» Pro Forum Buzz: WeddingWire World Chicago, Unplugged Weddings 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, Pros 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 Pro Forums!

WeddingWire World Chicago

Our WeddingWire World Tour 2014 is coming to Chicago! WeddingWire World is a great place for Pros to network and learn the latest from industry experts. Have you heard about it? Are you going? Start networking for the event now!

Join the conversation >>

Pro Forum Buzz: WeddingWire World Chicago, Unplugged Weddings and MorePut down those cell phones

A wedding photographer who has had a lot of ruined photos as a result of amateur guest “photographers” seeks advice from wedding planners on how to address mobile usage during wedding ceremonies. What is your advice on how to “unplug” a wedding?

Offer your advice >>

How do you turn an email/price inquiry into a booking?

Email leads: How do you answer the dreaded “How much?” question? Have you found a successful method for converting email leads and short price inquiries? Vendors everywhere tackle this same topic – seek or give your advice here!

Share your thoughts >>

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» WeddingWire Networking Night Milwaukee

Monday night, Wedding Pros gathered at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts for WeddingWire Networking Night Milwaukee!

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

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, the WeddingWire Education Guide, 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 Milwaukee 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 our raffle winner! Congrats to Kimberly Wesler of Wesler Photography, the winner of a WeddingWire prize pack!

Finally, as mentioned at the conclusion of the presentation, we encourage you to take advantage of your free registration for WeddingWire World Chicago! As a WeddingWire Networking Milwaukee attendee, you may use the promo code provided at the event for your free ticket. Please email events@weddingwire.com if you have any questions!

WeddingWire Networking Night Milwaukee

WeddingWire Networking Night Milwaukee

WeddingWire Networking Night Milwaukee

WeddingWire Networking Night Milwaukee Continue reading

» Same-Sex Marriage Momentum: Do The Latest Legal Wins Impact You?

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 article was updated on Thursday, July 24 at 11:30am.

Since the fall of DOMA (the ‘Defense of Marriage Act’) in June 2013, the pace of marriage equality updates have quickened, with constitutional bans falling in state after state in ways that have outpaced my wildest dreams.

These days, I find myself updating my same-sex marriage ‘legal landscape’ presentations daily and, on some days, hourly! In the past few months, I’ve started presentations with one count for marriage equality states only to find that the number of states recognizing same-sex marriage (or bans overturned) has increased by the time I’m done speaking.

And, case in point, not long after this piece was first published, Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage was overturned by a Federal judge, meaning that gay marriage recognition in Colorado is now on stay through August 25, until the legal process can move the case to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (which, as noted below, has already upheld state decisions to overturn marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma).

Same-Sex Marriage Momentum: Do The Latest Legal Wins Impact You?Even with these many advancements, the current total of states recognizing marriage equality remains relatively stable at 19 states plus the District of Columbia. (Learn more about specific states below.)

The bigger story for 2014 is actually embedded in the number of states (14) that have overturned constitutional bans on marriage, leaving the legal recognition of same-sex marriage on stay, pending appeal. Or, in layperson’s and grossly oversimplified terms: various judges have overturned bans on marriage equality, but, in most cases, local jurisdictions have been unable to issue marriage licenses until the cases make their way through the appeals process – from state court to federal court to the Circuit Court of Appeals and, ultimately, to the Supreme Court – leaving most of the states in marriage limbo. For now.

As of this writing, seventeen (18!) consecutive federal courts have ruled in favor of marriage equality; thus, the legal groundswell, which is not without a minority voice of protest, clearly favors marriage equality.

If we, today, added to our count of marriage equality states (19 + DC), the states where bans have been overturned but are pending appeal, we would be celebrating marriage equality in thirty-three (33) states and the District of Columbia (source: Human Rights Campaign)!

The states currently in marriage limbo are:  Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Couples in Ohio and Tennessee have also benefited from favorable rulings where the out-of-state marriages of several couples were recognized by the courts.

Regionally speaking (as far as the U.S. is concerned), here are a few tips to consider:

If you work with couples in one of the 19 marriage equality states (or the District of Columbia), it remains ever-so-true that you need to take your services beyond gay-friendly if you want to be competitive. This is especially true in markets where marriage equality has been around for a fair share of years. It is essential that you update the language on your website, marketing materials, vendor listings, and contracts to be inclusive of all brides and grooms. In your markets, same-sex couples have choice so you need to showcase your industry skill set and gay wedding competence. Also be sure to request Reviews from past same-sex couples to get their valuable feedback on your services and show other couples searching for their wedding day team that you have experience in serving all kinds of couples and happy past clients!

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» Where Has My Facebook Engagement Gone?

Pro to Pro Insights

Ariane Fisher

Ariane Fisher is the Co-founder of Storymix Media. Their WeddingMix product is a fun and easy way to crowdsource photos and videos from guests to create an edited wedding video. Ariane is an Apple Certified Professional Video Editor and has been published in Forbes, Crain’s Chicago Business, WeddingMBA, and Rangefinder Online. She has been featured on the ABC evening news in Chicago and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.

The writing was on the wall 2 years ago when Facebook debuted newsfeed ads. As businesses began to pay for placement in the newsfeed, it was inevitable that organic reach (unpaid posts) would plummet. And without organic reach, engagement plummeted as well. Bye, bye, free Facebook.

Yes and no. By staying on top of the latest updates, you can continue to enjoy great engagement with your existing and potential clients.

In this article, you’ll learn what type of posts are actually shown to your fans, how to get the content for your posts and how to actually post them.

What is organic reach and engagement?

Organic reach is how many of your fans actually see your posts without you paying for it. If you have 1000 fans that you worked hard to gain, prior to newsfeed ads, Facebook may have shown your posts to 250 of them – for free. Now you can pay $5 – $30 to reach that many of your fans.

Engagement is any interaction between your fans and your post – like, comment or share. It’s what tells you that your fans are alive and paying attention to you.

What posts will Facebook show to my fans?

Facebook uses a mathematical algorithm to decide which posts they will show the most. Facebook’s latest algorithm changes favor something near and dear to my heart – video.

As you can see from the photo below, they are showing posts with video more than the others.

Where Has My Facebook Engagement Gone?

The important thing to notice is the engagement. The more your fans like, share, comment on your posts, the more Facebook shows other posts, like status updates, links and photos. In the case of video posts, they also consider if the fans watched a video for more than a few seconds in determining engagement.  Continue reading

» Win Tickets to WeddingWire World Chicago!

Win Tickets to WeddingWire World Chicago!

We’re only a few weeks away from our next stop on the 2014 WeddingWire World Tour in Chicago! 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 Chicago 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 Art Institute of Chicago on Monday, August 11, 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 Chicago here.

» 4 Ways to Turn a Negative Review into a Positive

With our July review sweepstakes going on, your business is likely receiving a lot of reviews! While we hope most of them are about the wonderful experience the couple had with your business, we realize that not every event is a home run and some couples’ perceptions are not within your control. Negative reviews happen on occasion, and it’s imperative that your business be prepared to handle them in the best way possible.

4 Ways to Turn a Negative Review into a PositiveMany wedding and event professionals consider negative reviews to be devastating, but they don’t always have to be! There are many ways you can view a less than perfect review as a positive for your business. Take a deep breath, remember it’s not the end of the world, and read through our list below to find out why you should view a negative review as a positive for your business.

Give legitimacy to your other reviews

Everyone loves 5-star reviews – businesses love having them, and couples love seeing them. Having all perfect, 5-star reviews, however, may make your business appear to be less than honest. From a consumer’s perspective, think about how you would react if you saw only 5-star reviews on a business’ page. The simple truth is that while reviews from real customers are powerful, there’s also the tendency to distrust a business if they look too good to be true! Having one or a few reviews your business may consider “negative” makes all your fantastic reviews more legitimate, and it helps the potential customer understand both sides of the equation. The more they know what to expect from dealing with your business, the better they can make an informed decision. And remember: one review will not make or break your business!

Help identify areas of improvement

When working an event, a couple might not be comfortable sharing negative feedback with you in person out of fear of an awkward moment. The review is where you could learn things about your products or services that need improvement! Maybe your flowers started to wilt early, or one of your catering staff was a bit abrasive towards guests, and you weren’t aware! In this way, you should be thankful for negative reviews; you can’t fix something that could be costing you business unless you know about it. This sort of intel from clients helps you fix those problem areas so that the next client won’t have the same issues, and your business will be better for it and continue to flourish.

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» How to Cultivate Repeat Customers

Many wedding professionals do more than just weddings – they’re also event professionals who may provide products or services for birthdays, baby showers, corporate events and more. While many wedding services are one-time-only, others can be applied to different types of events. In those cases, each time you book a client for a wedding or event lays the groundwork for a turning that person into a client for life.

Below are a few guidelines to follow to help you cultivate repeat customers who will come back to work with you again and again!

How to Cultivate Repeat CustomersBe Personable

It’s important to build a relationship with all your clients. Having a relationship with your clients will lead to them thinking of you first when planning their next event! To build that relationship, always respond to any communication (phone calls, emails) in a timely fashion to show that you are reliable and they can depend on you to exceed their expectations. Whenever possible, meet with your clients in person so that you can establish a stronger connection than just a voice on a phone call.

Pro Tip: If you’re juggling multiple clients and have a hard time remember who is who, you can upload an image to their booking using our tools in the Clients tab! This is a great way to make sure you remember each of your clients by name and face, and it will help you remember them longer.

Be Their Guide

Most of your clients have never been married before, so keep this in mind when you begin working with them. While they’re new to the engagement process, you’re not! You are a helpful resource for them, guiding them in the right direction to make their day perfect. Gain their trust by sharing your experiences with them and you’ll build a stronger relationship.

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» 5 Tips for Better Client Conversations

In the life of a busy Wedding Pro, there are tons of client conversations. Whether you’re responding to an initial inquiry or going back and forth on the little details of an event, how you communicate is very important. Even though you may have a million other things to do, it’s important to make every client feel like a star!

To help you have better client conversations, check out our five tips below.

5 Tips for Better Client ConversationsConnect before you sell

While you might have many appointments during the course of a regular day, each client needs to feel a personal connection with you and your business. Before you start going over the details of the couples’ wedding or event, you’ll need to establish a connection with the couple. Get to know them a little more, which can inform your decisions throughout the rest of the appointment. You should also take the time to talk a little about yourself so they understand a bit more about you and why your business best fits their needs.

Take it slow

This tip goes hand in hand with the point above; don’t rush into your sales pitch. Let them talk about themselves and the event. Listen carefully to what the couple says so you can remember the little details, and repeat those details to them in the course of your pitch so they know you were paying attention. The more comfortable the couple feels with you, the more likely they are to remember that feeling afterward.

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» WeddingWire Workshop Toronto

Yesterday, local Toronto Wedding Pros gathered at the Eglinton Grand for one of our WeddingWire Workshop events, focused on managing your business!

At the WeddingWire Workshop, Pros gathered for a comprehensive training on the tools available within the Clients Tab of premium members’ WeddingWire account. In addition to receiving hands-on WeddingWire account training, attendees also learned more about eventOS tools, met their local WeddingWire representatives, and enjoyed light snacks and beverages while networking with other local Pros after the training session.

WeddingWire Workshops are the newest addition to our variety of educational events and networking opportunities created for Wedding Pros, which include our annual user’s conference WeddingWire World, networking events such as WeddingWire Mix & Mingles, WeddingWire Networking Nights and more. We look forward to hosting more local WeddingWire Workshops in the near future!

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us and participated in the Workshop. If you want to continue the conversation with some of the Pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Workshop Toronto board in the Pro Forums!

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

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

Finally, congrats to Jorge Pineda of 586 Event Group, the winner of a WeddingWire prize pack!

WeddingWire Workshop Toronto Team

WeddingWire Workshop Toronto

WeddingWire Workshop Toronto

WeddingWire Workshop Toronto

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» Four Ways Video Can Help Your Wedding Business

Four Ways Video Can Help Your Wedding BusinessUnless you’re a videographer, you may not think of video as a tool for growing your business online, but it’s a tactic you should try! Video packages your message in an entertaining format that helps your business stand out, making it more likely that a couple searching will select your business.

Our Video Builder tool allows you to create unlimited videos to showcase your business. You can customize by choosing 10-25 images from any of your photo albums and selecting a song from our library to set the mood. Your video will be customized to display your business name and any other pieces of information you would like to include, making it easy to share on social media and more!

If you still haven’t bought into video marketing, read below for four ways video can help your business:

Engage with clients

Video is often more powerful than photos or text when it comes to engagement. A potential client can casually look through your Storefront photos while they’re otherwise preoccupied; a video requires both visual and audio engagement.  Take advantage of this type of content by explaining more about your business and your products or services in a way that will make them sit up and take notice!

Drive conversions

Think about your business’ video as a sale – explain why your business is better than the competition, and what makes you the best choice for potential clients. While your video probably won’t actually make sales for you (you’ll still need to conduct an appointment), it can drive inquiry conversions! Turn anonymous visitors into potential clients by providing them with content that answers most of their questions and compels them to contact you right away.

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» Inside WeddingWire: Collaborate 2014

Every summer, the entire WeddingWire team to comes together for a day of team-building, learning and fun at WeddingWire Collaborate.

Collaborate is a one-day off-site conference for WeddingWire staff. The first half of the day is when all employees come together for an extensive all-hands meeting where we reflect on accomplishments made so far this year and followed by important updates about our upcoming ideas, products and programs. The afternoon is spent doing team-building activities which bring together members of different departments to work together, problem solve, communicate and get creative!

This year, we celebrated Collaborate 2014 at The Westin Annapolis! Our team-building activities were facilitated through two representatives from TrainingPath, who led our staff through a variety of games designed to create situations where our team had to work together (or against each other!) to reach a common goal. While it was all “fun and games,” our staff realized our greater potential working together to achieve the best results. Our Executive Team also unveiled this year’s Collaborate video, which featured a spoof of a famous scene in the movie Zoolander.

A special addition this year was our involvement with Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis & Anne Arundel County! We were proud to welcome members of the BGCAA who explained their organization and the importance of their work. To thank BGCAA for all their great work in the community, our team built and donated bikes for the children in the organization! We had a great time building bikes for kids whose lives will be changed dramatically by receiving such a seemingly small gesture.

We capped the day with food and cocktails, and reflected on another great WeddingWire Collaborate! Check out some of the photo highlights below.

WeddingWire Collaborate 2014

WeddingWire Collaborate 2014

WeddingWire Collaborate 2014

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» Avoid These Common Small Business Mistakes

Big Ideas for Small Business HR

Avoid These Common Small Business MistakesStarting your own business is exciting and often the result of many years in the wedding industry, where you’ve proven your expertise. You know everything there is to know about your given profession, and you’re ready to share it with the world! Starting your own business, however, doesn’t always mean that you know everything there is to know about owning a business.

Knowing the basics of owning a small business is important. 46% of small businesses fail because of incompetence due to nonpayment of taxes, lack of planning, no knowledge of financing or no experience in record-keeping. 30% of businesses fail because of unbalanced experience or due to lack of managerial experience. It’s best to do your homework before getting started to know exactly what owning your own business means.

Read up on these common small business mistakes to keep your wedding and events business thriving!

Mixing personal and professional accounts

For many one-man (or woman) businesses, it’s easy to co-mingle business accounts with your professional accounts, since both accounts go directly to you. It may be a common practice, but it will cause problems for your business in the long run. You should maintain separate checking accounts and track expenses separately so when tax time rolls around, you’ll be able to see your records easily and file taxes appropriately. It’s also just good business sense – couples feel better about writing checks to businesses, not individuals. The more you separate yourself from your business, the more you will be perceived as a professional wedding business rather than a part-time weekend warrior.

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