Want to know how to become a destination wedding planner? It’s not as difficult as you might think! In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to start your career in this exciting industry.
We’ll also discuss what it takes to be a successful destination wedding planner and what the job entails. So, if you’re ready to start planning dream weddings all over the world, keep reading!
What Is a Destination Wedding Planner?
As the name implies, a destination wedding planner is responsible for helping couples plan their dream weddings in destinations all over the world. This can include tropical locations like the Caribbean, Hawaii, or Mexico. Similarly, this can also include more exotic locales such as Europe, Asia, or Africa.
Destination wedding planners must be experts in both wedding planning and travel logistics. Moreover, they need to be able to handle the stress of coordinating a wedding from afar and dealing with last-minute changes.
If you’re organized, detail-oriented, and love both weddings and travel, then a career in destination wedding planning might be perfect for you!
How To Be a Destination Wedding Planner: How Does The Process Work?
A destination wedding is a bit different from a traditional wedding in that the majority of guests will be traveling to attend. This means that there is more to coordinate in terms of travel logistics. For example, you’ll need to help your clients book hotel rooms, transportation, and activities for their guests.
Similarly, you’ll also need to take care of the wedding details that are specific to the destination. This can include obtaining a marriage license, finding vendors, and dealing with any legalities that may be required.
PRO TIP: Discover how to find the PERFECT vendors and suppliers when planning a destination wedding!
What Are the Benefits of Being a Destination Wedding Planner?
There are many benefits to being a destination wedding planner. First and foremost, you get to help couples plan their dream weddings!
Additionally, you get to travel to some of the most beautiful places in the world. Not to mention, you get to work with some amazing vendors who are also passionate about destination weddings.
Where Is The Cheapest Place To Do a Destination Wedding?
There are many factors to consider when deciding where to have a destination wedding. However, one of the most important factors is budget.
While there are plenty of expensive locations to choose from, there are also some more affordable options. For example, Mexico and the Dominican Republic are both popular destination wedding locations that won’t break the bank.
The New Normal: Domestic Destination Weddings
Ever since the pandemic began, many couples have started opting for domestic destination weddings. While this may not be the dream wedding that they originally envisioned, it’s still possible to have a beautiful and memorable event!
Basically, a domestic destination wedding is held in a location that is within driving distance for most of the guests. Typically, it’ll be held outside of the couple’s home city – but still within the same country. For instance, this can include locations like Napa Valley, the Outer Banks, or even the mountains of Colorado.
That said, there are many other stunning locations to choose from all across the United States. From the beaches of Florida to the deserts of Arizona, there is sure to be a domestic destination wedding location that is perfect for your clients.
Perks of a Destination Wedding
There are many perks to having a destination wedding. First and foremost, it can be a great way to save money, when organized properly. Additionally, it can be less stressful than planning a traditional wedding.
Plus, you can often find some amazing deals on venues and vendors when you opt for a destination wedding. And of course, let’s not forget about the wonderful memories that you and your guests will be sure to make!
PRO TIP: Discover more pros (and cons) of having a destination wedding!
Benefits Of a Domestic Destination Wedding
A domestic destination wedding can offer many of the same benefits as a traditional destination wedding. For example, you can often find great deals on venues and vendors. Plus, you get to have a beautiful event in an amazing location!
Additionally, it can be less stressful than planning a wedding at home. This is because you can often delegate more tasks to the venue and vendors. And, you won’t have to worry nearly as much about coordinating travel for your guests.
Of course, one of the best benefits of a domestic destination wedding is that it’s easier for your guests to attend. This means that you are more likely to have all of your loved ones by your side on your big day!
How Do You Plan a Destination Wedding?
When it comes to destination wedding planning, the first step is to choose a location. Once you have selected a location, you’ll need to start researching vendors and venues.
Another important step in the process is to begin working on a guest list. This will help you determine how many people you’ll need to accommodate and what kind of budget you’ll need to work with.
Finally, don’t forget to start working on your travel arrangements! This includes booking flights, transportation, and accommodations for you and your guests.
Destination Wedding Planner Salary
It’s important to note that two destination wedding planners living in the same city can make vastly different salaries. This is because your income can vary depending on experience, location, and the type of weddings that you plan.
For example, a destination wedding planner in New York City is likely to make more money than one in a small town. Additionally, a planner who specializes in luxury weddings will typically earn a higher salary than one who focuses on more affordable options.
That said, in the United States, the average yearly salary range is between approx. $17,500 USD to $78,000 USD. As another example, that range is between approx. $34,000 CAD to $82,000 CAD per year in Canada.
How To Work as a Destination Wedding Planner: Tips For Boosting Your Salary
If you’re looking to boost your destination wedding planner salary, there are a few things that you can do.
First and foremost, it’s important to specialize in a certain type of wedding. For example, you might want to focus on luxury destination weddings or eco-friendly destination weddings.
Additionally, getting certified can help you earn more money. There are a number of certification programs available, such as the self-paced, online Destination Wedding Planning Course offered by QC Event School. We’ll touch more on this program shortly.
Finally, consider working in a high-paying location. As we mentioned before, destination wedding planners in New York City tend to make more money than those in smaller towns.
So, if you’re looking to boost your salary, keep these things in mind. Specializing in a certain type of wedding, getting certified, and working in a high-paying location are all great ways to increase your earnings.
Destination Wedding Market Outlook
If you want to get started as a destination wedding planner, you’re probably wondering, “What does the future hold for this industry? Will I be able to have long-term job security?”
The good news is that the destination wedding market is growing – and with no signs of slowing down! In fact, according to Future Market Insights, it’s expected to reach a global value of $22.81 billion by the end of 2022! Furthermore, it’s anticipated that the US market alone will reach over $54.44 billion USD by 2032, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6% over the next 10 years.
This growth is being driven by an increase in destination weddings and a rise in destination wedding budgets. So, if you’re thinking about becoming a destination wedding planner, now is a great time to get started. The industry is growing and there are plenty of opportunities for those who are willing to seize them.
How To Become a Destination Wedding Planner in 7 Easy Steps
Step #1: Decide What Kind Of Destination Wedding Planner YOU Want To Be
The first step in becoming a destination wedding planner is to decide what kind of planner you want to be. Do you want to specialize in luxury destination weddings or eco-friendly destination weddings?
This is an important decision because it will help you determine what kinds of clients you’ll work with and what sorts of weddings you’ll be planning.
If you’re not sure what kind of planner you want to be, that’s okay! You can always experiment with different types of weddings and see what you enjoy the most.
Step #2: Get Professionally Trained in Destination Wedding Planning
One way to set yourself apart from other destination wedding planners is to get trained and accredited by a reputable institution. This will show potential clients that you’re serious about your career and that you have the skills to back up your claims. Not to mention, proper training is the only sure-fire way to guarantee that you have the knowledge and skills needed to do your job properly!
QC Event School offers a self-paced, online Destination Wedding Planning Course that will teach you everything you need to know about planning destination weddings. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll learn in this 4-unit program:
- The role of a destination wedding planner
- Why clients choose to have destination weddings
- Options available for clients opting to have a destination wedding
- Top considerations when researching locations for destination weddings
- The destination wedding planning process, from start to finish
- How to accurately calculate estimates, retainer fees, and client budgets
- How to incorporate themes, color, and decor into the destination wedding concept
- The various types of vendors and suppliers used for destination weddings
- How to set expectations and develop realistic timelines with clients, vendors, suppliers, and venues
- Communication tips, including how to bypass potential language barriers
- Different pricing models (and which one would work best for your services)
- Marketing strategies for success, such as utilizing social media + lead generation through networking
- Common challenges destination wedding planners face and how to successfully overcome them
PRO TIP: View the full curriculum for QC’s Destination Wedding Planning Course to learn even more!
Step #3: Start a Career as a Destination Wedding Planner By Building The Foundation For Your Business
Now that you know what it takes to become a destination wedding planner, it’s time to start building the foundation for your business. This includes choosing a business name, creating a brand, developing a marketing strategy, and putting together a portfolio of your work.
Choosing a Business Name
Picking the right name for your business is important because it will be how potential clients remember you. Thus, try to choose something that’s unique, memorable, and speaks to the type of weddings you want to plan.
Creating a Brand
Creating a brand identity is one of the most important steps in starting any business. After all, your brand is what will make you unique and help you stand out from the competition. If you’re not sure where to start, you can discover everything you need to know about branding your wedding planning business in this article!
Developing a Marketing Strategy
Once you have your brand in place, it’s time to start marketing your business. This can be done through a variety of channels, including:
- Social media
- Paid advertisements
- Print ads
- Attending industry events, conferences, and workshops
- Getting listed in online directories
Putting Together a Portfolio
Last but not least, you’ll need to put together a portfolio of your work. This will give potential clients an idea of your style and what they can expect if they hire you to plan their destination wedding.
When it comes to putting together a portfolio, quality is more important than quantity. So, don’t worry if you only have a few weddings under your belt. Instead, focus on showcasing your best work and highlighting the unique elements that made each wedding special.
Now, what if you’ve never planned a wedding before? How are you supposed to build up your portfolio?
Here are a few suggestions for gaining in-field experience:
- Collaborate with other industry experts and take part in a stylized photoshoot
- Plan a friend or family member’s wedding
- Offer to help out at a local wedding venue
PRO TIP: QC’s online Accelerate Your Business Workshop has an entire unit devoted to helping you develop a killer business portfolio!
Step #4: Choose Which Destination Wedding Planning Services You Want To Offer
As a destination wedding planner, you can choose to offer a variety of services or specialize in one specific area. For example, some planners focus on helping couples with the logistics of planning their wedding from afar, while others focus on creating and executing unique themes and decor concepts.
Here is a list of some of the most popular services destination wedding planners offer:
- Assist with wedding venue selection and booking
- Help with travel arrangements for guests
- Coordinate rehearsal dinner and welcome party planning
- Arrange transportation to and from the wedding ceremony and reception
- Manage on-site day-of coordination
Now, it’s time to decide which services you want to offer. To help you narrow down your options, consider what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing. You should also think about the needs of your target market and what they’re looking for in a destination wedding planner.
For example, if you’re especially organized and love helping couples with the logistics of planning their wedding, you may want to focus on offering full-service planning. On the other hand, if you’re creative and have a knack for coming up with unique themes and decor concepts, you may want to focus on offering design and styling services.
Step #5: Determine Your Rates
Now that you know which services you want to offer, it’s time to start thinking about how much you’re going to charge for them.
When it comes to setting your rates, there are a few things you need to take into account, including:
- Your experience level
- The cost of living in your area
- The going rate for similar services in your area
- The type of clients you want to work with
Once you’ve considered all of these factors, you can start to come up with a price list for your services.
How To Price Your Services
If you’re not sure where to start, the first place we recommend looking is at the prices of your competitors. This will give you a good idea of what other planners in your area are charging for similar services. From there, you can adjust your prices accordingly.
For example, if you want to attract high-end clients, you may need to charge a bit more than the average planner in your area. On the other hand, if you’re just starting out and want to build up your portfolio, you may need to charge a bit less.
Just remember: pricing your services too high may discourage potential clients from working with you… But pricing them too low may make it difficult for you to make a profit (and won’t allow you to get paid what you’re worth). So, find a happy medium and don’t be afraid to adjust your rates as your business grows!
Step #6: Get Started as a Destination Wedding Planner By Marketing Yourself
Now that you’ve got your business set up and you know how much you’re going to charge for your services, it’s time to start marketing yourself as a destination wedding planner!
There are a number of ways you can market your business, but some of the most effective include:
1 – Creating a Website
A website is a great way to showcase your work, share information about your services, and attract potential clients from all over the world. If you’ve never put together a business website before, this guide by Forbes is a great place to start.
2 – Building a Portfolio
As we touched on earlier, a strong portfolio is essential for any wedding planner. With that in mind, it’s especially important if you’re hoping to attract destination weddings. Once you have a solid portfolio that you’re proud of, use your website (and social media) to showcase your best work!
3 – Learning About SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a technique that can be used to help your website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). This, in turn, can help you attract more website visitors and, ultimately, more clients. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to SEO, we recommend checking out this Beginner’s Guide by MOZ.
4 – Investing in Paid Ads
Paid advertising is a great way to reach potential clients who are actively searching for destination wedding planners. Google Ads and Facebook Ads are two of the most popular platforms for this type of advertising, so we definitely recommend looking into those.
5 – Reaching Out To Past Clients
If you’ve worked with destination weddings in the past (even if it was in a different capacity), reach out to those clients and let them know you’re now offering planning services! They may not have realized you were available for hire – but they could be your next big client!
6 – Writing a Blog
A blog is a great way to attract attention to your website and show potential clients that you know what you’re talking about. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have a few blog posts about destination weddings when people are searching for information on the topic! If you can build your website’s authority and get a good grip on SEO (see Tip #3), these articles may even be some of the first to show up on Google’s search results… And that will do WONDERS for your lead generation potential!
7 – Getting Involved With Wedding Associations
There are a number of professional organizations for wedding planners, including the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners (AACWP) and the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada (WPIC). Getting involved with these organizations can help you network with other planners and connect with potential clients.
8 – Attending Wedding Shows
Attending local, national, and even international wedding shows is a great way to meet potential clients and show them what you can do. So, use Google to see what sort of shows are happening in or around your area… Then go to as many as you can!
9 – Collaborating with Other Industry Professionals
Teaming up with other wedding professionals (like photographers, florists, and venues) can help you get your name out there and attract new clients.
As you can see, there are a number of other marketing strategies you can use to attract destination weddings. However, the strategies listed above are some of the most effective. So, start implementing them into your business plan and see how they work for you!
Step #7: Keep Learning and Growing as a Destination Wedding Planner
The last step in becoming a destination wedding planner is to keep learning and growing in your career. After all, the best way to become a successful planner is to never stop learning!
Here are a few suggestions on how you can continue learning and growing as a destination wedding planner:
- Read books and/or articles on the topic
- Attend workshops, conferences, or webinars
- Shadow another planner or work as an assistant for a planning company
- Join a professional organization, like the AACWP or WPIC
- Further your education by taking additional certification courses, such as the Event & Wedding Planning Course offered at QC Event School
By following these steps and continuously learning about the industry, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful destination wedding planner!
Enroll with QC Event School today and become a destination wedding planner in as little as 3 short months!
Industry Spotlight: Mwai Yeboah
Mwai Yeboah is the founder of the destination wedding planning boutique, Love From Mwai, located in the United Kingdom. As the lead planner and designer, she helps luxury and lifestyle clients from all around the globe turn their weddings and events into immersive experiences! It’s with great honor and excitement that we welcome Mwai to […]
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