» Today is WeddingWire World Houston!

Today is WeddingWire World Houston!WeddingWire World Houston is the fourth of five stops on the WeddingWire World Tour 2014!

Today, at the JW Marriott Houston Downtown, wedding professionals from the Houston area will learn about the latest in the wedding industry and how to keep their businesses on top of all the most important channels, including sales, reviews, marketing, business management, networking, and more!

Attendees will hear from leading wedding industry professionals and special guest speakers, in addition to visiting with our Customer Success team that will be available for on-site consultations to answer questions and help our members take advantage of everything their WeddingWire account has to offer.

Below are a few other helpful notes for WeddingWire World Houston attendees:

  • Check-in and start the day at 8am – our staff will be ready and waiting to assist you!
  • Catch up and create new connections with your fellow Wedding Pros at our Networking Breakfast from 8am-9:15am.
  • Earn raffle tickets throughout the day to be entered in our drawing to win an iPad Mini, $100 Amazon gift card or tickets to WeddingWire World 2015!
  • Tweet your own takeaways and follow along with the hashtag #wwworld on Twitter, where @WeddingWireEDU will be live tweeting and responding to Pro feedback and more! We’ll also post some behind-the-scenes photos on the WeddingWireEDU Instagram account.

Be sure to check back later this week as we continue to share photos and highlights from the event.

Thanks to all the Pros joining us today!

Not in the Houston area? There’s still one stop left on the WeddingWire World Tour 2014! We invite our west coast Pros to check out the schedule and register today for WeddingWire World SoCal on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 by visitinghttp://weddingwireworld.com/socal.

» MONDAY: WeddingWire World Houston

Win Tickets to WeddingWire World Houston!

We can’t wait for WeddingWire World Houston on Monday!

The 2014 WeddingWire World Tour officially kicked off in June with WeddingWire World Miami andWeddingWire World DC, followed byWeddingWire World Chicago in August. We’re excited to bring our full day conference to the next city on the WeddingWire World Tour – Houston!

WeddingWire World Houston will feature main stage presentations from our industry experts and guest speakers, including WeddingWire’s own CMO, Sonny Ganguly, plus Education Experts Alan Berg, Kathryn Hamm and Andy Ebon. We’re also excited to feature Traci Brown, Body Language and Persuasion Expert, who will speak about the importance of body language for the success of your wedding business.

Attendees will also have time to meet 1-on-1 with our Customer Success Managers as well as several opportunities to network with other local Pros at our Networking Breakfast in the morning and Cocktail Reception following the day’s presentations!

WeddingWire World Houston will also feature several breakout sessions, including presentations on the following topics:

  • Blogging and how it can help your wedding business succeed
  • Everything you need to know about serving same-sex couples
  • Proven success strategies from other industry Pros to help you build your wedding business
  • Reaching, attracting and impressing potential clients with WeddingWire tools

Don’t forget that you can still follow along with the fun by searching the hashtag #wwworld on Twitter! @WeddingWireEDU will be live tweeting all day with key takeaways, Pro feedback and more. You can also see some behind-the-scenes photos on the WeddingWireEDU Instagram account.

Your wedding business will be joining hundreds of other wedding professionals for a full day of education and networking to help grow your wedding business.

For full details about WeddingWire World Houston, including full schedule and session locations, please visit http://www.weddingwireworld.com/houston.

» Optimizing Social Descriptions for SEO

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.

Search engine optimization is a moving target, with your SEO strategy within your website as the anchor. Your website is the preferred destination for engaged couples looking for a business like yours. However, there are also whole host of social networks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.,) that serve as information conduits for prospects to find your business and direct them to your website.

Optimizing Social Descriptions for SEOHaving an active social media presence on one or more platforms often results in additional listings in search engine rankings. One area that wedding businesses often overlook is the description for each social network, which can be optimized for search just as your website content.

Social networks will often offer multiple length options (measured in words or characters). A social description is the first strip of text seen when the page or site comes up in a search.  These social descriptions can be short or long, depending on the network. Below I outline how you can optimize these descriptions to help boost your off-site SEO.

Short Descriptions

A short description for a social media page is written much like those embedded in a website. This description is usually written as a complete sentence, but that is not absolutely necessary. Google, for example, skips over prepositions and conjunctions, only considering nouns and relevant adjectives. A short social description might read like this:

Music Man is a San Francisco based mobile music service offering DJs, Emcees, and specialty lighting for weddings, parties, and a wide array of special events.

If the description shown above is too long for a network’s social description, it could be edited for brevity, like this:

Music Man, San Francisco mobile music service. DJ’s, Emcees, specialty lighting for weddings, parties, special events.

It’s not as smooth as the full version, but it clearly includes keywords describing the where and what of the business.

Long Descriptions

Often 3-4 sentences, these may include more detail about company history, the owner(s) bio, awards, and so on. Not as tightly search engine specific, long descriptions combine targeted keywords with company details like overview and personality.

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» Pro Forum Buzz: Welcome Kits, Marketing Advice 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.

Here’s what Pros are talking about this month in the WeddingWire Pro Forums!

Pro Forum Buzz: Welcome Kits, Marketing Advice and MoreWhat’s in your welcome kit?

Do you provide a welcome kit for your clients? If so, what’s in it? Pros discuss the value of creating these kits for new clients, and what is seen as important to have versus nice to include.

Give your thoughts >>

Advice for invitations Pros

A Pro is looking for creative and out-of-the-box ideas to help propel her invitations business forward in this changing world of predominantly online shoppers.  Jump in and join the debate!

Join the debate >>

Feeling a little burnt out

What do you do at the end of a long season when you’re feeling completely burnt out? Pros discuss the feeling and their tips for rest and rejuvenation into the next season!

Share your tips >>

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» Pro Tips: Auto-Reply Email Best Practices

As engagement season ramps up and couples start the first stage of wedding planning, your business is likely about to see an increase in wedding inquiries. For many wedding professionals, an email auto-reply is the simplest (and quickest) way to respond.

However, nothing shouts “auto-reply email” more than the typical “Your email has been received” response. Email is not a new channel, so it’s assumed that when a person sends an email that the recipient receives it. It’s nice to let him or her know that the email was received, but it’s important that that’s not the only message you include in the email. You need to add value right at that first touch.

Below are five Pro tips for auto-reply email best practices that will help you immediately add value so you can convert more of those initial wedding inquiries into paying clients!

Pro Tips: Email Auto-Reply Best PracticesSet expectations up front

If you know that you spend most of your days out of the office or performing tasks that take you away from the computer, use an email auto-reply to set expectations for the potential client to hear back from you. Be specific; don’t simply state that you’ll reply “soon.”  It’s implied that if you want their business, you’ll reply “soon.” Give a specific time period where they can reasonably expect to hear back from you – and be sure to respond within that time period!

Provide everything they need

If you want to suggest that they call for faster service or for more pressing requests, provide your business’ phone number right there in the email. They’ve already gone through your business’ Storefront and website to find your email or submit a contact request, so don’t make them do it again! You can also add your business’ address and hours of operation to make it easy for them to know how and when to reach you if something should happen with their email.

Don’t regurgitate your website

While you want to provide everything they need, don’t regurgitate your website. You don’t need to fully describe your services or go through your business’ mission statement in your auto-reply email. You want to find the sweet spot where you’re providing helpful, valuable information but without repeating everything they’ve already read on your website. A good way to decide how much information to include would be to put yourself in the potential client’s shoes and go through the contact process from finding your business to email. That should inform you about what information they’ve already seen and what information they still might not know!

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» Introducing the WeddingWire Education Guide

WeddingWire believes in the power of education to keep your business ahead of the competition so you can new clients. We’re excited to announce that the 2014-2015 WeddingWire Education Guide is here, full of tips and strategies for growing and improving your weddings and events business!

The WeddingWire Education Guide provides lots of great content to answer your most pressing business questions from how to get more reviews and marketing strategies that work to the top client advice, networking suggestions and much more.

Check it out today!

Education Guide

» Becoming a Wedding Expert

Pro to Pro Insights

Rick Brewer

This article was written by Rick Brewer of Wedding Business Marketing. Rick has 22+ years in marketing and selling to wedding couples and is known for his proprietary approach to the psychology of wedding buying. Rick has worked with over 2100 wedding businesses, spoken to 250 + wedding groups and regularly shares his insight on wedding industry trends and cycles.

In the eyes of an engaged couple it’s best to be seen as “the” expert in what you provide. People like to do business with experts, not novices, so it’s important for your wedding business to be seen as the foremost authority in the wedding industry.

Becoming a Wedding ExpertThere are specific steps you can take to becoming this resource to your couples that will help further your businesses growth. There will be some homework assignments that will be given, so get a pen a paper!

Evaluate your audience

The first thing I want you to do is to find the 10 most popular services that most couples book. There are 10 services that 90% of all couples will book – I know what these services are, but I ask you to do the work to find out, so you will own that information. Knowing what these services are is important for two reasons:

  1. If you know the ten services, you can then become versed in what the couple is looking for in these services. In this role you can be their expert advisor.
  2. You will be able to figure out what makes sense from a networking point of view. There are some services which are naturally at the forefront of the planning and will be first in the couple’s agenda and others which come later. If you are a later service, you can start to build relationships with the services that come before your service. You must first know what order you fall in the chain of events before you can start this networking strategy.

Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes

After you find out what the ten primary services are, I want you to become versed in those services. Do research as if you are a bride or groom by doing web searches on the various topics associated with wedding planning. By doing these searches, you will be privy to the same information that consumers see in their searches. For example, if you were trying to research buying wedding flowers, you can search “buying wedding flowers in [your local area].” Read the articles you find on the subject, then write your own report on “How to _______” (hire a florist, find the flowers you want, etc.). You will find that you quickly become well versed in the subject that you write about.

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» Best Practices for Real Wedding Submissions

One of the most crucial aspects of developing strong wedding PR for your business is getting published. Whether you’re a DJ, florist, venue, caterer, wedding planner or any other wedding Pro, getting published will expose your business to an even wider audience. WeddingWire’s real wedding features are a great place to display your work and share your amazing weddings with our network of engaged couples.

Check out our latest infographic for five best practices to get your business published through real wedding submissions from WeddingWire Education Expert Meghan Ely.

Best Practices for Real Wedding Submissions

» It’s New York Bridal Fashion Week!

It’s New York Bridal Fashion Week!

Gown by Amsale, photo by Dan Lecca

Yes, it’s that time of year again! It’s New York Bridal Fashion Week (or Bridal Market, as it’s known to insiders) and the WeddingWire team will be there to get a sneak peek of the newest wedding dresses, bridesmaid styles, and accessories. In fact, we will be viewing over 80 collections at fashion shows and private appointments over the next week (that’s a lot of gowns)! These are the wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses that brides will be buying and wearing in 2015, so as a Wedding Pro it’s a good idea to know what’s hot and what’s not!

Want to get the inside scoop on the latest and greatest in wedding fashion? Our editorial team will be posting updates throughout the week on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, WedStyle, and (new this season!) Snapchat, where you can follow ‘weddingwire.’ And to view the full collections, visit our Bridal Market page, which we’ll be updating with the newest photos and trend reports as they come in.

If you’ll be attending Bridal Market, be sure to stop by the WeddingWire booth at Pier 94, complete with snacks, drinks, and a charging station so you can power up your mobile device.

And don’t forget to watch this space for a Bridal Market Trend Report, which we’ll get to you after we’ve seen the new dresses and collections.

» Win Tickets to WeddingWire World Houston!

Win Tickets to WeddingWire World Houston!

We’re only a few weeks away from our next stop on the 2014 WeddingWire World Tour in Houston! If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, we want to give you a chance to join us for free!

We’ve reserved a select few WeddingWire World Houston seats to give away to our Pros, and now’s your opportunity to get them for free! Complete the entry form and and a limited number of entrants will receive two free tickets to join us at the JW Marriott Houston Downtown on Monday, October 20, 2014 while supplies last. One lucky winner will receive a $500 Visa gift card! See Official Rules for more details.

You could receive two tickets to a day full of great information to power your business, industry-leading speakers, one-on-one sessions with our Customer Success Managers, networking with other wedding professionals and more – for free! Regularly-priced tickets are $199 each, so don’t miss your chance at this deal.

Good luck, and we can’t wait to see you there!

Official Rules

Don’t want to wait? Guarantee your seat and buy your ticket today! Learn more and purchase tickets to WeddingWire World Houston here.

» Big Surprises Come in Unexpected Moments: Marriage Equality Expands in a Heartbeat

Photo by Carly FullerThis post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert, Kathryn Hamm, President of GayWeddings.com. You can follow her on Twitter @gayweddingscom. GayWeddings.com is the leading online boutique and resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999, and a partner in the WeddingWire Network. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, Capturing Love: The Art of Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography, now available in nationwide release.

This post was last revised on October 9 at 4 pm. For the most current marriage map, please visit the map on GayWeddings.com.

You know, what’s really amazing about being a gay wedding expert and having a decent sense of what to expect is that even I am often surprised. That includes the morning in June of 2013 when the Supreme Court had handed down its decision to overturn DOMA, opening the door on federal marriage recognition, and paving the way for me and my partner of 20 years to legally elope to DC. I just couldn’t believe that the best possible outcome had just unfolded before my eyes.

Big Surprises Come in Unexpected Moments: Marriage Equality Expands in a Heartbeat

Photo by Maggie Winters of Pop! Wed Co.

And, yesterday was no different.

The day had begun innocently enough. I put the finishing touches on an article for this blog, and headed over to a committee meeting within the Arlington Public Schools system when an email from the Human Rights Campaign caught my eye. “BREAKING,” it said. “Supreme Court Action Means Marriage Equality for Five States by Declining Pending Cases.”

I was stunned.

Last week, the Supreme Court had passed on its first chance to announce its decision to review those cases and then, out of the blue, surprising almost everyone, the Supreme Court announced that it would not hear the 7 pending marriage cases from Virginia, Utah, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Oklahoma. The lower court rulings, which had overturned the Constitutional bans, would stand. Marriage equality would take effect as quickly as the individual states could respond.

And respond they did. Couples were marrying (and celebrating their now recognized out-of-state marriages) within hours of the (lack of a) ruling.

Our same-sex marriage map, which has been frozen for months, suddenly exploded in a new burst of color, and those colors will be seeping across state lines in the weeks to come.

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» Getting Ready for Winter! Send Us Your Winter Real Weddings

Kim Forrest is one of WeddingWire’s editors. She manages content creation on both WeddingWire and EventWire. Kim has been writing about weddings for nearly a decade, and has been quoted as a weddings expert in the New York Times, Washington Post, Slate, and more. 

Even though our FallBook just launched, the WeddingWire Editorial and Design teams are already starting to work on our WinterBook (yes, we are aware that it’s still t-shirt weather in many parts of the country!). We are now accepting real wedding submissions for this e-magazine and would be delighted to consider your work.

Getting Ready for Winter! Send Us Your Winter Real WeddingsVisit RealWeds.com to share your real wedding photos with us, and remember – the WinterBook will only be featuring weddings that took place during the winter season (late November through early March). However, we are looking for both wintry weddings (think snowy backdrops and hot cocoa!) and destination weddings in warmer climates, as long as they took place during the winter season! You are welcome to consider weddings from other seasons to us, but we will only consider those for WeddingWire’s real weddings section or Project Wedding.

A few other tips for submitting winter real weddings:

  • Please share at least 75 photos from the wedding
  • Posed and candid couple photos
  • Lots of detail photos, the more creative and unique the better!
  • Mostly color images, some black & white is fine
  • Images should be at least 900 pixels wide

If your work is selected for our e-magazine, we’ll link to your Storefront as well as the Storefronts of the other participating vendors and share your photos with thousands of couples. The deadline for submissions is October 17th.

Be sure to check out RealWeds.com for more information and to upload your photos!

Cover photo by Lauren Fair Photography