» Please Be Seated: Check Out the Brand-New Reception Seating Guide!

For couples in the home stretch of wedding planning, creating a seating chart is an important task that can be a source of stress (and procrastination!) for many. The WeddingWire Editorial and Design teams created the new Reception Seating Guide to help couples plan out their reception seating—providing both etiquette advice and style inspiration. This is definitely a great guide to share with your couples in the later stages of wedding planning (the seating chart is usually created during the last few weeks before the big day!).

Check out the WeddingWire Reception Seating Guide here »

» How to Get Published on WeddingWire: 9 Essential Tips

Photo Credit: Bellgala Photography

One of the Editorial Team’s main responsibilities here at WeddingWire is to select real weddings to feature on WeddingWire. Checking our inboxes each morning feels like Christmas – we love that we’ll never know what types of weddings we’ll see on any given day.

I’m often asked by vendors: “How do I get a real wedding published on WeddingWire?” It’s not an easy answer, but there are things all vendors can do to make their submissions more publication-worthy. Here are some of my top tips, but please note that I’m only speaking for our team. Other editors at other sites may have different requirements.

Submit the Right Way: Before sending a real wedding or event to a blog or print publication, read any provided instructions about the types of submissions they are looking for and how submissions should be presented. Be familiar with the site’s style and focus before submitting – you wouldn’t want to submit a wedding that takes place in New York to a blog that only features West Coast weddings (fortunately, WeddingWire features weddings from all over the world!). For WeddingWire’s Real Weddings, our guidelines can be found here.

Get Permission: Make sure you have the OK from all involved parties (particularly the photographer and the couple) before submitting a real wedding. Many sites will contact the newlyweds for quotes, so it’s important that everyone is on board.

Be Clear: We prefer to see photos with minimal effects and filtering. We want to see your images as clearly as possible, and too many effects can make an image look cluttered.

All About the Mix: We like to see a mix of horizontal and vertical images, and we’d rather see more color images than black and white. While black and white images can be absolutely gorgeous, it’s important that we showcase a wedding’s color scheme in our posts.

It’s All in the Details: Don’t get me wrong, I love a gorgeous couple as much as any editor. But real wedding submissions should focus on detail shots. While of course you should send a few portraits of the couple, make sure your post features plenty of details – from the bouquet to the centerpieces, the cake to the escort cards and invitations. These details should be shot clearly and straight-on so that they’re easy to see.

Be Unique: While there isn’t one particular wedding style that we gravitate to, we tend to select real weddings that surprise us. We’ve seen a lot (and we mean a lot) of weddings and we see many of the same details over and over again. Show us weddings that you’re excited about.

The More, the Merrier: Other editors may disagree, but we would rather edit down your photos ourselves than be left wanting more. As long as you’re not sending repetitive images, more photos = a better, more well-rounded submission.

Tell Their Story: Use both words and pictures to take us through the wedding day. When it comes to text, keep it short and sweet – just a few sentences describing the event is all we need. Let the photos do the talking – be sure to show images from all parts of the day, from getting ready to the ceremony to the cocktail hour through the reception.

Don’t Take It Personally: There are many reasons why we might not accept a submission. Perhaps we’ve been featuring a lot of pink/beach/sparkly weddings lately and want to mix it up. The types of weddings we’re looking for changes throughout the year, so don’t take a rejection too much to heart – and feel free to submit again! Additionally, we keep all submissions on file, so even if your submissions not featured right away, it could be used in the future.

» 5 Unique Ways to Attract Couples With Facebook Live

facebook live wedding business

Have you started using Facebook Live to market your business yet? If not, it’s a must-have in your social media marketing strategy. Here are two reasons why:

  1. Facebook’s algorithm is making it increasingly difficult for businesses to reach an audience on the platform. You may notice that most posts hardly get seen. However, Facebook loves Live. They prioritize live videos in the news feed and will even notify a handful of your followers whenever you start a live video to help you build an audience.
  2. Your followers will love it! The beauty of Facebook Live is that it is spontaneous and unscripted. Your authenticity and brand personality will shine through, and you’ll get to have genuine interactions with your audience. This establishes trust, which is key for getting couples to book you.

You may be wondering, “What would I even talk about or do in a live video?” You can always go live for Q&A sessions and to give advice to your audience, but those are very common Facebook Live topics. Here are 5 unique ways to use Facebook Live to stand out and attract couples:

Interview past clients

If you really want to stand out amongst other competitors who use Facebook Live, interview past clients live using a tool like BeLive.tv. This tool allows you to go live in split screen, so that way two people can host a live video together from anywhere – And you can interview past clients about their experience working with you!

This Facebook Live tactic is powerful because your audience can see your past clients unfiltered testimonial about working with you. After establishing trust through your Facebook Live interview, encourage those watching to visit your WeddingWire profile to read more reviews about your work.

Give a sneak peek behind-the-scenes

Photographer? Show yourself editing some photos live. Caterer? Show your chefs in the kitchen. DJ? Go live while preparing for a wedding. Whatever you do, there’s always lots of behind-the-scenes work that couples don’t necessarily get to see. Facebook Live is your time to give them a sneak peek.

Share your story

Why did you get into the wedding industry? What makes you excited and passionate about your job? Hop onto Facebook Live and share it with your audience! Couples will love to hear you share your story. Getting real and talking about your “why” with your audience will prove to them that you are in business to help make their wedding dreams come true, not just to make money.

Walk through your process

What is your process with clients? Think about all of the steps you take when you first talk with a client all the way up until their wedding day. Now identify what makes your process unique compared to other vendors. For example, a wedding planner who puts a special focus on tablescapes and event design has a very different process than a planner who focuses on logistics.

Go live on Facebook and talk about it – explain your process, what makes it different, and why it will benefit the couple.

Go live at a wedding

Now that we’re in wedding season, use Facebook Live at a wedding (with the permission of the couple, of course). No matter what role you have at the wedding – officiant, hair stylist, makeup artist, caterer, photographer, DJ, planner, etc. – you have the ability to go live and show potential clients how you interact and work at an actual wedding.

This is one of the best ways to use Facebook Live because couples who view the video will be able to picture you at their own wedding, which will make them want to book you.

» What’s Changed (and What’s the Same!): Weddings Then & Now

Over the last decade, we’ve seen couples’ expectations for their weddings change and technology grow to play a critical role in helping them plan. As we continue to celebrate our 10th Anniversary this month, we’re taking a look at the evolution of wedding planning since our launch in 2007. We compiled data from nearly 15,000 couples who married during the last 10 years, and here’s what we learned…

» @WeddingWire’s Top 10 Instagram Posts + 10 Social Tips for Your Business

This article was written by Halie Greening, Senior Social Media Specialist at WeddingWire.

As the social media team behind the @wedddingwire handle, we spend our days analyzing the content that resonates with engaged couples, developing creative ways to connect with our audience, and staying on top of trends in the social sphere. In honor of WeddingWire’s 10th Anniversary this month, we compiled our top 10 Instagram posts of 2017 with the highest engagement, along with 10 social media insights that you can use today to boost your business’ social media strategy.

Tip #1: Heartfelt Moments Boost Engagement

Our followers love the moments that tug at their heartstrings, and rightfully so. There’s something special about reading the raw emotion that shines through this sweet note from a groom to his soon-to-be-wife on their wedding day that made this post so popular. Heartfelt moments target your followers’ pathos; find everyday moments that hit home and you’ve got yourself your next successful Instagram post. (Photo by @sarabeephoto)

Tip #2:  Your Followers Are Your Best Content Creators

Some of our best content, which is often ring selfies and celebratory #justsaidyes moments, comes from our biggest fans – our followers! Sharing content from your followers will make them feel heard and loved, AND it’s a great way to curate authentic, on-brand imagery (without having to create it from scratch). Get into the habit of regularly asking your clients if you can repost their photos. Always be sure to ask permission first, and of course tag them in the photo. Are you a florist? Ask your couples to tag you in their wedding photos so you get notified when you’ve been mentioned. Their #TBT to their gorgeous wedding bouquet = your Saturday morning post to remind your followers to “Stop and smell the roses!” (Ring: @brilliantearth)

Tip #3: Candid Moments Are ALWAYS a Good Idea

Posed portraits and carefully arranged photos can achieve a specific aesthetic, but sometimes it’s the relatable, candid moments that deliver the highest engagement. Moments like this one of a groom crying as he sees his beautiful bride for the first time will captivate your audience and bring in the likes. Consider sharing authentic behind-the-scenes photos of you in action, or maybe a genuine moment between you and your clients. The most compelling posts are often those unplanned shots. (Photo by @jordanvoth)

Tip #4: Find Your Brand BFFs and Build Each Other Up

If your brand or business were a person, who would they hang out with? What would you have in common with your circle of friends? We’ve got a few brand BFFs (all of our amazing wedding professionals!) who we admire for their unique brand stories. Two ways we strengthen our friendships are content swaps and contests (like this Lilly Pulitzer giveaway photo). Whether it be an overlapping demographic or a similar aesthetic, find wedding pros you consider to be your brand friends and coordinate content swaps with them. Do you arrange amazing bouquets and they bake drool-worthy cakes? Why not switch up your content mix with a photo of a delicious sweet treat, and offer them a photo of some stunning stems to share.

Tip #5: Find the “me” and “we” that makes your content relatable!

Ever tag your friend in a post you come across in your social feed because it instantly reminds you of them? Choose content that will make your audience think, “that’s SO me” or “my fiancé and I would TOTALLY do that.” Even if it’s just a shot of you and your Monday morning coffee in a cute mug with a cheeky caption, or maybe a fun peek into your weekend plans, it showcases your human side. Your followers will love to see what you have in common. (Photo by @michellelangephoto)

Tip #6: Find an Aesthetic That Fits Your Style and Stick With it

Just like your outfits, you don’t want your Instagram grid to clash. Keeping a consistent feel to your photos and ensuring that your feed looks cohesive is key making a strong brand impression. Give yourself a color palette you want your imagery to stay within. Create a grid for the week to layout how your images will look alongside one another. Find balance. Love a black and white photo to break up the feed, but typically post vibrant pictures? Balance it out by breaking them up in rows or squares, thinking of your feed in a more symmetrical manner. Whatever your style, create guidelines for yourself and stick with it. (Photo by @sarahlibbyphoto)

Tip #7:  Strong CTA’s = Strong Engagement

Want new followers? Want more likes on your photos? Sometimes the best way to get what you want is to ask! One of our best practices is the classic, direct “call to action” in a caption. Nothing encourages engagement more than telling your followers exactly what it is that you want them to do. Even better, if you’re ever stuck on a catchy caption, pull a “Double tap if…” a “Tag someone who…” or a “Comment below with…” out of your back pocket and not only have you solved your writer’s block, but you’ve also just told your audience exactly what you’re expecting from them when they look at your photo! (Photo by @maycarlson)

Tip #8: If it’s not broken, don’t fix it…build on it!

Donuts, dogs and jaw-dropping ceremony backdrops. What do these all have in common? They get people double-tapping like there’s no tomorrow. As a social team we’ve seen how well photos with these themes perform time and time again on our feed due to how strongly they resonate with our audience. Knowing that these pieces of content easily capture our followers’ attention, we are always on the lookout for content with these elements. Start by auditing your feed and identifying which types of content have performed the best in the past to help guide your content choices in the future. Taking a peek at popular posts from other wedding industry feeds will inevitably provide content inspiration, too. (Ring: @tacoriofficial)

Tip #9: Take note of what’s on trend, then tweak it!

Part of having a strong social media strategy is not only paying attention to what works well for you, but also staying in-the-know about current trends. Whether it’s the Pantone color of the year or the latest decor craze, showcasing trends on your social media tells your followers you are a knowledgeable, reliable source for what’s current in the wedding industry. Of course, staying on-brand and sticking to your style is important, so be picky about the trends you embrace and explore ways to incorporate your unique perspective. (Photo by @bretthickmanphoto)

Tip #10: Stop Their Thumbs in Their Tracks

Ever find yourself mesmerized by a video of a cocktail being made or a delicious dish coming together, ingredient by ingredient? THOSE are the videos that are pure gold. We quickly realized after re-gramming a video by Laura Hooper Calligraphy how much our audience enjoys watching calligraphy come to life before their eyes. So what did we do about it? We met up with Laura Hooper to have her write a variety of phrases that we could capture on video and add to our Instagram arsenal. Try taking quick videos of content relevant to your business. Speed them up, slow them down, reverse them. You’ll captivate your audience and stop those thumbs right in their tracks! (Calligraphy by @lhcalligraphy)

» WeddingWire Networking Night Tampa

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at The Rusty Pelican for WeddingWire Networking Night Tampa!

At the Networking Night, wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy an waterfront venue space, network with other local vendors across all service categories, and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned from a panel of their peers on the challenges and opportunities in the Tampa wedding market, moderated by Senior B2B Marketing Manager, Colleen Duggan.

Thank you to all the wonderful professionals who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the evening below.

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

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Robert from Mobile Mixology!

» A Decade of Change: How the Industry Has Evolved

 

 

 

alan bergThis 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.

As WeddingWire celebrates its 10th anniversary, I wanted to reflect on the last 10 years in our industry. We’ve been through some interesting times. The economy has gone through some wild swings, and we’ve experienced major ups and downs in politics. However, as I reflect on what’s happened, I’m reminded of the old saying: The more things change, the more they remain the same.

I’ve lived through many more than 10 years in our industry, and some things are constant. We should all be grateful that we’re in a recession-resistant industry. Regardless of the economic climate, people are still getting married. Yes, how much they spend, and how they spend it changes, but that’s not just a factor of the economy. Styles change. Trends change. Attitudes and priorities change. Yet, through all of that, people still get married.

We’re really lucky


I often remind wedding pros, like you, that we chose an industry that has couples spending billions of dollars on their weddings, and they are not required to do so. There’s no law that says you have to have a party to celebrate your marriage. There are laws about getting legally married. But, there are no laws about having food, pictures, music, flowers, fashion, etc. Those are discretionary purchases. Most discretionary purchases are highly affected by the economy, swinging with it up and down. Not weddings. Weddings happen, no matter what.

My theory on this (not scientific, just one man’s opinion) is that no one goes into their wedding thinking it’s practice for the next time. We all hope, and many of us are right, that it’s one and done. My parents just celebrated their 63rd anniversary, a benchmark we’d all like to achieve. So, we spend boatloads of money, celebrating the occasion. We should be thankful, every day.

Here are a few of my observations about the last decade:

Technology – If there’s one thing that’s constant, it’s changing technology. Sure, we all had websites 10 years ago, or knew we needed them, but the underlying technology of them is always changing. Much of what we used to do only on desktop computers, we now do on our mobile devices. It’s not better, or worse; it’s just different. For many of you, the technology of your service has changed. Think DJs going from LPs to CDs to all-digital music. Does that make you a better DJ? No. But, it helps you help your couples.

Communication – Whether it’s Facebook Messenger, LiveChat, Texting or WhatsApp, lots of new communication platforms have come along in the last 10 years. I hated Facebook Messenger when it first arrived. I didn’t think I needed it, as I already had phone, email and text. I quickly learned to love it, as clients, and potential clients, started to reach out to me through it. I can attribute real dollars to conversations that were started through Facebook Messenger, texting and WhatsApp. Today, I’ll embrace almost any technology that my clients want to use to connect with me.

Social Media – Here’s a statement of the obvious: social media has fundamentally changed our lives. Whether it’s for the better, or worse, is up to you to decide. All I know is that 10 years ago I wasn’t investing the time I do today in social media. Where did we get that time? What are we not doing now, that we were doing with that time 10 years ago? We didn’t get any more time, so it had to get shifted from other activities. That said, I use particular social media platforms because I get positive return on my investment in time and effort, and yes, money (if I buy an ad, or boost a post). Many of the wedding pros I meet, and consult with, have no idea if they’re getting any return on their investments. They do it because they feel they have to. Did you jump into the deep end of the social media pool, because everyone else was in the pool? Or, did you first learn how to be a great swimmer, and then jump in?

Social Proof – Here’s a phrase we weren’t using 10 years ago. According to a WeddingWire study, nearly 90% of consumers trust online reviews, as much as personal recommendations. So, while 10 years ago couples were asking their friends, family and coworkers for recommendations, now, with over 3 million reviews on WeddingWire alone, they can go online and find out who you really are. I’ve said this many times: your brand is defined by what your customers say about you, after they’ve worked with you. You need to be highlighting your reviews everywhere: on your website (not just on a testimonials page, as no one goes there) and in your marketing. You need to be actively involved in the process, responding to your good reviews, requesting reviews and yes, addressing anything negative, quickly and professionally. Your brand and your reputation is out there, for everyone to see… whether you choose to see it or not. Be involved.

Sales – Here’s something that hasn’t fundamentally changed. Sales is, and will always be, about people. Yes, you’ll use different technologies in your process, but ultimately, it’s people, buying from people. If you learn how to effectively help people buy, the technology is inconsequential. Artificial intelligence is a long way from being able to take the job of a salesperson in your business. You need to make a connection. You need to ask better questions. You need to really listen to the answers, and then show the customer how you, and only you, can deliver the results they want. That hasn’t changed in the last 10 years, and it’s not going to change in the next decade, if ever. If there’s one skill you need to hone, whether you’ve been selling for 20 minutes, or 20 years, it’s your sales skills. If you don’t make the sale, you don’t get to ply your craft and show your skills. It’s that simple.

So, what’s happened in the last 10 years? I remember first meeting Tim and Sonny at the Wedding MBA conference, 10 years ago. I was impressed with them, even though I was a competitor at the time. I’ve watched, from the sidelines, as WeddingWire has grown, and matured, yet still manages to remain nimble, something that’s not easy to do. I’m proud to be connected with WeddingWire for over 5 years now, and I’m looking forward to the next 10. I wish you all a decade of success!

» Top 10 Roundup: Most Popular Wedding Business Tips

A lot has changed in the wedding industry over the last 10 years, which has challenged wedding professionals to change with it. Since WeddingWire launched in 2007, we’ve shared marketing advice, expert education, and technology tips to help you manage and grow your business. While the rise of technology has dramatically changed the ways that wedding professionals connect with and book potential clients, many of the core principles of running a successful wedding business remain the same.

Here is a list of our top 10 most read articles of all time, containing some of our most essential business tips, insights, and marketing advice that are still just as relevant today:

#1 – Why Do Couples Ask About Price First?

#2 – Top Wedding Trends for 2017

#3 – 5 Ways You’re Losing The Sale

#4 – Business Branding: Consider Your Color!

#5 – How Are Weddings Changing? WeddingWire 2017 Newlywed Survey

#6 – What to Do When They Don’t Respond

#7 – How to Deal with Pricing Questions

#8 – 6 Ways to Optimize Your Website for Leads

#9 – How to Respond to a Negative Review

#10 – How Should You Politely Tell A Client ‘I Don’t Do That’?

» From Margins to Mainstream: A Decade of Change For Same-Sex Weddings

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

On May 1, 2007, Tim Chi and the founding members of the WeddingWire team sat down in his pink living room in Maryland to change the wedding industry by introducing technology built to connect wedding pros and “brides” in the wedding planning process.

Meanwhile, just across the Potomac River in neighboring Virginia, I was taking a look at
the explosive growth of our site traffic (a YOY increase of almost 700%) at GayWeddings.com, which we had updated the previous year from our original sites (TwoBrides.com & TwoGrooms.com). The
Dallas Morning News had recently referred to me and my straight mom, who founded our business, as “some of the most knowledgeable experts on commitment ceremonies in the country;” and the only state that recognized “gay marriage” (the term commonly used at the time) was Massachusetts. Most weddings were ceremonies that had no legal component, and the couples who were seeking legal recognition lived in or traveled to Massachusetts or to Canada, where marriage had been legalized in 2005.

It’s hard to believe that 10 short years ago, the landscape for online wedding planning and same-sex marriage was so vastly different. The market still had a traditional feel to it: most couples planned using binders and “bridal shows,” we used different language to describe our ceremonies and customers, and pursuing a marriage license or experiencing federally-recognized marriage equality seemed like an unattainable milestone for the majority of same-sex couples. Even LGBT advocacy groups at the time, with the exception of Freedom to Marry, were hesitant to push for marriage equality over workplace protections and other initiatives.

FlowersWhen did marriage equality and same-sex weddings come to your awareness? When did you begin to advertise your services to lesbian brides and gay grooms? Here are a few special LGBTQ wedding memories from GayWeddings, framed against a backdrop of WeddingWire’s 10th anniversary. We hope you’ll share a few of your stories and milestones with us as well!

Same-Sex Marriage Map, State by State (Pew Research Center)

Detailed Map of Gay Marriage in America (2014) (New York Times)

2008 ::  Connecticut became the second state to legalize same-sex marriage and California’s Supreme Court legalized marriage until a ballot measure known as Prop 8 overturned the decision. In the short span of months where marriage was recognized in California, 18,000 couples rushed to City Hall and GayWeddings’ business was booming. As one of the few resources available to couples and professionals, we were a stop along the planning journey for most same-sex couples, and we received dozens of inquiries from national and local press outlets. Meanwhile, legislators reacted defensively in Arizona and Florida and passed Constitutional Amendments banning same-sex marriage. The New York times ran a piece featuring yours truly and my industry peer, Bernadette Smith of the Gay Wedding Institute.

2009 ::  Along came Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont, with Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty signing a bill of his own for the District. With more options for legal marriage, couples were weighing options about how, when and if to have a ceremony and this was especially relevant for couples in the Metro DC area who might live in a state where marriage wasn’t recognized (VA or MD), but could easily travel a few miles to get legally married. The Washington Post took a look at some of the conversations that local couples were having as they weighed their legal choices on the weeks leading up to marriage equality.

2010 :: Momentum was building quickly. Washington, D.C. marriages began, with the US Capitol as backdrop, and the stage was set for New York to follow on its heels. Meanwhile, we, at GayWeddings, realized that, much as we enjoyed being a small family-run business, that the bigger wedding planning sites in the market were catching on to the need to serve same-sex couples. The tide was truly beginning to turn as the industry grew to be more open to the conversation. At GayWeddings, we understood that we were headed toward full inclusivity, and wanted to find a business partner with whom we could work toward that end.

Enter Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire, with whom I had a lunch that led to a milestone conversation. He introduced me to Tim Chi and the executive team and WeddingWire, and I prepared myself to pitch them on why marriage equality matters and the ways in which same-sex couples continued to be underserved. Their response? Complete acceptance and engagement. For the first time since my mom and I had begun our work in 1999, we encountered a “mainstream” influencer who had no qualms, self-consciousness or worries about open including and celebrating same-sex weddings.

Gay Wedding Trends: A 2015 Year-in-Review Snapshot2011 :: Following our preliminary planning work in 2010, GayWeddings launched its partnership with WeddingWire in January of 2011. With a flip of the switch, our “gay-friendly” vendor directory became the largest catalog of more than 20,000 wedding pros who were “ready, willing & able” to serve same-sex couples. That same year, Hawaii approved civil unions and New York legalized marriage equality, which (the New York City media market being what it is) created a tidal wave that was felt nationwide. The storyline about “gay weddings” being “big business” (like this CNN Money article) was the primary headline and wedding pros who hadn’t yet been paying attention began to be more open about considering the needs of and the opportunity in working with same-sex couples.

2012 :: The legal tide changed with a new twist in that voters (not judges and not legislators) in Maryland, Maine and Washington state approved same-sex marriage laws through popular vote. Our vendor directory grew to more than 35,000 wedding pros and we updated our language to be more inclusive, referring to it as “LGBT-friendly” rather than “gay-friendly.” I also found myself as an inaugural speaker of the first ever WeddingWire World at The Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Conferences had begun to be more inclusive of same-sex weddings in breakout groups, but WeddingWire was the first national conference (to my knowledge) to offer the topic from the main stage.

2013 :: Count this year as one of the most important years in the progress toward marriage equality. Two big rulings were issued from the Supreme Court. Thanks to the case of Edie Windsor, who sued as a result of the federal tax she paid upon the death of her spouse, the court struck down part of the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), which allowed couples who were legally married in their home states to also receive federal marriage recognition. Additionally, the Supreme Court refused to hear the challenge to marriage recognition in California thus reversing Prop 8 and opening the door to the return of marriage equality in California. Many couples (like my wife and I) used this opportunity to get legally married for the federal recognition, even if in-state recognition remained out of reach.

2014 :: By this point, as a regular speaker on the wedding industry circuit, I often found that, when I would say “marriage equality” from the stage, wedding pros would cheer. The joy and excitement was palpable. In fact, we found that the vast majority of pros we surveyed at the time said they were ready, willing and able to serve same-sex couples and our newly named “LGBTQ-friendly” directory surpassed 100,000 wedding pros. Meanwhile, there was still work to be done to provide a safe and open space for those wedding pros who had questions about same-sex weddings, had some religious reservations about participating, or otherwise were new to the conversation. At conferences, my favorite conversations were the ones with deeply thoughtful pros who were struggling with the new reality of marriage equality, but trusted me enough to talk through their concerns.

Legally speaking, appeals courts rulings struck down same-sex marriage bans in multiple states, but one appeals court upheld a constitutional ban making it clear that the next stop was the Supreme Court for all the proverbial marbles. Oh, and photographer Thea Dodds and I re-released our self-published book, Capturing Love, as The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography, under the imprint of Amphoto Books.

What does the post-marriage equality market look like for gay and lesbian couples?2015 :: A year I’ll never forget. In the early months of 2015, we completed the paperwork for WeddingWire to acquire GayWeddings, and shortly thereafter, on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. One of the proudest moments of my life was standing with my mom and many members of the WeddingWire team on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. as the decision was handed down. WiFi coverage was sparse and digital channels were congested because of the crowd, but word spread quickly and the cheers were contagious as we learned that same-sex couples could now marry in any state in the US. As the year closed, I launched a new initiative — #BridalRebrand — and invited professionals to take their efforts toward inclusivity to a whole new level.

2016 :: In order to help others better understand the needs of same-sex couples (particularly wedding professionals and reporters who cover wedding trends), we worked with Bernadette Smith, Community Marketing & Insights and the WedInsights team at WeddingWire to develop the most comprehensive and disciplined study of current wedding trends for all couples: the 2016 Study of Contemporary Couples & Wedding Trends. This national survey featured the largest sample of respondents and, unlike any other survey to date, asked the same questions of LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ couples — from identity to wedding ritual preferences to fears of rejections. The results were eye-opening.

2017 :: Ten years after the founding of WeddingWire and 18 years after the founding of GayWeddings, I hardly remember a time I wasn’t working with the WeddingWire team to improve inclusivity in the wedding market. I’m proud to be supporting not only the inclusion of same-sex couples, but also love lobbying the industry for more openness to serving men (straight or gay!) and other underserved couples who don’t feel that the market reflects them.


When it comes to love, there’s plenty of room for all of us. So, keep leading with love, listening with love and serving with love. In so doing, you can’t go wrong!

» How to Get Engaged Couples to Follow You on Instagram

how to get engaged couples to follow you on instagram

If you market your business with Instagram, you know the struggle almost every wedding vendor experiences at some point. You want engaged couples to follow you and see your posts, but no matter how hard you try, it seems like the only people you can get following you and engaging with your posts are other wedding professionals.

There are three main reasons for this:

  1. Many businesses set up bots that automatically like photos and follow users who use specific hashtags. If you use those hashtags, you may get followed by lots of other vendors automatically. This is a problem that is difficult to avoid, so don’t worry about these likes and followers.
  2. You may not be using enough or the best hashtags to reach couples.
  3. You may not be actively searching for engaged couples on Instagram or interacting with them, which makes it difficult for you to reach them. If you have tried to do this, you may struggle with trying to find users who are engaged in your area.

So how can you fix these issues and get real engaged couples to follow and engage with you?

Fix your hashtags

One of the easiest ways to start reaching couples on Instagram is to use hashtags strategically. Start by using 20-30 hashtags per post, and always put the hashtags in the first comment. This will maximize your reach and make sure your caption doesn’t look cluttered with hashtags.

Next, go to the profiles of successful competitors in your area. Take note of the hashtags they commonly use in their posts, and use them in your own. Think about which hashtags engaged couples are likely to search for on Instagram and use those, as well.

Here are some ideas for hashtags to use:

  • Location specific hashtags (examples: #nycweddingplanner, #PAweddingphotographer, #nashvilleweddings, etc.)
  • Wedding inspiration hashtags (examples: #weddingdetails, #weddingphotoideas, #fallweddinginspiration, etc.)
  • Branded hashtags to promote your business (examples: #MADbeautiful, #whitneyweddings, #howbostongetsengaged, etc.)

Use the LLLF strategy to reach couples

LLLF stands for like-like-like-follow. The strategy involves finding couples’ Instagram accounts, engaging with three posts either by liking or commenting, then following them. When you do this, make sure to comment something genuine and thought out, rather than quick and vague. The goal is to get the user to notice all of your engagement, click on your profile, and then follow you back.

So how do you find engaged couples to like, comment, and follow? Here are three great strategies:

  1. Search for hashtags engaged couples may use in their own posts to find users who are engaged. Make sure you include a location so that you find couples local to you. Here are some examples of hashtags to search: #NYCbridetobe, #dallasengagement, #LAgroom
  2. Search for engagement photographers in your area and look for users that they tag in their posts, then go to their accounts and implement LLLF. You can also check comments on posts without someone tagged in case the bride or groom commented. If the user is private, you can start by following, then engaging with their posts.
  3. Search for local bridal shops and jewelry stores, and then look for users tagged in their posts. Lots of bridal shops will post, “I said yes to the dress!” photos, while jewelers will often feature customers with their engagement rings.

If you start implementing these two strategies and spending only five minutes per day reaching out to engaged couples on Instagram, you will start to see more couples following you and engaging with your posts. In time, you may even begin to receive inquiries through your Instagram inbox.

 

Photo by Something Blue by Susan Elizabeth

» WeddingWire World LA 2017: Recap

Thank you to all of the wedding professionals who joined us for World LA 2017!

Our team was thrilled to be on the West coast for WeddingWire World LA at the Anaheim Marriott on May 1-2. From the engaging educational sessions to the electric networking night reception (and everything in between!), we are still buzzing as we reflect on two amazing days.

Thanks to our amazing attendees for all the posts, comments, and memories shared! Be sure to catch up on all the action by checking out #WWWorld on Instagram and Twitter.

World LA 2017 highlights included:

  • Two fabulous featured speakers: Candace Nelson, Founder and Pastry Chef of Sprinkles, and celebrity Event Planner Mindy Weiss of Mindy Weiss Party Consultants
  • Educational sessions on dozens of topics including pricing, PR, trends, branding, sales, SEO, marketing, product strategy, client communications, and much more.
  • Main stage and breakout sessions from our WeddingWire Education Experts and Contributors Alan Berg, Meghan Ely, Kathryn Hamm and Bethel Nathan.
  • Engaging pro panel discussions on topics including growth strategies for early stage businesses, destination weddings, today’s diverse couples, reviews and online reputation, and insights for seasoned business.
  • The opportunity for attendees to meet with our Customer Success team members one-on-one during the conference.
  • The WeddingWire Lounge, including complimentary professional headshots taken on-site by Jim Kennedy Photographers, a speaker table where attendees could engage with our speakers and WeddingWire executives, and interactive booths by GayWeddings and LiveBooks.
  • Special prizes and giveaways throughout both days – Amazon Echos, a new smart phone, books authored by our speakers, and more.
  • A rocking Networking Night Reception, including grilled cheese and taco stations, an open bar, new connections, and a packed dance floor!

All attendees will receive the slides from all presentations, so keep an eye on your inbox!

Finally, we’d like to extend one more big thank you to all the partners who made World LA 2017 possible:

Blueprint Studios
Fat Head
Jason Jani and SCE Event Group
Jim Kennedy Photographers
KIND Bars
Life Event Films
Michelle Marie Beauty
Omni Booth
Rob Ferre, Life of the Party
Susan’s Floral Design

Thank you again to all the wedding professionals who traveled from far and wide to join us this year. We’ve picked some of our favorite photos from World LA below, and you can check out the full album on our Facebook page!

World DC 2017: August 14-15

If you missed World LA, we’d love to have you join us at WeddingWire World DC on August 14-15, 2017! Tickets are on sale now– visit the World DC website for details and tickets.

» Easy Peasy PR Tips for Small Business Pros

 

 

Being a small business owner comes with a lot of ups, downs and everything in between. It can sometimes feel like you are forever performing a balancing act of appointments, events, and paperwork- the list of responsibilities goes on and on.

Carving out time for things like public relations is important, but can sometimes end up towards the bottom of a never-ending to-do list. The good news is that there are tons of easy tips and tricks to help you grow your company’s PR profile that won’t compete with your busy schedule. Here are some great ways to get your name out there, regardless of how busy you are.

Embrace Real Wedding Submissions

Investing time into real wedding submissions is one of the best first steps you can take as a wedding pro. Getting your work in front of engaged couples on wedding blogs and magazines can have a huge impact on your business. However, in the last several years, it has become an increasingly competitive PR method and the submission pool is overflowing with weddings.

To catch the editor’s attention, follow these guidelines:

  • Do your research: Take some time to create a ‘wish list’ of where you want to be featured and take a look at the kinds of weddings they are showcasing. You want to match your work with the media outlets that feature complementary content so that your entry is competitive.
  • Follow the rules: Surprisingly, a lot of people who submit to wedding blogs don’t look at the guidelines on the website before sending in their submission. To stand out, be sure you are following the rules to the letter.
  • It’s all about the details: Nearly every wedding blog is looking for fresh details to highlight (think unique cakes, centerpieces, flowers, stationery and the like), so be sure to include them with each submission.
  • Tell a story: Images are the focal point of any wedding submission, but if the editor has the couple’s story to go along with those photos, you are more likely to grab their attention. Ask couples what inspired them, their engagement story, favorite wedding day moments, and anything else that makes their big day stand out.  

Use Free/Low Cost Tools

As business owners, the word ‘streamlining’ has a very important place in our vocabulary. Having easy-to-use tools in your back pocket can make a world of difference when it comes to managing your time.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Talkwalker Alerts: If you’ve got a feature coming out but don’t have time to keep checking the site to see if it’s live, Talkwalker Alerts is a must-have. It will notify you via email when your feature has been posted so you can get to promoting.
  • Wufoo: If you like to get insight from clients, Wufoo is the perfect tool for you. It is an easy-to-use questionnaire builder that provides you with a link to send out once finalized. Once the form has been completed by the recipient, you will receive an email with their answers to know it has been submitted.
  • HARO: Short for Help a Reporter Out, HARO has been an integral part of my own business for years. Scouring the internet looking for press opportunities can be a full-time job, and this tool brings writers and editors on the hunt for expert commentary directly to your inbox.   

Offer Yourself as a Resource

Introduce yourself to your local mainstream outlets as a resource. Find out who writes about wedding content in local mainstream magazines and outlets, and make sure to find the best person to reach out to (hint: run a search on the word ‘wedding’ and see what comes up). Send an email to introduce yourself and let them know your area of expertise, as well as the best way to reach you for future articles. 
With these tips in your arsenal, it’s time to take out that to-do list and move your public relations efforts up a few pegs- trust me, you won’t regret it!   

Exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR agency OFD Consulting. She also leads the newly launched OFD Collective, a membership based community of wedding professionals seeking PR education and publicity opportunities for their business.