In Illinois, College of DuPage’s new wedding planning management certificate program is preparing students with knowledge and skills beyond the traditional functions of wedding planning.
The certificate, which was first offered during the spring 2018 term, focuses on the planning of a wedding from the initial phase through the execution of the event. The goal is to provide students with an affordable and accredited option to prepare for entry-level employment as well as advancement in the meeting and event planning industry.
What sets the certificate apart from similar programs is that it has a distinct concentration on creating wedding planning managers who are globally aware and capable of navigating family dynamics, said Mary Beth Leone, professor and program coordinator of hospitality. This is done through teaching the history of marriage, cultural and ethnic elements in weddings, consumerism, destination weddings and stress management.
Leone said that this approach better prepares students with the capabilities to deal with a variety of family dynamics.
“Wedding planners are going to have to focus on knowing their clients better because personalization is increasingly important,” Leone said. “It now requires building relationships with the bride, groom and their families.”
Leone also expressed excitement for the certificate’s emphasis on entrepreneurship, saying that many planners aspire to start their own businesses.
“They typically start with planning a wedding for a friend or family member, then realize that they would love to make a career out of it,” she said. “Our faculty bring a background of business ownership, which allows us to incorporate that experience into our curriculum.”
The certificate requires four credit hours earned through one course and is part of COD’s hospitality and tourism program. Students apply their learning through marketing strategies, client relations as well as business plans to be included in their portfolios to share with prospective employers. Students also are required to interview industry professionals, attend guest lectures and participate in real-world case studies.
According to Leone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the meeting and event planning industry will see a significant increase in jobs over the next decade, with wedding planning being one of the main areas of growth. She attributed much of this to shifting trends in key areas such as age and finances.
“Millennials are getting married at a later age and they’re busy with their careers,” she said. “Their parents often do not assist in the planning process and they’re in need of quality planning on a budget. This makes the role of wedding planners much more important.”