Event Planning Career: Here’s How To Get Started!

Event planning career: example of a wedding reception

How hard is it to become an event planner? Does an event planning career just consist of picking up flowers? Should we just know how to try cake? Despite popular belief, there so much more to being an event planner. It takes great organizational skills, time management, and the ability to multitask. In reality, an event planner doesn’t just run one event at a time. Most planners have multiple events running every week. They have to manage each event in order to have a successful business.

Rachel Lane Events is a wedding-planning company located in West Chester, PA. For its founder, Rachel Lane, the love of event planning started early on. She started out in college as a Physical Therapy major but knew her passion was in something else. She switched to marketing and completed an internship with an event planning company in New Jersey.  After graduation, she continued to work at the event planning company. Last year, she her own venture called Rachel Lane Events.

What Skills Are Required in an Event Planning Career?

Rachel explains that organization is the key to a successful event planning career. She says: “You have multiple vendors and multiple people and if you don’t stay organized then the whole event could go wrong”. Tara Thistlethwaite is an event planner for Something Blu Wedding and Events and does events for the West Chester Historical Society. She also expressed that organization is key to being successful in this career, “Microsoft Excel is my best friend!”.

Another quality  to have is personality. As communication majors, this phrase is constantly being repeated. Rachel said that as an event planner, the right message has to be conveyed.  An event planner also needs to maintain good relationships with vendors  because they most likely use them for more than one event. Tara agrees that being a good communicator is important when in this position, due to all the relationships event planners creates. 

Tara mentions that another big skill keeping a balance between focusing on detail and seeing the big picture. “Yes, you need to make sure all the place cards are in order but you also have to have the whole wedding in mind when making any of those decisions”, she explains. Without keeping the big picture in mind, many of those small decisions go to waste.

Event planning career: example of a wedding table setting
Wedding table from Rachel Lane Events

How can one get into event planning?

Getting experience is the best way to get a taste of a career in event planning. Tara says: “Everyone thinks it’s all glitz and glam but really we are climbing under tables and putting in the long hours to make sure everything is perfect”. Rachel agrees. Her internship at Something Blu Weddings and Events gave her the experience she needed. With that experience, she was able to create her own company.

The good news is that communication majors are perfectly positioned for an event planning career. According to The Balance, a website that helps with career planning, many employers will hire applicants with with a communication degree or related. Communication Studies has multiple parallels to hospitality. Hospitalityschools.com mentions some of the qualities it takes to be a hospitality major. They include: communication skills, organized, interpersonal skills, and teamwork. Sound familiar? These are all classes and just some of the skills Communication Studies majors have to have to also be successful. With these in mind, it shouldn’t be hard to start a career in event planning with Communication Studies.

A helpful course to get you on the path to your event planning career is the seminar on event planning taught by Dr. Milhous and Dr. Sawyer. This course helps students get the experience and knowledge of what it takes to run an event. As stated in the syllabus, the course aims to get students to, “understand the intricacies or coordinating and exciting events of various sizes and types”. Some of the skills Dr. Sawyer really emphases are organization, creativity, and execution. Being able to create an event is one thing, the ability to pull it off successfully is another.

Where is Event Planning going?

Event planning has a bright future ahead. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics cites the average salary of an event planner in 2011 as $46,020. By 2020, the Bureau predicts, this career will grow faster than other jobs that require a bachelor’s degree. Many people will be leaving this profession. Best of all, this allows newly unemployed graduates to fill these spaces. Dr. Sawyer also states that almost every position in the work force will have something to do with event planning. Setting up for conferences or a lunch with some big-time executives, all require these same skills as the ones mentioned earlier by Tara and Rachel.

So if being the next Jennifer Lopez in the film The Wedding Planner is something that interest you, take the next step and make it a career.

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