If you love all things wedding-related, you are motivated and would enjoy the challenges that come from working for yourself, starting a wedding business makes sense. It’s a lucrative industry, one in which people are happy to pay significant money to those in the business who can help them create the perfect day.
There are many directions your wedding business can take. If you love photography, you can start a business taking professional photos for the bride. If you are particularly organized and savvy in the latest wedding trends, starting a wedding consultant business could prove lucrative. Or you may elect to open a bridal boutique. Evaluate your skills and interests and compare those with the skills needed to operate various business types to help you determine where you would fit best.
Compare your business model with other successful entrepreneurs in your field to ensure that you can compete. Obtain a list of all of the wedding planners or boutique owners in your area and then visit the store or website to learn about the types of services you should be offering, competitive pricing, affiliates, staff requirements, industry resources and suppliers. Visit the Library of Congress Business Reference Services Guide on Wedding Industry Research (see Resources) for links and industry statistics to help you hone your business.
Wedding consultants wear many hats. They are adept in hospitality, event planning, music, decorating, food, photography and fashion. Boutique owners must also be aware of the latest trends in wedding locations and fashion. Subscribe to industry magazines such as “Vows,” “Modern Bride,” “The Knot” and “Martha Stewart Weddings.”
You can also visit forums at websites such as The Knot and Brides to gain valuable insight about what trends brides-to-be in your region or city are considering. You can also find vendors and get your business listed, once it takes off. Consider obtaining certification in your field, such as with the Association of Bridal Consultants or the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants.
Develop a business plan that details your vision for your business, your target market (older brides, frugal brides), how you intend to reach them and how you intend to compete. Perhaps you’ll offer premium coffee and snacks at your bridal boutique. Then identify your business expenses for supplies, advertising, insurance, business permits, location and staff (if applicable) and inventory.
Before you can start your business, you’ll need to select a business entity, such as a sole proprietorship or limited liability company. If operating as a consultant, a sole proprietor may be the way to go. However, LLCs offer liability protection for your personal assets. An accountant, attorney or successful business professional whom you respect can help guide you. You’ll then need to obtain a “doing business” permit or register your LLC with the secretary of state. And apply for a sales tax permit and federal tax ID.
You’ll also need an insurance policy. If working out of your home, you may need only general liability coverage. If operating a studio or boutique, you’ll want a more comprehensive package that covers you in the event of fire or theft and provides commercial auto coverage and workers' compensation coverage.
As a consultant or photographer, you can work from home. However, leasing a studio gives your business a degree of professionalism that you may not be able to achieve with a home studio or office. If you do opt to have clients visit you at home, you must clear it with your zoning authority and homeowners association. You’ll then want to ensure that your home is always clean and orderly and projects a professional image that reassures your clients that you are aware of wedding trends.
If renting commercial space, be sure that your rent doesn’t exceed 10 percent of your expected gross revenue. This can certainly be accomplished with Greenville SC wedding venues; consult with a broker who thoroughly understands your needs. Then establish connections with those in the industry who can help you: florists, caterers, photographers, makeup artists, jewelers, travel agents and DJs.