Pros and Cons of a Bridal Consultant Career
Bridal consultants assist couples with their wedding day preparations. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of becoming a bridal consultant.
|Pros of a Career as a Bridal Consultant|
|Fast employment growth expected (33% between 2012 and 2022)*|
|Multiple education and training options available*|
|May travel abroad for some weddings*|
|Satisfaction from helping couples plan a momentous life event*|
|Cons of a Career as a Bridal Consultant|
|Constant need to seek new clients since many are self-employed*|
|Variable hours that require weekends are common*|
|Multi-tasking, deadline pressures and emotional clients may lead to stress*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
As a bridal consultant, you typically perform many of the same duties as a wedding planner; however, depending on where you work, duties can vary. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), bridal consultants may be employed at department stores where they help couples set up their gift registries.
Those who do perform wedding planning tasks may offer various levels of service, such as helping plan most of the event, a certain portion of the event or just coordinating the events on the actual wedding day. Specific duties may include securing vendors and venues, setting budgets, planning showers, arranging seating and helping select invitations, flowers and other decor.
The BLS reported that the majority of wedding professionals, including bridal consultants, are self-employed. As a self-employed professional, you may also implement marketing techniques to attract new clientele, manage bookkeeping and network.
Salary Information and Outlook
The BLS does not collect salary information for bridal consultants, but it does gather data for event planners, which includes wedding planners. As of May 2011, the BLS reported that convention, meeting and event planners earned mean salaries of about $50,000. However, earnings can vary greatly, and novices typically earn less. Additionally, bridal consultants vary in how they charge for their services; some may charge an upfront fee or set an hourly rate, while others charge a percentage of the wedding costs.
Over the 2010-2020 decade, employment for professionals in event, convention and meeting planning is expected to increase 44%, according to the BLS. However, you can expect intense competition, and prospects may fluctuate with the economy.
What Are the Requirements?
Education and Training Requirements
You have various choices on how you can prepare for a bridal consulting career. Because states don't regulate the industry, bridal consultants don't typically have formal training requirements, reported the BLS. However, professional development courses are available and can lead to certification. The Association of Bridal Consultants has an education program that includes course topics in sales and marketing, wedding etiquette, ceremony and reception and the consultant's role.
Some postsecondary schools offer certificate programs where you can learn about the various facets of organizing a wedding, such as budgeting, setting timelines and managing vendors. You may also learn about wedding trends and customs and business fundamentals, such as marketing, negotiations and pricing.
If you prefer to earn a bachelor's degree, majors such as hospitality management, public relations, communications or business are possible options. Bachelor's programs may also provide you with internship opportunities or hands-on training by planning events for student clubs.
What Do Employers Look for?
Employers look for bridal consultants who show specific characteristics, such as good communication and interpersonal skills, patience and organization. Computer skills and previous event planning experience are also required by some employers. According to several job postings, many employers seek individuals who can plan weddings as well as provide other event planning services. Read the following job postings from May 2012 to get an idea of what employers look for in bridal consultant candidates:
- An Illinois company sought an organized, detail-oriented event, party and wedding coordinator with wait staff experience, computer skills and good communication.
- A national bridal retailer advertised for a gregarious bridal consultant with good communication and sales experience for a Utah location.
- A Michigan company looked for a wedding coordinator to promote the weddings and private parties in the city's entertainment district and to oversee and participate in the special events throughout the district. Applicants should have wedding planning certification, computer skills and at least two years experience promoting weddings and other events.
Standing out from the Crowd
To stand out from other aspiring bridal consultants, you could obtain professional certification. Several professional associations offer certifications, including the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners (AACWP). Through AACWP, you can choose from 3 titles: trained wedding planner, certified wedding planner or certified master wedding planner. To earn these certifications, you must complete courses through AACWP or those approved by the AACWP Board.
You can also join professional organizations. Several professional organizations are associated with the wedding industry, and becoming a member can help keep you updated on trends, network with vendors, find mentors and increase your visibility.
Alternative Careers to Consider
If the idea of planning one of the most memorable events in someone's life is too intense for you, maybe a career in public relations will better suit you. These professionals help companies and organizations develop positive public images using a variety of methods, some that may include organizing events. As of May 2011, there were about 53,000 public relations professionals earning median salaries of approximately $93,000, reported the BLS. A rapid employment increase of 21% is expected for public relations professionals between 2010 and 2020, estimated the BLS.
If you like to accommodate people, but don't necessarily want to plan their weddings, you could also consider a career in lodging management. As a lodging manager, you would ensure guests have pleasant experiences and that business is lucrative and competently ran. One thing to consider with this career option is that the BLS projected a sluggish 8% growth rate between 2010 and 2020. BLS 2011 data showed that lodging managers earned median salaries of about $47,000.