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Dismantling the Stigma of the Part-Time Wedding Planner

Dismantling the Stigma of the Part-Time Wedding Planner

We’re told to avoid “Hobby Planners”.

You know. The wedding planners who only do it part-time.

Because they don’t take it as seriously as full-time planners do. They aren’t real professionals. They aren’t as dedicated or hard-working. They might be shady, or just in it to get some extra money on the side. The only real way to go, the only person you can really trust, is a full-time, professional, certified wedding planner.

I’d like to tell you why this is a load of bull.

Getting your certification and becoming a full-time wedding planner is not designed to be accessible. It is not designed to be a career for poor people to get into. The cost for your certification ranges from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on how many certifications you want (whether you also want to be a certified destination wedding planner, for example, or a designer as well as a planner). When you are certified, you’re expected to have enough money to own and maintain a car, keep a well-stocked “emergency kit”, buy any necessary wardrobe additions for meetings with clients and multiple outfits for the actual weddings (depending on how formal the event is), fund styled shoots (especially at the beginning of your career, when you don’t have any paying clients to use in your portfolio, yet), and pay for any marketing materials you may need, including a professional-looking website. Because if you don’t have a website, you aren’t in business.

Wedding planning is a career for those who already have money to spend. And I mean this in the most critical way possible. Regular positions as wedding planners’ assistants are next to impossible to find- I know, I tried– even for those who already have their certifications. Most wedding planners will hire individuals on a contract basis: They will pay you to assist them at one of their weddings, or if you’re lucky, a few. Or even worse, they will look for people to volunteer their time for the day, and work as their assistant “in exchange for experience” (I have an entire post about why this is blatant exploitation of labour here). This makes becoming a wedding planner via apprenticeship extremely difficult… even moreso if you can’t afford the cost of certification.

However, let’s say (for the sake of argument) that a wedding planner has achieved their certification and put in the time and money to establish themselves professionally. They’ve gotten past the barriers of getting into the industry, and are now an active part of it. BUT… They’re only doing it part-time.

What’s their excuse? If they took it seriously, they would be doing it full-time… Right?

First of all: The notion that you can’t do something professionally or “seriously” unless you put in so many hours a week is Capitalist indoctrination. Just as productivity is not a measure of worth, the time you pour into something is not a measure of how much value you place on it or how much passion you have for it. It would be, in a perfect, ideal world. But it is not so under the current system, where so many of us have to spend huge amounts of time and energy on doing what is necessary to survive. For example:

If you are a college or university student (part-time or full-time, no matter your age), you cannot be expected to be a full-time planner. You will be spending much of your time, energy, and money on your education.

If you have familial obligations (such as childcare or caretaking duties for other family members), you cannot be expected to be a full-time planner. You will be spending much of your time, energy, and possibly money on care for your family.

If you are running (or trying to run) another business, you cannot be expected to be a full-time planner. You will be spending much of your time, energy, and money on your first business.

If you have a chronic illness or disability that acts as an obstacle for you, it’s possible that you cannot be expected to be a full-time planner. Wedding planning can be extremely physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. Someone with a chronic illness or disability can still be an excellent planner and not be able to spend all of their time, energy, or money on doing it full-time.

If you are low-income, or you need a more stable, regular job to support yourself, you cannot be expected to be a full-time planner. Most people cannot risk quitting their current job(s) to throw themselves into wedding planning. That’s a fact. Wedding planning is, generally speaking, not a steady, regular job. How many clients you get and how much money you make is largely determined by your own actions and by an element of chance. There is no guaranteed, six- or eight-hours-a-day schedule to rely on. There is no guaranteed hourly wage or yearly salary. There is no guarantee that you won’t have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on keeping yourself in business. For some people, this works. It’s an acceptable risk. For others, it is not. This is not a character flaw- it is a lack of financial security.

To give full-time planners a monopoly on professionalism is classist and ableist. It enforces the mindset that personal circumstance is an indication of competence. It perpetuates a cycle that makes Wedding Planner a career only available to those with the privileges to access it.

To discredit part-time planners as less dedicated or “serious” about wedding planning is particularly awful when you consider how many planners retire after less than ten years.

Don’t get me wrong. Retirement is a very personal and valid decision, no matter where you are in your professional path. I think people should be free to retire from a profession whenever it feels right for them. I just think it’s interesting that it’s okay for wedding planning to be a temporary career, but not a part-time one.

To conclude: Don’t get suckered into the idea that Part-Time equals less professional. Don’t get duped into believing that Part-Time equals inferior service.

Reach out to a part-time planner if you get a good feeling from them. Base your decision on their professionalism, their knowledge, how well you get along with them, how well they understand your vision, how competent they seem, and how willing they are to learn. Not whether they meet an arbitrary hourly standard. And if you have any concerns about them or their ability to provide the services you need, just ask!

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