“Procrastination—not contacting any and all vendors early on in the process to let them know I was working on the event. [Not procrastinating] allows for early communication and avoids pitfalls that might come up that require time to overcome. Asking each vendor for supplies or services that will be needed for them and to provide their specific service (size of tables, plateaus, etc.) is also important.”
– Rhonda LauRae Baker, CWP™, Precisely as Planned, LLC, Dallas

“I used to dread rehearsals, because I didn’t fully understand my role. Once it clicked that the couples needed me to run that piece of the wedding puzzle, too, everything became much easier. I now use rehearsals as an opportunity to get to know everyone participating, and fill them in on the rest of the timeline, so they understand the flow of the wedding day, too.”
– ​Crystal Salazar, ​Cherry Blossom Planning Factory, ​Norfolk, Va.

“The biggest mistake I see novices making is taking on clients before they are ready. You cannot take on clients without researching vendors in your area and knowing who does what services at what price point. You cannot take on clients without knowing what venues hold how many guests and what options are available to your clients. You cannot take on clients without knowing proper etiquette. You really do need to take some sort of formal training either through the ABC [Association of Bridal Consultants] home study program or another training. Just because you got married and did your own wedding, helped a relative or friend with their wedding, and are on Pinterest does not make you a consultant, coordinator, or planner. When someone has a bad experience with a consultant who is not ready to take on clients, it makes us all and our industry look bad.”
– Frank Andonoplas, MWP™, Frank Event Design, Chicago

“Always count your tables. I had an assistant working with me, she was fairly new to the business, and this was the chain of events: The mother of the bride told her that she had set up the tables and that she and the bride checked everything—and it was just like they wanted it. Then, the florist arrived and had two extra centerpieces. The caterer had extra linens. There were two additional table numbers. The assistant thought the mother of the bride canceled the other two tables due to lack of attendance. . . However, the seating chart showed guests sitting at these two additional tables, which meant there were guests not having a place to sit. Lesson: Never assume the mother of the bride knows what she is talking about, and always count the tables and consult the seating chart.”
– Jeannie Smith, PWP™, WEP, Ashby Wedding & Event Planning, Elizabethtown, Ky.

“Get a business degree or take business classes. The biggest challenges you will encounter will be business-related and not wedding-related.”
– Staci Mandikas, UNIQUE Weddings & Events, Tampa, Fla.

“Assuming that people knew what products/services I offered, and thus, that the sales would automatically roll in was a novice mistake. Being presumptuous and thinking that my target audience would miraculously discover my brand was impractical. Regardless of how great your product or service is—if no one knows it exists, your business will have a difficult time surviving. Identifying one’s target customer and marketing directly to that target audience is critical to success!”
– Audra T. Jones, Krystal Klear Communications, Cleveland

“The biggest mistake I made when starting out 12-plus years ago was not trusting my instincts. When I felt that a potential client or new professional wasn’t a good fit, I dismissed my feelings and moved forward with the relationship. It turned out later that my instincts were correct. Trust your instincts. If something or someone doesn’t feel right—walk away. There will be other opportunities with clients and professionals who are the best fit for you and your business.”
– Kathi R. Evans, AWP™, All the Best Weddings & Celebrations, a WKE, LLC, Toms River, N.J.

“In my early years, I met many couples who felt that a ‘written agreement or contract’ was not needed, so I went along with that. Well, after hearing several ‘no show’ or ‘bad check’ or ‘deception’ horror stories from other wedding professionals and couples, I changed my mind. At present, if a couple tells me they don’t want to be bothered signing a contract, I tell them, ‘Don’t you think it’s really important that I show up at your wedding?’ And if they still don’t think a written agreement is important, I tell them to find someone else.”
– Avis Shiveler Brangan CWS, PWP™, Simple Seaside Ceremonies, Venice, Fla.

“When I first started as a wedding producer, I had less confidence than I do today. With that said, I do remember producing a wedding ceremony in which the bride’s side of the ceremony space held many more guests than the groom’s side. I made the mistake of not asking guests to move up and fill the opposite side of the aisle. My timidity stood in the way! But remember, it doesn’t look good in the photos [to have one side under represented] and it gives the space an empty feel. After all, whether bride or groom’s side, the guests are present for both as they exchange their vows. Don’t be a wallflower, get in there and lead the guests! That is part of a wedding producer’s role for the event day!”
– Debra Thompson, PWP™, Weddings by Debra Thompson, LLC, Westchester, N.Y.

“A novice mistake I made was not triple checking the updated timeline before ordering printed stationery. It is so important that you always make sure that the timeline you are using has what version it is on the top page before using it to submit a final order. That way you do not have to reprint a stationery order due to incorrect information that is out of date.”
– Cassandra Richardson, A Family Affair Bridal Consultants and Special Events, Rockford, Ill., and Phoenix, Ariz.