» Another Marriage Equality Milestone

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.

Let’s review the many amazing marriage equality milestones that have occurred thus far in 2013, shall we?

Earlier in the year, the latest states to recognize marriage equality—Maryland, Maine, and Washington (which passed marriage equality legislation in 2012)—officially welcomed same-sex couples as marriage license applicants. And, more recently Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota, expanded their definitions of the wedding market to be inclusive of same-sex couples as well. Colorado made news this year in its own way by passing civil unions legislation. And, last, but certainly not least, California enjoyed a return to the spotlight when the Supreme Court overturned Proposition 8, allowing same-sex marriages to resume in California.

Bottom line: In what seemed like the blink of an eye, we went from counting marriage equality states on six fingers to needing to put all of our fingers and most of our toes to work to keep count.

But, truly, the biggest news of the year thus far has been the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down as unconstitutional section three of DOMA (the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act”), which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples who were legally married. There were several possible scenarios on how the Supreme Court justices might have ruled on Prop 8 and DOMA; the outcome, however, was a best case scenario. In overturning DOMA, same-sex couples who were (and are!) legally married and residing in a marriage equality state are finally eligible for federal marriage recognition and its many benefits.

At the time, however, a giant question mark remained for same-sex couples who are legally married, but are living in states that do not recognize marriage equality. That question mark has now been converted into an exclamation point.

Yesterday, the US Treasury provided some clarity with a broad-sweeping announcement, indicating that any legally married couple, residing in *any* state, is required to file as a married couple and will now have equal recognition and access to all tax programs. This includes income tax, gift and estate taxes, deductions, exemptions, retirement accounts, and child tax credit.

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said in a statement yesterday that the ruling provides “certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance” nationwide. “It provides,” he said, “access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve. This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”

What does all of this mean for wedding professionals?

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» Wedding PR: How to Handle Mistakes

Meghan Ely

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.

Anyone who has ever been a part of a wedding day can attest to the fact that mistakes happen. Given the sheer volume of details, it’s inevitable and at the end of the day, most will find that how the mistake is rectified is typically far more important than the error itself.

The very same can be said for wedding PR. The amount of details that go into a real wedding submission – from the slew of images and the vendor list to the couples’ take on the day, can be numerous. Every now and again, a minor mistake is bound to happen.

Not sure how to proceed should you find yourself in this situation? Below you’ll find the top scenarios you may run into and how to respond in each:

When the mistake is yours: First and foremost, take a moment to breathe and gain a bit of perspective. An honest mistake is very rarely ever going to be the end of the world, especially when it takes place online and can be edited quickly. At the same time, make sure you have a bit of perspective as well. After all, one typo in a videographer’s company name may not seem like a big deal, but it certainly will be for the one affected.

Promptness is the name of the game when it comes to responding to an error. Your priorities should be the person being affected by the error, as well as the Editor. Your first order of business is to review the feature to make sure this is your one and only mistake. From there, quickly craft a note to the Editor to inform them of the error, supplying them with the correct information and extending your sincerest of apologies. From there, reach out to the party (or parties) affected and assure them that the issue was handled swiftly and make a note to send them the corrected feature when ready.

When the mistake is the Editor’s:  Remember that Editors are human too, and things can happen. Take the time to review the feature at length to make sure the mistake you found is the only one and then reach out to them promptly, and in a courteous manner, to let them know of the issue. If the error itself affects one of the other vendors, or the featured couple, do follow up with them  immediately to inform them of the issue and that it is being settled.

When the mistake is a third party: You may find yourself in a situation in which information you supplied for a submission is incorrect, unbeknownst to you. A bride or groom may misspell a vendor’s name or a member of your wedding day team may improperly credit another company. This is when it’s going to have to be a judgment call. If you have a solid relationship with the Editor and it’s a minor error, feel free to step in and assist with fixing the mistake. In other instances, you may request the person who made the mistake to reach out to the Editor directly and copy you on correspondence.

And what if you come upon a mistake regarding a feature that you had nothing to do with? Simply put on your gracious pants (they should be in your closet, next to your polite pants) and contact the person responsible for submitting the wedding to inform them of the mistake and to ask how it can be rectified. He or she may want to reach out to the Editor or may advise you to do so. Not sure who submitted the wedding? Then a brief and friendly email to the Editor informing them of the error (as well as the appropriate information to rectify it) is perfectly suitable.

And lastly, remember that these types of scenarios can be great learning experiences. Once all is said and done, dedicate time to review your standard operating procedures for submissions and refine them to ensure the same error doesn’t happen again.  And then, move on to the next submission!

» Facebook Update: Shared Albums

Facebook announced another new feature this week – Shared Albums. This allows multiple users to upload images to the same album, letting others add to your photo conversation. Previously, only users could upload photos to the albums they created.

Now, the album creator can share access to as many as 50 “contributors,” who can each in turn share up to 200 photos. Album creators can choose a setting that allows contributors to invite others to the album, or retain total control over album invitations. Additionally, there are a few privacy settings to share the photos: public, friends of contributors and contributors only, which still provides some control over who can see the photos posted by the contributors.

Why is this exciting?

Shared albums are a great way for groups to connect on the world’s largest social network in new ways – and we think will be particularly relevant in the wedding and event industry.

Now, users can create a shared album of their wedding or recent event that they hosted or attended, tag users and businesses, and allow others to gain access as well to expand the content – and expand the reach to new audiences (additional contributors online community!). This means increase opportunity to expand your marketing reach across Facebook when you work a great wedding or event!

How to create a shared album:

  1. Login to Facebook
  2. Go to an album you’ve created
  3. Click ‘Make Shared Album’ in the top left corner
  4. Choose contributors and select an audience
  5. Click ‘Save’

Contributors will be able to view, add photos and add contributors to the album. It may also appear on their timeline.

Learn more about this new feature from Mashable!

More Facebook Business Tips:

If you don’t have a brand page on Facebook for your business, get started today!

» Join WeddingWire at the ABC Conference!

The Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC) is hosting their annual Business of Brides Conference this November in West Palm Beach, Florida!

Don’t miss out on limited time savings! Register by this Saturday, August 31 to lock in a discounted rate. 

This educational event will take place from November 10-12 at the Palm Beach Convention Center. Designed for wedding planners and professionals, the ABC Annual Conference is designed to help you tune-up your business skills from industry leaders and enjoy breakout sessions based on your business’ interests and needs.

Additionally, the conference is a great time to network with other professionals, enjoy fabulous meals and off-site evening events, and finally, relax and re-charge after a busy event season in beautiful West Palm Beach, Florida.

WeddingWire is excited to sponsor the event’s ‘Sea Breeze Luncheon’ on Monday, November 11, and we hope to see you there!

Want to learn more? Click here for all of the details.  

Are you a member of ABC? Be sure to check out our partnership details, and access your savings on a premium WeddingWire membership!

» 10 Trending Social Media Sites

Technology drives our world, and social media has quickly become a center of many people’s daily lives and is evolving at a very rapid pace. It is hard to stay on top of what’s trending with social media, from the top sites you should be on for your business, and sites to watch. This infographic keeps you up to speed on the trending social media sites you need to know about!

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» Time Management Tips that Work!

Do you ever feel like there “just aren’t enough hours in the day?” Time management can be a struggle for us all, especially in the busy wedding and events industry!

From running a successful small business, to making all of your events perfect and personalized, to dealing with co-workers, and family commitments each day — it is easy to sometimes feel overwhelmed and over-worked.

We compiled five proven time management tips to help you get more done and stay relaxed and on track:

Create two ‘to do’ lists each day: Start your day off right by reviewing your tasks of the day, and setting expectations for what you will be able to accomplish given your priorities. Create a ‘must do’ list that includes only the tasks and items you need to do that day, and another list that focuses on work to be done, but that is not super immediate. This will help you focus in on timely items, and not be distracted by items that can be done tomorrow. Be sure to be reasonable with your expectations for yourself and the amount of time each task will take, so you will end the day accomplished and at a decent hour!

Plan your day: As you get started with your ‘must do’ list, challenge yourself to plan your full day out on a calendar. Do this by reviewing your ‘must do’ list, and syncing it with your other commitments. Have a client meeting, emails to catch up on, and a personal lunch? Plan those on your calendar, and give yourself set time periods for your other big tasks. This will help you to focus in on those tasks at the time you set, and not be distracted by other projects or daily distractions. Consider dedicating a set amount of time to answering emails and returning phone calls each day – such as first thing in the morning and at the end of your day so you don’t get behind – so you know they will be addressed daily, but will not interrupt your other tasks and workload.

Take a short break: Short breaks have been scientifically proven to increase motivation and productivity. Schedule 15 minutes for an afternoon walk, or mid-morning blog browse or enjoy a quiet coffee. Giving yourself a quick break will help you relax and refocus!

Delegate when you can or just say no: In a small business environment or as an entrepreneur, it can be easy to take on a very ambitious workload. While it is important to work hard and be scrappy, it is also important to set limits. If you simply do not have enough resources to take on each new job (or the ROI is not worth your time), it is okay to politely decline so you can do the rest of your work to your best capability. Additionally, if you have other team members, share the workload fairly. Consider challenging them with new responsibilities and take the time to train them well. This will show them you are committed to their growth at your company, and relieve you of an added obligation.

Reduce distractions: Consider your daily routine. When you are particularly busy, be sure to cut down on distractions so you can focus and get things done as efficiently as possible. Do you listen to music? Have family or co-workers chatting around you? Attempt to multi-task as you work from home? Even if you are used to them, these typical occurrences are distracting. Consider giving yourself an hour of ‘quiet time’ by unplugging or shutting your office door and you may surprise yourself with all you accomplish!

These five tips will help you stay focused, and keep you feeling on track instead of overwhelmed! Try them out and comment to let us know what you think – and of course, if you have any other suggestions that work for you, comment and share with other Pros!

» How to Stand Out in the Evolving Inbox

Email marketing plays a key role in your business’ success, but we know inside the inbox can seem like a scary place. What should you say to keep your clients engaged? What makes your recipients open your email or click on your links? How do you reach your target audience on-the-go?

WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg, and Senior Email Marketing Manager, Matt Byrd, shared tips to effectively communicate with clients through email. Attendees learned how small changes to your email marketing strategy can reap big rewards for your business.

Take the Quiz

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Be sure to review the full webinar in our Education Center for all the interesting email marketing tips! Remember, all of our past webinars are available in our Education Center to watch at your convenience. Stay tuned for info on next month’s webinar!

» WeddingWire Happy Hour Nashville

Last night, local Wedding Pros gathered at The Hermitage Hotel for WeddingWire Happy Hour Nashville!

At the Happy Hour, Pros from the Nashville 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 throughout the country this year, with more to come!

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us! We’re excited to share photo highlights from the event below, and our WeddingWire Education Guide.

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

Finally, congrats to Abby Head of Creative Crumbs, the winner of a WeddingWire prize pack!

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» Join Us at ISS Experience Palm Beach!

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Come and see WeddingWire CMO, Sonny Ganguly, and a wide variety of other industry leaders speak in Florida for the last stop of the 2013 ISS Experience tour!

This educational event will take place from December 3-6 at the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach! Don’t miss the opportunity to experience four days of inspiration, networking, learning, and hands-on workshops. In addition to some well-deserved beach-side fun, attendees will go home with beneficial takeaways for your business including: 

•   How to use your advertising dollars
•   How to strategize with social media
•   How to create stylized shoots
•   How to blog like a pro
•   Exciting networking events
•   And much more!

Want to learn more? Click here for all of the details!

Registration closes November 5th, and space is limited, so sign up today using WeddingWire’s special discount promo, which allows you to select the ‘alumni’ option with a rate of $400. Simply choose the dropdown for alumni and then enter ‘WeddingWire’ into the field for “Who can we thank for referring you to attend ISSE Palm Beach?”

We hope to see you there!

» 6 Posts that Build Engagement on Facebook

The building blocks of social media focus around connecting and sharing with people, audiences, and businesses of interest.

As a wedding and event professional, it is important to establish a presence for yourself on Facebook and other leading social media sites where you can add a personality to your business, connect with clients and future clients, gain online exposure, and work to build your brand.

We know that it sometimes be difficult to stay motivated or inspired in your posts, and it can be tempting to continuously share the same types of content – which may not always be super engaging to your audience.

Find below 6 types of posts that have been proven to build engagement on Facebook from Mashable:

  • Photos: Pictures are a great way to grab someone’s attention! An interesting image catches the eye of users. Photos that are large, colorful or unique particularly stand out (and generate ‘likes’). Consider sharing a snapshot from your latest event, a ‘work in progress’ shot of your set-up or service prep, or your favorite latest inspiration image.
  • Fill in the Blanks: Status updates with a ‘fill in the blank’ option are great at driving engagement with your post, as viewers are directed to reply. This gives your audience a chance to contribute, show their creativity, and connect with your business. Consider asking them to describe their perfect wedding or event in two words, a short caption for how they are feeling today, and more. Be sure to participate in responses, and encourage communication between your repliers when relevant.
  • Photo Captions: Next time you post a photo, ask your audience to come up with a caption! Most people love a good ‘caption contest’ and enjoy the chance to get creative and share their thoughts. Keep an eye on your responses and use your favorite with attribution (and thank everyone else for their great ideas!).
  • Questions: Asking questions is probably one of the easiest methods to get your audience to comment and share their thoughts. Ask a question along with a link the next time you share a link to your blog or an interesting article you read. Without asking a question, people might just read the article and move on, but asking for their thoughts or additional ideas starts the conversation.
  • Tips: Share your Pro tips! Your followers will be interested in your knowledge, and welcome your experience. For example, share your tips for staying cool during a summer outdoor wedding, etiquette best practices for the rehearsal dinner, how to get an unforgettable bridal party shot and more. Consider doing a themed ‘tip of the week’ for a fun and timely post.
  • Quotes: Quotes are one of the easiest and most popular ways to get ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ on Facebook (and is very applicable to the wedding industry!). Quotes are often inspirational, making it personal in nature and memorable to your audience, who may, in turn, want to share it with their community.

Overall, Facebook posts should be fun, engaging and relevant to your business. These top 6 types of posts are a great way to get out of a ‘Facebook rut’ and gain more attention to your Facebook page.

What do you think of these tips? Do you have any to add to the list?

» Go Viral: Couples Won’t Ignore These 7 Types of Photos

Christine Dyer is a social media expert and the founder of BridalTweet.com. Christine shares her social media expertise with the wedding industry through a series of free wedding marketing videos. As a testament of Christine’s social media success, BridalTweet now has over 10,000 Facebook fans, 37,000 Twitter followers, and 3,000 Pinterest followers. Prior to launching BridalTweet, Christine Dyer was the Director of Social Media Marketing at American Express where she led the development and growth of their Facebook fan pages, which had 1.6 million fans. Christine received a B.S. and M.B.A. in marketing from Fordham University.

Ever wonder why some photos, videos or blog posts go viral?  Many times, the business didn’t even spend a dime to make this happen.  Well, believe it or not, there’s somewhat of a science to making this phenomenon occur.

To make my content spread like wildfire, here are three rules that I like to follow:

  1. Evoke Emotion.  First and foremost, if you want your content (i.e. photos, blog posts, social media posts, etc.) to go viral, then it MUST evoke an emotion that gets people excited or fired up – in a good or bad way.
  2. Create Content that You’re Passionate About.  If you laugh or get emotional every time you see your video or photo, then others will too. If you can’t wait to share something with everyone, then others will love it.
  3. Check out 7 Types of Photos Clients Won’t Ignore. Did you know that 80 percent of Pinterest’s photos are repins? Below, I included a few examples of the top 7 photos that went viral on BridalTweet’s Pinterest account. What do they have in common?  First and foremost, they include beautiful and unique wedding details.  Some of them also include DIY elements or celebrity news for added buzz.

Looking for more inspiration? Take a look at one of BridalTweet’s Pinterest boards to see what types of photos have already gone viral. These are photos that have been ‘repinned’ at least 50 times. Confused about how or why to use Pinterest?  Here’s a free webinar to help you!

Top Pins:

Beautifully rustic, bark wedding cake with flowers, 462 repins

How to make your own DIY wedding invitations for under $50, 343 repins

Beautiful cowboy-themed wedding, 175 repins

Cocktail drinks as wedding seating cards, 157 repins

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» Join WeddingWire at NAWP Connect in Florida!

NAWP 2013National Association of Wedding Professionals (NAWP) is holding its 2013 Conference, NAWP Connect in Fort Myers, FL this year! NAWP Connect is taking place at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa coming soon this September 15th-17th.

This event is a great opportunity for wedding professionals to get together in sunny Florida, meet and network with other Pros, and experience valuable educational presentations from industry experts!

Don’t miss WeddingWire CMO, Sonny Ganguly, who will be speaking as “Sonny McFly” and will take you “Back to the Future” at the conference providing his time travelers with insights on the evolution of technology and how to prepare for success in this fast-paced world. Additionally, you’ll be able to join Sonny and other great speakers for a lunch panel that will discuss the future of the wedding industry even further!

Interested in attending? Register today to save on your ticket!

Learn more about this exciting event!