Start-Up Cost: $2,000–$7,000

Potential Earnings: $50,000–$150,000 (depending on volume and location)

Typical Fees: Commission-only is standard and ranges from 5 to 25 percent

Advertising: Flyers for bridal salons, bridal shows, Internet, developing word of mouth, including at wedding destinations

Qualifications: An eye for detail and a cool head

Equipment Needed: Very basic: just a computer and your cell.

Potential Home Business: Yes

Staff Required: Sometimes

Disabled Opportunity: Yes

Hidden Costs: Keep accurate records of the time you spend with each client, or you could shortchange yourself.

Lowdown: Wedding planning can easily turn any reasonable family into a temporary war zone, and that’s where bridal consultants come in. With most families spending anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 and up on the wedding extravaganza itself, what’s a few extra dollars to take the headache out of the blessed event’s planning? Your rates would range from $100 per hour to a flat fee of $2,000 or more for the entire wedding, so it is easy to see how you could earn a profitable amount of money in a short period of time. But don’t think you won’t work hard for it. As a bridal consultant, you will handle every minute detail, from the number of guests to invite to what kind of champagne to buy. You are essentially in the hotbed of the action, with total responsibility for every aspect of the wedding.

Start-Up: For this small business idea, will need to develop strong word of mouth (try forging reciprocal referral arrangements with florists and bridal and hair salons) to build a good reputation. Also, because this is a people- and image-oriented business, you will need to make sure you look like you’re worth it: dress professionally and carry yourself with poise and an air of diplomacy. But the bulk of your start-up will be in producing business cards and brochures, in addition to advertising (count on forking over at least $2,000 to get going on these items). You could very well start and run this business at home.

Bottom Line: The flash and excitement of impending nuptials can be intoxicating, as can the power involved in directing others to perform their best. Be careful not to offend people or step on their toes. Listen to what your customers tell you they want, and have the good sense to make them think all of the good ideas were theirs. While such ego suppression is hard to accomplish in a high-profile job like this one, remember that the customer is always king.