At the end of April, the Los Angeles Times ran a headline that an entire industry had been anticipating for more than a year: “Wedding-related jobs and side hustles are coming back.”
It was welcome news that was long overdue. As crowds and gatherings fell victim to global quarantines, lovestruck couples across the country and the world postponed their big days.
Now, weddings are back — and the small businesses and side gigs that make them possible are back with them.
If you’re looking to make some side money gigging this summer and fall, or if you’re finally ready to pull the trigger on going all the way and opening a small business, the wedding industry is booming. It’s no secret that weddings are expensive — that’s because pulling one off in style is hard, and the people who do it well are paid handsomely for their services.
The nuptials business is back in action. Here are 10 ways to cash in.
Last updated: June 14, 2021
Skilled Bakers Can Make Wedding Cakes
According to The Knot, the average wedding cake costs $500 — between $1.50-$12 per slice — but they can easily go into the thousands. Being that cutting the cake is still a key part of the vast majority of weddings, it takes real skill and experience to nail a wedding cake that both looks and tastes like it’s up to the occasion.
If you have the background and the abilities, you can start your own cake business for less than $1,000, according to TRUIC. But fees you’ll need to consider include state licenses, insurance, baker supplies, ingredients, specialized mobile transport and refrigeration equipment, and marketing costs.
Start a Catering Business — or More Likely, Gig for Someone Else’s
Unlike creating and delivering a single cake, catering a live event that happens to be the most important day of someone’s life is a massive undertaking that requires a deep understanding of business, commercial foodservice, and event planning. Breaking into the industry requires large upfront investments in vehicles, equipment, kitchen space, licenses, insurance, and labor — running a catering company is not a side hustle.
Working weddings for a catering company on a contract basis, however, absolutely can be a lucrative and reliably steady side gig during wedding season. Since you work only the gigs you want, it’s flexible work. The national average wage is $13, according to ZipRecruiter.
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Wedding Photographers Can Make Good Money
You can earn a good living working weddings if you’re a skilled photographer — the average salary nationwide is nearly $105,000, according to ZipRecruiter. But it requires an upfront investment in both equipment and knowledge. Sophisticated cameras, lenses and software run in the low thousands, but your fee from a single wedding can cover those costs — if you’re good.
In order to get good, you’ll have to learn and practice in all kinds of weather and lighting until you master your equipment, according to Profoto. If you ever want to get hired, you’ll have to build a portfolio, which you can do by doing gigs for free in the beginning.
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Artistic Types Can Create Custom Gifts and Decorations
Weddings need centerpieces, wedding party gifts, arbors and all kinds of other physical items that add ambiance and artistry to the day. If you’ve got a flair for art, crafts and handiwork, you could make a sweet side gig out of providing custom crafts, gifts, decorations, favors or anything else that helps make weddings beautiful and unique. There’s no way to make a general calculation of your fees, costs, or earnings — those are as custom as your crafts — but you should plan to spring for a high-quality website or professional online store to showcase your work.
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You Could Also Influence Every Aspect as a Wedding Planner
Hyper-organized and creative problem-solvers who happen to be great with people can make a good living working as wedding planners. According to Indeed.com, wedding planners were making an average of roughly $38,000, but the pandemic appears to have changed their fortunes for the better. As of March 2020, wedding planners are averaging $51,500. That, however, is just the base salary. Indeed.com reports that they also average $100 in tips per day. Many wedding planners come from backgrounds like executive assistant work, event planning and restaurant general managers.
Make Magic Happen From the DJ Booth
No wedding is complete without music, and a DJ is the logical choice for many newlyweds as live bands cost more, take up more space, require more planning and are much more limited with their repertoires. Breaking into the business used to require expensive turntables and mixing equipment, huge record collections and real skill. Today, it’s a much more accessible career or side hustle — a single laptop can hold every song ever written and special software makes professional audio mixing available to the masses. You can make good money working as a wedding DJ full time or as a side hustle. The average hourly wage is between $40-$50, according to ZipRecruiter.
Videographers Make Memories Last Forever
According to Indeed.com, videographers make an average of $358 per day. Not a bad haul, but in terms of cost and earnings, there’s a huge spectrum. Companies like Inzi Wedding Films, for example, start at $3,500 for cinematic documentary-style productions complete with aerial drone footage. No matter the scale of your services, a background in film and video is a natural foundation for this kind of work. But if you don’t have that kind of experience, you can start by working gigs for videography companies that hire supporting staffs.
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Make Art Out of Flowers
Flowers have been part of weddings across different cultures, countries and religions for time immemorial. If you have a creative flair and a passion for flowers, you don’t need to open a studio or storefront to earn a living working weddings — unlike florists, many modern floral designers make their magic out of their homes. If you’re good, you can make a good living doing what you love. According to Salary.com, the median floral designer earns more than $52,000 a year.
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Wedding Stationery Is Big Business
Once received, wedding invitations hang on refrigerator magnets for months before the big day — they are, after all, as beautiful as they are utilitarian. It could be you who brings them to life — and it isn't too much of an investment to launch your own wedding stationery business. Whether your clients want traditional swooping calligraphy or sleek and modern is more their style, you can earn a handsome living through this kind of artistic creation. According to ZipRecruiter, the average stationary designer earns $25 an hour or more than $52,000 per year.
Bridal Shower Planner
If you’re not ready to dive all the way into the deep end of the pool — or you don’t have the experience to work full weddings just yet — consider working one of the many supporting events that surround most weddings. That includes traditional showers. Believe it or not, plenty of people hire coordinators to plan and execute showers. According to Salary.com, the event planners who work events like these earn an average of nearly $52,000.
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