“I was once asked if we could ride an elephant to reception. We couldn’t do it.” Entrusting the organization of your wedding from A to Z to a wedding planner is increasingly common, but miracles are not guaranteed.
“It is an activity imported from the United States. There, there is no wedding without a wedding planner“, notes Stéphane Seban, the organizer of the wedding fair in Paris this weekend, where AFP was able to take the pulse of this profession which is gaining notoriety.
A trend still reserved for CSP+, or even ++
“Here, it didn’t work too well, it remained confined to weddings with very big budgets for a long time, and then we see that couples are starting to offer themselves the services of a wedding planner for weddings whose budgets remain within very suitable standards“.
Everything is relative, because outsourcing the organization costs at least 3,500 euros, when the average price of weddings this year reaches 15,600 euros in Europe, he notes.
Wedding planners are aimed at “CSP+, even ++” – (very) high socio-professional categories -, estimates Virginie Mention, president of Assocem, an association promoting the profession. According to her, their services interest between 5 and 10% of weddings, quite expensive weddings.
For this price, the engaged couple are listened to at length. The wedding planner offers them the wedding of their dreams and drafts a budget, then takes care of everything if the contract is signed, negotiates with the suppliers, takes care of the photographer and the entertainment, manages the invitations and comes on the “Day J” so that newlyweds don’t have to worry about housekeeping.
With regular check-ins, online retro-planning and Whatsapp groups to maintain permanent contact and calm anxieties.
We say “wedding planner”, as in English, and not – or very little – wedding organizer. Without feminine, even if almost all are women.
The interested parties themselves do not know how many there are, due to lack of an APE code (a statistical object allowing the branch of activity to be identified). The Union of Wedding Planners of Europe (SWPF), created during the pandemic to gain recognition for the profession, has identified more than 1,400. Dispersed self-employed people.
“There are probably more of us. Anyone can get started“, notes Justine Huette, the general secretary of the young professional union.
Most wedding planners are career movers. She herself was a territorial civil servant.
Jonathan Ayache, who had worked in events for a dozen years, says he embarked on the adventure after his own marriage, in 2020: “I realized that when you don’t know this world, it’s super complicated to manage to organize your wedding effectively. It takes time, it’s stressful and on D-Day you have to manage your service providers instead of taking advantage of it..”
“I was a nurse“, says Morgane Ducrétot, who created her agency at the age of 29, in 2017. “It’s my passion, I like contact and organization. I was already in human support, but I lacked time“, says the young woman who claims “three tattoos and unfailing optimism“.
“There are many agencies opening, there are many closing”
“No marriage is the same. The priority is the requests of couples“, she said, displaying an all-inclusive package at 4,800 euros.
Justine Huette couldn’t have her clients arrive on the back of an elephant, but Jonathan Ayache organized a reception in a circus.
“I have newlyweds who wanted to stop by their house before the party to take photos with their cats. We had to take a detour!” laughs Morgane Ducrétot, showing the photo of the couple proudly posing with their two cats.
The wedding planners met on Saturday say they make a living from their profession, but organizing a wedding is time-consuming and the margins are often low.
“There are many agencies opening, there are many closing“, notes Justine Huette, the general secretary of the SWPF.
Many organizers offer partial packages, or just “D-Day” coordination. Some diversify by offering dance classes for the ball, staged marriage proposals, bar mitzvahs or baby showers.
As for couples who cancel the wedding at the last minute, they usually don’t get their money back.