Weddings are a multi-million dollar industry. While it's not a requirement for a flawless wedding, having a bridal consultant can be helpful. Her expertise in the wedding industry, connections and relationships with vendors, knowledge of wedding procedures and established relationships with brides and grooms make a consultant a valuable resource in the wedding-planning process.
Why Bridal Consulting?
Many consultants begin their work in wedding planning following their own weddings. After seeing what could have been done differently, or realizing what needed more attention, some brides offer their insight and knowledge in hopes that soon-to-be brides won't make the same mistakes. Others may realize their talent for working with blushing brides who need a helping hand.
Though somewhat varying, the term "bridal consultant" defines a person who works closely with the bride during the planning process. She may aid in dress selection while working at a bridal salon or help choose bridal-party attire, but an independent consultant may also advise on other matters such as selecting ceremony and reception sites, offer catering and vendor recommendations, and sugges floral arrangements.
Some consultants even work during the ceremony and reception, while others only work through the ceremony.
Many consultants begin working with brides while at a venue like a hotel or popular wedding location, while some may work for companies with several planners or consultants on staff. One may work independently within a privately-owned wedding consulting and planning business.
Consultants typically charge by the hour, in contrast with planners who are hired for a fee prior to and during the wedding day. Consultants' hourly rates range from $25 to $100 or more per hour for pre-wedding consultations. A consultant can average anywhere from a few hours of pre-planning before the big day to many hours spent in consultation and work with the bride and groom.
Planners usually have packages available that can span a few hundred to thousands of dollars depending on what is included and how much they are involved. The planning standard is based on a percentage of the couple's budget or the package they choose. Beginning planners usually charge about 10 percent while more experienced ones can warrant 15 to 20 percent.
As of August 2009, the average wedding the United States today is approximately $25,000. Planners can average between $2,500 to $,5000 per wedding--or $30,000 per year. Consultants working an eight-hour day and charging $25 per hour could average $50,000 per year or more.
Wedding consulting has amazing advantages. Working with brides and grooms allows wedding professionals to develop and create working relationships with caterers, florist, clergy and musicians as well as foster relationships with individuals such as the couple and their families.
Being self-employed, as many consultants are, has its advantages including choosing your own hours, varying from a set schedule, working from home and low start-up costs. But working for a consulting or planning business has its merits as well such as benefits, learning from those around you, and a support staff for set-up and breakdown during weddings and events and administrative needs.
Wedding consultants should be aware of the demographic in the area that they will be working. Factors such as education, age, income level and geographic location should be considered.
Like any business, there are professional associations that bridal consultants can belong to--although they are not required for certification or professional accreditation.
Consultants may also want to consider how they will market their skills through advertising and word-of-mouth referrals.