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How do I Become a Wedding Planner?

More than two million weddings take place each year in the United States alone, and most of them are -- at least to some degree -- planned. That would seem to bode well for anyone hoping to become a wedding planner. Even better, there is no wedding planning license required, and no degree in wedding planning to be earned. You don't need an office. All it takes to become a wedding planner is the desire, a knack for organization and the ability to work with people.

Of course, the wedding planner willingly becomes a lightning rod for issues ranging from the color of the bridesmaids' dresses to the type of food at the reception to whether to invite Uncle Fred, who always drinks too much. If the couples come from different cultural or religious backgrounds, these issues can become exacerbated, requiring the negotiating skills of a seasoned diplomat. On the other hand, the presence of an expert in the middle of the preparations can often defuse potential disagreements. If the wedding planner can exude an air of confidence and authority, most of the principals will tend to bow to his or her expertise. After all, if they knew all the answers, they wouldn't have hired you in the first place.

Before anyone can become a wedding planner with that sort of panache, however, there is a lot to learn. It begins, in most cases, with the budget the couple has put aside, because it all flows from that. There are legalities to be dealt with and reservations to be made. If you are prone to procrastination, you may want to re-think your ambition to become a wedding planner, because much of the planning has to be done far in advance.

Moreover, couples already nervous about the enormity of the task ahead of them will probably shy away from hiring someone without experience. So how is that experience acquired? You can generally find established wedding planners in your area in the Yellow Pages or on-line, and it might worth a try to see if any of them need help. The best way to learn the job is to participate in the process, even at a subsidiary level. Ask questions. Keep your eyes and ears open. This could be your wedding planning education.

Or, if you feel confident enough to take the plunge, you might offer to become a wedding planner for a friend or relative. It would be worth your time and effort to do this cheaply, or even gratis. If things go well, the satisfied couple would probably be delighted to give you a recommendation. If not, well, you were doing them a favor.

Yet even before that relatively safe step, there are things you can do to prepare. Visit the local florists and tuxedo rental shops and bakeries and travel agencies to compare prices. Ask them all about what they do: Chances are they'll be flattered. Keep your ears open for musicians who are competent and affordable and also people friendly -- and understand that there is more to playing a wedding than simply hitting the right notes.

This collected knowledge, translated into a full Rolodex or e-mail list, means you can hit the ground running if your big break happens. It might even be a constructive exercise to plan a "pretend" wedding from the dress rentals through the honeymoon. What's waiting at the end of this rainbow is generally a fee based on anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the wedding. Of course, the average wedding these days is up around $20,000 US Dollars. Then again, it will take quite a few of these to add up to a living wage.

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