If you’re wondering how to get into the wedding business, you’re not alone. This $300 billion global industry represents a growing market opportunity for freelancers and small businesses of all types. Since I’d gotten married shortly before I started freelancing, I was deeply dialed into the nuances of dress and venue selection. Two of my earliest clients were a wedding planner and a big splashy venue that hosted celebrity and society weddings. One thing quickly became clear: If you’re interested in weddings, it’s a perennial market and there are plenty of opportunities for writers, designers, florists and beyond. Here’s how to get into the wedding business this year.
Define Your Value Proposition
Take a little time to educate yourself on the growing wedding industry. Look at sites like The Knot, or read a few issues of some bridal magazines. Attend a bridal show in your city, or talk to couples you know who have recently gotten married. To what elements of the process could you bring your skills? Month-by-month wedding checklists can be a great starting point — just run down the list and get creative about what services you could offer.
Writers are making money writing custom invitations, creating copy for wedding websites and even drafting vows and toasts. For designers, the demand for custom print and digital collateral for weddings has never been higher. Photographers are doing everything from engagement shots to covering the big day itself. If you’re considering entering the wedding business, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the ways your services could be used during the wedding experience, from engagement to post-wedding?
- What’s your unique style or value proposition? For example, do you want to focus on destination wedding photography, or help plan country-themed weddings?
- What’s your price point? Do you intend to connect with fun, carefree events with lower budgets, or are you more interested in high-end, refined luxury affairs?
- Do you want to be hands-on or hands-off? For example, a writer might be hands-off and create a bridal planning guide, or hands-on and work directly with couples and their families to write vows and toasts.
Find Like-Minded Professionals
Partnering with others in your industry may be one of the fastest and most lucrative ways to establish yourself. Couples find a trusted vendor through great ratings or a referral, and they may ask for advice regarding other people to work with. It’s not uncommon for couples to ask their venue for a list of nearby florists and DJs, or to ask a photographer to refer a great videographer.
A graphic designer I’ve worked with in Boston has a unique art vibe that he calls “budget hipster.” His business took off when two of his clients were getting married and asked if he could create some custom artwork. Today, he designs invitations, save the dates, custom posters and even wedding websites for clients. Often, he works with a similar group of professionals who share his aesthetic. Whether you’re interested in offering your services to ultra-luxe, high-end events, or focusing on fun millennial weddings, defining the types of clients you want to work with makes it possible to find other professionals who share your vision.
Develop a Specialty
Another way to gain entry into the wedding business is to create specialized packages. You could focus on certain segments, such as meeting the growing need for services to same-sex couples, or providing services that align with a specific culture’s wedding needs.
I recently attended a wedding where the bride came from a first-generation Greek family. The DJ specialized in creating playlists related to Greek dance and wedding tradition, and one of the guests noted that the DJ had played at every wedding she’d attended in that community for the past few years. It turns out that the DJ works with a similar group of providers — venues, florists, graphic designers and bakeries — to deliver on the unique needs of specific consumers.
Another strategy is to become an expert in specific wedding trends, like country-centric weddings or Disney-themed events. By becoming the go-to person for that niche, you’ll find yourself a steady stream of business. Just make sure there’s a strong enough market to support your business idea.
Create Packages for Customer Convenience
Planning a wedding is stressful, and offering a package can help you stand out from the competition. Imagine if a wedding planner, florist, food stylist and cake baker all banded together and offered a full set of “day of” services. Similarly, a web designer, invitation printer, writer and calligrapher might put together wedding invite management services that make event communications a snap. By putting together a package, you can market yourself on the basis of:
- Cost savings
- Better vendor communication and collaboration
- A single point of contact for different wedding aspects
- A cohesive aesthetic and streamlined experience
- The convenience of signing one contract
Packages define what you’re offering, assure income and make it easy to work with other professionals, while also providing the structure to effectively manage workflow. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different styles, and make sure to clearly define everyone’s responsibility. Some professionals work with a designated customer success manager or administrative assistant to manage communication with clients and keep complex events on schedule. When each member of the team contributes to the costs, it frees up everyone’s time and reduces the chances of any single budget carrying the load.
If you’re looking for a new lifestyle niche to add to your business, weddings are a great choice. They provide a steady stream of potential work, and, as the industry evolves, freelancers of all types are applying their skills in both traditional and novel ways. By working together with other professionals you can build a robust referral network, create an all-inclusive team of experts and find success with an entirely new-to-you audience.