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Trade Associations - A Businesses Guide


Alison Hargreaves Updated:
25th of June 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of the wedding industry, businesses can find themselves facing unique challenges and opportunities. Whether you're a wedding planner, photographer, florist, or any other wedding-related business, the wedding industry trade associations can be a valuable resource.

Wedding photographer showing bride and groom his photos

How can a trade association help my business?

Trade associations are organisations formed by businesses within a specific industry. We've found that well run trade associations serve as a hub for networking, education, and collective representation, helping businesses thrive in this competitive market. They often negotiate exclusive deals with suppliers and service providers for their members, resulting in cost savings on essential business needs like insurance, equipment, or marketing services.

Proactive trade associations stay updated with the latest industry insights and research, providing members with a valuable source of knowledge. They often organise seminars, webinars, and workshops, allowing businesses to stay on the cutting edge of their craft.

Wedding industry trade associations often lobby on behalf of their members to ensure that their collective interests are protected and promoted. This was particularly evident during COVID-19 when the lack of a trade association covering the entire wedding industry led to the formation of a temporary UK Wedding Taskforce to give the industry a stronger voice and better access to financial support.

In addition to the services offered by the association, members will often share insights, experiences, and best practices with other members. Their connections can lead to valuable collaborations, referrals, and partnerships that can help a wedding business grow, and can prove invaluable to businesses at any stage of their lifecycle.

Building Trust In Your Business

Bride looking at bridal wear catalogues with business owner

We believe that being a member of a recognised wedding industry trade association can enhance your business's credibility and trustworthiness in the eyes of potential clients. It signals that your business is committed to upholding industry standards and best practices. Couples planning their weddings are more likely to trust and choose suppliers associated with reputable trade associations.

Are wedding trade associations worth the membership fee?

Inevitably, alongside the good, proactive trade associations that will benefit your business, there are people prepared to take your subscription or membership fee without supplying a quality service in return. However, the good associations are easy to spot, and if it is relevant to your business you'll easily recoup your membership fee year after year in increased opportunities, competitive advantage and member discounts.

Some associations are run as a business and some are “not for profit”, but the key is to find one that is well run (do they respond to phone calls and emails?), well connected (are they involved in relevant industry activities?) and reputable (speak to a member for a reference).

Wedding Industry Trade Associations

Below are a few wedding trade associations that we consistently hear positive feedback on. None have paid us to be included in this list!

AOIC

The Association of Independent Celebrants Ltd (AOIC) is a trade association for professional UK celebrants. They are currently the only registered trade association for celebrants in the UK. Their objective is to provide members with the support and resources they need, as well as membership benefits and assistance for newly trained celebrants. The AOIC considers themselves to be a "representative trade body that provides 'the voice of the celebrant', speaking up for celebrants collectively whilst supporting every one of their celebrant members as individuals".

Go to their website

Humanists UK

The Humanists UK have a trusted network of over 500 celebrants that are trained and accredited so couples can be confident of a professional, quality service. They have been delivering non-religious ceremonies for over 120 years, with an aim to "help our celebrants create authentic, bespoke ceremonies that put people and their stories at the heart of every occasion".

Visit their website

UKHospitality

UKHospitality is a trade association for the hospitality industry in the UK, they lobby the government on issues important to the industry and offer advice and guidance to its members on topics including tax, sustainability, and workforce issues. This advice and guidance can help wedding venues to run their businesses more effectively and efficiently.

Visit their website

National Association of Jewellers (NAJ)

The National Association of Jewellers are the leading voice for the UK Jewellery industry, shaping professional excellence for more than 2,000 member companies. The NAJ aims to "ensure couples have peace of mind when buying from an NAJ member" as they understand how crucial purchasing the perfect engagement and wedding ring is for any wedding, so ensuring you are dealing with a trustworthy jewellery business is essential.

Go to their website

National Association of Wedding Professionals (NAWP)

The NAWP was formed in 2013 to promote professionalism and integrity within the UK Wedding industry. The NAWP felt "there was a growing need to establish an association for like-minded wedding professionals". Their aim is to promote professional standards and ethics within the UK Wedding industry that benefits both businesses and couples.

Go to their website

UK Marquee Association (MUTA)

MUTA is the UK's trade association for marquees, tents and structures. MUTA is "interested in having the best companies as members" to assure "the highest standards of quality, workmanship, service and professionalism". The association works to establish and promote safety standards within the industry, while connecting wedding businesses with qualified marquee companies.

Visit their website

British Pyrotechnists Association (BPA)

The BPA represents professional firework display companies in the UK. Its wide membership spans from private events, such as weddings, to national and international scale events. The aim is to ensure that BPA members offer "not only great value, but the assurance that they adhere to the BPA code of conduct." We highly recommend The BPA for those in the wedding industry looking to operate both safely and practically.

Visit their website

National Association of Balloon Artists and Suppliers (NABAS)

NABAS, The Balloon and Party Professionals Association was set up 36 years ago and is a not for profit, registered trade association representing balloon & event decorators, retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers. The association acts as one of the leading voices of the balloon industry, providing a comprehensive source of information and education. Its key objectives include supporting quality training, promoting good environmental practices and keeping members up to date with industry developments and trends.

Visit their website

British Association for Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC)

Established in 1977, BABTAC is a not-for-profit company and the UK's leading membership organisation for professionals working in the beauty, holistic and sports therapy industries. As BABTAC members adhere to a strict code of ethics and maintain insurance, businesses working with BABTAC-qualified therapists can assure their clients they are collaborating with reputable professionals.

Take a look at their website

Retail Bridal Wear Association (RBA)

The RBA was formed in 1995 and is the only trade association for wedding retailers in the UK with stringent entry requirements. Their aim is to set and maintain standards of quality, service, and professionalism for wedding retailers, ensuring that the shopping public can buy with confidence. Additionally, they work to raise standards within the wedding industry by promoting cooperation among retailers, suppliers, media, government, and shoppers. The RBA also provides information and advice on issues affecting both the wedding trade and consumers, such as internet scams, illegal home trading, and shop failures.

Take a look at their website

The Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS)

The Nationwide Caterers Association are the only specialist organisation for independent food & drink businesses in the UK and have been supporting their members to be safe, legal and profitable for over 30 years. We believe that the NCASS offers various benefits that can be valuable for wedding caterers. This includes public liability insurance specifically designed for caterers, which can help protect their business in case of an accident or incident during a wedding event. The NCASS also provides training courses on food hygiene, and health and safety.

Find out more

Association of Event Organisers (AEO)

The Association of Event Organisers Ltd (AEO) is a trade body for companies involved in trade and consumer events. Governed by an elected council, specialist working groups, and a full-time secretariat, it works to benefit its members by offering access to industry research, publications, and networking events. The AEO also provides professional development opportunities through workshops, conferences, and training courses to help wedding businesses improve their skills and knowledge in event planning, marketing, and other relevant areas.

Take a look

The British Florist Association (BFA)

The British Florist Association aims to support the floral industry and works to ensure that the florist trade is well represented and at its strongest. The BFA offers opportunities for florists to connect with other industry professionals, potentially generating leads for weddings and other events. Additionally, becoming a BFA member can enhance a florist's credibility and professionalism, potentially attracting more wedding clients.

See their website

Scottish Wedding Industry Alliance (SWIA)

The Scottish Wedding Industry Alliance (SWIA) is a non-profit organisation that was established in 2020 and advocates for and represents businesses in the Scottish wedding sector. Recognised by the Scottish Government as the official voice of the industry, SWIA works to support and promote wedding suppliers by connecting them with potential clients, provide resources and guidance to wedding industry businesses and lobby the government on issues affecting the wedding industry.

Find out more

British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP)

The British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP), founded in 1901, is the only institute in the UK dedicated exclusively to professionals in the photography industry. They offer qualifications and accreditation programs that wedding photographers can pursue to enhance their skills and gain recognition in the industry as well as fostering a community of professional photographers, providing opportunities for wedding photographers to connect with colleagues.

Visit their website

Alison Hargreaves photo

About the author


Alison Hargreaves

Alison founded Guides for Brides in 1995 and has been advising brides and businesses ever since. She has an unrivalled knowledge of the wedding industry and is part of an international network of wedding professionals and entrepreneurs. Alison frequently appears on podcasts and expert panels as well as judging various wedding awards.

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