For couples not quite up to planning their weddings and receptions, they can enlist the help of a wedding designer. Sometimes referred to as wedding planners or wedding consultants, these event planners handle all the arrangements for the big day. They help brides and grooms select venues, caterers, photographers and other vendors in preparation for the nuptials. From there, the rest of the planning is pretty much in the planner’s hands.
The salaries of wedding designers -- “salaries” being the operative word -- should fall in line with those of event planners. As of 2012, these professionals earned an average of $49,830 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. Of the top 10 percent, salaries reached in excess of $79,270, while those in the bottom 10 percent brought home less than $26,560 annually. Of the states, the highest salaries were for planners working in the District of Columbia, where the average was $67,120. Those in Massachusetts were a close second, at an average of $58,860, with the top 10 percent earning more than $91,150 annually.
Not all planners, however, work in salaried positions. Instead, they’re hired as consultants, charging a fee for their services. The Princeton Review provides a bit more insight into how this business model works. In general, consultants charge roughly 15 percent for the total cost of the wedding and reception. With the average wedding racking up a price tag of $28,400, wedding consultants stand to earn $4,260 for each event. Plan a wedding every month, and annual earnings can reach $51,120 -- right in line with salaried planners.
Employers typically seek candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in the field, such as hospitality management. Without this, applicants often need one to two years of related experience in the industry to land the job. Clients hiring consultants prefer designers with a proven track record in event planning. This may mean a solid portfolio of work from past weddings or positive testimonials and referrals from previous clients. In an article for Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Karrol Pinney, a wedding planner, recommends working for another wedding planner before venturing off on your own. Not only do you gain experience in the industry, but also exposure and a way to build a portfolio.
The BLS expects employment for planners in general to grow by as much as 44 percent from 2010 to 2020. This is more than three times the growth rate of all U.S. occupations, an average of 14 percent. Being a relatively small field, the 44-percent growth works out to the creation of 31,300 new jobs over the decade. Expect strong competition for available jobs.