Wedding planning course can help lead to viable career

Feb. 23, 2015

April Wefler
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As children, young girls often dream of the perfect wedding day. But an imperfect wedding can ruin everything and turn the nicest bride into a Bridezilla.

That’s where the wedding planner comes in.

When Nada Gutierrez, founder of R.S.V.P. Weddings, first started her career, wedding planners weren’t an option for many people.

“[Wedding planners were] one of those things you got if you had money,” she said.

Gutierrez, who also owns and produces the annual Bridal Extravaganza at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, teaches an intensive 10-week certified wedding and event planner course, which has been offered as part of UCCS Extended Studies for the last five years during both semesters.

“I’ve even been asked to do it in summer, but the summer months are my biggest months for weddings,” Gutierrez said.

The course was originally offered online. Gutierrez was contacted by the Wedding Planning Institute, who said they were putting the course into many different colleges.

“It enabled everybody who’s coming in to actually meet someone who’s actually doing it and to have hands-on experience [and] then have the opportunity to intern for a wedding planner. That’s a really cool thing,” she said.

Gutierrez said the perception students have of wedding planning before taking the course is from what they see in movies and on TV.

“Everybody who comes to the class are surprised – surprised isn’t even the word. It’s more intense than they thought it would be.”

Students taking the course learn to budget and create timelines and blueprints for weddings. Then, the aesthetics follow.

Students are given the opportunity to partner up with someone and plan a wedding. One student is the bride and the other is the wedding planner. The students then present their weddings.

“Some students come up with things that I couldn’t even think of,” Gutierrez said.

She said that students will need a lot more than the course to become a wedding planner, but that many of her students have then gone on to intern in wedding planning, opened their own businesses or been hired at hotels.

“You want to show passion and do really well in the course. Those students I’ll give recommendations.”
Students are given the opportunity to finish the class for up to six weeks afterward.

“I just think it’s a really great learning opportunity and if someone wants to become a wedding planner, the best way is to become accredited and learn in a setting where you’re actually with an instructor,” she said.

“If it’s something you want to do and pursue, figure out why you like it, [taking the course] is a great way to start,” Gutierrez said.

She said that in the past, weddings were all the same.

“Even when I started, weddings weren’t so elaborate or so themed, not as grand as they are today.”

“Weddings now are all very unique, all very one-of-a-kind. Everyone wants signature weddings. They’ve really got a stamp of uniqueness on every single one of them,” she continued.

Gutierrez said that now there are about 20 wedding planners in Colorado Springs and that about 1 in 4 brides hires a wedding planner.

“As time went on, social media and all those great reality shows about weddings pushed wedding planning into the forefront,” she said.

“I get emails all the time from 16 year old girls [saying] ‘I want to be a wedding planner.’ No one said I’m going to grow up and be a wedding planner, but a lot of people are now seeing that as a viable career.”