The Issue of Certification for Wedding Planners

There are many debates regarding the issue of certification. Many successful planners argue that they have never been asked by a client to see their certification, nor has it ever come in handy with the actual execution of an event. However, being a complete novice to the industry and lacking a mentor or specific job experience, I believe it might be quite a valuable asset. But then the next question that arises is, "which one?"

There are many online colleges that offer an event planning certification program, some more legitimate than others. The official accreditation, Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), is obtained after working in the industry for several years with hours of continued education. My goal is to ultimately achieve this designation, but I need to figure out a path to get there.

Meeting Professionals International is an industry-recognized organization that also offers a Global Certificate in Meetings and Business Events. This is a 5-day intensive program offered at a remote location. Unfortunately it's a little out of my price range to pay for travel AND courses, and I would like to find a program more specifically focused on wedding planning, at least to start.

The Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC) seems to be the Fairy Godmother of wedding planners. They have stood the test of time and are specific to the area of event planning that I prefer. ABC offers a Core Home Study Program that I believe would be of great value to build my knowledge of the industry; however, again, everything costs $$.

There are also organizations like Backstage Bridal Pro and Sage Wedding Pros that produce incredibly valuable articles on being a wedding planner. They both offer workshops for budding wedding planners, but I am a little worried that I am too green to get the best value from a workshop.

Other (more economical options) include reading books on starting your own wedding planning business, interning with experienced wedding planners, or finding a job within the events industry. I need a job to find a job! My advertising degree from Washington State University (Go Cougs!) I'm sure will be of great value to me down the road. However, right now, I need the capital to continue supporting myself and obtain some additional training. Ideally, I find a position in the events industry, whether it be at a stationary shop or as a banquet server, to provide an opportunity to rub elbows with event professionals and see how they got there!

Do you have an opinion about certifications? Worth the money or better to focus on hands-on experience?