The Collegian
Thursday, August 18, 2022

In-depth wedding planning part of SCS series

What flowers? What food? Who will sit where? What colors? And most importantly, which of the thousands of dresses will I wear?

These are all questions that wedding planners help brides answer every day, and they are only a few of the considerations that feed into the at least $50 billion wedding industry. And any bride who hires a wedding planner wants to make sure hers is competent and knowledgeable. For this reason and many more, the University of Richmond's School of Continuing Studies is offering its wedding planner certification course for the third time in the last year and a half.

In 1997, the SCS began offering 12 non-credit courses, which has now expanded to dozens, according to James L. Narduzzi, dean of the SCS. In addition to the wedding planner certification course, the SCS offerings include Latin dancing, beginner drumming and other music, belly dancing and fitness, history, photography and art, finance, language, sports, business, writing and an extensive culinary arts program, among many others. It also offers landscape design professional and interior decorating certificate programs. Even rock climbing and fishing classes will be offered this summer.

But it's not just people from the community who take these courses, said Stephanie Bowlin, program coordinator for the Office of Community and Professional Education. She said two Richmond undergraduate students are currently signed up to take the wedding planner certification course this spring, and not all people who take the course plan to start their own businesses. Some in the past were actually planning their own weddings, she said.

"Our mission is to enrich lives and careers," Bowlin said. "I think that accurately describes everything we do, both on the credit side and the non-credit side."

Bowlin decides what non-credit courses the SCS will offer and finds appropriate instructors for them. She said trends are a big factor in what courses are offered, in addition to what people have expressed interest in learning. The wedding planner course has been very popular in the past, she said, and people have called and said they had been looking for a course like this one but had not been able to find one. The course's instructor, Shannon Pollard, has taught the course before and is a certified wedding planner.

The course covers every aspect of wedding planning, Bowlin said, from learning how to deal with a "bridezilla" to managing the business side of being a planner. The course also brings in outside vendors, such as caterers, to give real-world perspective and candid information. Although there are no tests or grades, students complete weekly assignments, such as making a seating chart, and they work in groups to accomplish tasks, she said. This particular course ends with an exam to certify the students as wedding planners through the Wedding Planning Institute, which is based in California.

According to the class's syllabus, the course also covers contracts, menu planning, music, wedding customs and traditions from around the world, in addition to non-traditional and signature ceremonies. The class, which is at its largest size of 10 people, also takes tours of non-traditional venues and goes to a bridal store for a fashion show. Bowlin said classes are kept small to allow for more individual attention for students.

"It's hard because I know undergrad students spend a lot of time on the classes that they're taking for their degree," Bowlin said. "I know a lot of times they don't have the funds available to just take classes for fun and don't necessarily have the time to just take classes just for fun because they're so focused on their degrees. That's important, but at the same time, we want them to know that there are classes out there that they can take where they don't have to have a test or a grade or anything like that."

The course fee of $759 includes all workbooks, CDs, testing and certification fees. Scholarship assistance for non-credit classes is available through "Learning for Life," but is only available for women who are taking a non-credit class in professional development or a certificate program, such as the wedding planner certification course.

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