What is A Certified Wedding Planner?

What is A Certified Wedding Planner?

What Is A Certified Wedding Planner

When you are hiring professionals to work your wedding, how can you tell a hobbyist from a professional? Look at their certification! On Holly’s hot wedding tips, I interviewed three wedding planners to find out what a certified wedding planner is. Read below to find out what I learned from Wendie Bass AWP, Willie Ripple CSEP, and Carol Lathrop CMP.

Hobbyist vs Certified Wedding Planner:

There are a variety of experience levels in the wedding business. It varies from part time hobbyist to licensed and certified wedding planner. Peace of mind that you have purchased the experience to run your event seamlessly is what certification will give you.

DIY gone bad:

I would hide my face too

My cousin found this out the hard way. Her mom was used to throwing parties for 20 or less. So, when she ran her daughter’s wedding of 200 guests, she was left in a panic filling in lots of last-minute oversights that her lack of experience could not foresee. Too few cups and silverware for the guests, not enough coffee, guests lost and milling around because they did not know where to be when. The climax was being asked to leave the reception hall before they finished because no one was keeping the timeline on track. It was an awkward end to a once in a lifetime event.

Requiring Certified Wedding Planners:

The story above is quite common. Many event centers in Colorado are requiring Certified Wedding Planners. They do not what the liability that comes from and uncertified uninsured individual attempting to run an event in their location. This policy allows the wedding party to enjoy the day to the fullest.

What is the difference between a Certificate and Certification?

I was curious about what the difference between a certificate and certification was for Wedding Planners. Carol told me that a certificate is given when you attend a class. Certification is an ongoing process that must be renewed. Most of the accredited certifications require ongoing education, proof of experience through a portfolio of successful events, community service time, and a test. Someone who took the time to certify will also have registered their business and carry liability insurance. With so much investment in their business, you can rest assured of excellence.

What are the Different Wedding Planner Certifications?

What do the letters behind your names mean? Each of my panelist has certified through different organizations. I wanted to know what each certification was, and why I (or a client) would pay for that.

List of Certifications:

  • CSEP Certified Special Event Professional
  • CMP Certified Meeting Professional
  • AWP Accredited Wedding planner

What is a CSEP

So, what is a CSEP? Willie Ripple, CSEP told me that she is a Certified Special Event Professional (CSEP) through the International Live Events Association (ILEA). The benefit to the bride is that it is a stamp of approval. It shows Willie Ripple Events has the expertise, knowledge, and experience in all facets of the special event industry.

What is CMP?

I asked Carol Lathrop, CMP what a CMP is. It stands for Certified Meeting Professional through the events industry council. It requires proof of education, years and levels of experience, as well as a test. This results in being well versed in logistics, budgets, and all facets in any kind of event. The benefit to the bride is that my experience can help you make the most of your budget. I do this through connections with other event industry experts that I have vetted to assure you get the biggest bang for your buck.

What is an AWP?

Wendie let me know what an AWP is. It is an Accredited Wedding Planner and she holds this through the worldwide organization Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC). She must prove her education level, the years she has been in business, and the amount of community service done. Beyond accredited is master level, and a master level planner must present a wedding portfolio to a panel who then decides if that person is worthy of having that title based on their experience with the presentation.

Value of Wedding Planner Certification:

Mrs. Bass said it best. “The value of these letters is that you are buying experience. You are buying someone who has background and knowledge in many different things. Every event and wedding will be different. There are different risks, there are different planning aspects, and there are different elements to be thought about. As a professional our job is to minimize the risk to the client. We want to make sure that all that you want to have happen in that event occurs. We also have to look at the bigger picture and how it all comes together.”

Elements your Wedding Planner looks at:

Talking to event experts brought up some great examples of big picture considerations for events. Transportation from place to place is a big logistical consideration. For a mountain wedding, can the 57-person bus fit up the mountain road? Or should you work with the transportation company to pick something better suited to that situation? What about tents? Did you know that you must have the fire chief inspect your tent to license and permit it to hold you event? Of that you should work with a landscaping expert to make sure water drainage does not run through you tent. These are just a couple of examples of the big picture elements that a Certified Wedding Planner would be knowledgeable about.

Why hire an expert?

So why hire a Certified Wedding Planner? Peace of mind. A Certified Wedding Planner will help you plan and actually have a really great event. You want to have a fun day. It’s your day you need to enjoy it and let the wedding experts do the work that needs to happen.

Panel of Certified Wedding Planners:


Willie Ripple, CSEP
Willie Ripple Events
EST 2008
President and Creative Director of Willie Ripple Events LLC
Cell: 720-201-2263


Carol Lathrop, CMP
IMES events
Chief Event Officer (CEO)
Denver, Colorado
Phone: 303-332-2547
Fax: 815-717-9674


Wendie Bass AWP
Chief Curator,
Wendie Bass, Weddings, Events & More
Cell: 303-915-4346

Cover Photo
Forever After Photography
Michelle Rodriquez-Porter
(720) 561-9112

Holly Collins Tomazin
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