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What are the Legal Requirements to Become a Professional Event Planner?

Looking to start a career as a professional event planner, but don't quite know how to start? Here's a rundown on the basics of becoming a party planner.

From the legal requirements to skills needed and tips on how to become an event coordinator successfully, we've summarized it all here for you. Read on to find out more about professional event planning.


1. What license do you need to start an event planning business?

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Before you start out on your professional event planner journey, you will want to make sure you've got all the event planner requirements covered. To protect yourself and your small business as an event planner, make sure you have all these licenses and permits secured:
a. Business license - First off, professional event planners generally don't need a license to do their work. However, as a business and company, some states will require you to register and secure a business license.

If your state doesn't require a business license, you may also want to check if your city requires local licenses that you can get through your local City Hall Business License office. Depending on where you're working, some cities will fine business activities that do not have a license and other required paperwork before you business starts out.

Although event planners don't need a license or certification, it may help you land more clients. If you're starting out in the events industry, there are optional certification options such as the  Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) designation from ILEA (International Live Events Association) or the  Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation from the Events Industry Council.

b. Sales tax permit - If you’re looking to start your business as a professional event planner, you may also need to apply for a sales tax permit to comply with the legal requirements. Most states collect sales taxes in one form or another however, sales tax collection varies among states. You will want to check with your local government for guidelines on sales taxes in your state. There are specific guidelines for sales taxes on events, as well.

c. Employer identification number (EIN) - An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a unique nine-digit number assigned to a business entity for easier identification by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). These are used to identify taxpayers and are required for filing business tax returns. Thankfully, you can apply for an EIN online.

d. Liquor license - Another requirement you will want to secure is a liquor license from your local authorities. Regulations on liquor licenses vary per state. You may want to check with your local government for guidelines in applying for a liquor license in your state. Liquor sales often have a high profit margin, making the process of acquiring a license worth it. Apply for a liquor license early as it may take about at least 50 days to complete the process in some states.

e. Special Event PermitAnother legal requirement that you may need to request is a special event permit. These permits are often requested from the local authorities and can be accessed by party planners on their local government website and are approved by the respective city manager. These permits also vary from city to city. Some states offer online applications while some may not. You will want to consult local events experts and local authorities for possible ordinances on the events you’re planning.

f. Zoning permit - If you're planning a party which may go beyond a property's zoning or permitted usage, you may need to secure a zoning permit from the planning division of your local government. Guidelines for securing a zoning permit may vary depending on your state, municipality, or district. Apart from online guides on zoning permits, you may want to consult with your local zoning authorities for hassle-free event planning.

2. Do you need a degree to become a professional event planner?

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Technically speaking, you don't need an event planning degree to become a professional event planner. However there are certain qualities, skills, and certificates to help you attract clients while you start out in the event planning industry.

There isn't one specific and direct way to get an event planner education. If you want to become an event planner, a degree in fields related to events-planning, design, and management may give you an edge. All other skills can be developed over time. 

There might be more in-person events in 2023, but it does not mean virtual events will get scrapped entirely. There might be more hybrid events to take advantage of the virtual events' minimal cost of hosting, valuable insights, increased attendance, and lower travel cost for participants.

3. What skills do you need to become a professional event planner?

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So you might be wondering how to become an event coordinator. While you might not need a degree to be a professional event planner and coordinator, there are skills that will help you to become better at the job. Here are the top 6 skills to become a great event planner: 

a. Organizational skills - event planners should be good at remembering details. Even the smallest details like deadlines, and schedules are important to take note of and remember.

b. Networking skills - events planning is very people-driven. You have to build good relationships with a diverse set of event professionals and networks for possible clients.

c. Adaptability - Event planners have to be able to adapt to different event situations and troubleshoot any last minute changes.

d. Basic Understanding of Events - to effectively plan for any event, it's best for any event planner to have a grasp about the event, and its particularities. Are you planning for a wedding, a business meeting, or a corporate Christmas party? Event coordinators have to know what are the needs and particularities.

e. Creativity - Event planners need to pull up new ideas from their sleeves to keep each occasion fresh and inspired.

f. Client-oriented - as a basic skill for any entrepreneur, event planners alo have to have skills to build relationships with clients and be able to respond to their queries and recommendations.

4. Tips for Successful Event Planning

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To become a successful event planner, you may not need formal education, but you do have to master the 6 skills essential for any event planner.  To add to this, there are at least 8 important traits that will be helpful to become successful in the events industry:

  • Resourceful and ready for contingencies
  • Passionate about the job
  • Flexible
  • Level-headed and calm under pressure
  • Visionary
  • Attentive to details
  • Tech-savvy
  • Humble and Responsive to Clients' Needs

 If you're just starting out in the events industry as an aspiring professional events planner, check out these basic steps in planning an event. You can also check this out for ideas on how to host a Memorable Corporate Event.

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