If you’re in the business of planning wedding services for clients, you know that there’s no such thing as a long-term contract. You’re always looking for the next client to fill your schedule and your bank account. How are you going to find the new clients you need?

You might attract interest with an ad placed in an appropriate publication or on an internet site, but after the initial phone call or meeting with a potential client, odds are that you’re going to have to write a proposal to land the contract. This is true whether you are a full-service wedding planner, a caterer specializing in weddings, a bridal salon, a wedding photographer, or even a printer that creates customized wedding invitations and associated pieces.

Writing a proposal is not as difficult as it might sound, even if you’ve never done it before. That’s because you know your business, so you already have most of the ingredients you’re going to include. Plus, all proposals follow a basic structure, and here it is: introductory section, then a client-centered section, followed by a proposed goods or services section, and ending with your company-centered section.

You can begin first proposal page with a blank screen in your word processing program, but you don’t have to. You can save time if you start with a pre-designed proposal kit, which offers professionally designed templates with instructions and examples to help you get the right information on each page. Make sure your kit also includes wedding sample proposals so you can see what a finished proposal in your business category could look like.

For now, let’s get back to that structure, starting with the introductory section. This should always begin with a brief cover letter-simply explain who you are and why you’re sending this proposal, provide your contact information, and state what you hope to get next from your reader-a phone call, a face-to-face meeting, a signed contract, and so forth.

A title page should follow the cover letter. This page should simply name your proposal: you’ll probably want something like “Proposed Plan by Katrina’s Weddings for the Smith-Jones Wedding” or “Catering Plan for the Benson Wedding.” These two pages might be all you need in the introduction section for most wedding proposals, but if you’re laying out your ideas for a major extravaganza in a long proposal, you might need to include a Client Summary (usually a bulleted list of important points) and/or a Table of Contents to complete the introduction.

Next comes the client-centered section. This section is truly what separates successful proposals from those that end up in the shredder, because this is where you prove that you understand your potential client’s needs and desires. There’s nothing more personal than a wedding!

Reiterate all the important information about your potential clients-that they want, what they need, what their restrictions and budget allowances are. You may need to ask your potential clients or their families some questions up front to write this section, but that work will pay off in a customized proposal that is much more likely to be accepted.

After you’ve described what your clients want and need, we’re on to the third section, where you explain exactly how you propose to meet those needs and desires, and what your products and services will cost.
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No bragging yet – just do your best to show that you can give them what they want. These pages in this section will vary depending on what you’re offering, but might include topics like Services Provided, Catering, Schedule, Entertainment, Transportation, Destinations, Special Needs, Security, Venues, Rentals, and so forth.

In the fourth and final section, explain why you are the best pick for the job. Here’s where you can brag about your background, your company history, your experience. Keep in mind that it’s always more credible to show kudos from others, so be sure to include any referrals or testimonials and references you have. Finally, wrap up your pitch with a call to action, requesting that the potential clients take the next step-call you, sign the contract, visit your store, whatever you want them to do.