If you’ve recently taken the leap and decided to become a wedding planner, can I just start by giving you a huge congratulations?! The truth is, although business can be hard sometimes, I still remember the excitement I had when I discovered this career path many moons ago. And I am SO grateful that I did. Now, almost 15 years later, and as a business coach for wedding planners, I can only imagine you are just as excited as I was to book your FIRST clients as a wedding planner. In this post, I’m going to show you just how to do it!
Wait – Let’s Talk About What NOT To Do When Trying to Book Your First Client as a Wedding Planner
Before I share seven things you should do when trying to book your first client as a wedding planner, let’s talk about what NOT to do. Don’t go post in twenty different Facebook groups offering to do work for FREE (or cheap!).
If I could just give you one piece of advice or food for thought here, it's that you aren't going to get the kind of work you want for your portfolio by offering to do shit for free in Facebook groups. Instead, you're going to end up with hours of DIY projects to set up on the wedding day and a really big headache. I know you might be eager to get experience and get your foot in the door, but trust me, there are easier ways and I am going to walk you through them today. So let's get into it!
1. Develop an Online Presence by Creating a Website.
In my opinion, a website is an absolute must, especially in 2023. You need a website that looks professional and shows off the services that you offer so potential customers can get a clear picture of what working with you looks like. If you have questions about what to include in your wedding planning packages to make sure they sell, make sure to check out this guide here (I’ve got you!).
If you know you need a website but just don’t know where to start, I recommend Tonic templates on Showit (and hey – treat yourself to 15% off with the coupon code CANDICE). In my opinion, Showit is the best website platform for wedding planners because it’s easy to use AND shows off your work beautifully. When it comes to the wedding industry, the eye buys. You need something stunning to showcase your future work (AND to book your first client as a wedding planner).
Don’t Sleep on Blogging for your Business or Focusing on SEO
SEO (or search engine optimization) can feel overwhelming at first, but it really isn’t, and I promise you it is worth the effort. Listen in on this podcast episode with Sara Does SEO to get a quick update on the best SEO practices for wedding pros in 2023.
Once you create your beautiful and optimized website, it’s time to start blogging regularly. No excuses, friend. I started blogging in 2009 when websites (and stock photos – before I had real weddings to showcase!) were JANKY. Even still, my blog became one of the top places new customers found my business (and it still is today to be honest!). Start making blogging a habit NOW, before you book your first client as a wedding planner, and you won’t regret it.
2. Network With Vendors in Your Area to Build Relationships and Market Your Business
Building relationships with local vendors is key when it comes to being a successful wedding planner, and it’s something you should start even before you book your first client as a wedding planner. Not only will you want to build relationships with people who can eventually refer you, but the fact that you are going to be referring clients to them makes each relationship you enter a true win-win. A little tip: always approach networking from a place of “what can I give to the relationship,” and you will never go wrong. Scope out your local market and find the vendors that are already serving YOUR ideal customers, learn more about their offerings, and see how you can help!
Networking was one of the first things I did that built my business when I was first getting started, and I have to be honest with you, the relationships I made then are still some of my closest friendships even today. In case you don't know it yet, putting a wedding day together truly takes a village. You’ll be grateful to have started yours so early.
3. Sign Up for a Local Bridal Show
When you first open your business and try to book your first client as a wedding planner, you need to put yourself out there. Bridal shows are a great place to start. First, depending on the bridal show, there could be hundreds of future brides in attendance, and you'll get a chance to increase brand awareness and hopefully get some bookings just by signing up.
But here's the thing, even if you don't get a ton of bookings or a huge lineup of brides ready to sign up, bridal shows are a great time to practice your sales skills. Sales IS a muscle, and it takes time to grow, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t book a client during your first bridal show. It still is the fastest way to gain experience interacting with real brides-to-be (and that's why I usually recommend them to new wedding planners who are just starting out).
4. Utilize Social Media to Reach Potential Clients
This is probably the most obvious (and is maybe the one that you're most excited to dive into). Social media can be great because you can reach a wide audience quickly and it's free. Who doesn't love the instant gratification of seeing their posts get a bunch of likes? I know I do.
I can’t talk about social media marketing without saying this: as a business coach for wedding planners, it’s easy to get discouraged on social media. A lot of times we expect it to be full of quick wins, and the reality is it can take time to gain momentum. And that’s okay! I personally always like to look at marketing as one big experiment, and when we get curious without judgment, it gets to be a lot more fun. Keep trying things in your marketing, and don’t get discouraged if it takes longer than three minutes (or three months) for you to blow up on social!
Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms
Although as you grow your business you may want to expand your marketing efforts to be “everywhere”, I encourage you to start with just one or two platforms when you are just starting a looking to book your first client as a wedding planner.
Before you ask me, “Candice, what’s the best social media platform for wedding planners”, let me just stop you here. The best social media platform for YOU is the one where YOUR ideal clients are and that you enjoy using. A few of my favorite social media platforms for wedding planners are: Pinterest (where you know people go right after they get engaged!) and Instagram, but you can experiment with platforms like TikTok to show off your larger-than-life personality or even consider Linkedin if you are trying to attract a more corporate bride!
PS – make sure you follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok for business advice!
5. Host Styled Shoots to Build Your Portfolio
I want to tell you that styled shoots are another one of those things that built my business, but I know you might be sick of me saying that under every point. To that I say: that's the point. When you're trying to book your first client as a wedding planner, it’s not a bad idea to try to do all the things. They ALL work.
With that said, Styled shoots have a special place in my heart because they’ve made me a two-time published author and truly allowed me to flex my creative muscle and become a better wedding planner and designer for my clients. If you're not sure where to start when it comes to planning your first styled shoot, make sure to grab my free guide all about planning styled shoots that get published (because hey, getting published wouldn't be bad for your portfolio either).
6. Work on Client-facing Elements That Will Help You Land the Sale (I Personally Love Honeybook!).
You'll notice a lot of what I'm talking about involves you putting yourself out there in order to book your first client as a wedding planner. That’s because that really is exactly what you should be doing: getting in front of ideal customers to book your first client! Now though, I want to talk about something else you should be doing, and that's working on your client facing elements so that once a prospective client reaches out to inquire, you have everything you need to land the sale.
The Best CRM for Wedding Planners is Honeybook
I’m not going to waste your time here – Honeybook is THE best CRM for your wedding business. While I don’t want you to get stuck in perfection mode here and try to create the perfect systems and processes, it’s easy enough to set up a workflow and proposal that wows any prospective customer that reaches out (so they sign the contract and pay their deposit!).
7. Make Sure You Actually Know How to Plan a Wedding
Last but certainly not least, as you set out to book your first client as a wedding planner it’s worth mentioning that you need to make sure you actually know how to plan a wedding. While everybody starts somewhere, there are so many fancy courses and marketing experts teaching you how to “grow your wedding business” when in fact, all they teach you is how to market your business. As a business coach for wedding planners, I’m so sick of knowing how to plan a wedding be an afterthought! Yes, marketing is important but knowing how to plan, design, and coordinate weddings is MORE important!
Your options are endless when it comes to getting educated: you can take classes, read books, shadow other experienced planners – the list goes on and on. Personally, I recommend finding someone who has been where you want to go, and learning directly from them (shameless plug – that’s me). While I hope you join me inside the Planner’s Playbook for the ongoing support you’ll need as you grow your business, you can head to the shop here for all the templates and guides you need to get started right now!
Ready to Book Your First Client as a Wedding Planner?
Yes you are! And I am so excited to see all the beautiful things you create and design for your first (and 50th) wedding planning client. This is such an exciting and rewarding career path, and I don’t blame you if you just can’t wait to get started. If you aren't already, make sure to hop on the waitlist for the Planner's Playbook (doors opening soon!) so you can build up your confidence as a wedding planner, make more money, and deliver a luxurious experience your clients love too! I would love to cheer you on every step of the way, so come find me on Instagram and say hi!
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