Uncover wedding planning tips in our interview with Epic Elopements’ founder, Amber Sironen-Massey.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Starting a wedding planning business has pros and cons to consider before deciding if it’s right for you.

Pros

  • Bring Joy to Brides! – Make wedding dreams come true
  • Good Money – Get paid 10% to 20% of the total wedding cost
  • Flexibility – Run the business from home

Cons

  • Bridezillas – The wedding day has to be perfect!
  • Weekend Work – Long weekend wedding days

Wedding planning industry trends

Industry size and growth

wedding planning industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends in wedding planning include:

  • Wedding themes are being influenced by pop culture, including shows like Bridgerton. 
  • Weddings are becoming increasingly non-traditional, sometimes with “wear what you want” rules. 
  • Unsurprisingly, eco-friendly weddings are trending, with recyclable materials used for as many wedding accoutrements as possible. 

Challenges in the wedding planning industry include:

  • In the wake of the pandemic, people are opting for smaller guest lists, reducing fees for wedding planners.
  • Many online wedding planning sites have popped up, creating new competition for traditional wedding planners.
wedding planning industry Trends and Challenges

What kind of people work as wedding planners?

wedding planning industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a wedding planning business?

Startup costs for a wedding planning business range from $2,000 to $5,000. The largest costs are for a website and an initial marketing budget.

Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 - $200$175
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Insurance$100-$300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 - $300$250
Website setup$1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Computer$0 - $2,000$1,000
Software$200 - $500$350
Initial marketing budget$500 - $1,000$750
Total$2,250 - $7,600$4,925

How much can you earn from a wedding planning business?

You can charge between 10% to 20% of the total cost of the wedding, for an average of 15%. The average wedding costs $20,000, so you should earn about $3,000 per wedding. Your expenses will be limited, so you should expect a profit margin of about 90%.

In your first year or two, you could work from home and plan 12 weddings, bringing in $36,000 in annual revenue. This would mean over $32,000 in clear profit, assuming that 90% margin. As you begin to get traction and referrals, that could increase to 40 weddings a year. At this stage, you might hire a staff, reducing your profit margin to 60%. With annual revenue of $120,000, you would make a cool $72,000.

Wedding Planning business earnings forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a wedding planning business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Having great planning skills
  • Facing competition, particularly from online wedding planning services

Related Business Ideas

If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
How to Start a Wedding Planning Business

How to Start an Event Planning Business

How to Start a Wedding Planning Business

How to Open a Wedding Venue

How to Start a Wedding Planning Business

How to Start a Bridal Shop

Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a wedding planning business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research wedding planning businesses in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a wedding planner who handles deliveries to the event.

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as non-traditional weddings.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your services

Make a list of all the tasks that you will handle for the wedding. You might consider making different packages of services at different price points. 

How much should you charge for wedding planning?

Generally, wedding planners are paid 10% to 20% of the total cost of the wedding. Your expenses will be limited to marketing and fuel for travel. You should aim for a profit margin of about 90%. 

Once you know your costs, you can use our profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price point. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will be primarily brides and parents of the bride, which makes it a very broad market. You should spread out your marketing to include sites like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook.

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out an office. Find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
wedding planning business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Wedding Planning Business Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “wedding planner” or “wedding planning”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Dream Day Planners” over “Vintage Vows Wedding Planning”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Wedding Planning Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: Highlight the main goals and strategies of your wedding planning business, focusing on offering personalized, comprehensive wedding coordination services.
  • Business Overview: Describe your business’s focus on planning and organizing weddings, including venue selection, vendor coordination, and event design.
  • Product and Services: Detail the range of services offered, such as full wedding planning, day-of coordination, and consultation services for couples.
  • Market Analysis: Assess the demand for wedding planning services, identifying target markets like engaged couples, wedding venues, or event suppliers.
  • Competitive Analysis: Compare your services to other local wedding planners, focusing on your unique offerings like specialized themes, personalized service, or budget management.
  • Sales and Marketing: Outline your strategy for attracting clients, using methods like bridal shows, social media marketing, or partnerships with wedding vendors.
  • Management Team: Highlight the experience and qualifications of your team, especially in event planning, customer service, and vendor relations.
  • Operations Plan: Describe the operational process of planning weddings, from initial consultations and concept development to execution on the wedding day.
  • Financial Plan: Provide an overview of financial aspects, including startup costs, pricing strategy, and income projections.
  • Appendix: Include supplementary documents such as portfolio photos, client testimonials, or vendor agreements to support your business plan.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to wedding planning businesses. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your wedding planning business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just needs to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a wedding planning business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.  

types of business financing

Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a wedding planning business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your wedding planning business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.  

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as HoneyBook, Aisle Planner, or bloom, to manage bookings, workflows, contracts, and payments.

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial. 

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.

You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.

Marketing

Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  1. Social Media Campaigns: Leverage platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to showcase your portfolio, share real wedding stories, and engage with potential clients through visually appealing content.
  2. Collaborate with Local Vendors: Forge partnerships with local florists, photographers, and catering services, creating a mutually beneficial referral network that enhances your credibility and widens your reach.
  3. Host Free Workshops or Webinars: Position yourself as an expert by organizing workshops or webinars on wedding planning tips, trends, and budgeting, establishing trust with potential clients and showcasing your expertise.
  4. Offer Limited-Time Promotions: Create a sense of urgency and attract clients by offering limited-time promotions or discounts for early bookings or bundled services, encouraging couples to secure your services promptly.
  5. Collect and Showcase Testimonials: Encourage satisfied clients to leave testimonials and reviews, then strategically showcase them on your marketing materials and social media to build trust and credibility with potential clients.
  6. Targeted Local Advertising: Invest in targeted online and offline advertising in local publications, community boards, or social media groups to specifically reach your target audience in the geographical area you serve.
  7. Participate in Bridal Shows: Set up a booth at bridal shows to directly engage with couples planning their weddings, offering them a glimpse of your services, and collecting leads for future follow-ups.
  8. Create a Blog: Share valuable content on a blog related to wedding planning, offering advice, inspiration, and behind-the-scenes insights to establish yourself as an authority in the industry and improve your website’s SEO.
  9. Utilize Influencer Marketing: Collaborate with local influencers or bloggers in the wedding industry to reach a wider audience and gain credibility through their endorsement of your services.
  10. Implement a Referral Program: Encourage satisfied clients to refer your services by implementing a referral program, rewarding them for each successful referral, thereby creating a word-of-mouth marketing engine for your business.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your wedding planning business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your wedding planning business could be: 

  • Non-traditional weddings to fit your unique style
  • Eco-friendly weddings to keep our earth healthy
  • Short timeline? The perfect wedding on time, guaranteed
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a wedding planning business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in wedding planning for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in wedding planning. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a wedding planning business include:

  • Wedding Assistants – assist with planning, wedding setup
  • Delivery Drivers – deliver items to weddings
  • Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media, other marketing

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Wedding Planning Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

Making a client’s wedding day perfect can be a very rewarding experience. You take care of the details, and let the bride be the star. A wedding planning business can be a very lucrative venture, and as your business grows you can make some good money. You could even have a whole team working for you while you handle the high-level details and supervise the events from the rehearsal dinner to the wedding day and the next day brunch.

Now you’re prepared, so you can put your plans into action and get ready to launch your wedding planning adventure!

Wedding Planning Business FAQs

Is a wedding planning business profitable?

Yes, a wedding planning business can be profitable. You’ll need to market yourself before you start to make money, but once you get some traction, you’ll have very few expenses so most of the money you make will stay in your pocket.

How much can I charge for wedding planning services?

Generally, wedding planners charge between 10% to 20% of the total cost of the wedding. If you charge an average of 15%, for a $20,000 wedding, you’ll make $3,000.

How do I stay organized and manage multiple weddings simultaneously?

To stay organized and manage multiple weddings simultaneously, create a detailed timeline and checklist for each event, and use project management tools and software to track progress and deadlines. Communicate clearly with clients, vendors, and staff, and delegate tasks effectively to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal.

What are the key skills and qualities needed to become a successful wedding planner?

The key skills and qualities needed to become a successful wedding planner include excellent communication and interpersonal skills, attention to detail, creativity, problem-solving skills, time management, and the ability to work under pressure.

How to differentiate my wedding planning business from competitors in the market?

To differentiate your wedding planning business from competitors in the market, focus on developing a unique brand identity and marketing strategy that highlights your strengths and values. Offer personalized and customized services that cater to the specific needs and preferences of each client, and provide exceptional customer service and support throughout the planning process. 

Can I start wedding planning business on the side?

Yes, you can start a wedding planning business on the side by identifying your target market, developing a service offering and pricing strategy, and creating a strong online presence. Build a portfolio of work samples and showcase your expertise through online marketing and networking. Ensure that you can balance your time and resources effectively between your full-time job and your side business, and consider hiring assistants or coordinators to help with the workload.

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How to Start a Wedding Planning Business