Starting a wedding business
Weddings are always a cause for celebration.
The excitement and romance of it all may have enticed you into wanting to work in the wedding industry. Who wouldn’t want to spend every day helping people plan and create the best day of their lives?
This free guide is going to show you how you can start your own wedding business and set yourself up on the path to success.
The big idea
The first thing you need to decide is which area of the industry you want to work in. Do you have the creative skills to be a photographer or florist? Perhaps you have project management experience and want to translate those skills into wedding planning. It may be that you have an eye for styling or have always dreamed of owning your own wedding dress boutique. All wedding business owners start with an idea – there’s no reason you can’t do the same.
Once you have your idea you may want to invest in some training to help you upskill. Look at your local colleges for courses on floristry or photography, look at associations such as the UKAWP who offer wedding planner training.
Although additional qualifications can be useful, they’re not essential. You may be able to translate experience you have gained in previous employment, or build on a hobby, or voluntary work. Many wedding business owners have developed their skills over time or have started a business after helping a friend out at their wedding.
Choose a business name
You have the idea, now it’s time to start thinking about a name. It’s really important to get this right as you will have your business name for a long time. When you come up with a name, make sure it reflects the kind of business you want to have – don’t call yourself “Bargain Brides” if you want to aim your business at the luxury market.
Once you have found a name you are happy with, check the Internet to see if any other businesses are already trading under the name. Use search engines and check whether the social media handles are available, you don’t want to start a business with a name that is already in use, as it will make it hard for people to find you and the current business may also object.
I recommend considering a business name which includes your own name – it’s much less likely to have already been used by another business and it won’t date over time.
Purchase your URL and set up your social media handles
Now you have a name you are happy with, it’s time to secure it. You will need to purchase the domain from a site such as Google Domains or 123 Reg. Ideally you want to make sure you can secure the .com or your countries website code.
I recommend signing up for all the social media platforms at this stage with your business name. You want them all to match and be as simple as possible. Even if you don’t plan to use all the sites, sign up anyway, so that nobody else can take your username. I recommend getting set up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest – at the very least. You may also want to consider claiming your name on TikTok as the platform is growing quickly.
Discover your ideal couple
It’s now time to think about the kind of clients you want to work with. When you set up a wedding business and target it to all brides and grooms, it just doesn’t work. The wedding businesses that are most successful identify who they are marketing to and do it really well. A couple planning an urban luxury wedding are not going to use a wedding planner who specialises in manor house romantic occasions or one that appears to do a bit of everything. They are likely to book the planner who has a portfolio and track record that matches their desired style.
A helpful exercise is to give your dream couple some names. Let’s say, Alex and Jamie. Now you need to think in detail about Alex and Jamie: how old are they? What sort of jobs do they have? Where do they shop? What do they do on the weekend? Do Alex and Jamie already have children? Are they family orientated or are they all about having a big party with their friends? What kind of wedding venue will Alex and Jamie be choosing to get married in – a local hotel or a luxury manor house?
What style of wedding will they be having – rustic, boho, or DIY? What local venues would be on their shortlist?
The aim is to get as much detail on paper as possible to help as you develop your brand and marketing strategy. If you want to work on luxury weddings, then there is no point exhibiting at a DIY wedding fair. When you are making decisions about your new business you need to ask yourself – would Alex and Jamie resonate with this?
At this point it’s important to note that we are talking about your marketing strategy. This doesn’t mean you turn down wedding bookings from other types of couples (you will need all the bookings you can get at the beginning) however the content you put publicly on your website and social media sites should be consistent with the type of couple you are hoping to work with.
Branding is so much more than just a logo (although that is important). You need to consider the colour palette that you want to use, the fonts that will represent you and also your brands voice. Having a consistent brand that resonates with your ideal couple will help you break into the industry with more authority.
When it comes to designing a logo there are free design tools out there that you can use such as Canva but remember that if you are using a template, somebody else out there probably already has a very similar logo. I would advise that you get expert help in designing a logo and brand that best represents you and your ideal couple.
It’s important to take some time to work out the price that you will charge for your products or services. Although it’s helpful to do some market research and see what competitors are charging, resist the temptation to just undercut them all, it’s rarely a good business decision.
When considering your pricing, you need to think about your business overheads, the cost of creating the product, your time, and also ensuring there is something left as profit. You will need to invest some money at the start so work out how many weddings you will need to book in the first couple of years to start making a profit.
I recommend that you set up a separate account for you business incomings and outgoings so that it doesn’t get caught up with the rest of your finances. You can either pay yourself a percentage of each wedding or a monthly wage. Get into the habit of taking something out for yourself, however small, you will soon tire of working for free.
Beware of discounting – it’s tempting to start offering big discounts but this can often be off-putting to a couple as it can appear desperate or showcase the fact you don’t have many clients. Once you are known for discounting it can be hard to get people back to paying full price too.
If you want to put an offer on the table then choose an added value deal rather than a discount. So instead of 20% off why not add in an extra flower arrangement or 2 hours additional shooting time.
Now the branding is in place it’s time to start working on a website. It’s up to you whether you want to employ a web designer or try and build it yourself. My preferred choice when it comes to building a website would be to choose either WordPress or Squarespace. Both platforms offer a variety of pricing depending on the level of website that you need. Even if you choose to use a web designer, it’s wise to have an understanding of how your site works so that you don’t have to rely on or pay someone else every time you want to make changes.
Keep your website simple and ensure your potential customers can navigate to find the information they need in as few clicks as possible. The more hoops your customer has to jump through, the less likely they are to book you. I recommend having at least a “starting from” price on your site to avoid attracting enquiries that can’t afford you.
Your website should speak directly to your ideal couple, in the wording and images you use. They should come to your site and know immediately that you are perfect for their wedding.
When writing your copy try to talk directly to the couple using your service rather than talking about how amazing you are. Many websites I see neglect to talk to their couple and just talk about all the experience they have in their business. Experience is important but your site needs to resonate with the potential couple immediately so that they want to reach out and make an enquiry.
Images are an important factor on your website. Try and use professional images where possible and try and avoid stock photos if you can. It’s worth paying for some initial portfolio images or investing in some decent equipment to take images yourself. Also ensure that your image file sizes are compressed before adding them to your website, otherwise your site will be slow to load.
Search Engine Optimisation
Once you have built an initial website it’s time to start thinking about how you can optimise your site to sit at the top of Google. Think about the keywords that couples will be searching for in order to find you – perhaps include the county or town where you are based, or the particular niche you are in. Having keywords placed throughout the pages of your website, in your meta titles and descriptions, and even the names of your images can help you move up the search engines. It’s important that your text flows and that you don’t stuff keywords in too heavily, otherwise you will be marked as spam.
Another way to help your website move rank higher in a search engine is to get backlinks (other people’s websites linking to you). Consider reaching out to bloggers, venues, and other suppliers and offer to write an article for their site. Send out some press releases and see if you can get a link in a local publication or wedding magazine. The better the link, the more impact it will have on your website’s authority.
google my business
It’s worth signing up for a free Google My Business listing. This will enable your business to appear in the Google Maps section at the top of Google when local people are searching for your service. Although you will initially have to give your address details this can be removed from your listing once its verified if you don’t want it to be publicly available.
The legal bit
Now your website is ready to go and you are ready to start marketing it’s important that you have all the legal requirements in place.
You will need to register yourself as a sole trader or limited company with HMRC if you are UK based, even if you still have another job. It’s important that you do this right from the start.
Most wedding venues will require you to have public liability insurance so ensure that you have a chat with an insurance broker. Depending on the nature of your business there may be other documents you need to have in place too such as a food hygiene certificate or additional insurances.
You will also want to have some solid terms and conditions for your business so that you have a clear policy on payments and agreements with your customers. Take a look at the UKAWP or Stanford Gould who offer templates for purchase.
Everyone has to start somewhere so start building up a portfolio of work right from the start. You may want to create products or displays and hire a photographer to take some images of you setting up and also of the products themselves. Start getting to know other wedding businesses and join with them for a styled shoot. This will give you the chance to start getting portfolio images and possibly even a feature on a wedding blog or in a magazine.
When starting out you may want to offer to work on a friends wedding at a discount or for free in exchange for the pictures and a testimonial. Don’t publicise this far and wide and only do it once or twice – once you have your images there is no benefit in working on all of your friends weddings for free – you’re trying to run a business after all.
Now you have all the elements in place it’s time to start telling your potential clients that you exist. You can’t expect people to discover you overnight, you need to be putting the hard work into appearing where they are.
There are many marketing avenues to look into, including social media marketing, Google Ads, wedding exhibitions, wedding directories, blogs, magazines, and more. You can read my full guide to marketing a wedding business here.
Remember that a client usually needs to see you and your business in at least 3 (and probably a whole lot more) places before they will remember you. You also need to start to work on building a “Know, Like, and Trust” factor with the couple – so get visible and make sure your business is seen in all of the right places.
Building for success
You have done all of the hard work and got your business started – now its time to nurture it and make it grow. There are 3 areas that I believe you need to work on in order to create a successful wedding business.
Connections are everything in the wedding industry. The more people you know, the more people will start sending couples in your direction! Get out and network! You can network online by joining free wedding industry communities on Facebook – if you are not already part of mine then you should be – you can join for free here.
Try and attend in person networking events. Take a look on Google for a wedding business networking group near you. Although it can be nerve wracking, the opportunities you will find will be worth it. Go with an open mind and be ready to making new connections. Be kind and ask questions, it’s a great opportunity.
Consider a membership. Joining a wedding industry membership is a quick way to make really solid connections, have a space to get expert advice and an opportunity to learn. You can find out more about my wedding industry membership club here.
Wedding venues are also great places to connect with. Many venues will have recommended supplier lists so write a list of the venues you would like to work with and start building a relationship with them. Follow them on social media, comment on their posts, and think about how you could help them. Consider exhibiting at their wedding showcases and if you work at a wedding make sure you go and chat and be friendly with the venue team.
The one thing that may be holding you back in your business is you! Often we tell ourselves we don’t have the experience, we shouldn’t charge that amount because nobody will pay it, or that it won’t work out so why bother at all. This isn’t what other people are thinking; it’s you bringing yourself down. You need to have confidence in what you do, because otherwise why will anyone want to work with you?
You know your stuff, so get out there and believe it. If you want to charge X and someone won’t pay it – then move on, they are not your ideal couple!
Some people will only buy a handbag from Primark; others will buy a Mulberry. There are people out there who will want you. You just need to believe it and then go and find them.
Stay in your own lane; don’t compare yourself to others. They may have been doing it for longer than you. Focus on your own journey. If you have 5 weddings next year and 10 the year after then you are going in the right direction. You should only ever compare yourself to yourself!
Your marketing needs to be clear and consistent across every channel. In order to achieve this it’s worth getting further training on areas such as using Facebook or Instagram for business. You can’t expect to know everything from day 1 but investing in learning how to use your marketing platforms will pay off in the long run.
There are lots of videos and podcasts available for free to help you learn, but make sure you verify the source.
If you want to access my full training library of videos on everything from finance to Instagram and SEO to wedding exhibitions then check out my wedding business membership here.
you did it!
You have set up your wedding business and you are ready to go! Make sure you celebrate your first wedding booking in style; it’s taken a huge amount of hard work to get to this point. Remember that the journey doesn’t stop there though, go above and beyond for all of your clients and then they will start recommending you to their friends and family!
Take a look at our other free guides:
Marketing a Wedding Business
How to Use Pinterest for Business
Check out our latest blog posts for helpful tips and advice