» How to Stand Out Using Your Reviews

Photo by: B. Jones Photography

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP.

I’ve seen quite a few websites that have a paragraph, or even a page, that explains why a couple should hire a professional in their field (planner, videographer, invitation designer…). But by the time someone has gotten to that website, they’re already thinking that they want, or need a professional. That’s why they’re there. People don’t accidentally get to your website. They have to go through a series of steps to get there. Instead of using that valuable real estate to sell why they need someone in your field, use that space to sell you, and only you, for their wedding or event.

Evaluate the strength of your brand

A brand is many things. It’s much more than a logo or colors. Those are just visuals, to help identify your company. Your brand goes much deeper. What does it feel like, to do business with your company? What does it mean to do business with you? When choosing between you and your company, and another in your market and category, what are the differentiating factors? It’s not your bullet point list of services. Most of your competitors have a similar list, including good reviews and being nice people. What statement does it make to their wedding or event guests, to see that you are their officiant, designer or transportation company? You can have really nice products and services, and not have a strong brand.

What are you really selling?

Unless your unique selling proposition (USP) is that you’re the cheapest price, some people are seeing a difference between what you’re offering, and other options. Can you articulate why they’re choosing you? Can you go beyond a bullet point list of what services you offer, to show them why they should choose you, and only you, for their wedding or event?

Your reviews are branding gold

Like so many seemingly difficult questions, the way to express your brand is very close at hand. By heading over to your WeddingWire account, you’re only one click away from finding your brand. Click over to the Reviews tab in your dashboard for a simple exercise. Look for phrases and sentences that come up, over and over again. The way that past customers are describing their experience with you is one of the best ways, that I know, to articulate what it means to do business with you. Your happy clients say things you can’t, or won’t. They use words and phrases that would sound funny, or strange, or egotistical, if you said them. They express emotions, that show others what it’s like to choose you, and your team, and even specific members of your team. Unless you are new, and have no reviews, you’re sitting on a gold mine. You need to find those wonderful nuggets.

Let your reviews speak for themselves

Now comes the fun part. Don’t just identify those great sentences and phrases. Sprinkle them around your website, in your marketing, in your email communications and more. Answer this question: “Why should you choose (your business) for your wedding (your service)?” and then, instead of you answering the question, say “That’s a fair question, and one you should definitely ask, before deciding. Rather than tell you about our experience and professionalism, we’d rather let our couples, people just like you, tell you their experiences having us for their weddings:” Put a few bullets with those short phrases and sentences you found above. Finish it off with a strong call to action: “If these are the kinds of results you’d like for your wedding, call, text or contact us today 747.555.1234” Always ask for the sale, or at least the next steps, when you answer a question, or objection.

I have a document where I save all of the great reviews, testimonial notes, social comments, etc. Then, when I need a quote for a web page, marketing piece, or email, they’re close at hand, and searchable. So, get out your miner’s hat, and start finding the gold in your reviews and testimonials. Then, let your happy customers express your brand, and your ‘why’ to your prospects. Many other wedding and event pros are seeing success with this, and I know you can too.

alan bergWeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

 

 

» 3 Reasons Reviews Are Important to Couples

Photo by: epaga FOTO

You’ve been hearing it for years: reviews are imperative for your wedding business. We’ve seen just how important online reviews have become – and how couples are using this information throughout the entire planning process, from researching prospective vendors to making a final booking. But from the couple’s perspective, why are reviews so important?

Our WedInsights series provides wedding professionals with consumer and business insights from a variety of research and surveys conducted throughout the year. The Reviews volume is full of actionable information surrounding reviews from initial research to the actual submission of wedding reviews. Below are a few reasons your wedding reviews are important to both engaged and newlywed couples!

Couples are looking for baseline information

When couples read your wedding reviews, they’re trying to find out more about your business than you’ve provided on your Storefront or website. In fact, couples consider price and reviews to be the most important features when choosing which vendors to reach out to for their big day! Collectively, reviews provide information about your business’ personality, quality of work, and professionalism that is most likely not conveyed through your own marketing materials.

Couples want to read about the full experience

83% of searching couples like to hear what they should expect – not from the vendors themselves, but from past customers who’ve been in their position. Whether your reviews display your business in a positive or in a not-so-positive light, couples want to read about it all. Even negative reviews provide valuable information about your responsiveness, timeliness, and consistency. But don’t worry about a few unfavorable reviews: Over 50% of couples say they are more likely to consider a vendor who has a mixture of positive and negative reviews, rather than no reviews at all.

Couples want to help future couples – and vendors!

Because reviews are such a big part of the planning process, couples know that feedback is super important for other brides and grooms searching for their vendors. Furthermore, they know how important positive feedback can be for vendors. Our data shows that couples are most likely to write a review for their venue, officiant, and DJ, but that doesn’t mean your business won’t receive a review if your business doesn’t fall into one of those service categories. One in three clients will write a review if they are reminded at least once. All you have to do is ask! You can contact your previous clients using the Review Collector Tool or send them an email to request a review.

Prospective clients want to hear real stories from real couples so they can gauge whether you can help fulfill their vision and deliver quality service. The more reviews you have, the more couples can learn about your business before contacting you – meaning more qualified leads.


» Why You Should Never Buy Followers on Social Media

The desire to feel validated and popular, paired with the difficulty of earning followers organically leads a lot of businesses to want to buy followers – after all, a higher number of followers will make you look better to couples checking out your page… right? Not necessarily.

Having the ability to show off thousands of followers sounds nice in theory, but buying followers can be harmful to your brand in more ways than one. Here’s why:

Buying followers impacts your credibility

Nobody else may know that you bought followers, but if couples who check out your social profiles figure out that your followers are fake, it will significantly impact your credibility and trustworthiness – the two things you were hoping to build. You don’t want couples to start wondering things like, “If you are paying your way to internet popularity, what else might you not be totally upfront about?”

Fake followers are obvious

There are so many ways to spot fake followers. If someone sees your company’s Facebook or Instagram account one day and notices that you have a certain number of followers, then comes back the next day to see that you have ten times the amount of followers from the day before, they will know something is up.

Furthermore, fake followers never have realistic profiles. They often have a randomly generated username, similar profile pictures and bios, and rarely have more than one post published to their account. If someone notices that those are the types of accounts following you, they will know for sure your followers aren’t real.

People may think poorly of your content

Consider this scenario: a couple goes to your profile or company page and sees how “popular” you are with such a large following. When they start exploring your posts, they are probably expecting many likes, shares, and comments, but instead, they see almost no interactions with your content. Their first reaction will likely be that no one is interested in the content you share, and therefore it isn’t worth checking out.

SEO will take a hit

If your follower count is disproportionately higher than the number of people you follow and the number of posts you have published, Google may actually flag your account as fake and penalize your profile and website in search rankings. This is because having fewer posts with an abnormally large number of followers is a common indication of a fake account, and Google wants to show users quality search results. If links to your website are primarily being shared on what is flagged as a fake account, Google will interpret that as spam. In short, quality content gets prioritized when it comes to SEO and purchased followers can impact your quality score.

So how do you gain real followers organically?

  • Post examples of your work, behind the scenes snapshots, photos with couples, and go live on Facebook to showcase you and your business to couples
  • Interact with your followers
  • Be authentic and have personality so couples know you are genuine and real
  • Publish posts often, but don’t spam followers with promotional content
  • Run giveaways for couples – For example, if your photo gets 100 likes or comments, a participant could win a fun freebie related to your business

Growing your social media following organically is almost always the better practice. Instead of spending money on a following that will do nothing for your business, invest your time using the above tactics to create a following that will be far more likely to gain value from your posts and therefore more likely to engage with you and your business.

» WeddingWire at Create & Cultivate Seattle

On September 9th the WeddingWire team was thrilled to join hundreds of inspiring and entrepreneurial women as a sponsor of Create & Cultivate’s Seattle Conference. Hosted on Microsoft’s Campus, the day was filled with impactful workshops, meaningful mentor sessions, and empowering discussions, including the “Radically Creative” panel featuring WeddingWire’s own Jeffra Trumpower, Associate Director, Content + Creative Services. Attendees also enjoyed delicious cocktails, food, pop-up shops, photo booths, gift bags and of course a WeddingWire Confetti bar (where many “boomerang” videos ensued!).

If you aren’t familiar with Create & Cultivate, it is an organization for women who are “looking to create and cultivate the career of their dreams”. C&C gathers the next generation of curious creatives, entrepreneurs, and “girl bosses” to spark conversation around the topics they are passionate about including brand building, small business strategy and influencer marketing. Along with all of these talented and like-minded influencers, entrepreneurs, and event professionals, WeddingWire was joined by other influential brands such as Microsoft, Refinery29, La Croix, GoDaddy, Express, Shopstyle and more. We, along with many others, left feeling inspired and empowered to bring our learnings back to WeddingWire HQ.

To read more about Create & Cultivate head on over to their site and don’t miss the write up on how WeddingWire is Defying Tech Industry Norms!

» WeddingWire Networking Night Seattle

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Lake Union Cafe & Custom Bakery for WeddingWire Networking Night Seattle!

At the Networking Night, wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy an art deco event space while networking over light fare. Guests met other local vendors across all service categories as well as members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and social, mobile & tech trends for your business, presented by WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer, Sonny Ganguly.

Thank you to all the wonderful pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the lovely evening below. For additional photos from the night, check out our gallery!

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Tom of Tom Ellis Photography!

» 4 Ways to Use Your WeddingWire Reviews on Social Media

Photo by: epaga FOTO

Reviews are the best way to earn a couple’s trust and get them excited to book you for their wedding. Couples searching for vendors can easily see your WeddingWire reviews, but you can also showcase your reviews on social media to help attract couples who follow you or come across your profile.

Generally, paragraphs of text do not perform as well as photos, videos, or slideshows on social media platforms. This means you will need to get creative in the way you share your reviews in order to reach a larger audience and get the most engagement possible.

Here are four ways to use your WeddingWire reviews on social media:

Create a Graphic Featuring Your Review

Use a program like Canva or Photoshop to create an image displaying your review. Start by copying and pasting a review and the couple’s names in a text box. Customize the font style and color to make the text eye-catching. Then, add graphic elements such as stars, your logo, flowers, and/or borders surrounding the text to make the graphic visually appealing and reflective of your brand.

Use the Instagram Carousel Feature

Instagram allows you to post up to 10 photos at a time, giving users the ability to swipe through a series in a single post. Take advantage of this feature by showcasing a review with a corresponding photo from that wedding. Here’s how to:

  1. Pick a review that a couple submitted on WeddingWire about you. Make a graphic, as described above, featuring this review.
  2. Start a new post in the Instagram app.
  3. Click on the “Select Multiple” button.
  4. Select a photo featuring your work from this specific couple’s wedding.
  5. Select the graphic you made showcasing the review from the couple.
  6. In your caption, tell your audience to swipe right to see what the couple had to say about your work!

You can also switch the photos around so the review comes first and the photos come second in the carousel. Either way, this type of post is powerful because it shows potential clients your work, along with what past couples thought of it at the same time!

Use the Carousel Feature on Facebook to Share Your WeddingWire Profile

Facebook also has a carousel feature that allows you to upload up to five photos that users can scroll through, each of which includes a caption underneath it. You can use the carousel to showcase photos of your work and send people to your WeddingWire profile. Here’s how to:

  1. Go to your business page and click share a photo.
  2. Select “Create a Photo Carousel.”
  3. Write a caption that features a review and encourages couples to click to see more testimonials.
  4. Enter the URL for your WeddingWire profile as the destination URL and click the blue arrow.
  5. Upload up to five photos of your work.
  6. Click on the text below each image and paste short quotes (3-5 words) pulled from your reviews under each image.
  7. Publish your post!

This type of post is unique and engaging, making it excellent for getting couples to click and read your reviews.

Showcase Your Reviews on Your Website

Include your WeddingWire reviews on your services pages, contact page, and sales page of your website. At the end of the review, link to your WeddingWire profile and encourage couples to click through to see more reviews. When a couple is perusing your website, they will see multiple reviews about your work, as well as the option to click and read more.

» 7 Essentials of a Great Website

An online presence is vital for any business, but a poor online presence could be costing your business money. As busy season starts to wind down and engagement season ramps up, you should start thinking about using the next couple of months to tune up your business, including your website. Doing so will make sure you are putting your best foot forward for all of the newly engaged couples!

Your website’s job is to provide key information about your business, showcase your best work and impress clients to drive leads. When was the last time you considered if your business website is working hard enough for you?

Here’s a roundup of seven website essentials from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg:

  1. Personalized Content: Aim to use conversational text on your site that connects with your target audience — engaged couples. Instead of making your content all about your business, make it all about your customer and bring life to your business.

  2. Fresh Imagery: When was the last time you refreshed your website photos? If it’s been a while, it may be time to do so! Make a great first impression with high quality, modern images that will resonate with newly engaged couples who are seeking inspiration. Not only is it a great way to show off your work and service, it’s a great way to establish credibility with a couple.

  3. Relevant Information: Take a look at your site from an outside perspective, and determine what information they need to make a simple decision of whether to contact you or book your services. Then, delete everything else. Often, too much text is overwhelming and causes your site visitors to bounce. Focus on your key takeaways and make them easy to read and digest.

  4. Simple Contact Form: Long forms get in the way of more leads! The shorter the form, the less daunting it will seem to reach out. Plus, shorter forms are more mobile-friendly. For the form, only ask for the key information you need. When you respond to their inquiry you can ask them to provide more details.

  5. Narrated Photos: Consider adding captions or other narrative context to the photos you showcase on your site. Explain the photos and how your business brought a couple’s wedding day or event to life and tie in relevant keywords to boost your SEO. Keep these brief, but it can help create a personal connection.

  6. Testimonials and Reviews: Potential clients want to hear from others like them who have used – and loved your services, so make sure your reviews are easy to find! Add your WeddingWire Reviews widget to your website, and place a soundbite from an approved client testimonial on every page so they won’t be overlooked.

  7. Straight Forward Calls to Action: Make it easy to connect with your business. Consider adding a contact form or clear button to learn more about your business to every page of your website. You can also use calls-to-action to get visitors to engage with content you would like to promote such as a real wedding videos, content downloads and more.

» The Value of Showcasing Inclusivity For All Couples

This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.

Over the course of the last 12 months, I have been surprised by the number of conversations I’ve had with wedding professionals who share stories of same-sex couples being refused service and of some who fear losing business if they openly serve the LGBTQ community. These conversations remind me a bit of those I had with pros in 2005, and I want to make sure I take the time to support every professional who has questions about serving same-sex couples, no matter where they are in their journey.

But these conversations aren’t always easy for the wedding professionals who work in areas where marriage equality came as a result of the Supreme Court decision in 2015 rather than through a majority vote on election day. It may be the case that 90% of wedding professionals we surveyed in 2015 said they plan to serve same-sex couples, but a change in law doesn’t always result in a change of heart for everyone.

At our recent WeddingWire World 2017 in Washington D.C., several wedding professionals from the Southeast explained to me that they very much want to market to same-sex couples, but they are concerned about appearing as something other than “neutral” for fear that they will lose new business from those who oppose same-sex marriage. They are seeking ways to be open but understated in their efforts. These pros understand that it’s important to let same-sex couples know that they are ready, willing and able to work with them, and they recognize that there is still work to do.

Tips for showcasing inclusivity

In the course of these conversations, we talk about the different ways wedding professionals can showcase inclusivity for all couples, such as:

  • Updating your language to be inclusive of ‘brides and grooms’
  • Adding images to your Storefront or website that offer a more diverse, multicultural representation of couples
  • Developing a local network of like-minded professionals to reduce the feeling of market isolation
  • Identifying and establishing relationships with larger corporate brands with a local presence (great examples include Marriott and Hilton) who are open advocates of the LGBTQ community

Remember: Professional allies are everywhere around you; they often just need to be identified.

» How to Build an Organizational Plan for Your Business

Small businesses owners often dedicate the majority of their time to managing their business and making their clients happy. In many cases, they get wrapped up in their day-to-day work and forget about themselves. After all, didn’t you go into business for you?

We explored time management and productivity techniques with Vanessa Joy of Vanessa Joy Photography in our recent Premium webinar. Vanessa shared tips for helping you run your business rather than letting it run you.

The workflow exercise below is all about finding what really matters to you and taking action to work towards your definition of success. Whether you want to create more free time to spend with your family, build a bigger client base, allow more flexibility for travel, or whatever else it may be, this organizational plan will help move you towards your goal.

“Parts of a Whole” Exercise

  1. Before anything else, you must define what success means to you in your small business. It’s probably something you thought about a lot at the beginning of your journey, so it’s a great place to start. Ask yourself why you went into this business and write a few of those things down. Are these still the things that equate to success in your mind? If not, do a bit of editing and come up with a full list of how you determine the success of your business today.
  2. Now that you’re refreshed on your why and what success means to you, grab a piece of paper and a pen. Draw a line down the middle to make two columns. On the left side write down the following things: anything you dislike doing for your business, the things you aren’t good at, the tasks that slow you down, any menial ($10 an hour) tasks, the processes you know are broken, and anything you do that you know your clients don’t notice.
  3. On the right side write down all of the things you love doing for your business, everything that defines your brand, and the things your clients do notice (for this, look to your reviews, emails from couples, etc).

Putting Your Plan in Action

And just like that you’ve outlined the priorities for your business! Everything written in the left column should be thoroughly assessed and prioritized. Set aside some time and create a potential plan of action to remove these tasks from your workflow completely. When assessing these tasks, it’s hard to visualize putting them in someone else’s hands. So, ask yourself if keeping them under your control moves you toward your definition of success. If not, it’s time to find an alternative whether that’s outsourcing, automating or hiring an intern.

For everything in the right column, these are the tasks that should continue to be in your realm and under your control. This is where you can make the most impact in your business and where you should be focusing your time. These are the tasks you went into business for.

We’ll admit, making an organizational plan for your business isn’t always easy, but we promise it will help you in the long run. Figuring out where to spend your time is the most important step – from there you can find tools for streamlining and begin to outsource some of the left column work.

Once you have made your plan, do your best to have patience and delegate. There’s no way to see results unless you wait!

» How to Choose the Right Industry Association

If you are looking to take your business to a new level, whether you’re new or have years of experience, joining an industry association could be just the game-changer you’ve be looking for. Association memberships grant access to power networking, collaborative relationships and leadership opportunities, all of the tools that can put a great business on the fast track to even bigger things!

Why Join?

Professional associations have a lot to offer. Many local chapters offer regular get-togethers where you can meet like-minded individuals, share ideas, swap stories and exchange thoughts. Some organizations pair these meetings with educational opportunities, prestigious speakers and exposure to new concepts to provide additional support for member businesses.

Some organizations also have national chapters, broadening the available networking opportunities substantially. There are often annual conferences for members and even the ability to attend meetings of other chapters.

Which Association is Best for You?

The events industry has several major associations, all of which support our professionals, and each with a different set of strengths and benefits. Some of the major organizations include:

WIPA

The Wedding International Professionals Association (WIPA) was formed to provide an opportunity for networking and continued education. There are nine chapters around the country and the option of joining “at-large.” The organization offers meetings, mentoring programs, up-to-date information and news for a tight-knit community of professionals.

ILEA

The International Live Events Association (ILEA) is an international association with 51
chapters worldwide. Membership is offered to creative event professionals and offers access to invaluable resources, a career center, exclusive events and the ability to compete for coveted awards.

NACE

The National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) has 40 chapters across the nation and hosts numerous events throughout the year to increase education in the industry and give members a platform to showcase their work to peers. Local chapters offer leadership opportunities as well as regular networking gatherings. The annual NACE Experience conference is one of the industry’s most heralded events and considered a can’t-miss by many.

MPI

Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the largest meeting and event industry association in the world, focuses on high-level education and business practices. The organization’s 90 chapters are located across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Members can access a network of peers and many educational opportunities.

You’ll also want to be mindful of locally grown organizations- and remember, you can always take matters into your own hands and create your own opportunities. I founded Tri-Valley Wedding Professionals years ago to fill a need in our community and we’re now hundreds of members strong.

No matter which industry association you choose, an investment will be necessary to become a member. This investment is only worth it if you plan to actively participate by attending meetings, offering your services and seeking leadership roles. There is next to no benefit if you simply pay your dues and never show up. Associations are communities that rely on every member to help make them great.

In addition to those listed above, the events industry has many niche associations, like ADJA for DJs or WPJA for photographers, that offer numerous benefits to members. We recommend doing a bit of research on the associations related to your niche, choosing at least one that appeals to you and fits your business goals, and joining today!

 

Kevin Dennis is the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and a past national president for WIPA.

 

» 5 People Every Wedding Business Owner Needs on Speed Dial

As the saying goes, “It takes a village.” That sentiment rings true when it comes to owning and operating your own business. You want to surround yourself with smart and capable people that will contribute to your success and growth. Who those people are tend to be a bit different for everyone, but we’ve put together a list from fellow wedding pros on who you may want to add to your speed dial.

Website Consultant
Kylie Carlson of the International Academy of Wedding and Event Planning relies heavily on her website consultant, “Since we are an e-learning company, I speak to my Website Consultant daily for his advice on different things I need to maintain 6 websites and a Learning Management System.” Most of us can relate to running a business primarily through a website, and when emergencies pop up or you need something added quickly, having your consultant’s number at the ready is a must.

Social Media Groups
In the age of social media, sometimes a phone call isn’t needed when you belong to groups of like-minded individuals that you trust. Jenny DeMarco of Jenny DeMarco Photography shares, “I am a part of a group of about 35 peers from all over that met while attending the same workshops and conferences every year. We are diverse in age, experience, income levels, business models, photography styles and much more. We have an online Facebook group that I turn to all the time when I need advice or encouragement.”

Business Partner
When you need a second opinion, or are struggling with some of the bigger decisions, oftentimes the person you should be speaking with is your business partner. “Running a business is often a fast paced environment that needs quick decisions, creative problem solving, and innovative ideas. So I find myself regularly calling the person that I know is just as invested as I am- my business partner.” explains Audrey Isaac of 100 Candles.

Publicist
Kevin Dennis of WeddingIQ doesn’t make any marketing PR decisions without first getting on a call with his publicist, “For us, our speed dial list is really two-fold, because different people are valuable in different areas. Our publicist is the first person we call when it comes to any marketing or insider wedding industry questions, but when I am thinking on a new idea or need advice outside of PR and marketing, I turn to a few trusted veteran peers for help.”

Massage Therapist
You may read this with a confused expression, but relaxation and recharging are an absolute necessity when working in the wedding business. “After a weekend of weddings, you need that massage first thing Monday morning,” says Jennifer Taylor of Taylor’d Events. If not a masseuse, then perhaps call your tennis partner or yoga instructor- whatever you need to do to enjoy a little rest.

Now it’s your turn! Pull out your phone and create a speed dial list that’s right for you.

 

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

 

» 5 Things We Learned About the Diverse Needs of Today’s Couples

5 Things We Learned about the Diverse Needs of Today’s Couples’ Photo by Cynthia Rose Photography

Here at WeddingWire, we continually promote the importance of understanding today’s couples, largely millennials who want a personalized experience that might not closely mirror the weddings of yesterday. At WeddingWire World DC on August 14-15, we assembled a panel of trend experts for a discussion about “Understanding the Diverse Needs of Today’s Couples”, including Chezelle Rodriguez, Destination Wedding & Event Specialist at CD Weddings; Jacqueline Nwobu, CEO & Editor-in-Chief of Munaluchi Bride Magazine and Anne Chertoff, WeddingWire Trend Expert.

Attendees were treated to insider secrets on how to appeal to and best serve today’s couples, whether they be straight or LGBTQ, of a different ethnicity or religion. Here are the top five takeaways:

There’s no “I” in team.

Although all couples are looking for different skills and qualities in their wedding vendors, modern couples really want a “wedding team”. That means they’re not just looking for a caterer to come in, set up food and leave. They want to know who you are, what your values are and how you’ll fit into their overall vision. So, don’t be afraid to show your personality to couples on social media!

Little details help when you’re in uncharted territory.

There’s a first time for everything. Maybe you’ve never served a same-sex couple before, but you’ve just signed a contract with a gay couple. Or, perhaps, you’ve mainly done non-denominational ceremonies, but your newest client wants a traditional Hindu wedding. Whatever the case, be sure to approach potential clients with the respect and industry knowledge that made them want to inquire with you in the first place. Of course, it helps to do your research before your first meeting, but, otherwise, be sure to listen actively, remember little things (like their names!) and be courteous — just as you would with all potential clients. Pretty soon, you’ll be confident and familiar with the couple and happy to add a new area of expertise to your portfolio.

Authenticity matters.

Weddings are highly personalized and it’s OK, if not preferred, to specialize in a certain aesthetic or style of wedding. This might mean that you turn down clients, or some clients won’t approach you, but it will also mean that you’ll spend your time working with couples who really enjoy the same style that you do. Millennials in particular are looking for wedding vendors with an authentic approach to their work, rather than a one-size-fits-all chameleon. This might come into play with a more curated Instagram feed or even working with other wedding vendors who have a similar style to create a styled shoot that represents your aesthetic.

Speaking of styled shoots...

They’re a great way to enter a new wedding market. For example, if you’re dying to book your first LGBTQ couple, but don’t have examples to show you know how to shoot or style a wedding for a same-sex couple, consider getting some of your favorite wedding pros together for a styled shoot. However, be strategic. Create a short list of wedding publications or websites where you can submit the styled shoot for maximum exposure before you spend the time and money to produce it. Also, when you’re sharing the shoot, be extra-careful to credit everyone who was involved!

Avoid the cookie-cutter approach. 

This is a phrase you’ve likely heard from a lot of clients — “I don’t want a cookie cutter wedding.” While it’s true that most weddings follow a very similar time schedule (ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, possibly an after party), couples want you to infuse their wedding with their personality and love story. This means listening carefully and asking the right questions, like how did you meet; when did you fall in love; what are some of your favorite things to do as a couple? From here, you’re able to present your client with your vision for wedding details that are meaningful to them.