How to get your wedding planners license – btw, do I really need one?
I get this question at least 10 times per year from potential event planners who want to enter the industry and especially from my business coaching clients.
There is a veritable alphabet soup of designations that abound and a somewhat related to the planning industry but the big question is whether or not you need a license to become a wedding or event planner and the simple answer is NO you do not!
Will it help? Absolutely. Is it necessary? It depends on how you are entering the industry and your transferrable skills that you bring to the table.
In a nutshell, being certified in certain areas allow you to take advantage of connecting with other people in the industry as most certification programs have alumni groups and it also connects you into the industry right away and help you to get settled. If you do not have certain connections or skillsets, it lets you know what you need to work on and it does set you up for success.
With that, I will point out a few industry designations that you may want to look at and I will also mention the courses that I think you could benefit from as well. Please note that some of these are specific to certain niches in the planning industry and the one you choose should be best suited to the area of planning that you want to pursue.
- Certified Meeting professionals (CMP). This is a cornerstone of the meeting planners industry and it basically seeks to establish credibility, standardize best practices within the industry and boost the performance of event planners. This is a global designation and is widely considered to be a gold standard within the planning industry.
- Certified Special Events Professional Certification (CSEP). This event management license is endorsed by the International Live Events Association and is also therefore globally recognized. This program requires re-certification every five years and one of its mandate is to stay on top of the consistent changes within the industry and to try to maintain a standard of practice in the industry.
- Digital Event Strategist Certification (DES). The new kid on the block of certifications with promises to help you to plan more engaging virtual events, teach you how to choose event technology, and help you to measure attendee engagement. As we move into a more hybrid event space, it may be a certification to look into to help prepare you to transition or it may be something that you want to specialize in on the ground floor.
As it relates to wedding and special event planning, I am particular to the following programs for certification. Please note that I am an alumni of one program and the other is offered by one of my industry mentors. As an event planner who has been in the industry for 24 years and who is the first registered wedding planning in my home country of Jamaica, my experience places me in a position to know what is worthwhile and what is fluff. These are the resources that I currently trust to get you set up on the road to success in your event planning business.
- Wedding Planners Institute of Canada certification – WPICC. This institute provides multiple certification courses for the wedding industry. Whether you have just decided to explore a new career or you need to upgrade your skills, you will find a course here to meet you where you are. The other big takeaway from WPIC is the alumni association that you gain after completing your course. There are over 8500 alumni worldwide and therefore your connections are far reaching but very accessible so destination weddings, for example, becomes an immediate possibility for your clients. There are also many options to continue to hone your skills via their annual get togethers and localized events (including destination trainings in different countries). Check out their offers here (https://wpic.ca/courses/wedding-consultant-and-coordinator-certification-course/).
- Abeki Carter / Event educator + Business Coach – if ever you needed a business bestie in your back pocket who not only prepared you for the world of event planning but kept you focused, is your biggest cheerleader and never let you take your eyes off the prize, this is your person! The thing that sets Abeki’s program apart is that it is curated specifically to drop you into the industry at a much higher level with not just information but connections, resources, work experience and hands on training in areas like floral and actual event set up experience. The is definitely a boutique training experience with one of the best in the industry. Abeki has been delivering special event training for Lovegevity Institute throughout universities and colleges in the NY State for many years and has worked on production for industry greats such as David Tutera and Preston Bailey and is your best kept industry secret in terms of her knowledge and training. Check out her programs here (https://eventplannertemplateshop.com/pages/courses)
If you are already in the industry, are interested in doing destination weddings and are looking for a deep dive in Destination Jamaica, I will be offering a Destination Workshop in Fall 2022 to show you options of planning an off-resort destination wedding for your clients and introduce you to small boutique venues and local wedding professionals who can support you on the ground. You can join the waitlist here (https://ophelliamcknight.com/).