» WeddingWire World Speaker Announcement: Bethenny Frankel!

Bethenny_Frankel@2xChef, best-selling author, reality star and businesswoman behind the Skinnygirl brand, Bethenny Frankel is the latest featured speaker who will be joining us at WeddingWire World 2016!

Bethenny gained notoriety on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City, is known for her wit, wisdom, and humor, and was named one of the “Top 100 Most Powerful Celebrities” by Forbes magazine. At WeddingWire World, Bethenny will share how she built a multi-million dollar brand, and her professional journey along the way.

In addition to Bethenny Frankel, other featured speakers include Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson, Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta star Monte Durham, and top industry names including Education Guru Alan Berg, WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly, and many more.

Learn more about WeddingWire World, the other top speakers, and the full agenda here! Be sure to register before the next price increase on 12/14/15.

» Preparing Your Business for Same-Sex Couples in 2016

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 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.

According to data from the WeddingWire WedInsights series, 40% of all engagements happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. And this trend also holds true for same-sex couples as a niche segment represented in the larger market statistics. Because 41% begin planning within the first month, it’s incredibly important that wedding pros fine-tune their ‘first impression’ touches now.

Preparing Your Business for Same-Sex Couples in 2016This means that photographers should place a priority on making sure that their marketing materials, contracts and portfolios are inclusive of same-sex couples as soon as possible. More than ever, same-sex couples are choosing to book engagement portrait sessions for their save-the-date cards, engagement announcements in local media outlets, and to celebrate their commitments. These sessions offer photographers a wonderful way to showcase their thoughtful ability to pose same-sex couples authentically (learn more via The New Art of Capturing Love), and offer sessions that become a great testing ground for choosing a photographer for the Big Day.

It also means that venues should also be ready to receive same-sex couples – for both on-site visits and online vetting. Though 88% of all couples want to see pricing before reaching out, pros must understand that same-sex couples are also more likely to reach out to wedding professionals who have an inclusive approach in their images and language. The market is more competitive than ever and LGBTQ couples have a choice when signing a contract with a wedding professional. They’ll want to work not only with the service provider who can match their budget, style and planning needs, but is also prepared to serve them and serve them well as a same-sex couple.

How to to Prepare for Serving More Gay & Lesbian Couples

For pros in all service categories, I encourage you to:

  1. Ask your previous LGBTQ-identified couples for reviews (87% of couples report reading reviews when researching a wedding pro) and feature these testimonials on your blogs, brochures, and online listings.
  2. Speak with photographers in your network to see if they can offer any images (with permission, of course!) from any same-sex weddings for which you have also been a member of the team. Feature these images on your websites, in your print materials, and on your social media accounts.
  3. Contact all of the wedding pros in your network and let them know that you are ready, willing and able to serve same-sex couples; while you’re at it, ask them if they are ready, willing and able to serve same-sex couples and strike them from any referral list you might use with a same-sex couple!
  4. Review all of your contracts, online forms and paper forms to make sure that your language is fully inclusive of two brides, two grooms, and one of each.
  5. Review your WeddingWire listing, your GayWeddings.com listing and any other ad or promotion you might have placed – especially online. Are your images and language inclusive of all couples? This is particularly important on sites like GayWeddings.com where a profile image featuring a straight couple might be eliminating you from consideration on first glance (Review your GayWeddings.com listing now to ensure that this doesn’t apply to you!). 

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» WeddingWire Networking Night Cincinnati

Earlier this week, wedding professionals gathered at the Marriott Cincinnati RiverCenter for WeddingWire Networking Night Cincinnati!

At the Networking Night, Cincinnati Pros had the opportunity to see the beautiful venue space, network with other local professionals across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team, and listen to a brief educational presentation.

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 Cincinnati 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 Lindsay of The Madison Event Center.

And finally, don’t forget to email events@weddingwire.com if you’d like to take advantage of your WeddingWire Networking Night Cincinnati discount for up to two tickets to WeddingWire World 2016!

WeddingWire Networking Night Cincinnati
WeddingWire Networking Night Cincinnati
WeddingWire Networking Night Cincinnati
WeddingWire Networking Night Cincinnati Continue reading

» 10 Creative Ways to Use Your Reviews

November-Webinar_10-Creative-Ways-to-Use-Your-Reviews_TileWebinar recap!

Reviews are a key way to showcase your expertise – all from the voice of happy clients! Don’t just collect reviews, make sure you showcase them with creative ways to use your reviews.

During this month’s one hour webinar for premium members, WeddingWire’s Education Guru Alan Berg shared his tips for using your reviews to help you set your business up for success during engagement season and into next year!

Check out some highlights below, and watch the full webinar any time in the Education Center.

10 Creative Ways to Use Your Reviews:

  1. On your website: Add your reviews and sound bites from happy clients to your website, and not just on a testimonial page! Consider adding a testimonial on all your website pages – especially your homepage.
  2. In your marketing: Add testimonials or reviews to your marketing collateral. Reviews should be on all important materials that would reach new potential clients. After all, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations!
  3. On your packages or pricing info: Reviews and testimonials from past clients are a great addition to your pricing or packages to show the value behind your services. This will also help to justify your cost and connect with the client, so they are encouraged to book you for their wedding or event.
  4. On your business cards: Make a lasting first impression by adding a great review sound bite to your business cards. Not only will this help to make you more memorable, but will also show your value in addition to your basic business information, and is a great way to stand out from the rest of the competition!
  5. In your promo videos: Easily add a quick testimonial right from a happy client’s mouth through video. Video testimonials show a real client and capture their genuine appreciation for your services which can make a big impact.
  6. In your wedding show booth: Create materials such as postcards, signage and more to show your reviews in your wedding show booth. This will help make your business stand out from the rest by making a client to client connection. Also be sure to showcase any review related awards you have won, such as WeddingWire Rated™ or the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards®.
  7. In your email communication: Consider adding a favorite review to your email signature, and definitely add a link to your WeddingWire reviews URL to your business signature. That way, interested clients can quickly click through to read your great reviews, and this will help encourage them to leave you a review post-event by showing they matter to you!
  8. On social media: Share your new reviews on social media to reach a broader audience. This is made easy through the Facebook share buttons in the Reviews tab of your WeddingWire account.
  9. On your blog: Add your Review Widget to your business’ blog and website to showcase your reviews on those sites. Also consider adding the Review Us button to those sites as well to encourage past clients to review your business to continue to collect new reviews.
  10. In your photo gallery: Couples love to see photos of your work, and tend to go to that section of your website or Storefront when reviewing Pros. Make an even better impression by posting quick testimonials to those pages to not only visually showcase your work, but also share how happy it made your clients.

Ready to put your reviews to use for your business? Visit the Reviews tab of your WeddingWire account to collect more reviews with the Review Collector tool, add your reviews to your website with the Review Widget, and set a customized Review URL and grab some of your best review sound bites for your marketing!

Plus, the more reviews you have on WeddingWire, the more you stand out! Earn badges through the WeddingWire Rated™ review program, which instantly recognizes how many reviews you have and boosts your badge level with each new milestone. Aim to join the 100 Review Club for Pros with over 100 wedding reviews!

» WeddingWire Workshop: Venues & Caterers Edition Indianapolis

Earlier this week, local Indianapolis venues and caterers gathered at the Conrad Indianapolis for a WeddingWire Workshop: Venues & Caterers Edition, a networking and educational event created specifically for these businesses!

At the WeddingWire Workshop, Pros enjoyed a presentation that included the latest local statistics and insights on today’s engaged couples. In addition to the presentation, guests also had the opportunity to chat with their local WeddingWire representatives, and network with other local  venues and caterers.

WeddingWire Workshop: Venues & Caterers Edition is the newest addition to our series of educational events and networking opportunities created for wedding professionals, which include our annual user’s conference, WeddingWire World, and networking events such as WeddingWire Mix & Mingles and WeddingWire Networking Nights.

We’re excited to share some highlights from the event including the educational presentation, the WeddingWire Education Guide for more business tips, 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 Workshop: Venues & Caterers Edition Indianapolis 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, congratulations to Erica of the Omni Severin Hotel, the winner of the WeddingWire prize pack!

WeddingWire Workshop: Venues & Caterers Edition Indianapolis
WeddingWire Workshop: Venues & Caterers Edition Indianapolis
WeddingWire Workshop: Venues & Caterers Edition Indianapolis
WeddingWire Workshop: Venues & Caterers Edition Indianapolis Continue reading

» Preparing for the 2016 WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards®

How your wedding business can prepare for the Couples' Choice AwardsBefore reaching out to a wedding professional, brides and grooms like to read wedding reviews to get a better understanding of your business. In fact, our data shows that 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.

Unlike other awards in the wedding industry, the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® are solely based on reviews from real newlyweds and their experiences working with their wedding professionals. Our annual awards program recognizes the top five percent of wedding professionals who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism.

Check out our tips below on how to collect more wedding reviews before the December 31st deadline and get one step closer to winning the 2016 Couples’ Choice Awards:

Send a “Thank You” note to recent clients

Because most communication these days is online, your email may get lost in the chaos of a client’s inbox. To get their attention, consider sending a “Thank You” note to some of your most recent clients! While this may take a little more time than sending an email, a handwritten note will stand out and be appreciated. It’s a personalized way to not only congratulate them on their wedding but also a great way to ask them to post a review for you. Just be sure to make it clear in your note that they can review you by going to your Storefront, and include the link whenever possible.

Remind your 2015 couples to leave a review

Take advantage of collecting feedback from all the events you worked so hard for all spring and summer! 1 in 5 couples will write a review when asked by their vendor, and that number increases to 1 in 3 if they are reminded at least once. The WeddingWire Review Collector makes requesting, following up, and getting reviews simple. You can upload your clients’ email addresses and use our pre-formatted templates or a craft personalized message to send your past clients a polite request to review your services. Additionally, you can share with your clients on Facebook or Twitter using our messaging!

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» Why the Easy Road to Sales is Hard on Your Business (and the Industry)

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. Her newest venture, Authentic Boss, is an online learning resource for business owners seeking to work and live more authentically. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

Sales tactics to avoid in the wedding industryWe’ve all been there: brand new in our businesses, eager to book as many clients as possible, and willing to do (almost) anything to make it happen. Closing sales feels good – not only does it put money in our pocket, but it validates us and reminds us that we offer a valuable service that people want to buy.

Unfortunately, many wedding pros suck all the value out of their service by throwing professionalism to the wind when it comes to making sales. This is a common practice among new business owners who haven’t yet developed their confidence and the solid reputation to back it up. However, I’ve also seen it happen among seasoned veterans who should know better. Instead of earning clients through quality work and professional service, they’re using gimmicks and tricks.

It’s understandable why wedding pros might do this, especially when they’re new. After all, it takes guts to ask for a sale, and in many cases, getting a client to sign means having some potentially uncomfortable conversations about your pricing and your policies. It means having to prove your worth. It’s tempting to avoid this altogether by taking the easy road. This is harmful not only to their own business, but to the wedding industry as a whole.

See, client perceptions matter. Especially in today’s Internet and social media era, where people are constantly sharing their opinions about everything from pop culture to politics to, yes, wedding planning. When a wedding business – or, as the case may be, hundreds or thousands of wedding businesses around the world – foregoes legitimate business protocols in an effort to make selling easier, it drags the rest of us down. Either prospective clients view the wedding industry as shady and unprofessional, or they expect every wedding vendor to break their own boundaries and do anything to earn a sale. Both of these possibilities create a ripple effect that makes doing business harder for us all.

Here are five common “easy road” tactics to avoid, for the long-term betterment of both your own business and the wedding industry:

Not requiring a contract. Using a contract is Business 101, and yet it’s shocking how many wedding vendors are willing to skip them altogether. In some cases, it’s because they just don’t have one (perhaps they can’t afford to have one drafted by an attorney, or they just haven’t yet felt the need to solidify their bookings in this way). In others, it’s because they’ve decided that using a contract is too “sales-y” and they feel it detracts from the friendly rapport they’re building with their clients. What should be obvious, though, is that a contract protects both parties, and a client should no more be willing to do business without one than you, as, the vendor, should. And believe me, when something eventually goes wrong at an event – which it will – you’ll be glad to have had your responsibilities to your client, and vice versa, spelled out in black-and-white.

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» Announcing Our Second Annual #justsaidyes Campaign!

Tell your wedding clients to share their #justsaidyes moment with WeddingWire!We’re thrilled to announce that our #justsaidyes campaign is back and better than ever this year!

The WeddingWire #justsaidyes campaign for consumers is held annually during peak engagement season. The campaign asks couples to share their engagement moment on social media with #justsaidyes and @weddingwire for a chance to win a honeymoon and $5,000 registry.

This year, we’re proud to announce that Shawn Johnson, the recently-engaged Olympic Gold Medalist, “Dancing with the Stars” champion, and ESPY Award Winner, has joined the campaign as she plans her own big day and inspires other couples to share their own special engagement celebrations!

With approximately 40% of engagements happening between November and February, engagement season is the perfect time to recognize and celebrate the hundreds of thousands of newly engaged couples beginning their wedding planning journey.

The #justsaidyes campaign encourages couples to upload photos and videos of their unique engagement story on social media for a chance to win prizes, including a wedding registry courtesy of Macy’s and a honeymoon courtesy of Marriott, as well as be featured on WeddingWire’s social media sites, and possibly receive a shout-out from Shawn Johnson herself.

To be eligible to win, couples must follow WeddingWire on Instagram and share their favorite engagement photos by tagging @WeddingWire with the hashtag #justsaidyes starting today through February 19, 2016. The grand prize winner will receive a $5,000 Registry from Macy’s and a $2,500 gift certificate to use at the Marriott of the winning couple’s choice for their honeymoon.

We encourage you to promote the #justsaidyes contest to your newly-engaged clients on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram! The more money they can save on their registry and honeymoon, the more budget they can allocate elsewhere in their wedding planning journey. All couples – whether they use WeddingWire or not – are eligible as long as they are currently engaged and not yet married.

For more information about the campaign and instructions for submissions, please visit the official #justsaidyes website.

» Planning Your Continuing Education for 2016

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.

As you look ahead toward all phases of your business development in 2016 and beyond, one of the key areas of growth is human development. Whether you are a company owner or general manager, it falls to you to think ahead and outline a companywide plan for continuing education and forward thinking.

Planning Continuing Education for 2016To keep up with the latest trends in the industry and continue your education as a wedding professional, attending conferences and joining associations is a big part of being forward thinking. Below I share the factors to consider when choosing which conference to attend, plus some tips for getting the most out of the events you choose.

Preparation: Review the conference agenda and education sessions well before you arrive. Identify the names of speakers and presenters you know or want to hear. Do this one task before you get there and your outcome will always be measurably better.

Attendance: For larger conferences, bring more people. There is nothing more frustrating than noticing three, four, five breakout sessions in the program, and realizing there is only one of you. Don’t try to hoard the education. Invest in a second or third attendee from your company. When you return home, the energy, knowledge, and momentum will just explode.

Price: If you’ve never attended an industry conference, the costs might worry you at first. But think of the expense as an investment in your business, giving you a ROI many times the price of admission. When deciding what to attend, be clear on what the conference registration fee includes. Conference registration, airfare, and hotel room blocks usually come at a significant reduction in price, so plan early and you’ll likely pay less.

Post-event: Bring the experience home to share with other staff members, share the photos, notes from the best sessions, and invigorate everyone. It’s generates pride when a person is working with a company with desire and goals to improve their product, service, and creativity… continually.

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» 10 Dos and Don’ts from Couples this Engagement Season

Engagement season is here! Couples are getting engaged, starting to plan their dream day, and will be searching to find their perfect wedding team in the coming months. In our October webinar for premium members, we discussed the top 10 dos and don’ts for impressing these clients – right from WeddingWire couples themselves!

The infographic below highlights the 10 ways they indicated to make a great impression, keep your clients happy, and keep the planning process moving smoothly all the way to their big day!


» 4 Statistics to Prepare You for Engagement Season

Engagement season statistics from WedInsightsEngagement season is here, which means newly engaged couples everywhere are starting to plan their perfect wedding and looking for wedding professionals who can help pull it all together.

While some couples may be focused on celebrating their big news with family over the holidays, many others will jump right into the planning process – looking for a wedding planner, scoping out venues, building a budget and choosing a date.

Check out these statistics from Volume 7 of the WeddingWire WedInsights Series to find out what’s in store for your wedding business this engagement season!

17% of engagements happen on the same 10 days each year

In fact, nearly 40% of engagements occur between November and February. The holiday season is the perfect time for many engagements, given that many couples have time off work and travel home to visit their families. The top ten most popular dates include major holidays such as Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years’ Day, and Valentine’s Day.

On average, couples are engaged for 12 – 13 months before getting married

With that amount of time, couples have the ability to plan the wedding at a more manageable pace with their busy lives. However, it’s important to keep in mind that engagement lengths can vary greatly – our data shows that 29% of couples are engaged less than 9 months and 33% of couples are engaged for over 16 months. Those who have less than a year to plan are going to have very different wants and expectations, compared to a couple with 2 or more years to plan.

Most couples search for the majority of their vendors 7-9 months prior to their wedding

When jumping into the planning process, couples begin by setting a timeframe and budget. Certain categories such as venues, caterers, bands, and DJs are often researched as early as one year prior to the wedding. But don’t forget that 50% of couples getting married use products and/or services from at least 10 different vendors, so now is the time to ramp up your marketing. Continue reading