» Pride Month Recap: Marriage Equality, GayWeddings.com News, and More

Each June, the LGBTQ community is celebrated at Pride festivals and parades in communities all over the country (and world!). With so many great things that happened this Pride Month, we wanted to provide a quick recap so none of these awesome events go unnoticed! Check out our highlights below.

Capital Pride Parade

WeddingWire staff, along with LGBTQ-friendly couples and wedding professionals, showed support for same-sex couples and allies throughout the nation by walking in the Capital Pride Parade. Our team was also joined by Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com.

2015 marks the third year WeddingWire has been involved in DC’s Pride Month celebrations. Our team was at Capital Pride in both 2012 and 2013 to help festival-goers learn about the Wed We Can campaign, and in 2014 when we joined the parade on its walk through the District.

Check out the following photos from the parade!

Capital Pride Parade 2015

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» Pro Form Buzz: SEO Tips, Blogging Questions, and More

The WeddingWire Pro Forums are a great place to meet and connect with other Wedding Pros across the country to grow your network. Every day, wedding professionals are talking about a variety of topics, from client concerns to professional advice and best practices.

Google search on mobilee deviceHere’s what Pros are talking about this month in the WeddingWire Pro Forums!

SEO tips for top rankings

In a Tech Tuesday post from WeddingWire Associate Director of Customer Success Brendan McClellan, Pros discuss SEO tips to help them climb to the top of search results. Plus, WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon weighs in on whether or not to consider using multiple domains.

Offer your insights >>

Blogging questions

A Pro asks for help in coming up with blog post topics and tips for blogging consistently. Other Pros share their own blogs and blogs that they follow to make blogging easier, and some share their conventional wisdom based on the impact blogging has had on their search engine rankings.

Give your opinions >>

Putting together a styled shoot

A wedding planner asks for help when putting together a styled shoot. She feels she’s spending more money and time on the shoot than other Pros involved, and she wonders if that’s how it normally goes. Pros give their opinions on what she should expect and how to avoid the same issues going forward.

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» Top Down Selling Tips to Increase Your Bottom Line

June-Webinar_Top-Down-Selling-to-Increase-Your-Bottom-Line_TileWebinar recap!

When it comes to running your business, it is best to try to work smarter, not harder. This attitude doesn’t just apply to your services – it also applies to your sales process! In this month’s webinar for premium members, WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg shared his tips for leveraging top down selling opportunities to help boost your bottom line.

Check out some key take aways below, and watch the full session in the Education tab of your WeddingWire account any time!

Webinar highlights:

  • When it comes to your services and packages, more choice is not always better! More options can be overwhelming. It’s best to keep your services concise, clear and presented from highest to lowest in package form.
  • The three simple ways to earn more money are to focus on higher volume, set a higher average sale, or a combination of both. By getting to know the client needs, and effectively setting your prices, you will be on a path to more revenue.
  • Set the goal to not oversell or undersell for each client. How do you accomplish this? Focus on finding out their interest and needs and trying to sell them the service they want (not what you would want!), avoiding pre-judging any client needs, and selling packages vs. a-la-carte services as much as possible.
  • Work to establish three key packages to keep choices limited and services consistent. Three packages will give your clients enough choice without overwhelming them with options. Consider creating a top of the line package, a standard “featured” package with your most popular services as a medium price point, and a good but more basic package. Then, once the package is selected, allow for add-ons and customization as you see fit.
  • Top down selling works by assuming the higher sale. A higher sale means more work and profits for your business. When consulting with clients, listen to their needs then politely show them your most exclusive offer first, and gauge their reaction. Never start with focusing on your lowest package or you could miss a great up-sell opportunity. After all, no one is ever offended by being presented the best you have to offer!

Sign up for our monthly webinars for more great education, and visit the Past Webinars section within your WeddingWire account for all previous sessions on a wide variety of topics.

» WeddingWire Networking Night Panhandle

Earlier this week, Wedding Pros gathered at 331 South for WeddingWire Networking Night Panhandle!

At the Networking Night, Panhandle Pros had the opportunity to network with other local Pros across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team and listen to a brief presentation. Other networking events have been held throughout the country, with more exciting events and locations to come this year!

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our newest issue of WedInsights, and great photos from the evening (as seen below). If you want to continue the conversation with some of the Pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Networking Night board in the Pro Forums!

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! Congrats to Cindy Warriner of Photocraft by Tom Warriner!

WeddingWire Networking Night Panhandle
WeddingWire Networking Night Panhandle
WeddingWire Networking Night Panhandle
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» Social Media Tips for When You’re Stumped

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

The importance of social media to wedding businesses can’t be denied. Used properly, social media is completely free marketing platform that is unsurpassed in its ability to cement your brand identity, create meaningful relationships with your clients and other wedding professionals, and give your business a real, human voice that resonates with people more than a static website or a print ad ever could.

On the other hand, social media can seem completely overwhelming. Most wedding business owners use at least one social media platform for their personal interactions, but knowing how to manage a complete social media marketing program for your business is a different skill altogether. Here are my top five social media tips to make it easier.

Top social media tips

  1. Decide which platforms are most useful for your business. It seems that new social media technologies are being offered all the time (this very topic was one of the highlights of Sonny Ganguly’s presentation at WeddingWire World 2015!). I think it’s safe to say, though, that the most mainstream platforms are the only really essential ones for the wedding industry. All wedding businesses can benefit from having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, because they support easy information-sharing in the form of words and images, and are highly interactive. Pros in more creative and visual fields (or who are good at remembering to take photos of everything) can get a lot out of Pinterest and Instagram, too. LinkedIn can also serve as a good way to network with other business owners. Remember that it’s totally fine to start with just one or two of these platforms – you can learn more, and build your presence, as you go. The most important thing is that you keep up with your social media usage on whichever platforms you choose.
  1. Identify the voice you want to use. Most wedding pros that I know are personally invested in their business, and their brand is largely a reflection of their personality and values. It makes sense, then, that you should put some thought into exactly how you want to represent yourself on your business social media accounts. Do you want your posts to be strictly professional, sharing advice/information and announcing company news? Or do you want to incorporate personal successes and struggles as well, for a more “human” approach? Having a clearly defined voice for your social media presence will make a big difference in how you craft your content, and how your message is perceived.

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» Infographic: Same-Sex Wedding Insights

With the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality slated to be announced by the end of June 2015, now is the time to deepen your understanding of the top same-sex marriage trends. Straight couples and same-sex couples share many of the same wedding planning needs, but how do the traditions and rituals differ? Check out our infographic with same-sex wedding insights from the GayWeddings.com 2014 annual survey to find out how the LGBTQ wedding market is changing.

2015 same-sex wedding insights

» Understanding How SCOTUS Will Rule on Same-Sex Marriage

View More: http://carlyfullerphotography.pass.us/kathryn-amy-weddingThis post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, the leading online boutique and resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

From the early, isolated efforts of same-sex couples to attain a marriage license in the late 20th century to the coordinated efforts of engaged couples and advocacy groups over the past 10 years, we now await what may be a monumental ruling on same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

In mid-April, the Supreme Court justices heard four cases which ultimately set the stage for two primary questions regarding legal marriage. Those are: 1. Does the US Constitution require states to perform marriages; and 2. Does the US Constitution require states to recognize marriages performed in other states.

Lambda Legal infographic

Click through for full Infographic by Lambda Legal

Lambda Legal, an organization representing the LGBTQ community, put forth this fabulous infographic outlining what we might expect with a Yes or a No on either or both questions.

Experts suggest that we are likely to have the decision handed down on June 29th or 30th, just prior to the Justices departure for the summer break. The end of the term is typically when the most controversial decisions are announced and this year, with the decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act also expected, will be no exception. It is, of course, possible that the decision could be handed down sooner and as early as Monday, June 22nd. In either case, you’ll hear from us as soon as there is news.

How the court will rule is anyone’s guess, but some believe that Chief Justice Roberts will side with the majority opinion, resulting in a 6-3 decision. And many feel optimistic that, based on the hearing as well as the cases, consequences and favorable public opinion, that the majority will find in favor of marriage equality. The question will be whether same-sex couples have the right to marry in any state or the opportunity to have their marriages recognized in any state (leaving some wiggle room for individual states to work out their own policies – for now).

The WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com team will continue to watch for the decision and will explain in short order what the ruling means so that we might help the engaged couples, yet-to-be engaged couples, and wedding professionals understand what their options and responsibilities are.

Meanwhile, we’ll remain steadfast in our support of marriage equality via our long-standing #WedWeCan campaign and invite you to show your support for marriage equality by sharing your images of love with the hashtag #WedWeCan.

» 7 Ways to Stay Creative and Inspired

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

In the throes of the busy wedding season, it may seem like all you’re able to do is keep up with status quo; you prepare for one wedding, work the event, and then move on to the next. There’s often little time left to devote to creativity, which means you can start to feel like a weddings robot.

Idea! light bulbFew people can maintain creativity, but certain habits can rejuvenate you when you’ve fallen into a rut. Here are some solid ideas to keep you creative and inspired, even during the busiest of times:

Change your morning routine

If you are a creature of habit, change things up! Take a different route to your favorite coffee shop. Maybe pick a different copy shop. You’ll see and meet different people. Change your coffee order; pick a bagel instead of croissant. You know it’s time to do this, when your barista asks, “The usual?”

Pace yourself

Don’t just work til you drop from exhaustion; take breaks. Set a timer for 60-90 minutes, then take a breather. Work in sprints. Take 20 minute breaks to refresh. Get out of the building, take a walk, read fiction, call an old friend, turn on some high-energy moving and dance for a few minutes. In short, shake yourself up, so you’ll look forward to the next task at hand.

Carry a notebook and a pen

Smart ideas, blog topics, and other creative thoughts hit you at random times. Don’t get caught short without a way to record those ideas. I like the process of letting the ink flow, but you might prefer dictation on your smartphone. Cool! How you save the ideas is not the key – just make sure to save them for future action.

Change your soundtrack

Listen to different radio station or music channel. Dig through old CDs and rediscover some of your music. Unclick your favorite, predictable playlist and randomize from your entire collection. Pick up some nature tracks like rain or ocean waves, and let them be this afternoon’s background.

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» WeddingWire Workshop Chicago

Earlier this week, local Chicago Wedding Pros gathered at Loews Chicago Hotel for the WeddingWire Workshop Chicago, an event focused on managing your business!

At the WeddingWire Workshop, Pros gathered for an in-depth presentation on the tools available within the Clients Tab of premium members’ WeddingWire accounts. In addition to receiving this tutorial, attendees also enjoyed a Peer Insights Panel, met their local WeddingWire representatives, and networked with other local Pros during a closing reception.

WeddingWire Workshops are the newest addition to our variety of educational events and networking opportunities created for Wedding Pros, which include our annual user’s conference WeddingWire World, networking events such as WeddingWire Mix & Mingles and WeddingWire Networking Nights.

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us and participated in the Workshop, including our panelists from SQN Events, WeddingMix by Storymix Media, David Rothstein Music, and Rev. Giovanni Weddings. If you want to continue the conversation with some of the Pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Workshop Chicago board in the Pro Forums!

We’re excited to share some highlights from the event and additional resources including access to our Clients tab Quick Start Guides, the WeddingWire Education Guide for more business tips, and great photos from the evening (as seen below).

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

Finally, congrats to Kim Stafford of the Chicago Marriott Naperville, the winner of the WeddingWire prize pack!

WeddingWire Workshop Chicago
WeddingWire Workshop Chicago
WeddingWire Workshop Chicago
WeddingWire Workshop Chicago
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» Is Your Digital Content the Right Length?

Creating digital contentWhen it comes to writing for your wedding business, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. The messaging in your blog posts should be consistent with your content your website, and your emails and social media posts should also reflect the same tone and voice. With all of those considerations, it’s easy to write too much (or sometimes too little) to keep it all straight!

If you’ve ever wondered how long your pieces of digital content should be, you’re not alone. Luckily for you, there’s a ton of research on exactly how long your digital content should be for ideal exposure and views on the various channels. Below are some of the findings:

Facebook. Research shows that posts shorter than 40 characters (meaning words and spaces or punctuation) had 86% higher engagement rates than longer posts. This isn’t to say that long Facebook posts are useless – in a lot of cases, there’s no way to condense information into less than 40 characters. If you can squeeze posts to under 80 characters, they get 66% more “likes” and comments.

Twitter. Twitter, unlike Facebook, is already very limited in the amount of content users can post. Ideal post length on Twitter is actually longer than ideal post length on Facebook, but it’s an easy number to remember: 100 characters. Twitter’s own research shows that medium-length tweets get the most re-tweets. Why? If users want to “quote” the tweet or retweet and add their own thoughts, they have enough characters left to do so. For optimally shareable tweets, aim for 70-100 characters.

Headlines. If you have a blog, pay close attention to this one! Just like people scan blog posts, (sad, but true) they scan the headlines. The maximum word count for headlines is just six words. Research shows that if a headline is longer than that, readers only look at the first three words and the last three words. Consequently, keeping headlines to six or fewer words ensures that readers pay attention to the whole headline. Plus, Google typically only displays 50-60 characters of the title in search results, so the shorter, the better!

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» Same-Sex Weddings: Tips to Be Gay Wedding Competent

In celebration of Pride month, check out our latest infographic to learn what you need to know to take your skill set beyond “gay-friendly” to “gay wedding competent!” Be ready to better serve your couples and be prepared for your same-sex weddings with these five tips from WeddingWire Education Expert, Kathryn Hamm.

For additional education and resouces, visit WedWeCan.com. Plus, show your support of serving all loving couples by joining the #WedWeCan campaign and posting your favorite photos of couples, past events, or our custom equality image on Instagram!

May_Webinar_Infographic_The-Same-Sex-Marriage-Evolution-From-Niche-to-Modern-Market-final

» 3 Steps to Overcoming Writer’s Block

Woman typing on keyboardThere are many ways to make a mark on the wedding industry and reach potential clients. It can be done through networking, social media, and bridal shows, but one of the easiest ways to get your business’ name out there is by creating and maintaining a blog. The word “blog” may evoke images of young millennials with headphones on – but there is so much more to blogging than what meets the eye!

A blog gives your business a platform to speak to potential clients and it also helps you stand out as an expert in the industry. Blogging consistently can also yield search engine optimization (SEO) benefits for your business and improve your search rankings. Having a blog is important, yes, but having a readable blog is just as important.

If you’re having trouble creating content, you’re not alone! Especially if writing isn’t your favorite activity, writer’s block can be a real hurdle for achieving blogging benefits. Here are a few tips for overcoming writer’s block so you can start blogging more regularly:

Know what you want to say before writing.

It’s tempting to overcome a bout of writer’s block by just sitting down and typing a post, but without a vision or a clear topic, those efforts are probably fruitless. It’s almost impossible to write concise posts if you don’t know what you want to say. Fellow Pros, current clients and even friends or family members can be a source of inspiration when you’re brainstorming blog posts. Once you have a topic to talk about, you’ll be able to communicate clearly about the subject.

Use bullet points.

Once you’ve chosen a topic, make a bullet point list of the main points you’d like to make. This can help you narrow down your post, making it easier to write and easier to understand. A blog post about how to design a wedding bouquet can be very interesting, but a 3,000 word post about how to design a wedding bouquet is over the top. Ideal post length is between 400 and 1,500 words: it should take 5-7 minutes to read. If you choose 3-5 bullet points to address and write a paragraph about each of them, you should be right on point!

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