» Is it Time to Update Your Destinations List to be More LGBTQ Friendly?

This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

Just as legislatures, governors, courts and popular votes in the US are carving out new jurisdictions friendly to same-sex couples and their families, so too are the political leaders and legislative bodies in other countries. In recent weeks, France, New Zealand and Uruguay have all embraced legal protections for same-sex couples. And these countries join eleven others – the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, and Denmark – all of which recognize same-sex marriage. (For those counting, the United States remains in the company of Brazil and Mexico, which also have “regional or court-directed provisions enabling same-sex couples to share in the freedom to marry.”)

One way US-based wedding professionals can better serve same-sex couples is to be aware of the current legal landscape and how it might impact the choices a couple makes when tying the knotlegally or otherwise. A wedding planner, for example, might be able to help a couple think through the event options if a couple is staging and out-of-state ceremony and a reception back home. Or, an officiate might help a potential bride or groom who has a legal union in another state with another person understand that a lawyer will need to be involved before a new marriage certificate can be requested. (Yes, it happens.)

But what about couples who want to marry abroad or celebrate a honeymoon beyond the shores of Carolina or California or across the borders of our neighbors to our north or south? A well-educated wedding professional can make a thoughtful recommendation that will go beyond a location which has long been celebrated as a popular destination for the LGBTQ community, and also show an appreciation of spending tourism dollars in a market which embraces marriage equality.

Image by Aphrodite Photography

One of our GayWeddings.com writers, Jon Paul Buchmeyer, offered his “Supremely Subjective Top Picks For Destination Weddings” in a Destination: Taste column not long ago. The majority of them are not only great LGBTQ friendly destinations, but they also offer partnership recognition rights for same-sex couples. And, if you are a Wedding Pro who talks with couples about honeymoon planning ideas, I encourage you to learn more about the countries who have legalized same-sex marriage or have otherwise taken concrete steps to support the LGBTQ community.

Having this extra bit of knowledge and a deeper understanding of some of the criteria and questions that same-sex couples employ when planning their destination weddings and honeymoons will not only be appreciated by your prospective clients who identify as LGBTQ, but might also distinguish you as the better choice in our increasingly competitive market.

» The “Real Deal” Behind Deals

Wedding season is almost here and clients are looking for great deals, so here are a few Pro tips and suggestions if you consider creating deal for your WeddingWire Storefront!

       Deals are created in your business Storefront by selecting the Deals tab. When adding a deal, make your deal title is something that’s going to catch the attention of engaged couples. Try using the words “free”, “savings” or “percent off.” These phases can jump out to a client looking for a good deal, encouraging them to act and contact you for more information. Another tip: always make sure you are following all Community Guidelines when creating your title.

·         When considering how interested parties can redeem your deal remember to think of what is easiest for your clients. Consider how many potential clients may be reviewing your listing on their mobile devices or who may not have easy access to a printer. Printing a coupon can be difficult; consider using a personalized promo code such as WeddingWire2013 or WWPromo. This way they can act fast and send the code in their email to you, or mention it on the phone, and you will easily know they found your deal on WeddingWire!

·         Additionally, all deals must have an original value. For example if you are doing a percentage off a specific package, be sure to include what the base price of the package would be. For example, if you are offering 20% off a photoshoot, be sure to include your standard rate before any discount is applied. This helps to showcase the great deal that the potential client is taking advantage of!

In your deal description, be sure to provide all the details your client should know, and what they may ask Tell them exactly what you are offering, any restrictions, and again how to redeem it. Additionally, it is helpful to add an image (especially if your deal is a tangible item). Finally, expiration dates and deal limits are great because they drive urgency and will encourage the couple to take action to get the deal before it expires!

Need some deal ideas? Here are some examples that Pros like you are using:

Venues:

  •         Discount on facility when mentioning they were found on WeddingWire
  •         Time of the year or day of the week wedding package discount

Beauty and Health:

  •         Free or discounted service to try your product out before their big day
  •         Group special for large bridal parties

Catering:

  •         Buffet upgrade
  •         Select percentage off with a certain number of guests

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» Bridal Show Producers: Join us at BSPi!

WeddingWire is thrilled to participate in this year’s Bridal Show Producers international 18th Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas. In just a few weeks, WeddingWire CMO, Sonny Ganguly, will present, “What’s in our Future,” focusing on all things tech that Producers in the Wedding and Event industry should know! From recent tools and developments in the techworld, what is coming soon to stay ahead of the curve, and even what we can (or may be able to) expect in the near future!

In addition, WeddingWire Educational Guru, Alan Berg, will be presenting on “How to Communicate More Effectively with Prospects via Email,” discussing the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of communicating with today’s prospects in order to achieve better sales success, and ultimately grow and expand your business.

Join Sonny, Alan and other top bridal show producers at the Omni La Mansion del Rio May 2-4, 2013 for valuable education on money saving tools, profit building concepts, networking with fellow bridal show producers, and just plain fun!

We look forward to meeting all the BSPi members in Texas!

» An Inside Look: New York Bridal Week

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. 

The WeddingWire team had a fantastic time at New York International Bridal Week! As a group, our team saw over 700 wedding dresses and nearly 50 Spring 2014 designer collections – that’s a lot of gorgeous gowns! If you’re a wedding fashion fanatic, like we are, Bridal Week was truly the place to be.

Pier 92 served as our home base for the weekend. Our WeddingWire Lounge featured a Power Station where our designer and retailer friends were able to charge their phones and tablets (a much needed amenity given the number of photos attendees were taking!) as well as re-charge their bodies with a snack, a bottle of Honest Tea, and, of course, some WeddingWire swag!

We also used our booth to stage an exciting photo shoot for some of our designer partners. Hair, makeup, models, and a fabulous photographer – it felt like a dress-up fantasy come to life.

At the Piers, as well as other venues throughout the city, we had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the wedding gowns that will hit stores this fall – and share them through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. We loved being able to get up-close and personal with these gowns – to see the amazing details, touch the fabrics, and watch them glide down the runways.

In terms of trends, the word on everyone’s lips this season was “Gatsby” (as we predicted!). Gowns inspired by the 1920s were all over the runways, and we expect that brides will be clamoring for these glamorous dresses, especially after the Baz Luhrmann film hits theaters in May. We also saw lots of other fun trends, including: unique lace, coverage options, black and white styles, interesting back details, and embellished illusion necklines.

Additionally, we made sure to check out the newest bridesmaid styles (lots of dark-colored lace) and accessories (yellow gold and Downton Abbey-inspired headpieces were everywhere!).

Be sure to check out our Fashion Ideas page to view all of the collections, as well as trend reports highlighting what’s new in bridal fashion, and below is a preview of some favorite dresses from the event!

Dresses by (clockwise from top left): Monique Lhuillier, Amsale, Reem Acra, Kenneth Pool. All photos by Dan Lecca.

Check out some additional photos from the WeddingWire Lounge and the WeddingWire photoshoot at the Piers by Robert Mitra.

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» How to Manage Your Clients Online

Yesterday, WeddingWire CMO, Sonny Ganguly, presented ‘How to Manage Your Clients Online as part of our monthly webinar series.

Each one hour webinar for premium WeddingWire Pros is designed to inform you about the latest industry tips, and give you the tools and education you need to Power Your Business!

This month’s webinar focused on how to manage your business online in the “age of the customer!” From answering key questions such as “What is CRM?” to providing tips and strategies to track your business’ conversion rates, to exploring the online tools available to effectively manage your bookings – this webinar gave an insider’s look at how to manage your clients and business digitally.

Here are some key take aways:

  • “CRM” stands fro Customer Relationship Management: The business process and supporting technologies that support key activities of targeting, acquiring, retailing and understanding and collaborating with customers.
  • Currently, 47% of North American and European enterprises have implemented a CRM solution to manage business processes and improve the sales process.
  • It is important to review your business’ conversion funnels to see how many leads turn into bookings. A good test is reviewing if your online contact form works for you by dividing the number of contact forms completed by your number of site visits. Need to improve? Ask for less information on your form! You will get more completed leads.
  • 72% of WeddingWire Pros who completed a recent survey indicate that email is their main source of contact with clients.
  • 87% of Wedding Pros who completed a recent survey indicated that they do NOT currently use a CRM solution. Good news – we have one developed specifically for Wedding and Event Pros like you! Check out the new Clients tab to make running your business efficient, and take the next step to maximize your company’s potential.

All of our past webinars are available in our Education Center for upgraded Pros, and stay tuned for information on next month’s webinar!

» Featured Pro Tweets

In our Featured Pro Tweets series, we highlight top tweets that we receive to @WeddingWireEDU. We love to share your insights, feedback and thoughts with other Wedding Pros!

Check out some recent tweets below and be sure to tweet at us and you could be featured next! Also, be sure you are following us on Twitter for the latest updates, industry news and tips just for Pros like you.


» Better Your Business with an RSS Feed

Whether you are an avid blog reader, have some blogs and online content you follow regularly, or even if you haven’t yet developed a following on industry blogs – an RSS feed can help improve your business by giving you a great daily dose of Education!

First things first – what is an RSS feed?

An RSS is technically called a “Rich Site Summary” and serves as a web feed or “personal channel” where you can search, follow and track frequently updated web content – commonly used for blogs and news headlines.

Why consider using an RSS feed?

RSS feeds allow you to easily and quickly stay informed on the latest content of your favorite news, blogs and web content resources that interest you and apply to your business. This way, instead of starting your day and checking your favorite five sites, you can add them to your feed and the latest posts will all appear in one easy to review and preview feed – saving you time! Stories or posts that interest you can be clicked, and you will be directed right to the full post.

How do you get started?

Setting up a feed reader is easy! There are a variety of platforms available. You may have heard Google recently announced a change to their popular feed – Google Reader. It will no longer be available as of July 1, 2013, but luckily if you do have a feed with Google Reader you can export your feeds to a new reader using Google Takeout. There are a variety of popular feeds available to explore, including: netvibes, Pageflakes, and Bloglines.  Additionally, you may have one associated with your email account, such as Yahoo!.

Once you have established a feed, start to visit your favorite sites (including WeddingWireEDU, of course!) and add their RSS to your feed! If you have questions, we suggest looking at the feed’s help section for tips on getting started. Once you have established your feed, you can continue to add to it as you find new favorite blogs, sources with great articles, and any news sources that you would like updates from. Some sites we would recommend include: American Express’ Open Forum for small business tips, Mashable and TechCrunch for the latest in tech, WeddingWire’s blog for wedding inspiration and WeddingWireEDU for tips, updates and advice for Wedding and Event Pros!

As new content is published, it will be delivered to your feed in chronological order. That way, whether you constantly refresh your feed or catch up on a weekly basis, you can scroll through the content and review the posts that appeal to you and your business.

Enjoy!

Once you have your RSS established or further developed, find a way to incorporate it into your daily (or even weekly) routine. Catch up on the latest posts as you enjoy your morning coffee, dedicate some time to learning over lunch at your desk, or review the day’s relevant posts as you unwind watching a favorite evening TV show. Whatever works for you! RSS feeds are a great way to ensure that the latest industry happenings, tips and advice is delivered right to you!

» Introducing the New Clients Tab!

We are excited to introduce the new Clients tab in your WeddingWire account. This tab makes it easy to stay organized and effectively manage your clients online – so you can spend less time worrying about business logistics and more time with your clients!

The Clients tab is broken down into six sections designed to power your business: Overview, Inquiries, Bookings, Tasks, Payments, and Appointments.

Check out a basic overview of each feature below, and for more information be sure to check out our full Education Center article, which provides links to specific questions about the tool’s features.

Overview

The Clients tab Overview is a high-level view of what’s going on in your account designed to help you stay on top of all your events. Easily keep track of all of your upcoming and past activities, from one central location, through the more timely items displayed as ‘Alerts’ (such as new inquiries), ‘What’s Next’ to track upcoming items at a glance, and an ‘Activity Feed’ to view your recent actions and updates.

Inquiries

Access your new inquiries, set up appointments and send your contracts to be eSigned in the Inquiries section. Your inquiries and clients are managed in this section, which makes it easy to keep your leads and clients organized. Additionally, you have the ability to create, send and store digital contracts,  and set up unique and password-protected Client Sites for each client. Client Sites allow your clients to access and review all important event details, including the ability to share details about their event, e-sign docs, submit payments online and more!

Bookings

Manage and view all details of your upcoming booked events – keeping your business organized and on track! All booked clients will be moved from Inquiries to Bookings after a contract is signed, and is easily organized by event status – from upcoming events to past events and completed events. Questionnaires are available to ask your clients the important items you need to know about the client and their event with pre-populated suggestions and the ability to customize to quickly collect the information you need.

Tasks

Keep your “to do” list organized online with Tasks! Stay organized by event, and due date to prioritize and remember all that you need to do by date and options such as ‘Due this Month, Due Next Month’ or ‘Due Later.’ Easily mark tasks complete and move on to your next project!

Payments

Monitor your finances and get paid faster by utilizing the Payments section. Send invoices, record payments and manage your payments schedule – all from your account. Custom templates are available to create invoices, ePayments allow your clients to pay in seconds and all payments are tracked so you stay on top of each booked event.

 

Finally, you are able to customize and personalize the Clients tab for your individual business’ needs in Clients tab Settings. Visit the Settings section of the Clients tab to customize your forms, templates and Client Site branding and more.

The future of Client Management is here – get started today!

» Getting Press: Not the Photographer?

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

Oftentimes, we see that real wedding features have been submitted by the wedding photographer but the fact is, there are other types of wedding professionals who can benefit from press! Even if you are not the event photographer, you can still share your work and expertise through submissions!

The key to a solid submission, however, is a selection of swoon worthy, detail driven shots which still makes the wedding photographer the proverbial gatekeeper.  So how do you submit a wedding from start to finish with the help of your wedding photographer?

Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started:

Approach them in advance: If you have a particularly good handle on the overall look of an upcoming wedding, contact the wedding photographer ahead of time to let them know you have an interest in submitting. Gauge their interest and if he or she is open to it. Share some of the types of images that tend to make a submission particularly competitive and work together to get the shots you envision.

Step in their shoes for the moment: Before you begin asking for a plethora of images, remind yourself just how busy it is for you as a wedding professional. Keep in mind that a photographer will not only be balancing the demands of their clients, but also setting aside ample time for editing images.  A two week turnaround time for images immediately following a wedding is simply not realistic. Now is the time to exert a bit of patience and remember that it’s not always easy to meet everyone’s requests all at once.

Make it easy for them to work with you: In addition to having appropriate expectations, be sure you are doing everything possible to keep things easy for all those involved. The file sizes for images tend to be large so familiarize yourself with applications and programs (such as DropBox and YouSendIt), which may serve as a solution for how the photographer sends you photos.  Make it a point to collect all remaining information for the submission, manage sending it in, and be sure to keep them abreast of any media pickups. They’re far more likely to work with you again if you do!

Give credit where credit is due: Although this seem obvious, it is imperative to make sure that the photographer is always credited for their images. This may be easy to remember with the first real wedding feature but it can be quickly forgotten when you find yourself in a situation in which a handful of images are perhaps pulled for another editorial piece. Make sure you are the advocate for the photographer when they are not in a position to be.Also, recognize the other wedding Pros that you worked with for the event, so everyone gets the credit they deserve for their work.

Say thank you: After all, wedding PR strategies and trends will come and go, but gratitude will never go out of style!

Mutually beneficial relationships with your fellow wedding professionals can be key to the success of one’s wedding business. With great wedding photographers on your team, the same will be true for your wedding PR initiatives.

» WeddingWire Networking Night Houston

Last night, local Wedding Pros gathered at The Magnolia Hotel for WeddingWire Networking Night Houston!

At the Networking Night, Pros from the Houston 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 by WeddingWire’s CMO, Sonny Ganguly. Other networking events have been held throughout the country (from Boston, to Austin, to San Francisco and many cities in between), with more to come in 2013!

We’re excited to share highlights from the event including Sonny’s educational presentation, the WeddingWire Education Guide, and great photos from the evening (as seen below).

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us!

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

Finally, congrats to Julie Howard of Adams & Green Entertainment; the winner of a WeddingWire prize pack!

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» WeddingWire Happy Hour Denver

Yesterday evening, Wedding Pros gathered at the Artwork Network for WeddingWire Happy Hour Denver!

At the event, Wedding Pros from the Denver area had the opportunity to network with other local Pros across all service categories and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Other networking events have been held in Orlando, San Francisco, Miami, Phoenix, Boston, Minneapolis, New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, St. Louis, Providence, and more.

We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the Education Guide, and photos from the evening (as seen below).

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us (and braved the snow storm to attend!). We would like to extend a special thank you to the fantastic partners who helped make the event possible:

Finally, congrats to Reverend Kim Tavendale, the winner of our drawing who will receive a WeddingWire prize pack!

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» We’re Excited for EPMEN 2013!

WeddingWire is excited to be the sponsor of this year’s Eastern Pennsylvania Meeting & Events Network (EPMEN) conference on May 20th! This day-long conference for wedding and event professionals will feature presentations from leading industry experts and professionals, including our own WeddingWire CMO, Sonny Ganguly!

EPMEN is dedicated to promoting unity and education among wedding and special event professionals. While based in the Pennsylvania region, the event and Network is open and applicable to all professionals across the United States. This year’s event will take place at the Holiday Inn Conference Center Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. In addition to Sonny, speakers include Peter Merry, Jeff and Stephanie Padovani of BookMoreBrides.com, Steve Moody, Lorenzo Araneo, and Vincent Velasquez & Stratos Doumanis.

Don’t miss out on early bird pricing! Get your ticket by this Saturday, April 20th and save.

Learn more about EPMEN here, and we hope to see you there!