- Chanda Monique Eddens is the founder of an event planning business that specializes in LGBTQ+ weddings.
- In the 22 years since Eddens launched her company, she’s never faced a wedding season like this year.
- Eddens shares the 5 steps to building a wedding planning business, including how to deal with crazed couples.
Chanda Monique Eddens discovered her passion for event planning at a young age — she was 16, organizing her birthday party, and infatuated with the sense of control it gave her.
“It was a thing that I loved and knew how to do,” said Eddens, who now runs her own San Francisco-based wedding and event planning business A Monique Affair. Eddens specializes in same-sex weddings along with nonprofit and corporate events.
In the 22 years since Eddens launched her company, she’s never faced a wedding season like this year. Couples who postponed their nuptials in 2020 have rescheduled celebrations for this year or 2022, creating one of the busiest years for weddings in decades, according to a February study from the wedding resource platform The Knot.
Eddens booked $74,000 in revenue in 2019, a typical year for weddings and events, according to documents viewed by Insider. However, she expects to double that amount this year.
Eddens tells insider the 5 steps to building a wedding planning business, including how to deal with crazed couples.
First, identify your style of events
The most critical step in building a wedding planning business is determining your ideal style of event, Eddens said. Once you identify those factors, you’ll have a roadmap for marketing your business, finding vendors, and communicating with clients, she added.
For instance, do you want to specify in weddings that are bohemian or traditional? Do you prefer working with modern wedding trends or timeless ceremonies? “Take the time and hone in on those things,” Eddens said, noting that those decisions will also help you identify your ideal client.
Then, build strong relationships with vendors
Once you know what style you’ll pursue, start contacting vendors that match your vision, Eddens said. However, these relationships are vital to your business and it’s important to practice authenticity, she added.
Eddens prefers to meet with prospective vendors in person and build a rapport with them. She’ll ask about their favorite things and later recommend shops or restaurants based on their answers.
“People remember that more than a pamphlet or brochure,” Eddens said. “You want to get along with folks and also have a good time.”
Maintain a rapport with vendors in the off seasons
While wedding season typically runs from late spring to early fall, Eddens stays in touch with her vendors throughout the year by sending texts or emails, she said. Last year, when the events industry struggled amid the pandemic, she sent cards of support to other professionals.
“It’s more than just business,” Eddens said. “We talk about so much more within one wedding than just the service we’re providing.”
Keep behind-the-scenes work organized
Now that you’re planning events, invest in a client management system, Eddens said. She uses event planning website Aisle Planner, which provides checklists, seating arrangement guides, and guest list tracking.
Additionally, she uses project management software Basecamp for communication tasks like uploading contracts and proposals.
“The more clients see that you’re organized, the more comfortable they will feel,” Eddens said.
Dealing with groom- or bride-zillas
If your organizational skills do little to ease a groom- or bride-zilla, Eddens suggests examining where that person’s stress originates and alleviate that pain point.
For instance, if customers get defensive about their budget, Eddens says she understands they worked hard for that money and will spend it appropriately.
“That is a very overlooked talent of a wedding planner,” Eddens said. “It’s not just about making things beautiful, it’s handling the stress and everything else that could possibly be going on with a couple.”
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