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Extended Learning

Wedding Planning

Offered Online


CSUSM’s Professional Certificate in Wedding Planning is designed to help you start or grow as a wedding planner in Southern California. Classes are held at local event spaces and are taught by leading local wedding planners, florists, DJs, event lawyers, caterers, photographers and more.

This program is no longer being offered. 

Other Program Offerings

Supervising Employees

Project Management

Convenient format

This certificate program offers evening classes twice a week to accommodate your busy schedule and you have the option to take individual courses or the entire certificate program

Learn from the best

Learn from a leading local wedding planner with more than 20 years of experience and from guest lecturers, including caterers, lawyers, photographers, florists, DJs, videographers and more

Gain real experience

Plan a mock wedding as the final class project using the tools, templates and skills developed throughout the program

Range of topics

Topics include starting a wedding planning business, drafting and reviewing event contracts, setting wedding budgets, how to run a rehearsal, how to set a wedding day timeline and much more


Program Details


    This program is designed for:

    • Those looking to become wedding planners who have little experience
    • Planners who have some event planning knowledge and are interested in focusing on weddings
    • Vendors such as photographers, caterers, entertainment specialists, venue coordinators, etc.
    • Graduates of CSUSM’s Meeting and Event Planning Certificate

    This program is no longer being offered. 

    Wedding Industry and Social Media
    Contracts and Career Development
    Traditions and Project Management
    Wedding Venues
    Food, Beverage and Entertainment
    Design and Decor
    Photography and Videography
    Lights, Camera, Action!
    Project Portfolio Presentations

    Course Details

    • Classes held at CSUSM and local wedding sites

    Fee Includes

    • Course materials
    • Parking (if applicable)


    Please note: All rates are subject to change without notice.


    Watch the Program Advisor, Annette Nielsen's, presentation on what it takes to be a successful Wedding Planner

    Course Topics

    Wedding Industry and Social Media

    Industry Overview: This introductory class will look at this exciting industry’s past, present and future growth. You will learn about the different types of wedding planners and the services they provide as well as the key skills successful planners need to have. Begin to explore how your own unique skills and interests can differentiate you from other planners.

    Branding Your Professional Image: Learn the key communication skills that you absolutely must have to successfully work with your clients and vendors. Explore how social media, branding and marketing are key to distinguishing you as a preferred planner of choice and begin designing your own brand.

    Traditions and Project Management Essentials

    Culture and Traditions: Discuss how today’s couples are diverse in almost every way imaginable and no two weddings will have the same expectations. Learn some of the obvious and not-so-obvious traditions and requests that your clients will ask for.

    Project Management, Budgeting and Insurance: Details, timelines and deliverables don’t identify and manage themselves, and one missed step or expense can be the difference between your client having the wedding of their dreams or a day filled with additional anxiety. This class will cover the schedules, budget expectations and insurance you need to discuss and determine, before you begin planning.

    Contracts and Career Development

    Contracts and Liability: Learn why every contract is different and the negotiation skills needed for each. Identify what can be negotiated and not only understand the legal jargon but how to write your own clauses if needed. Insurance options will vary depending upon your vendor and client. Learn what you need to have in place to protect both you and your clients.

    Career Development: Whether this is a new career choice or you are an established planner, analyzing your skills and defining your career goals will be key to your success. You will learn why your professional image is not only related to your appearance but how your résumé, social media presence, interviewing skills and networking ability are all key to your success as a planner of choice.

    Wedding Venues

    Site Selection: The wedding venue and location are two major considerations in which a planner’s knowledge will be key to ensuring that all guests can be accommodated while staying within the clients’ budget. Learn why a SWOT analysis is key to prequalifying and selecting the appropriate venue.

    Destination Weddings: Learn how to transform unique venues into appropriate offsite locations.

    Food, Beverage and Entertainment

    Food and Beverage: Discuss the different methods of working with onsite catering staff and external caterers as well as how to help select the most appropriate menu and beverage selections to match your guests’ dietary needs.

    Entertainment: Learn how to source the best entertainment options, including music, sound, lighting and much more based upon your client’s budget, venue and expectations.

    Design and Decor

    Working With Rental Companies: This class will cover the nuances of selecting and working with onsite venue staff or rental companies to create a magical space for your event. Learn the hidden costs and details of decorating interior and exterior spaces, offsite venue logistics including permitting and weather considerations, and how color and overall themes are incorporated and selected.

    Florals and Design: Explore the importance of how the selection of florals has a significant impact on both your clients’ budget and overall event look and feel. Learn how to locate and source flowers as well as how to work with a florist to design the look your clients are seeking that fits within their budget.

    Photography and Videography

    Preserving your special day for years to come (or sharing instantly with those who cannot attend) is as important as creating the details of the day. Technology and social platforms used to capture and share these images are continuously changing. Learn how to select the best supplier and package to accommodate your clients’ expectations and budget.

    Lights, Camera, Action!

    Learn how to bring the planning to action! This class will be an interactive role-playing format to reveal the realistic challenges that a wedding planner deals with, from how to run a rehearsal dinner to handling any wedding day glitches.

    Project Portfolio Presentations

    Showcase your classroom lessons by presenting your program wedding projects and portfolios.


    Annette Nielsen (Program Advisor) and Gerald Nielsen, Events by Annette


    Gloria Gomez, Allie’s Party Equipment Rental, Inc.

    Mark Lehman, The Emotion Picture Studio

    Rachel Rola, As You Like It Catering & Special Events

    Taylor Schwuchow, Lakehouse Hotel & Resort

    Mia Saling, Esq.

  • FAQ

    What will I learn in the program?

    In this program, you will learn from experienced local wedding planners and expert vendors, who will show you how to:

    • Start and run an independent wedding planning business
    • Create successful and beautiful weddings
    • Develop and review wedding contracts
    • Set up a realistic wedding budget
    • Select the right venues and vendors
    • Incorporate and blend wedding customs and traditions of various cultures
    • Effectively work with key vendors such as DJs, florists, caterers, rental companies, photographers, etc.
    • Run a wedding rehearsal
    • Create a proper table setting
    • Communicate with and gain more clients
    • Set up an effective wedding day timeline
    • And much more!

    What services do you offer to active military, veterans and dependents?

    Please visit our military and veteran services page to learn how we can help.

    What do former students say about the program?

    “Highly professional and thorough training by Annette and all of the instructors. I feel confident entering the wedding industry after attending this course.”

    - Lorna Lisa Adams, LaDiDa Wedding & Events

    “This class was so valuable! Not only did I learn a little bit of everything needed to start my own wedding planning business, but I also made great connections in the industry. All of the instructors are so knowledgeable and willing to help. I would absolutely recommend fellow aspiring planners to take this course.”

    - Sara Christoplis, Sarah Ines Creative Events

    Do you offer other planning programs?


Who doesn’t want to be a part of everyone’s best day? I love making new traditions, being respectful of traditions, blending traditions. That’s something that always spoke to me and what better way to do that than in this life-changing moment in people’s lives?

– Amanda Eggers

Graduate; Owner, Ivory & Lace Creative Weddings

– Amanda Eggers

This certificate has helped my career by giving me the educational tools needed to succeed in a very competitive industry. Multiple employers have commented on the fact I have CSUSM wedding planning certificate. My certificate focuses on the industry that has been my passion for years and now my certificate proudly hangs on my office wall!

– Yesika Lavyn-Grose

Graduate; Director of Catering and Sales, Europa Village

– Yesika Lavyn-Grose

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