Demystifying a career as a wedding planner

Friends, family and strangers all think my job is glamorous. Yes I am lucky, I have a career that I love. But I sometimes wonder if people enter this industry without knowing the facts first. This article is not meant to scare you, it’s supposed to give you an insight into the reality of wedding planning.

Wedding Planning Myths

  • We spend our days at cake tastings and visiting bridal shops
  • That the majority of our role is creative, buying pretty ribbons, creating mood boards and choosing table settings
  • That we earn huge amounts of money
  • It’s, fun, fun, fun

Wedding Planning Facts

  • Yes I do get sent beautiful samples in the post from cakes to cookies but honestly that isn’t that often (note to cake suppliers out there – I love cake 😉 )
  • Would it surprise you to learn that my role is 80% administrative? It’s spending circa 150 hours organising a clients event ensuring all key suppliers have been booked and within the clients budget. No point spending my time choosing pretty ribbon if there are no napkins on order to put them round.
  • Would it surprise you to know most UK planners can only manage 8-10 weddings per year? Let’s do some math, multiply 8 x 150 hours = 1,200 hours. Assuming you will take 4 weeks as holiday per year that’s 25 hours per week organising client weddings. The rest of the working week is spent “running your business” (marketing, accounts, PR, admin). Thus a planner needs to make sure she is earning enough from those 8-10 weddings per year to cover her N.I, tax, business running costs + her wage to cover her time. Don’t forget when you’re employed your wage is what you take home, when you run a business the fee you get from a client is not the fee you personally earn.
  • You will be working evenings and weekends so make sure your family support you with this knowledge, take a day off in the week instead as a compromise
  • It’s not the same planning your own wedding compared to someone elses, your tastes might differ. Can you deal with that fact?
  • At times couples might take their stresses and frustration out on you, do you have the strength to shrug it off? Do you have the patience to guide them through any difficult decisions they are currently experiencing? Do you have the maturity to never take any such stress personally?
  • You might be working on 8 weddings simultaneously, that’s approx.. 120-160 supplier emails, contracts, negotiations, schedules and meetings to arrange! If you’re not organised this isn’t the job for you. Over the years I have had many brides or grooms with the same name, getting married in the same year, I always had to think fast to make sure I was speaking with the right couple!
  • I am my brand, clients hire me because they like me. I pride myself on the ability to relax a couple within minutes. If you’re shy, timid and lack confidence this isn’t the career for you. The wedding industry is people focused, think about it, a bride is going to choose the photographer that relaxes her AND takes fabulous pictures. If she isn’t relaxed, it doesn’t matter how good the photographer is, the photos are not going to look good.

If you are still interested in learning more about becoming a wedding planner then keep an eye out for another blog post with key advice on starting out as a wedding planner. I also cannot recommend the UKAWP enough as a key source of information and honestly I highly recommend the training courses, I know I am a director, but time and time again past students tell me how inspirational our courses were.


Photo CreditMark BothwellKerry Morgan,

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  1. Julie Dawson on 27th January 2014 at 10:26 am

    HI Bernadette,
    That is a BRILLIANT round up of the life of a wedding planner. I used to work on an intensive care unit as a sister which was a general trauma centre and I can seriously say that wedding planning whilst being very rewarding and fulfilling is more stressful! than ICU lol. Keeping organised is definitely the key. I totally agree with the fact that you have to be able to put clients at ease straight away. The other thing is to totally understand your strengths and weaknesses and then work on the weaknesses because you are the only one generally in your business. Thanks for such a fabulous article. I am ashamed to say that adding those hours up we work I had not done before. Eye opening! On the plus side though it is a lovely job and if you love lists, organising and PEOPLE! its fab.
    Julie x

    • bernadette on 27th January 2014 at 10:36 am

      Hi Julie, Thank you for your lovely comments. I don’t think you’re alone in working out your hours and double checking you have charged correctly. My clients are always shocked at the number of hours I put into their weddings and the number of meetings I attend, especially with my marquee ones!

  2. Julie Dawson on 27th January 2014 at 10:45 am

    Yes they really mount up. I guess its having the courage to actually charge for them. If not you do tend to be a busy fool. Unfortunately people will let you work those hours and yes I agree they don’t realise the hours you put in until you start working for them and then it hits them what a lot it is to organise. I get lots of marquee and Tipi’s too. I guess its the nature of the beast with peoples jobs these days. No time! Thanks again. x

  3. Kerry Jackson-Rider on 27th January 2014 at 2:05 pm

    It’s a great article Bernadette and well explained. Couples really don’t understand how much is involved in their planning and as you say SO much admin but also lots of fun! xx

    • bernadette on 27th January 2014 at 2:27 pm

      Thanks Kerry. I always says to students of the UKAWP that you have to have the passion, drive and determination to succeed. Don’t enter wedding planning if money is your motivator or glamour is your motivation! I wouldn’t change my job for the world and I’m a bit strange, I love admin and spreadsheets!

  4. Andrew on 17th February 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Nice post and a refreshing dose of realism. I think we are in a similar position as wedding photographers as often people assume that we just work Saturdays and have the rest of the week off! It’s only when they see the amount of detailed post production work, planning and the amount of time we put into helping and supporting couples that they really see our value. Similarly, when you factor in working evenings and weekends as well as paying for expensive equipment, insurance tax and NI contributions it all adds up. I think there are an increasing number of photographers who skimp on all of this and are offering cut price deals greatly to the detriment of the industry as a whole as well.

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