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Growing a Business

How To Build Your Portfolio As A Wedding Planner When You’re Just Starting Out

October 13, 2023

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I'm candice!

I'm Candice, your new tell-it-like-it-is BFF (and purpose cheerleader). Are you ready to grow and scale a profitable business with purpose–and one that gives back to your meaningful life? Thought so!

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*cues up to the bar* Let's start the tab, shall we? Take the quiz and find your brand cocktail for success.

Oh boy, this topic is near and dear to me. When I decided to become a wedding planner, I was sick at home binge-watching some wedding TV shows, and before you knew it, I picked up a pile of wedding magazines and decided I would be a wedding planner. And yes, I had no idea what the heck I was actually doing. I have good news, though (15 years later!) – if you're looking to build your portfolio as a wedding planner, you are in the right place.

Let's just say I'm about to save you a ton of time and money, and maybe, just maybe, you can learn with a little less trial and error.

Building your portfolio is often one of the first and most anxiety-inducing steps you need to take when you decide to open your wedding business. In marketing, the eye buys, and it can be hard to reel in your ideal clients if you don't have a portfolio representing the type of work you want to do.

Free course on starting a wedding planning business.

Hold up – are you looking to launch your wedding planning business? You should probably click here and sign up for my free mini-course!

Before I share some tips and tricks for building out your portfolio, a little shameless plug, if I may. If you are new to the wedding planning biz and you've already launched your business, then I've created something just for you. It's everything I wish I had when I started my wedding planning business – and you can join it now.

The Planner's Playbook is my newest coaching experience–and it's exclusively for wedding planners! It was designed for wedding planners who are new(er) in business but are absolutely not interested in wasting time playing small.

Okay, now back to what you came here for.

Oh boy, this topic is near and dear to me. When I decided to become a wedding planner, I was sick at home binge-watching some wedding TV show and before you knew it, I picked up a pile of wedding magazines and decided I was going to be a wedding planner. And yes, I had no idea what the heck I was actually doing. I have good news though (13 years later!) - if you're looking to build your portfolio as a wedding planner, you are in the right place. Let's just say, I'm about to save you a ton of time and money and maybe, just maybe, you can learn with a little less trial and error.

First, styled shoots are one of my favorite ways to build your portfolio because they show YOUR vision and allow you to connect with other local wedding vendors.

If you've been in business for a while, you probably realized that some of the over-the-top micro weddings you have been admiring on Instagram are, in fact, styled shoots.

I believe that when you're just starting out, styled shoots are one of the absolute best ways to build your portfolio as a wedding planner because you are collaborating and networking with other vendors and showcasing the work YOU want to be doing. You have control here!

Hosting styled shoots is a great way to ensure you're not putting out photos of mediocre budget weddings (from the clients who have hired you) and wondering why that's all you're attracting five years later.

You don't want the first event you design to be on somebody's wedding day. After all, with weddings, there are no do-overs. Styled shoots can be more expensive than other ways to build your portfolio (it's not uncommon for “hard costs” to be shared between vendors) but when you are first starting out, you don't always (ever!) have the type of clients that you wish would hire you.

You know… the ones with the six and seven-figure wedding budgets throwing magazine-worthy weddings that give you instant street cred.

A comprehensive guide on designing and planning a breathtaking wedding planner styled shoot.

Second, book a brand shoot to help your customers connect with YOU and fill the gaps between your photos when your portfolio is scarce.

Ultimately, there are dozens – if not hundreds – of wedding planners in your area who do the same thing as you. The good news is, nobody does it quite like you.

There IS more than enough room, trust me. Branding photoshoots are a great way to show behind the scenes… even if you don't have a ton of real ‘behind the scenes' yet.

Branding photos are also is a great way to show that you mean business. After all, someone who is willing to invest in high-quality brand photography is somebody to take seriously. Trust me – your selfies aren't doing that for you. People want to invest in people who invest in themselves.

You can showcase your sparkling personality while rearranging a tablescape and straightening out some of that luxury cutlery you rented for the day.

Next, create behind-the-scenes content for social media.

I don't know if you follow me on the ‘gram, but I rarely post on my feed anymore. I always try and show up on stories because it's way easier to do on the fly (and a lot more fun!). Even if you don't have any real weddings yet, you can show tons of behind the scenes of you at different rental companies (learning more about what they have to offer), venue tours around your area, you setting up your wedding planning software, or even putting together a design board.

Even if some of the work is just hypothetical at this point, the options for behind-the-scenes content is endless, and it is a great marketing tool. Remember – you don't need to know everything – you just need to know more than your ideal client.

Finally, use stock images to round out your portfolio.

I've talked about using stock images before because I think they're a great option when starting out. Seriously (and I'm willing to jump on my soapbox for this), there is no excuse for stealing images in 2021. Pinterest doesn't count as a source! I can't even tell you how many times my work has been stolen and it's a good way to tarnish your representation in the industry fast.

I started my own wedding business 13 years ago, and y'all, the only available stock images were janky. Nothing like we have today. However, I still used them all over my website and replaced them as I acquired more content. A few of my faves are Haute Stock and Styled Stock Society, and yes, it's worth having a subscription for higher quality stuff!

You aren't going to have a magazine-worthy portfolio overnight, but it really doesn't need to take as long as you think!

I'm always walking the line between keeping it real and telling you that I believe from the bottom of my heart that you CAN have the business you want (whatever that looks like!). I hope this has given you some encouragement to put yourself out there and start building your portfolio as a wedding planner. You don't need to play small (because let's be honest, it gets boring).

If you are picking up what I'm putting down and want some more, I would love to see you inside The Planner's Playbook. Trust me, you are going to want to join us now before the doors close to snag some sweet bonuses and perks.

Let's round up how you can build your wedding planner portfolio when you're just starting out:

  1. Create, design, and plan a styled wedding shoot.

    This helps build your portfolio and shows off your signature style.

  2. Hire a photographer to do a brand shoot.

    You'll be able to share images of yourself on social media and your website to create a connection with potential clients.

  3. Create behind-the-scenes content.

    Your phone has a powerful camera – use it to create content showing you working on building your business.

  4. Use stock images for your marketing.

    There's nothing wrong with using stock images to help grow your business!

Want more? Check out this video on my YouTube channel ↓

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For More Wedding Planner Business Secrets Follow Me On Instagram

When you created systems for your business - did you create them for your best days… or your worst?

My guest on this weeks episode of The Power in Purpose Podcast is none other than @simplysandrayvonne - a systems strategist and Honeybook expert for wedding pros - and Sandra wants you to think about your systems differently.

Our conversation talks about how you can set up your systems for your worst days, and also how to navigate your business with a chronic illness.

✨ Comment the word SUPPORT below and I’ll DM you a direct link to listen. I can’t wait to hear what you think! 🥰

#thepowerinpurposepodcast #weddingpros #honeybook #weddingplanning101 #weddingphotography #weddingindustry #weddingbusiness #candicecoppola #systemsandprocesses
Who you think you’re emailing vs who is actually responding 💀

I had to jump on this one because it was too funny 😂 Fun times at #trinidadcarnival on Jouvert morning! I definitely enjoyed myself, my wig, and the corn soup.

We all put on a polished front but I think who we are behind the scenes and away from our desks is way more interesting and relatable! Here’s some encouragement to make a reel like this too and show off your personality 😆 #relatable #behindthescenes
We were long overdue for a shank and cuddle. 🫶🏼 ilysm and tag your bestie who needs to hear this pep talk too and for the love of Pete STOP PROCRASTINATING 😘 #motivation #procrastination #candicecoppola #weddingindustry #weddingpros #weddingvendodors #smallbusiness #peptalk #shankandcuddle
Should you be on TikTok? That’s a question I get asked a lot - and it should come as no surprise that I have some STRONG feelings about this.

The quick answer is yes - but not on the way you think.

Comment EPISODE 128 and I’ll send you a link to this weeks episode of The Power in Purpose podcast where you’ll hear me make the case for why it think it’s a MUST.

Plus, I talk about Nancy Meyers, THAT submarine, and Vanderpump Rules.

Once you listen, I’d love to hear your take. Agree or disagree with my opinion?!
 #weddingindustry #weddingpro #candicecoppola #marketing #weddingpros #weddingplanning101 #weddingindustryeducation #marketingstrategy #socialmediamarketing

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Each week, we explore how to build a profitable business with purpose—and the stories behind successful entrepreneurs who have. Get ready to dig in and have meaningful conversations about business and life, as we explore the strategies and techniques that build the kind of business you want. 

I believe entrepreneurs who lead with their purpose are more successful, less likely to burn out, and deeply connected to why they do what they do. 

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