The wedding industry has seen a revolving door of planners entering into and then quickly exiting from it.

Indeed it is an alluring business that many are drawn to as a result of planning their own weddings. And numerous certifications are available through associations. As well, plenty of educational options exist including seminars, webinars, college courses, books, DVDs and MP3s. However, while the content deals with contracts, vendor relationships, décor, creativity and the components of an event, not enough emphasis is placed on optimizing profitability.

Here are five action steps all wedding planners can take that are a breeding ground for profitability:

1. Be an expert. Couples typically do not hire wedding planners who charge the least amount; often they hire the person they trust most.

 You can build trust by posturing yourself as an expert. Seek out opportunities to write articles for a local newspaper, magazine or website, and then use that published article as a promotional piece. Be willing to do seminars and webinars on various aspects of wedding planning or teach a course in adult education. Schools are always looking for creative topics, and you immediately establish credibility by being published in their class directory. Even if you have a small class, your students will likely be all brides-to-be.

2. Have your own profit centers. The dilemma of how to monetize the customer always exists. Should you ask for a kickback from vendors or else charge customers a flat fee, hourly rate or percentage of budget?

 What many wedding planners don’t realize is that becoming a reseller of non-inventory items like personalized invitations, menus, programs, seating cards and day-of wedding rentals like chair covers or other décor enhancements is a great add-on opportunity. These are real profit margins rather than just a commission.

3. Solicit testimonials and reviews. “Word of mouth” has changed its definition in the 21st century. When a satisfied customer refers someone to you that person is going to check out your website and your reputation. For this reason, being proactive about getting reviews has become as important as direct referrals.

 In any competitive advertising platform that allows reviews, if you do not amass a respectable amount of reviews you will lose response. Encouraging satisfied clients to review you on Google will not only get more people to click on your website but Google may even rank you higher. It is as simple as sending an e-mail asking for a review and providing a link to your review platforms.

 When publishing testimonials on your site, make sure they’re authentic. With permission list the name of the couple and also mention the ceremony and reception locations. If a website visitor sees a positive review from someone who got married at the same venue that can be a reason by itself for her to contact you.

4. Network to establish referral funnels. Many business people view networking as the exchange of business cards. As a wedding planner, networking effectively can be a major growth step in the future of your business.

What often comes to mind is to approach venues and hotels as a primary funnel of referral. The right relationship established can be a major boost for business. However do not forget jewelry stores, ceremony sites, places that just rent the space, wedding officiates, bridal shops and bridal registries. Sometimes bridal registries at department stores host events where they invite vendors and have speakers do educational chats. This is good potential exposure and credibility.

5. Have a strong website (online visibility can help too!) According to online statistics on, the term “wedding planner” is searched online 112,000 times. However it is more important for a wedding-planning firm to rank for geographic search terms like “Wedding Planner Chicago” or “Destination Weddings Mexico.”

Fortunately Google understands that some searches are specifically for local resources and allows local businesses to have a free listing on Google Maps. You do not need to be a brick-and-mortar location.

Most importantly you want to optimize your site not for Google but for your customer. These are some aspects to be mindful of:

  1. A Homepage that directs the customer quickly and elegantly, and clearly defines what you do and where you do it.
  2. Concise but convincing copy that shows what you bring to the table in a voice that focuses on the wedding couple and not you.
  3. Calls to Action throughout the site that lead to calling you or filling out a form for an appointment.
  4. Authentic Testimonials or links to prominent reviews.
  5. An “About Us” page that helps drive home why someone should hire you.
  6. An outline of your services. And do not ignore the pricing issue! At the very least provide a range or a promise to quickly disclose the price upon someone contacting you.

 Wedding planners who redirect some of their passion to marketing have a better chance of long-term success in an industry that can be very rewarding.

Brian Lawrence is a wedding business consultant with more than 30 years of industry experience as a multi-store owner, wholesaler and writer/speaker. He is the author of “The Wedding Expert’s Guide to Sales and Marketing”, and has spoken at Wedding MBA, the National Stationery Show and Wedding Market Expo. He recently developed a resource site for wedding businesses: www.sellthebridecom. You can learn more about him at