The Bridal Path

Last week, I was approached by Rebecca U. Cho, Staff Writer for the Daily Bulletin for an interview. I’ve been teaching the Wedding Consultant Certificate Course at Cal Poly Pomona for some time now. I took the class years ago to benefit my growing Wedding and Event business. I eventually was asked by Christine from The Perfect Day (the former teacher of this course) to step in. It has been such an incredible adventure, challenging and guiding new women and some men in the art of Wedding Consultation.

Here is the story printed in yesterday’s Business section of the Daily Bulletin. Enjoy.

POMONA – A divorce and a Cal Poly Pomona course led Rose Wade to her career as a wedding planner.

Six years ago, Wade, recovering from her divorce and looking for a path into event planning, spotted an ad for a wedding consultant certificate course at Cal Poly Pomona. The course allowed the Anaheim Hills resident, who had worked briefly in catering two decades before, to get back into the business, she said.

“It opened doors for me, that’s how I started,” said Wade, who is now the owner of Rose Wade Events in Anaheim Hills. “I went back, I went to night school, I had no money for gas. I make over six figures now.”

Last week, a new group of entrepreneurs hoping to break into the competitive wedding industry showed up at Cal Poly Pomona for the course’s first summer meeting.

The school has seen a resurgence in interest in the class this quarter, Cal Poly Pomona officials said. From a low of about 12 enrollments, the course this summer counts about 30 participants. Cal Poly Pomona’s College of the Extended University, the school’s continuing-education arm, offers the wedding consultant certificate course in the summer and winter.

Chara Swodeck, the class instructor and a graduate of the program, said the difficult economy has fostered a blossoming interest in starting up a business such as wedding planning. The school has been offering the course for about a decade.

“There’s a lot of growth,” Swodeck said. “In the last two years especially, with the turn of the economy and a lot of people losing jobs or scared to lose their jobs or not able to find jobs … there’s definitely an influx of more businesses out there.”

Her students range from undergraduates in the hospitality program to older participants taking the course for a chance at a new career, said Swodeck, who owns event design and wedding planning company Open Box Designs in Pomona.

The business is attractive for those looking to start a business with little overhead costs, said Carol Carroll, who oversees membership activities for the 4,000-member Association of Bridal Consultants.

She said she saw a surge in membership during the recession.

“It’s a profession that has a very low start-up fee,” Carroll said. “And it is a sales business so of course not everyone is going to make it …”

There are an increasing number of groups and schools offering educational opportunities in wedding coordination, Carroll said. ABC offers professional development programs and trademark designations.

One does not need a formal education to be a wedding planner. But in the information age, today’s bride is more savvy and coming back to wedding planners with questions about their training.

“A lot of our former members are coming back to us and asking to be reinstated because their brides are asking them, `Are you a member of the ABC?’ and want to know about their credentials,” Carroll said.

The Wedding Consultation Certification Course is a highly-regarded certification course offered in June (Summer) and January (Winter) and it goes for ten weeks. 


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