Event Planning vs. Wedding Planning: Is There a Difference?
Event planning is a diverse industry and an exciting career. As a professional planner, you might organize any number of unique events or you might specialize in a particular occasion. People often wonder, however, where the distinction is made.
What do event planners do differently than wedding planners, for example? Are there differences in the process of becoming an event planner versus becoming a wedding planner?
There are, in fact, some key differences between event planning and wedding planning. Firstly, “event planning” is often used as a general term for anyone who plans events and special occasions of any kind. One can become an “event planner” with no particular expertise, coordinating all different types of occasions. Event planners might organize:
- Birthday parties
- Business meetings
- Corporate Events
- Charity galas
- Baby showers
If it’s an occasion that involves guests, it can be organized by an event planner! Some event planners organize whichever kind of event their clients have a demand for. Others, however, specialize in a particular type.
For example, you might market yourself as specializing in children’s events, focusing on baby showers, gender announcement parties, and children’s birthday parties. Event planners might also become corporate planners, with businesses as their main clients.
In general, planners who coordinate a wide range of events and have a solid client base don’t often plan weddings as well. Weddings can be much more complicated and are typically lengthier to plan. Depending on the client, weddings might even be so all-consuming that you don’t have time to handle those and other events at once.
Some planners, however, undergo the training designed for event planners and also specifically for weddings planners in order to maximize their versatility.
Wedding planners focus specifically on coordinating wedding ceremonies and receptions. They use many of the same skills as event planners, but tailored specifically towards the intricate process of planning a wedding. For example, a luxury wedding planner’s knowledge of themes, décor, and types of catering will vary greatly from that of a corporate event planner.
Some experienced wedding planners expand their skills to coordinate other wedding-related events as well. A wedding planner might also coordinate:
- Engagement parties
- Bridal showers
- Stag and doe parties
Wedding planners might specialize even further. You might train specifically to be a:
- Luxury wedding planner
- Destination wedding planner
- Same-sex wedding planner
- Themed and novelty wedding planner
Many wedding planners will be specialized in one or more of these fields in order to increase their marketability and to maximize profit.
For the most part, it’s less likely for a destination wedding planner to also plan birthday parties than it is for an event planner to become certified in planning local weddings as well.
Many of the principles that event planners and wedding planners learn in their training are the same. The primary difference is in how they apply those ideas. For example, each type of planner will learn how to conduct a consultation meeting. They’ll both be taught which kinds of questions planners should ask prospective clients in preparation to work together. Event planners, however, are taught the general process of a consultation meeting and then learn to tailor those ideas to different types of events.
Wedding planners, on the other hand, are taught how to conduct a consultation meeting with wedding clients specifically. Depending on the program they take, they might then learn how to tailor that process to clients looking for a specific type of wedding. In general, however, they won’t be taught how to apply those questions and concepts to other types of events like corporate meetings.
When a student is studying to become an event planner, their training most often covers different types of events and occasions. They’ll learn about décor, catering, and timelines for planning anniversary parties, conferences, and baby showers in different units. Wedding planners, however, often learn one type of wedding planning per program. Local weddings, destination weddings, and luxury weddings might be covered in separate courses. Course content for any type of event and wedding planning, however, varies depending on where you study.
In most areas, event planning as a whole is an unregulated industry. This means that you aren’t required to become formally licensed in order to work as an event or wedding planner. You might start as the assistant to an experienced planner and work your way up in the industry through hands on experience. You’ll find, however, that clients are much more hesitant to work with you if you haven’t completed professional training.
Many event and wedding planning programs take one year to complete. You might attend a community college or complete your training online from home. There are, however, degree programs at large colleges and universities for those who wish to get into events management. If, for example, you’re interested in becoming the head wedding and events planner for a reputable hotel or cruise line, you’ll enroll in a degree program focusing on events management and hospitality.
Learn more: Event Planner Certification vs. Degree
Consider your options!
If you love hosting and coordinating parties and events for your friends, you’re probably perfect planner material. Your next step is to investigate your training options and consider what type of event planner you’d like to be.
Do you picture yourself organizing someone’s dream wedding or handling the details of a big corporate tradeshow?
Do you feel like you’d be more successful studying at a college or online?
Examine your budget and think about your future career goals to help you decide whether event planning, wedding planning, or event and wedding planning is best for you.
At QC, we encourage you to not limit yourself to a specific area, especially when you’re just starting out. Getting certified as an Event AND Wedding Planner keeps all doors open as you explore a new industry and start your career. Of course you can specialize in one or two key areas as your career takes off, but it’s nice to be flexible. And there’s really no down side to a broader education!