I’m proud to say that I have recently been approved as an associate member of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners, the leading industry body for the UK wedding planning market. The UKAWP provide classroom based training, mentoring, workshops and many more opportunities to gain professional guidance and support with regards to wedding planning. Becoming a member means I am part of a recognised industry body with a network of wedding planners and suppliers who support one another, which is very useful when you need a helping had to assist you with client weddings. It’s also really nice to be a part of such a friendly, encouraging network, especially when you’re self-employed; it’s great to know that there are other supportive industry professionals willing to help each other and offer advice.
Unfortunately, the wedding industry is an unregulated one so I thought it was vital for me to join an organisation that promotes professional standards amongst wedding planners, whereby you must meet the following specific criteria to be accepted as a member of UKAWP:
– Attendance at one of the Business Practicalities or Step by Step training courses run by the UKAWP. I completed the Step by Step training course last year, run by UKAWP director Bernadette Chapman, and it totally inspired me and got me very excited to launch my independent wedding planning company, now Bochic Weddings and Events! I also worked alongside UKAWP director Sandy Moretta as an intern for 6 months, where I got lots of experience in the industry, as well as completing the Business Practicalities course. From venue launch events and styled shoots to supplier meetings and wedding showcases, I learned so much from Sandy and feel very fortunate to have got the opportunity to work together.
– Have thorough understanding of the industry and what a wedding planner does.
– Public Liability insurance (which I do, of course, have!)
– Undergo branding review, whereby your website is assessed to see if it has clear branding, how it represents you and your company, clearly illustrating the style of weddings and type clients you tend to work with.
As a member of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners, there is a strict Code of Ethics that must be adhered to. These include (taken directly from UKAWP blog):
• Responding to enquiries within 48 hours – You would think any business should do this, or leave a message explaining when they will return should they be away, but we are constantly surprised, when telephoning wedding service providers, how many businesses don’t have a business answer phone message or even a message at all. Clients and suppliers alike need to know whether you are still in business and when they will be able to speak to you
• Respect client confidentiality – managing a wedding usually involves being party to a lot of personal information and client stress. Your clients need to feel secure that their data, their tears and their opinions remain confidential to the person they have entrusted with their wedding and are not discussed with suppliers, unless specifically necessary to a particular service provider, such as an eating disorder being explained to the caterer.
• Disclose all suppliers that they have a vested interest in – We know many wedding planners have a stake in another part of the wedding industry. Indeed we have members who own bridal shops, chauffeur companies, event hire businesses etc. All we ask is that members make it clear to clients that their other wedding related business is one of many options available to them and that they will always recommend those most appropriate to the client.
• Always pass discounts and/or commission onto the client – There are many business models within the wedding planning industry, including many companies which take commission from the suppliers and venues they recommend. The UKAWP is not by any means belittling businesses which work in this way, however it is not a practice we tolerate amongst our members. If a planner is being paid commission by venue A, generally a percentage of the client’s overall spend with that venue, and not by venue B, where is the planner more likely to recommend to the client, particularly if said planner is experiencing a low period of business or high costs? We want to be sure that our members suggest the best possible venues and suppliers for each client, without being tempted by commission payments.
• Ensure your Public Liability insurance is up to date – This is becoming increasingly important as the industry grows and as the British public seems ever more comfortable with the idea of suing a business for the slightest accident. If a planner, rather than any other wedding supplier involved, is held responsible for someone tripping over a wire/ briefcase/ chair and rendering themselves unable to work, the planner might find themselves responsible not only for medical fees, but also for loss of earnings. Public Liability Insurance is therefore essential to guard against such expenses.
• Never give client details to any third party unless for the sole purpose of the wedding – Clearly some of the suppliers working on a wedding will need the direct contact details of the client, however it is important that anyone a planner gives these details to uses them only for the wedding and not for marketing purposes. Such details should also be destroyed soon after the wedding.
• Respect copyright of all planners, co-ordinators and related suppliers – Plagiarism is rife within the industry, which seems very strange when you think that someone who considers themselves sufficiently creative to design other peoples’ weddings, ought, and should wish, to be able to write their own website copy. At the UKAWP we see countless examples of text/ images lifted directly from one planner’s website and used on another.
• Represent each client fairly and honestly – A bit of a ‘catch all’ perhaps, but there are times when it is important to remember this part of the Code. An example would be if a planner were undertaking partial planning for one client and full planning for another: albeit you will of course spend more time on/ have more meetings with the latter, it is important that the former client is given the appropriate amount of a planner’s time and effort, even at busy times.
• Use a legally sound business contract with clients – The UKAWP have a fantastic client contract tailored specifically for wedding planners and their clients, which covers all terms and conditions involved in the wedding planning service being provided to the client.
Read my member focus post on UKAWP’s blog for more on me and my wedding planning journey!
Have a lovely week everyone.
photo credits: Pearl Pictures
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