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 that represents the type of work that you want to be doing.
Hold up – you do know who your ideal clients are, right? If all you can tell me is their hypothetical household income and coffee order, click here.
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 – I'm talking less than 5 years – I've created something just for you. It's everything I wish I had when I first started my wedding planning business – and you can join it right 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.
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 wedding vendors in your area.
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 not only are you collaborating and networking with other vendors, but you're also 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.
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 that 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 really do think they're a great option when you're 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. But 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.
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