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Have a Wedding Idea? Become a Wedding Planner

The wedding business is booming! Every year, almost 2.5 million couples tie the knot in the United States, spending an average of $20,000 a couple -- making it a $72 billion industry. Planning and organizing a wedding is still a major undertaking and many couples simply don't have the time to devote to it -- and are more than happy to leave the planning to a professional.

The demand for wedding planners is booming too -- an estimated 15% of couples now use the services of a professional wedding planner. Being a wedding planner allows you to be your own boss; it's a profession that most people consider to be fun and rewarding -- and there are no particular educational qualifications or requirements. Around 10,000 people in the United States claim to be professional wedding planners.

As a wedding planner, you are responsible for every aspect of the wedding -- flowers, photography, food and perhaps accommodation for out of town guests. You also have to enjoy dealing with people, as that is essentially what you will be doing much of the time, as a wedding planner. And perhaps one of the most important qualities is simply to be well organized and efficient -- you don't want to find that you forgot to book the caterers for the big day!

Starting a wedding business is not much different from any other business -- although start up costs tend to be minimal. You will need a small office to work from, or a quiet space in your home -- keep in mind your clients may meet with you there. You will need such basics as a separate phone line, fax machine and business cards and you may need to register your business in your county or state. Having your own web site is an essential too.

A portfolio is also an excellent thing to show potential clients. If you aren't sure where to start, offer your services to family and friends in exchange for being able to take and use photographs. Your portfolio should contain photographs of any weddings you have helped to plan -- anything from the flowers and the table settings to the catering and the choice of venue. Reference letters from some satisfied clients are always a nice finishing touch.

The best way to become experienced as a wedding planner is to learn all you can about weddings -- and what makes them successful. Attend weddings, talk to those people involved such as caterers, photographers and florists. Try to get as many contacts as you can -- you will need them later. It's also worth trying to negotiate discounts with some of your contacts. And if you want to go back to school -- you can take classes that teach you all about the profession.

So now you are a wedding planner -- but where do you find your clients? One of the most effective ways to find potential clients is through your network of contacts in the industry. Make sure your business cards are visible at caterers, florists and bridal shops. You may want to advertise in the local newspaper and display your business card at such places as libraries, community centers and workplaces. And as every small business owner knows -- word of mouth is often the most effective advertising.

And one of the best things about being a wedding planner? You have the satisfaction of helping to plan what many people consider to be the happiest day of their lives.

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