There is no structured path for a wedding planner. Some simply helped their friends to plan their wedding, built a good reputation, and so they started doing it as a career. I started by playing live music at weddings. Then I built connections with hotels, caterers, florists, magicians, limousine rental businesses and others involved in weddings, and that's how I became a wedding planner.
There are places that offer basic training on planning weddings. The Wedding Academy of Hong Kong and the Vocational Training Council provide diploma or certificate courses in wedding planning and event management.
Experience is crucial to help a wedding planner build both connections within the wedding business and a good reputation. They need to have contacts at hotels and restaurants, and good connections with other people who work the local wedding circuit. These include florists, photographers, decorators and technicians, as well as performers including musicians, magicians, dancers and even kung fu performers. You have to be willing to do anything to get experience when you start, because this career is really based on experience, connections and resourcefulness.
Wedding planners with more experience and good reputations are able to take care of big-scale weddings.
Race to the top
Flexibility and adaptability are the most important qualities a wedding planner needs. A wedding planner's job is to oversee all the aspects and details, big and small, of the reception or the banquet and ensure everything goes smoothly. Above all, it's to ensure that the bride and groom, the central figures, have nothing to worry about.
Planners need to prevent accidents or solve problems on the spot, so they should be organised and able to co-operate with demanding people and hire the professionals the couple want.
Rewards and benefits
A wedding planner works on a freelance basis and can make more than HK$10,000 per project. On average, I have two weddings to plan every month, depending on the season. October to February is the peak season for weddings in Hong Kong, unlike May and June in the West.
A day in the life
I usually begin to meet clients three to seven months before the big day to discuss details about the venue, time and theme, and performers and decorations they want at the reception or banquet. I advise clients to select the right venue and hire the suitable musicians, performers, MCs, florists, and photographers.
On the big day, I head to the chosen venue to set up the equipment and oversee decorating and final touch-ups. I stay there until all the guests have left, and by the time I pack and go home, it's usually after midnight.
Bride: The woman getting married.
Groom: The man getting married.
Bridesmaids: The female attendants of the bride.
Groomsmen: The male attendants of the groom.
Best man: The leader of the groomsmen.
Maid of honour: The leader of the bridesmaids. If she's married, she's called the matron of honour.
Flower girl: A sweet young girl who carries a basket of flower petals to throw on the path ahead ofthe bride.
Page boy/ring bearer: A very young boy who carries the wedding rings on a cushion.
Vows: The promises made between husband and wife.
March in: The moment the guests have been waiting for: when the bride and groom and the wedding procession enter the venue after all the guests are seated.
Toast: A few words of congratulations and good wishes said to the bride and groom.
Dedicated song: The one played at the banquet which is dedicated to the bride by the groom or vice versa.
The aisle: The centre walkway in the church.