Starting a wedding consultancy takes a lot of time and legwork, but not much money. Exquisite Event Planning and A Perfect Wedding each cost several thousand dollars to start. Necessities include elegant brochures and letterhead, basic office supplies and equipment (such as a photocopier and a fax machine), and a selection of wedding planning books clients can thumb through. A computer is helpful but not essential at first.
The low start-up costs can be deceiving, however, because establishing your business usually takes three to five years. "Many people don't realize that [when] you book a wedding, it's nine months out," says Monaghan. "Your cash flow doesn't start until [then]."
One solution to the cash crunch is to charge an upfront retainer and ask the couple to make payments prior to the wedding day. Another option is to build a supplier list and book year-away weddings on a part-time basis. Wedding planning is a good business to start part time, says Monaghan, because most couples require meetings on nights and weekends anyway.
Another big challenge facing new wedding consultants is the selection of preferred vendors. "Your wedding is only as good as your worst vendor," warns Monaghan. "If the flowers are wrong, if the food isn't what the bride wanted, that will reflect on you."
The search for vendors starts with national and local bridal magazines, directories from bridal associations, and referrals from other vendors. "It took us a year to build a good base of vendors," says McCammon-Link, "because I won't recommend anyone I haven't met in person and interviewed."