Friday, June 6, 2008

So you want to be a Wedding Coordinator?

So does everyone else, it seems. I am now getting 5 emails & resumes per week about this, so I drafted a response. It might sound a bit harsh, but after you read this, go read the Best Blog on this: http://fabu-luxe.com/blog/2008/01/08/why-i-wont-hire-you/


Hello,
Thank you for your email and I do apologize that this is a form email, but I am incredibly busy and I have 5 other emails similar to yours sitting in my inbox that I need to address as well.

If you want to be a coordinator, you are starting correctly by emailing me instead of just printing up business cards & slapping up a website, but there is some information I want to pass along to ensure that the next crop of wedding coordinators coming up behind me is well informed, educated, and takes our industry seriously. However, I can only give advice from my perspective, if you really want this, only you can get it for yourself. Nobody is going to build a business for you!

First off, join an association and get certified. Association of Bridal Consultants, June Weddings, and Weddings Beautiful are all recommended. If you live in the LA area, you're incredibly lucky to have such good resources, but it's going to be a challenge as our market is fiercely competitive. I am a member and therefore partial to Association of Bridal Consultants. I would suggest starting out at our local chapter (www.abcgla.com) of the ABC (http://bridalassn.com/) . We meet bi-monthly to network and bi-monthly to continue our education. I am on the steering committee for the workshops and our topics have been things such as Public Speaking, Communicating Sales Success, Vendor Relationships, Videography, Floral Design, etc. The meetings are usually on the 3rd Monday of the month. Go to these, meet other coordinators, and intern with as many as you can to learn. Be up front and honest with however much experience that you have, but I would recommend stressing that you are a hard worker and not a flaky person. I would also recommend interning for other wedding vendors to get a better understanding of the industry and the production of the entire day. There are certain areas personally that I know that I need work on (lighting, AV, etc) that I have plans in the future to shadow some of my vendors.

I would HIGHLY suggest working as a catering/banquet server before you start out on this to gain a respect for what it takes to feed large groups of people. I hate dealing with food, but before I even started interning for other coordinators I spent 3 months spending my Saturday nights working at a large Persian Jewish temple serving at lavish weddings for up to 500 people. Try serving scalding hot soup over the shoulder of a woman wearing a fur wrap! I hope to never do that again, but I learned a lot. Speaking of serving food: I think that if you have never been a server whether fast food, restaurant, or bar you don't have what it takes to be a wedding coordinator. Call that harsh, but this is a service industry. We are staff. And we work HARD.
I grind my teeth each time anyone exclaims to me: "You're a wedding planner? That must be soooooo!!!! much !!!! FUN!!!!". It's not fun. But it IS rewarding. Putting out "fires" throughout a 12 hour day on your feet is not fun. Dealing with Catering Managers who don't communicate with you is not fun. Hauling chairs to another location is not fun. Having a DJ hijack a reception timeline is not fun. Not knowing where your bride & groom are because the Photographer did not read the timeline and took them away for romantic shots is not fun. Having a mother of the bride scream at you for a mistake her daughter made is not fun. Cake falling over? Not fun. Bad weather? Not fun. Washing dishes because there were not enough dishes ordered for this off-site wedding so the band can eat? Not fun. Playing the iPod for the ceremony? Not fun. Escort cards without last names AND non-alphabetized? Not fun. Drunk groomsmen & guests hitting on you? Not fun. Power outages? Not fun. Not having the time to eat dinner? Not fun. Pulling 300 pound bell carts loaded with gifts & then packing them into an SUV? Not fun. And this is all stuff I've had to deal with on just the wedding day alone. I won't get into cheap clients, budget issues, unpaid vendors, family problems, and non-communicative brides.

But this job is rewarding. It is rewarding to assist a couple through the maze of planning the largest formal event they'll probably ever throw. It is rewarding to be the last person standing with the bride as she is about to walk down the aisle. It is rewarding to be told by the couple that they could not have done this without me.
But know what is rewarding to you before you take on the most important day of someone's life. Don't just jump into this and call yourself a wedding coordinator. I compare coordinating a wedding day to directing a play when there has never been a rehearsal and all of the stage hands have never worked together. If and when something goes wrong, it IS your fault because you are the director. You need to have the foresight to see the problems coming, you need to have the grace to succinctly deal with the problems, and you need to have thick skin to be able to handle being blamed for the problems when they could not be avoided.
With all of this said, I can always use assistants on wedding days. If you are still interested in assisting me, come to the next ABC meeting and I'll introduce you around and you'll have more work you can handle. But I get first dibs on you :)

3 comments:

Michelle@Memorable Events said...

YES!! Thank you!! I'm so glad I am not alone with those feelings. I have so many people say that same thing "oh, it must be such a cool job!" and just because they had fun planning their own wedding doesn't mean they can handle planning someone elses. Thanks Amber for posting this it put a smile on my face on a rainy day!

Phil said...

I love you.

Emily said...

I don't think you were harsh at all! As someone who was blessed with a wonderful wedding planner for my own wedding, I can hear her saying most of what you said. And as a hairdresser, I share your experiences of people not at all understanding what the job entails, and therefore getting into a profession they're grossly unqualified for...and it's frustrating! So thank you for being so honest and saving some silly people from themselves...and their future clients from them, as well!