Say “I Do” To Starting Your Own Wedding Planner Business
For a certain type of person, “wedding planner” is the perfect job. Wedding planning is a great occupation for self-motivated extroverts who love interacting with people and planning parties. You’ll also need to have a flair for design and an eye for detail, as well as a knack for networking and a penchant for cutting deals. Finally, it helps if you are a romantic at heart, since it’s much easier to sell a product you wholeheartedly believe in. Does this describe you? You may be ready to dive into the event planning industry!
In this post, I’ve put together the essential first steps for starting your own wedding planner business, along with your best options for financing a new company. After that, you’ll be ready to make a cute couple’s wedding day dreams come true!
Table of Contents
1. Learn The Ropes
Before you dive head first into professional wedding planning, take a step back. To be successful, you’ll need to have at least some experience in the field. You don’t necessarily need a degree in event planning or a certificate in wedding planning—though it is possible to get both of these things—but even a small amount of wedding-planning experience is a plus. If you don’t have this experience yet, you could intern with/shadow a wedding planner, or at the very least, get your feet wet by planning a large event for friends/family in an unofficial capacity. There are various seminars and online courses in wedding planning that you might benefit from, but the most crucial asset in the field of wedding planning is real-world experience.
2. Register Your Business
Registering your business as a limited liability company (LLC) will establish your business as a legal entity. This will also protect your personal assets in the event that someone sues your wedding planning company, and will be helpful when you apply for a business bank account, business insurance, and business financing.
You will also need to make sure your business is registered for state and local taxes before you start doing business. You may also need a local business license, depending on where you plan to open your business. Otherwise, there are no industry-specific licenses required to run a wedding planning business.
3. Develop A Business Plan
Developing a detailed business plan is no simple feat, but in doing so, you will map out all of the essential building blocks of your wedding planning business. This plan will inform almost every aspect of your business and ensure that the company is well thought-out. In most cases, you will also need a business plan to qualify for a business loan. Things to cover in your business plan include:
- Business structure and ownership information
- Market research, including target market demographics
- Financial structure, including startup costs and projected profits
- Detailed list of services
- Delivery method and turnaround times
- Description of your brand—what your brand represents and what makes it unique
- Marketing strategy
4. Create A Web Presence
A successful wedding planner needs an attractive and well-functioning website in order to reel in potential clients. You might also want to use your website to accept online payments. Additionally, you should have an active presence on social media platforms such as Instagram and Yelp, and you might consider paid online advertising as well. However, the foundation of your entire online presence will be your website.
To help you start creating a website you can be proud of, here is a comparison of top-rated website builder software. Website builder software makes it easier than ever to build your own professional website, with as little or as much assistance as you desire. For example, you might hire a graphic designer to create your logo and a copywriter to write your website copy, and then use a web builder template to put it all together yourself. Or, you can hire a web designer to create your entire website from the ground-up.
Make sure your website includes important elements such as responsive design, a blog that you regularly update, social media links, photos of weddings you’ve planned, and a testimonial section.
5. Choose Business Software
Software can help you accomplish many business tasks that in the past, you would have had to hire an expert for. Now, a wedding planner doesn’t need a super-specialized, heavy-duty software system like a dentist or doctor would use. Still, there are a lot of software programs designed to help professionals such as wedding planners. Here are some types of software your wedding planner business might benefit from:
- Web builder/eCommerce software — to create and maintain your website/take payments on your website
- POS software — to take in-person credit card payments
- Accounting software — to organize your business’s finances and prepare for taxes
- Invoicing software — to send invoices to clients and make it easier for them to pay you
- Booking software — to schedule appointments with prospective and existing clients
- Email marketing software — to promote your services and build an engaged online following
Most of today’s business software is online and doesn’t require any hardware to operate apart from a smartphone or iPad. There are a few exceptions such as Quickbooks Desktop, but most business software has moved to a monthly subscription model. Just make sure you test out any software first, especially hardware-software combinations (e.g., a POS system) that require a large investment and/or long-term commitment.
6. Seek Funding
Wedding planning businesses typically do not have very high startup costs because the main cost is your labor. Most wedding planning businesses start small, as one-person entities that work from home or as a side job while working another full-time job. However, that does not mean there are no startup costs involved with starting a wedding planner business. You will need to pay for business registration, business software, web design, and advertising, to name a few. If you’re planning to start work as a wedding planner full-time, you’ll also need enough savings to support yourself before your business becomes profitable. Later on, you may need funding to open a dedicated business office and to hire employees.
For brand-new businesses, a startup loan, personal loan, or credit card may be your best bet at securing financing, while more established businesses can apply for a business loan or line of credit. Depending on what type of financing you are eligible for/want to apply for, you may need to wait and apply for a loan once you have already started making money as a wedding planner.
Here are some funding options for wedding planners who have been in business for less than a year.
|Lender||Financing Type||Best For|
|Lending Club Personal Loans||Personal loan||New businesses with fair personal credit|
|LendingPoint||Personal loan||New businesses with fair personal credit|
|Upstart||Personal loan||New businesses with fair personal credit|
|Chase Ink Business Cash||Business credit card||Businesses with very good credit|
|Chase Ink Unlimited||Business credit card||Businesses with very good credit|
|Lendio||Loan marketplace||Semi-established businesses already bringing in revenue|
|PayPal Working Capital||Short-term loan||Businesses that use PayPal for payment processing|
|Shopify Capital||Short-term loan, merchant cash advance||Businesses that use Shopify for payment processing|
|Fundbox||Line of credit, invoice financing||Newer or bad-credit businesses already bringing in revenue|
|Guidant Financial||ROBS||Individuals who want to use retirement account to finance their business|
1. Lending Club Personal Loans
To finance a brand-new wedding planning business that’s still in the idea stage, you may need to get a personal loan, as most business loans require some time in business and business revenue. With a personal loan, you typically just need to have good (or at least decent) personal credit. If you do go the personal loan route, Lending Club is an excellent choice, as this is a highly reputable lender with fair terms and rates. Through Lending Club Personal Loans (LC also originates business loans for more established businesses), you can borrow from $1,000–$40,000 with a term of 3 years or 5 years. These are traditional term loans, repaid in monthly installments.
Here’s what you need to qualify for a Lending Club Personal Loan:
- Time in Business: N/A
- Credit Score: 600
- Business Revenue: N/A
You will also need a solid credit-to-debt ratio (no more than three tradelines open) and a credit history of at least 3 years. After you’ve been in business at least a year and are making upwards of $50K a year in revenue from your wedding planning business, you can qualify for a Lending Club Business Loan.
LendingPoint is another lender that offers personal loans that can be used for many purposes, including entrepreneurial pursuits. This lender is aimed at fair-credit borrowers who typically have difficulty obtaining financing. LendingPoint is also designed to help you improve your credit. LendingPoint will let you borrow from $2,000–$25,000 (depending on how much they approve you for), repaid over a term of 24–48 months. These are traditional term loans repaid in fixed installments.
Here are the qualifications you need to meet to qualify for a LendingPoint personal loan:
- Time in Business: N/A
- Credit Score: 600
- Business Revenue: N/A
LendingPoint also requires that you have a personal income of at least $20K and live in one of the 34 states in which they offer loans. LendingPoint does not currently offer loans to residents of 16 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Upstart is yet another personal-loan-for-business option that can be used to finance startups such as a wedding planner business. Upstart is quick and easy to apply for and is aimed at young adults, including young business owners. Through Upstart, you can borrow from $1,000–$50,000—a larger amount than you can get from most other personal loan options—to be repaid in 3 or 5 years. In addition to your credit score, Upstart’s underwriting process takes into consideration your education and job history, which means you may qualify for better rates if you have a college degree or other credentials in your field.
As with the other two personal loan options on our list, Upstart’s loans are traditional installment loans, repaid in fixed, scheduled payments.
Here’s what you need to qualify for a personal loan from Upstart:
- Time in Business: N/A
- Credit Score: 620
- Business Revenue: N/A
You also need to have a regular source of income and cannot live in West Virginia or Iowa.
4. Chase Ink Business Cash
Chase Ink Business Cash
15.49% - 21.49%, Variable
Since the startup costs associated with becoming a wedding planner are pretty minimal, you might be able to get away with just using a credit card to cover these expenses. Depending on your credit limit, you might be able to charge several thousand dollars’ worth of startup expenses, potentially interest-free if you get a card with a 0% introductory APR for the first year. A business credit card such as Chase Ink Business Cash will also earn you rewards for common business purchases while helping you improve your business credit score.
The Chase Ink Business Cash credit card has a lot going for it. If you spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account, you automatically get $500 cash-back. Additionally, cardholders earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent on office supply stores and internet/cable/phone purchases combined each account anniversary year, and 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent at gas stations and restaurants combined. If you max out both tiers, you can save up to $1,750/year. This card also offers also a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months, which means you have an entire year to pay back your startup costs, if needed.
To qualify for this credit card you generally need to have very good personal credit (700+). However, this doesn’t mean you will automatically be rejected if your score is slightly below that threshold.
5. Chase Ink Business Unlimited
Chase Ink Business Unlimited
15.49% - 21.49%, Variable
Like the Ink Business Cash card, Chase’s Ink Business Unlimited card is another terrific cash-back business card with no annual fee, a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months, and $500 cash back if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. The main difference between Ink Business Cash and Ink Business Unlimited is that the “Unlimited” card doesn’t have different cash-back rates for different categories of spending. Rather, Ink Business Unlimited offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. This is a good card for new wedding planning businesses that have a variety of startup expenses across many different categories or in categories that are not rewarded by the Cash card.
As with other Chase business cards, Chase Ink Unlimited prefers that you have good to excellent credit. It is still possible, though, to secure a business credit card to fund your wedding planning biz even if your credit score is somewhat tarnished—see Business Credit Cards For People With Bad Credit.
While it may not be suitable for brand-new businesses that aren’t bringing in revenue yet, Lendio is a good place to look for business financing once your company is a little more established. Lendio is an online business loan marketplace which lets you compare multiple business financing products at a glance and then apply to the loan(s) that best suit your needs and borrower qualifications. If you’re not sure which type of financing you need or are eligible for, Lendio is a smart place to start.
Through Lendio, you can apply for merchant cash advances, short-term loans, lines of credit, SBA loans, and other lending products, potentially in amounts up to $500,000 for more established businesses. Whether you have good or bad credit, you should be able to find a suitable loan through one of the lenders in Lendio’s network, as long as your business is bringing in revenue and has been established for at least six months.
Qualifications vary depending on the lender, but most loans on Lendio have the following minimum borrower requirements:
- Time in Business: 6 months
- Credit Score: 550
- Business Revenue: $10K/month
Lendio is free to use and also saves time by pre-approving you for multiple loans at once.
7. PayPal Working Capital
More and more businesses, including professional services such as wedding planners, accept customer payments through PayPal. An online PayPal payment can be a convenient payment option and alternative to credit card or check payment and/or you might use PayPal Here POS to process credit cards with PayPal. If you process a lot of customer payments using PayPal, you might qualify for a business loan with PayPal Working Capital.
PayPal Working Capital loans are are short-term loans that resemble merchant cash advances. PayPal loans you a sum ranging from $1,000–$97,000, and you repay the balance and financing fee as a daily percentage of your sales until the loan is repaid, or at least 5% or 10% of your total loan amount every 90 days.
Here’s what you need to qualify for a PayPal Working Capital Loan:
- Time in Business: 3 months (using PayPal Business or PayPal Premiere account)
- Credit Score: N/A
- Business Revenue: Process $15K/year (with PayPal Business account) or $20K/year (with PayPal Premiere account)
PayPal also offers several other financing products including PayPal Credit, a line of credit you can use to pay for PayPal purchases, and LoanBuilder, a standard business loan that you can use even if you don’t do business on PayPal.
8. Shopify Capital
Like PayPal Working Capital, Shopify Capital is a type of “vendor financing” wherein the vendor you use to process payments will also extend you a business loan. Specifically, Shopify Capital is for businesses that use the Shopify system to accept customer payments. You can use Shopify to take credit card or cash payments in person with the Shopify point-of-sale system, and you can process online payments by integrating Shopify into your website. Eligible businesses can borrow up to $500,000 from Shopify. However, you cannot apply for this loan; Shopify will contact you if you process enough using Shopify to be eligible for their financing.
Shopify Capital does not have any specific time in business, credit score, or business revenue requirements to qualify for their short-term loans and merchant cash advances. Shopify is more interested that you have strong cash-flow and are a low-risk business. (A wedding planner would likely be considered a low-risk business).
If you don’t have a POS or online payment system set up for your wedding planning business just yet, Shopify is definitely one you might want to consider, especially if you don’t have an established office space yet and want to take credit card payments primarily from your mobile device. Shopify has excellent customer service and pricing similar to those of other mobile processors like Square and PayPal.
Another financing option to consider once you are up-and-running for a little while is Fundbox. You can use Fundbox to secure a line of credit for working capital or to get an advance on your unpaid invoices. Fundbox is super easy to apply for and use, with a maximum credit facility size of $100,000. The main requirement to qualify for Fundbox is that you’ve been using compatible accounting software for 2+ months or a compatible bank account for 3+ months. A low credit score isn’t a problem, but you will need to already be pulling in revenues as a wedding planner to qualify for Fundbox.
Here’s what you need to qualify for a line of credit or invoice financing from Fundbox:
- Time in Business: No specific time in business requirement, but must have been using compatible accounting/invoicing software (e.g., Quickbooks, Xero, Zoho, FreshBooks) for at least 2 months, or a compatible bank account for at least 3 months
- Credit Score: N/A
- Business Revenue: $50K/year
10. Guidant Financial
Rollovers as Business Startups, or ROBS, is a way to use your existing retirement account to finance a business startup. Because you are using your own money to finance your business, there are no borrowing fees for this kind of financing, though you do typically pay the ROBS provider setup and maintenance fees. Restructuring your retirement account in a way that allows you to use the money for your business (without paying early withdrawal fees/taxes) is a complicated legal process and not something you can do on your own.
Guidant Financial is a popular ROBS provider and one we rate highly at Merchant Maverick. If you would like to use your 401K or IRA to finance your wedding planner business, this is a solid option to consider.
To qualify for a ROBS account through Guidant Financial, you do not need any particular credit score or to have any time in business or business revenue. You just need to have $40K and an eligible, rollable retirement assets.
The following types of accounts are eligible for ROBS transfer:
- Traditional IRA
- Thrift Savings Plan
- Simplified Employee Pension
Planning and launching a successful business is a big task, sure, but if anyone can accomplish it, it’s someone who’s already good at planning things—I’m talking about you, silly! While financing can be a hurdle when it comes to getting a business off the ground, wedding planning businesses have relatively low startup costs and many alternative financing products are available to those who don’t qualify for a traditional business loan.
If you follow the steps I’ve outlined in this post, you’ll be on track to start your dream business as a wedding planner. If you need any more help, go ahead and comment with any questions you have for me about business software or business lenders for wedding planners.