Green Business Ideas: Green Wedding and Sustainable Event Planner

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c3160_greenwedding-620x350Large social events, from weddings to conferences to parties, tend to come with a big carbon footprint, and while some of that is unavoidable, it is possible to plan more sustainable events, including green weddings, low-impact conferences, and eco-friendly celebrations. If your strengths include logistics, the ability to coordinate the activities of multiple suppliers and vendors, design and creativity, and the willingness to look closely at the environmental impacts of products and services and find more sustainable alternatives, then this green business idea might be worth pursuing.

1. What is a sustainable Event Planner?

According to the International Special Events Society, event planning is a global industry worth approximately $500 billion.  While you must take any claim from a for-profit organization that benefits from interest in the industry with a grain of salt, a little common sense says, “How many people do you know who still plan their own green wedding, let alone their eco-friendly family reunion?”  Growth in the event planning industry is a function of how extravagant people are getting with their events, and how much of a logistical nightmare it can be to coordinate so many moving parts.

Event planners are responsible for designing and executing a variety of events (including weddings, celebrations, and conferences) on behalf of others. Depending on the type of business, integrated services for green weddings and sustainable event planning range from invitations to musical arrangements and set-up and tear-down.  To do this as a sustainable event planner, you’d benefit by having a terrific network of contractors in your area that can provide eco-friendly services to your events, including green cleaning companies, sustainable printers for your cards and invitations, digital photographers, green dry cleaners, organic caterers, etc. etc.  Rest assured, all the eco-friendly implements for any event are available, right down to eco-friendly confetti.

The broad scope of sustainable event planning means that business owners need to think carefully about all aspects of the experience ahead of time. If you pride yourself on ensuring sustainable behavior in all aspects of your life (home, office, transport, food, etc), running a sustainable event planning business may be right for you. Customers appreciate creative ideas that use best practices in sustainability.

2. What knowledge or skills are necessary?

Sustainable event planning requires a close relationship to customers, a high degree or organizational skills, and significant creativity in design and execution. You must be detail-oriented enough to keep event details top of mind and to estimate your costs accurately, but flexible enough to change plans last minute.  As a sustainable event planner, you will need to learn about sustainable practices in every aspect of your business. You should enjoy working with people and appreciate the impact of well-planned party or event.  Some event planners make it official and get a certification as a Certified Special Events Professional through ISES.

3. How much money is required to start?

$   (on a scale of $ to $$$$$)

The major costs you will incur are legal fees, event planning license, and transportation. You can start your business without spending money on office space and other employees.

4. What is the income potential?

$$$  (on a scale of $ to $$$$$)

5. What is the best location for an event planner?

If you are interested in social event planning, cities and suburbs are best locations. As long as you invest sufficiently in advertising and marketing, you do not necessarily need to have office space. Ensure you have adequate transportation and are well acquainted with other services offered in the neighborhood (eg party sites, catering services, etc).

If you are interested in corporate event planning (conferences, workshops, etc) you should aim to be close to the business district in your city. If you aim to corner the local green wedding planning market, you’ll need to know all of the local green product and service providers, as well as the pros and cons of each possible local venue.

6.  Best questions to ask yourself to find out if this business is right for you (if you can answer yes to all, this business might be for you):

  • Are you well-organized and enjoy making plans?
  • Do you enjoy working closely with people to help them fulfill their dreams?
  • Do you have a passion for parties and events?
  • Are you comfortable working outside the 9 to 5 schedule?

[Image: tony.ngn]


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