» How to Leave Your Stress at Work

Pro to Pro Insights

Leila Lewis, photo by Valorie Darling PhotographyThis post was written by Leila Lewis of Be Inspired PR. As a business school graduate from Santa Clara University, Leila (Khalil) Lewis’ career began in publishing, where she worked in marketing and editorial roles for business and lifestyle publications. Since transitioning into the wedding business in 2004, Leila has over 10 years of wedding marketing experience under her belt, and is the industry’s go-to for wedding public relations services, brand development and business consulting.

When you get home after a long day of work, many of us feel the need to decompress. After all the hours at the office, you have the physical freedom to do as you please…but many people have a hard time allowing themselves the mental freedom from the hustle of a long day at work. If you are constantly thinking about work, even when you are at home, when do you take a break? If you don’t take time to separate what you are working on during the day from your down time at night, you are sure to get burned out!

Follow these tips to leave your stress at work and help guide your mind away from unfinished projects and work responsibilities to be able to truly refresh yourself, avoid burnout, and prepare for another day.

How to Leave Your Stress at WorkMake a To-Do List

Before you leave the office for the night, make a list of things that you already know you need to do tomorrow and place it somewhere where you will see it as soon as you walk in the next morning. By writing your to-do list down and leaving it at work you’re relieving your brain of the endless cycle of trying to remember each task on that list. There’s nothing worse than laying down and closing your eyes only to picture a mental list of tasks that could prevent you from a good night’s rest! Physically leaving your list of tasks at work can help your brain leave your stress at work as well.

Unplug

After a long day of staring at a screen, it’s time to unplug and disconnect. Not only is it good for your eyes, but also great for your brain. If you’re like me, it can be hard to ignore an email, text, or call when your phone is constantly ringing. Avoid the temptation and obligation you feel to immediately read and respond to any messages that are work-related and don’t apply right now. Disconnecting from constant emails and texts will allow you to be fully present wherever you are.

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» Annual Survey Highlights: Top Wedding Business Goals for 2016

Annual Survey Highlights: Top Wedding Business Goals for 2016The wedding professionals on WeddingWire are a diverse and varied group, but many share a common goal: growth. However, the strategies they employ to achieve growth depend heavily on a number of factors – so we went straight to the source. Six thousand WeddingWire Pros responded to our 2015 Annual Vendor Survey, so we’ve got great insights and data about your industry colleagues to share in the latest volume of our WedInsights Series.

Based on the feedback from the pros who responded to our 2015 Annual Survey, it’s clear that many of them hope to grow their business in 2016 and beyond. Pros not only expressed their desire to book more business and increase revenue, but also provided insights into what they’re doing to make their goal a reality. Whether you are a sole entrepreneur or work for a multinational organization, see what wedding business goals your peers are making a priority in 2016.

Collecting more reviews to stand out

Reviews function as online recommendations for your business from past clients, so it should come as no surprise that over 90% of professionals say online reviews are critical to their business. The majority of pros also report that they collect most of their reviews on popular third party review sites like WeddingWire, Yelp, and Google.

Despite the well-known importance of collecting reviews, wedding professionals admit they are not as confident about collecting and managing reviews – nearly 25% say they could use help in this area. Getting reviews can be a major strain for a quarter of pros surveyed, especially for those in jewelry (43%), transportation (34%), beauty and health (32%), event rentals/ photobooths (31%), and venues (29%). Increase the likelihood of capturing client reviews by incorporating reviews throughout your client experience to make them more likely to submit a review for you after the big day.

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» Ready, Set, Startup: Considerations When Starting Your Wedding Business

Pro to Pro Insights

Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events GroupThis post was written by Jennifer Taylor. Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui.

Let me start with a disclaimer: I will not be telling you how to create, plan, or market your business since that process is different for everyone, depending on what kind of business you want to start and your goals. Instead, I’ll point you in the right direction of finding those answers and getting everything settled.

No matter the idea, I am here to tell you that it can be done – I promise!

Ready, Set, Startup: Considerations When Starting Your Wedding BusinessWhat’s In a Name?

At this point, you should already have a good understanding of what you want to do and who your target audience is. With that in mind, think about what kind of name best suits your company. While it may seem natural to use your name, consider whether you’ll want to grow or sell your business one day. If so, stay away from using your name as it may equate with a personal brand, rather than something that can be transferred to other team members or potential buyers.

Your business name also defines what you do. If you’re interested in planning all types of events, don’t pigeonhole yourself by including the word ‘weddings’ in your name because it may deter corporate or social prospects. I also advise to stay away from words like “perfect,” “greatest,” and the like – you don’t want to have that one customer tell you that their day was not perfect.

Once you have a list of potential names, test them out with friends and family to see which ones stick. Run searches on Google, social media, and your state’s business registration page to ensure that it isn’t already in use. While you’re at it, check in on the requirements that you’ll need when registering your own business.

The More, The Merrier

Once you have a good idea of your name, brand, and services, it’s time to bring in your business development team. If you don’t have an accountant already, find one that works specifically with small businesses so he or she will have a good idea of how to structure your business. This will most likely be about the time that you’re ready to register your company with the state, in which case, congratulations! You’re a business owner! But you’re not done yet… Continue reading

» Serving Same-Sex Couples: The Real Story

Serving-Same-Sex-CouplesWebinar recap!

Being accurately informed and understanding the real story around what goes into planning a same-sex wedding is key for pros who want to be prepared to proudly serve all couples in the increasingly competitive modern market.

As we approach the one year anniversary of marriage equality in June, this month’s educational webinar hosted by Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, and Andy Whittaker, Director of Market Insights at WeddingWire, discussed the latest LGBTQ wedding trends, how LGBTQ weddings differ and are the same as opposite-sex weddings, and how the landscape for same-sex weddings has evolved.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the interesting insights shared during the webinar:

  • Gay-friendliness and customer service often outranks industry experience in importance to same-sex couples when it comes time to select their wedding team
  • Self-identified same-sex couples who married in 2014 & 2015 remain much more comfortable breaking with traditionally-defined gender roles than previously-wed couples
  • Same-sex couples are more likely to have blended wedding parties than opposite-sex couples 
  • As marriage equality has become the law of the land, legal elopements and out-of-state ceremonies are on the decline for same-sex couples
  • Non-LGBTQ couples who value inclusion continue to rise as more couples look to work with wedding professionals who serve all loving couples

For more information, watch the full webinar, available within all Premium member accounts. And stay tuned for more in depth information on the latest wedding trends for today’s same-sex couples, coming soon!

Plus, don’t forget to opt-in to the GayWeddings vendor directory and update your main image just for GayWeddings.com to attract more engaged same-sex couples – learn how with our step by step guide.

Already listed on GayWeddings.com? Grab your GayWeddings listing badge to add to your website or blog and get added traffic to your listing!

» WeddingWire Networking Night Tampa

Yesterday, wedding professionals gathered at 1930 Grande Room for WeddingWire Networking Night Tampa!

At the Networking Night, Tampa pros had the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful venue space, network with other local professionals across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team, and listen to an educational presentation by WeddingWire’s Associate Director for Customer Success, Kyle Mihalcoe.
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 Tampa 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:

We’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack – congrats to Ronnette of The Vault!

WeddingWire Networking Night Tampa 2016
WeddingWire Networking Night Tampa 2016
WeddingWire Networking Night Tampa 2016
WeddingWire Networking Night Tampa 2016 Continue reading

» WeddingWire Networking Night Nashville

Earlier this week, wedding professionals gathered at the Mansion at Fontanel for WeddingWire Networking Night Nashville!

At the Networking Night, Nashville pros had the opportunity to enjoy the gorgeous venue space, network with other local professionals across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team, and listen to an educational presentation by WeddingWire’s Regional Manager for Customer Success, Megan Hayes.
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 fantastic 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 Nashville 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:

We’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack – congrats to Kate of Owsley Design!

WeddingWire Networking Night Nashville 2016
WeddingWire Networking Night Nashville 2016
WeddingWire Networking Night Nashville 2016
WeddingWire Networking Night Nashville 2016 Continue reading

» 5 Ways to Take Time for You

5 Ways to Take Time for YouAll month long we’ve been shining a light on wedding planning stress – for both couples and our pros. As we head into the summer months, more and more of your weekends are going to be busy with weddings and all the preparation that comes along with the busy season, so we’re here to help keep you cool, calm, and collected.

We just celebrated WeddingWire’s Official Day Without Planning for our couples, but since we know you can’t always take a full day off from your busy schedule, here are five ways to take time for you!

Hit the gym

Even if exercise is already part of your normal routine, it’s important to balance your mental exertion with physical exertion. Break a sweat running on the treadmill, meditating in hot yoga, or taking a long walk before or after work. If you spend a lot of your day on your feet already, try another activity like swimming or cycling to work different muscles and break the monotony.

Head to the spa

What better way to blow off some steam than some R&R? Whether you go in for a quick manicure/pedicure (men can enjoy those, too!) or schedule yourself a massage to loosen up the knots in your back, spend some time focusing on yourself. Even a quick visit to the hot tub or steam room can help you relax and reflect on your personal life so you can hit the ‘reset’ button for a while!

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» Wedding PR: What’s a Company Philosophy and Why Does It Matter?

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

There are a number of considerations when starting your wedding PR process, from research to branding to organization. However, there’s one piece of the puzzle that will guide you along the way – your philosophy.

Wedding PR: What’s a Company Philosophy and Why Does It Matter?“Isn’t that for big corporate companies?”

While large organizations wear their philosophies on their sleeve, it’s just as important for small businesses to have tenets that keep them on the right track. A company philosophy explains the mission statement – how do you plan to achieve it and why is it relevant?

Philosophy goes hand-in-hand with branding – it’s what makes your brand come to life. Not only does it motivate you to achieve success, but it points you in the right direction. When developing your philosophy, remember that it’ll follow you every day, so it must fall in line with your personal values.

“Although we’re always working to grow our philosophy, we hold a few tenets close to our hearts: perfect fit, responsibility, handmade craftsmanship, and exceptional value,” shares Araceli Vizcaino-S, Community Manager of Azazie. “This guides every decision in the business- including how we grow our press portfolio. When you see us in the news, you’ll find that we often incorporate our tenets into our commentary in an effort to better educate readers.”

On that note, it’s important to establish a philosophy that is simple and realistic. It has to be actionable, so limit it to three or four tenets that are most important to you. Once in place, allow it to lead you in major decisions – from hiring to partnerships to press submissions.

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» Top Tips to Reduce Stress – From the Experts!

Top Tips to Reduce Stress – From the Experts!Our #WeDoSomethingBlue campaign aims to help couples reduce wedding planning stress during the busy season, but what about our pros? Don’t you need a break? After all, you’re not just planning one wedding – you’re planning them all for your clients!

Whether you’re putting together personalized song lists, carefully-selected bouquets, or managing all the day-of details for your clients, the busy season is a stressful time for wedding and event pros. We asked some of our WeddingWire Education Experts to weigh in with their tried-and-true tips to reduce stress during this crazy time.

Plan ahead and take a break

“We all look forward to busy season and then, when it’s upon us, we can’t seem to catch our breath. The key to reducing your stress is to get organized before the craziness starts, and then stay ahead. When you get behind in your day to day tasks, you’re like a hamster on the wheel, and you can’t seem to get off. Proper advance planning, and leaving room in your timelines for the unexpected things that pop up helps break the cycle.

Remember to take a break every so often. Working non-stop is a sure path to burnout. Give your creative mind a break, take a walk, walk the dog, or whatever works for you, but get away from it. You’ll recharge your creativity by removing yourself from what you’re doing. Thomas Edison is famous for taking power naps on his desk. His wife brought a bed into his office, but he still napped on his desk. My secret… I have a recliner in my office, and if there’s a gap in my schedule, I enjoy a power nap. Whether it’s a 15-minute power nap, or as long as an hour (time-permitting), afterwards, I feel recharged and ready to keep going.”

Alan Berg, Certified Speaking Professional®

Write it all out and get away

“When you’re going crazy during wedding season, commit to yourself that you’ll do two things: complete a nightly and a weekly brain dump, and schedule some occasional breaks. For the brain dump, just spend a few minutes each evening writing out every random to-do item you can think of – you can then sort them and add the important stuff to your calendar. Repeating this exercise in more detail once a week, and taking time to map out your goals and priorities for the days ahead, will keep you from stressing about forgotten tasks and missed opportunities. Be sure, also, to schedule yourself at least a couple of days every month to do absolutely nothing but to rest and recharge. Even if you aren’t going anywhere, just having that time blocked off as sacred can make all the difference in the world in your mood and energy levels. Combining a little organization and a little relaxation can keep you going all season long.” Continue reading

» Introducing Messages by WeddingWire

Introducing Messages by WeddingWireWe’re excited to announce the launch of our new Messages feature, which is free with your WeddingWire membership!

With Messages, you can reply to leads, manage client conversations, and track your bookings all in one place. Here’s how it works:

  1. Get notified: When you receive a new lead or message, you’ll get an email notification, plus the message will be stored in your WeddingWire account. Couples will also receive a notification when you respond, which helps keep the conversation going.
  2. Reply from anywhere: Reply right from your own email inbox (Outlook, Gmail, etc.) or login to WeddingWire to reply, with access to all your messages at any time. This flexibility means you can respond from your smartphone, too.
  3. Send attachments: Share important documents such as price quotes and contracts within your messages – no need to create a separate file share environment!
  4. Manage conversations: Access message history from start to finish to easily find specific client messages, plus view full contact information for leads and clients directly from within message threads.
  5. Track Bookings: Messages syncs with your WeddingWire Inquiries and allows you to mark clients as ‘booked’ from the conversation, so you’ll be able to monitor interest and conversion rates at a glance.

The best part? You can use your own email address to correspond with potential clients – no @weddingwire.com email address required for your or your clients. It’s never been faster or easier to connect with potential clients and track your conversations!

Login to get started with Messages >>

Have feedback for future Messages updates? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Visit our Messages feedback page to provide any comments you have about this new feature.

» WeddingWire Networking Night San Antonio

Earlier this week, wedding professionals gathered at Sheraton Gunter Hotel for WeddingWire Networking Night San Antonio!

At the Networking Night, San Antonio pros had the opportunity to enjoy the gorgeous venue space, network with other local professionals across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team, and listen to an educational presentation by WeddingWire’s Regional Manager for Customer Success, Megan Hayes.
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 San Antonio 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:

We’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack – congrats to Marisa of M&O Rentals!

WeddingWire Networking Night San Antonio 2016
WeddingWire Networking Night San Antonio 2016
WeddingWire Networking Night San Antonio 2016
WeddingWire Networking Night San Antonio 2016
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» 5 Ways to Handle Losing a Sale

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

In the perfect world of butterflies and rainbows, we’d close every sale at the exact price we want – but we don’t live in a perfect world. There are no trophies for second place when it comes to winning a sale. You either get the sale or you don’t, so what do you do if you don’t get the sale? I’d like to give you a little perspective from my many years working in sales management and, more importantly, from working with wedding pros like you.

5 Ways to Handle Losing a SaleHere are five ways to handle losing a sale:

  1. Rejection is in the eyes of the beholder. When you don’t get a sale you might feel like you’ve been rejected, but that’s not usually the case. They just liked / trusted / believed someone else more. Isn’t that semantics? I prefer to call it optimism. When it comes to choosing the perfect pro in your category, there can only be one winner. That doesn’t make all of the others losers; they may like a few of you enough to hire you, but ultimately they have to choose one.How many weddings do you do each year? That’s how many times they’ve chosen you and not another wedding pro. Are you the winner? Yes, but you may not have been their only choice. Had you not been available they would have chosen someone else, someone who is very capable, and nice, and likely at a similar price point. So, while this isn’t like elementary where everyone seems to get a trophy just for showing up, there’s a winner and then there’s everyone else.
  1. You often lose the sale before you even had a chance. Often you lose a sale before you even knew that they were looking for someone in your category. Some couples are looking for you in places where you don’t have a presence (a certain wedding show, Instagram, Pinterest, their wedding site of choice, etc.). To them you don’t exist, but that was your choice; you chose not to be at that wedding show, or you chose to forgo an Instagram account, or you chose to take the free listing instead of paying for the more visible listing. I’ve often said that if you want others to invest in you, you have to invest in yourself first.

Other times they make it through to your website but leave without contacting you. They’re a legitimate prospect, but you lost them, often without even knowing they had shown interest (going to your website is a very big buying signal). Keeping your website’s functionality and content up to date is critical for plugging this hole.

  1. If they wanted to talk on the phone they would have called. If you’re getting most of your inquiries through email these days (and who isn’t?), then you need to make sure you’re learning to have better email conversations. If many of your email conversations stop after the first exchange, that’s your cue to change the way you communicate. Their first email is likely to ask about price, but that makes sense because they don’t know how to shop for your product or service. You also may not have pricing on your website. According to a WeddingWire survey, 88% of couples are looking for pricing information before they reach out to you. So, if you have no pricing information on your website, you’re encouraging them to ask about price. If your first response is trying to push them to a phone call you’re going to lose many of them. Why? If they wanted to talk on the phone they would have called you.

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