Charlotte Nichols: "Unofficially, since I got married myself in December 2013. It turns out I had a bit of a knack for it and completely fell in love with all things weddings. I had just emigrated to Canada six months earlier, and after my own big day, I took to helping out family and friends with weddings and events in the years after. I then officially set up Charlotte Nichols Weddings when I returned to the UK in 2017."
"Where do I begin? I think it would be pretty impossible to write a job spec for a wedding planner, as there really is no one-size-fits-all. My role can really vary considerably, depending on the wedding and the type of couple I’m working with. I work with couples in a number of different capacities. Sometimes it’s just giving them a kickstart with their planning and helping them to unleash their creative vision; sometimes I am a constant through the entire process, managing each and every aspect of the wedding; and sometimes I am just there for the final few weeks and on the day itself, managing the setup, logistics and being the point of contact should any issues arise.
"It definitely came firmly into focus when I started planning my own wedding and thought, I’m actually enjoying this. Many of my family and friends mentioned it to me after the event but I am not sure that I took it seriously enough at the time. I had just finished working as a teacher and was about to relocate to Montreal with my husband, so it wasn’t really the right time to be thinking about establishing a new business.
"It varies considerably from year to year, because what I earn varies hugely from wedding to wedding. The nature of what I offer means I work with my couples in a number of different capacities, whether working on the day of the wedding itself to take the weight off their shoulders, or whether I am there for the year-long lead-up where I take on the management and planning of the entire event. I can earn anywhere from $1,300 to $13,000."
"Incredibly unpredictable, especially since I have a 3-year-old toddler. So I have to manage my work around her, nursery drop-offs and other mom duties, but I also work with a number of couples who are living abroad in different time zones. Juggling is the name of the game. Those different time zones usually entail calls first thing in the morning or late at night. My UK-based couples are often busy professionals, and for them, catching up has to take place on the weekends. So one thing wedding planning definitely isn’t is predictable – it’s not a work lifestyle for everyone, but I wouldn’t have it any other way."
"Planning a wedding from beginning to end can take anywhere from 250 to 400 hours depending on the complexity and duration of the event. For example, some weddings that are held at venues where many of the suppliers are in house will be less time-consuming than a three-day weekend dry-hire wedding venue or marquee wedding, where there are considerably more logistics and a greater number of suppliers to manage."
"The people. Meeting such a wide array of wonderful people – from the couples I work with to the suppliers that become part of the team. Playing such an important role in the most important day of your couples' lives to date is such a privilege; it is incredibly rewarding to see all the hard work come together on the day."
There are some incredibly unglamorous sides to the job and an early morning wake-up call the day after the wedding is probably the worst part – mopping floors, cleaning silverware and stacking hundreds of chairs. What we do for our couples, hey?
"The clean-up! There are some incredibly unglamorous sides to the job, and an early morning wake-up call the day after the wedding (when you’ve probably been on your feet until the early hours) to return to the venue and ensure that everything is returned to how it was found is probably the worst part. I have regularly ended up mopping floors, cleaning silverware and stacking hundreds of chairs…what we do for our couples, hey?"
"Once, the catering team decided to pack up and leave an event at around midnight, leaving me with a room full of dirty dishes, silverware and glassware to clean up after a dinner with over 150 guests… Not fun."
"It doesn’t take much to turn on the waterworks, and I get pretty emotional at almost all of my couples' weddings. Particularly as you have been with them throughout the whole process and often formed a friendship along the way. The speeches always pull on the heartstrings too, and if there has been a special tribute to a friend or family member that is no longer with us, it always feels like an incredibly emotional moment."
"This is probably the question that I get asked most, but in all seriousness, I honestly don't think I have ever worked with a bridezilla – at least not yet, anyway! I think it is one of those myths that doesn’t really hold true, or perhaps I have just been incredibly lucky so far, and that experience is still to come. I think that more than anyone, brides have the best understanding as to how much work goes into pulling off a wedding, and when you’re dedicating yourself to ensuring they have the wedding of their dreams, they are mostly grateful and just glad that they haven’t had to do it all themselves."
"In my experience, the grooms can be as involved as the brides, if not more so. They want to know and understand exactly what it is they are paying for and that usually means they have many more questions and require much more clarification than you might expect."
People assume that the life of a wedding planner is all color palettes and cake tasting, but it certainly isn’t all glamour.
"People assume that the life of a wedding planner is all color palettes and cake tasting, but it certainly isn’t all glamour. There is a huge amount of (often tedious) logistical and procedural work that is involved, as well as endless admin, spreadsheets and antisocial hours. Luckily, I have a marketing and numerical background (I used to be a math teacher), so I am very happy to be stuck in a spreadsheet. For me, the upsides of the job and the joy and celebration that I am so lucky to be a part of definitely outweigh the tedious side."