Do You Need To Go To School To Become A Wedding Planner?

If you ask twenty professional event planners what education and experience they had before launching their event planning career, you will get twenty completely different answers.   There isn’t any required certification or license to become a wedding or event planner in the United States except for a business license if you own your business.  For some planners who have had professional careers in other industries, the vast array of previous career and business experience may be enough to launch a planning business.  Other planners prefer to have formal education, certification and experience before starting a career in event planning.

For anyone considering an event planning career, education in event planning, business, sales, catering and hospitality management will definitely help.  Many local community colleges offer these types of classes that will help you learn the skills needed to become a wedding planner.  There are also many places online that offer similar courses. Both online and local college courses will help add to your resume, give you some of the skills you need, impress potential employers and enable you to do a great job for clients.  Having a certification or education also shows you are serious about the industry and about advancing your career in events. We recommend that you explore the areas of the events industry you are interested in (weddings, social, corporate, meetings, conferences, etc) then ask local event planners for recommendations before enrolling in any courses.

Besides taking online certification classes or local college courses, it will be extremely beneficial for you to intern, find a mentor or pay for a career consulting session with an experienced event planner. This will help you understand what it is really like to be a wedding planner before investing a large amount of money and time on college classes and wedding planner training. You can also check out our Day in the Life series to get an idea of what a typical day is like for event planners.

Another way to educate yourself is to take classes or get experience in floral design, color theory, interior design, cake decorating and food-wine pairing.  It will also be helpful to join an industry organization such as ABC, ISES or NACE.  Most bigger metropolitan areas have local networking groups that are invaluable for a new event planner.

There are multiple wedding and event industry conferences across the country that are very helpful in learning the skills needed to become an event planner.  Check out our Conferences + Events page for a list of educational conferences for wedding and event planners.

While it is not absolutely required to go to school in order to become a wedding or event planner, there are major benefits if you educate yourself as much as possible.  Not only will you be successful much quicker, you will avoid costly mistakes and have an easier time getting hired or starting your own business.   Every successful planner has taken a different path to get where they are today.  Take time to think about and research the best path for your future event planning career.

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Comments

  1. Kat Parrish, CMP says:

    I feel that in the event planning arena that it is very important to be certified. The knowledge that you gain in all aspects of event planning can not be learned in the school of hard knocks, street sense will not work. Your client is depending on your knowledge and experience to ensure that they have a successful event. Every day, I do research on the web for new and innovative ideas. I am a certified professional and worked very hard to get that accreditation. I am also a wedding planner and am in the process of becoming certified in that profession, even though I have assisted over 1,000 couples with the planning of their weddings.

    • Thank you so much for your comment Kat. I think certification can be extremely helpful if it is an update-to-date and well rounded curriculum. There are some wedding certification programs that are very outdated or are taught by instructors who have never worked in our industry. Do you have a wedding certification program that you highly recommend?

  2. I’m working on my certification now. And like I told someone, don’t assume you KNOW everything or it’s common sennse. So far, I’ve learned or told some interesting strategy.

  3. I’m looking at going to a school here in Vegas that offers both Event planning and a Wedding planning course (both 3 months). What do you think is the best route to take? I like planning things, but have no formal education in this field.Thanks so much for the help.

    • Hi Brian and thank you for your comment. I would check out as much low cost information as possible before committing to a formal program. Take a look through Planner’s Lounge, especially the Day in the Life posts: http://www.plannerslounge.com/category/day-in-the-life to determine if this is definitely the career path you would like to take. You may want to consider doing our quick online class for less than $50 to help you gather more information and resources to start a career in wedding and event planning: http://www.plannerslounge.com/wedding-planner-course.

      • Just read the “day in the life’s” and some sound just like what I would like to do, start part time while keeping my day job and slowly turning it into a full time business. I’m going to take your course and look forward to letting you know how I feel after! :). Thanks so much.

        • Took the course and still very interested! What would be your best thought on moving forward? This is the website of the school that has the event and wedding programs. Tisoh.com
          Thanks so much for your help and thoughts.

          • Hi Brian. I think that school could be a good start. I have not heard of it but if you can talk with a few people who have gone through the program, that would be the best bet. Also, I would start looking around at local catering companies, venues or hotels to see if they are hiring banquet staff for the rest of the summer and through the fall. Good luck!

          • Ive actually worked a few banquets at the hotel I work at as a waiter, not my full time job just as extra work for New Years parties,etc. Wait staff is definitely not my forte. Not very good with trays! Lol. I work for one of the 5 star 5 diamond properties on the strip currently.

            I’ve also been looking for reviews and currently searching for grads from this program.

  4. Sounds like a good plan you have Brian. You can also start building your portfolio now too and maybe start blogging!

  5. I apologize in advance for the “novel” I’m about to write (haha) I’m just so excited to have found your website!

    Hi Debbie! I’ve actually been interested in events planning for a while and I am finally getting the chance to look into it a little more. I have always loved planning parties for my loved ones and since high school Ive dreamed of making it a career. The thing that has halted me is the fact that I live in a small town that doesn’t really have a lot of business in this field so I haven’t had any I idea where to even begin. (You can just imagine how excited I am about stumbling onto your website!) I do have a few questions though. What is the main difference you see in planning weddings vs birthday parties/ showers etc? What books do you recommend to gain more knowledge of the industry? I have a lot of experience in customer service so I can deal with disgruntled patrons but the only actual planning I’ve done has been private family events. What kind of job would I qualify for as entry level in this industry? And lastly, I have no problem with relocating if need be, actually that would be my preference. But seeing as I have 2 kids I want to be sure that this is the right choice for me before I do that I really feel like this is my passion but wouldn’t I need actual professional experience to know for sure? so my question is how can I get my foot in the door without diving in head first?

    Excuse the typos as I said before I am EXTREMELY excited to hear back from you!

  6. Hello everyone! I am a little confused here as to whether or not I should take a course for wedding and event planning. I personally think that I should being that I am wanting to make a career and a homebased business out of this. I want to make sure that the school is accredited, affordable and can be taken online or via the mail within a matter of a few months. I am off work currently due to leg injury but I’d like to use my time wisely. Although I’m very creative and talented when it comes to decorating, having an eye for details and organized- most people feel at ease a bit if you’re certified in an area you say you do. It may gain a little more trust than someone who has nothing to show. Please list some good schools that’s accredited, can be taken and finished in 3-4 months and really affordable. Also feel free to look me up on facebook as we all journey through to success. I’d appreciate your feedback. Thanks

  7. Hi Debbie. My story is so similar to many I read above.
    I live in Las Vegas, the beautiful wedding Capitol of the world. :)
    I also understand this city is cut throat. If you don’t know someone or have the “perfect” suit you’re not exactly the chosen one. With that said I have so many questions.
    I too like many have had the pleasure of event and wedding planning for several family members and some friends and was a small part of a destination wedding as well. Of course doing all of this because I LOVE it. I have worked for my family business (owning/operating convenience stores) like the great daughter that should for 14+ years. I did have a 2 year rebel period that landed me in the wonderful world of hotel industry years ago. I am currently a stay at home mom with the drive and dream to be in this industry. I fear with this not so glitzy resume I am not exactly what someone is looking for to fill the position as event planning. I definitely need some advice on where to start. The community college here in Las Vegas offers a certification class that is 3 months and $950. I was so eager to go and learn and rub elbows with local professionals however I am afraid to spend that money to get hired at a very minimum wage due to no experience. I know a lot of this is selling yourself and personality and love for something and I am great at that. Lol
    I would love to get some advice and I will be looking at your online courses. Maybe even get some one on one coaching from you. Thank you in advance. I really don’t know where to start. :)

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