» Countdown: Top WeddingWireEDU Posts of 2013

Countdown: Top WeddingWireEDU Posts of 2013

With another wonderful year for WeddingWire and our Pros coming to a close, we’re getting a little reminiscent!

We think we talked about a lot of interesting and educational topics on our blog in 2013, but we love seeing what our Pros get really excited about. So, before you count down to midnight this evening to celebrate the New Year, check out our countdown of the top WeddingWireEDU posts based on your views, comments and shares!

10. Tech Update: Facebook Launches Hashtags

While Facebook updates are nothing new, one exciting update which could have an impact on your business exposure was unveiled in 2013: clickable Facebook hashtags! Hashtags are increasingly popular throughout social media – and have been fully integrated on most popular sites, now including Facebook. Find out how you can use Facebook hashtags for your business in this post.

9. Editor’s Note: Getting Published

Our Editor, Kim Forrest, is often asked by Pros: “How do I get a real wedding published on your blog?” It’s not an easy answer, but there are things all vendors can do to make their submissions more blog-worthy. Here are some of Kim’s top tips for getting a real wedding published on a website like our WeddingWire Network or in one of our publications.

8. Keep Your Facebook Business Page Fresh!

Facebook business pages for your business are a good way to connect with your client base and reach new audiences. However, it is important to keep your page updated with new, engaging and relevant content (but not overpost!). When it comes to social media and blogging, content and images are key! Keep your sites up-to-date with new content, and test what works for your business and what drives positive engagement. Check out these 6 ideas of engaging Facebook content for businesses!

7. Top 10 Tips to Make a Stellar First Impression

In the wedding and event business, creating a lasting and positive first impression can make or break landing your next big booking and determine how you are perceived in the industry. Knowing how to make strong first impression can be very impactful for expanding your business. This post has 10 tips for establishing a favorable first impression through your message and your body language.

6. How to Respond to a Negative Review

Reviews are key to your business’s online reputation, and it can be frustrating to get a review that you may not be satisfied with or feel you don’t deserve. Although you may disagree with the review, you need to be professional in your response. This post has some suggestions for responding to negative reviews you may receive on your WeddingWire account!

Continue reading

» What’s Next in Social Media: 2013 Year in Review

What's Next in Social Media

2013 was a big year for social media! Even though many of the networks in the post below are several years old, they’re still finding new ways to innovate and introduce new features and functionalities that constantly influence the way businesses conduct online marketing.

What's Next in Social Media: 2013 Year in Review

If you’ve been busy the past few months or you’re just now deciding whether or not to start implementing a social media marketing strategy, make sure you catch up on the latest social media news before you start planning for 2014. Before you spend time searching the news stories to find out what’s next in social media, start here!

Below are the biggest updates to the major social networks in 2013!

Facebook

Although Facebook is the oldest social network in this post, there were still several big changes this past year. Early in the year Facebook announced Graph Search, the new functionality that allows anyone to search and find terms in posts, pages, groups, and comments from your friends or those who post publicly. This was the first update toward allowing users to dig deeper into trends and conversations. Facebook then announced it would begin using clickable hashtags to help users further follow conversations they are most interested in. Both of these updates allow Facebook users to expand their reach beyond their own friends and make new connections. Businesses can use both of these features to build their customer base and reach fans in real-time.

Twitter

In addition to Twitter going public with a late-year IPO, Twitter made a few visual changes to expand its use past 140-character tweets. Twitter completely re-designed their mobile app to enhance the visual experience for users, most notably adding a photo stream. The traditional four tabs at the bottom of the app’s screen were replaced with swiping functionality to get to the different streams. Additionally, in the home stream, Twitter made it so images automatically appear (previously, users had to click on a tweet to reveal the photo). These changes mean that businesses can give their followers a more complete picture of their business by incorporating images into their Twitter conversations.

Continue reading

» Don’t Miss Wedding MBA 2014!

Every year, wedding professionals look forward to Wedding MBA, one of the largest educational conferences in the industry for several days of engaging seminars from industry leaders (like WeddingWire’s own CMO, Sonny Ganguly), an exciting Expo, networking and fun – all in fabulous Las Vegas.

Considering attending next year’s Wedding MBA? Save big by getting your ticket before the New Year! Prices increase on December 31st at midnight – and save an additional $20 just for being a WeddingWire member using our special link!

Want to learn more? Visit Wedding MBA’s website for more information, and check out our event highlight post from last year’s conference on our WeddingWireEDU blog. Treat yourself this holiday season and take a step towards building your business expertise next year by registering today!

Wedding MBA

Wedding MBAWeddingWire power stations

» Get Ready for the New Year! The Hottest 2014 Wedding Trends

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.

As 2013 comes to a close, the WeddingWire Editorial team is celebrating the launch of our WinterBook (yay!) and looking ahead to the upcoming wedding season. There are several wedding trends that started to emerge this year that we think are going to be big in 2014. So to help you prepare for those 2014 couples, check out our list of 2014 wedding trends!

The Hottest Wedding Trends for the New YearPhoto by Lane Baldwin Photography

Metallic Color Schemes
From wedding dresses to stationery, linens to cakes, expect to see a lot of gold and silver next year! We saw metallic wedding dresses at New York Bridal Market, and think this trend will carry over into décor, as well.

Art Deco
Inspired by The Great Gatsby (both the book and the 2013 movie), we’re expecting to see lots of 1920s-era décor and themes in 2014.

Unique Entertainment
Photobooths have been popular at weddings for a while now, but expect to other types of “alternative entertainment” next year. We’re thinking Slow-Motion Video Booths, I Spy or Mad Libs, lots of lawn games, and much more! Check out some of our favorite guest entertainment ideas here!

Halter Neckline Wedding Dresses
See ya later, strapless! Halter necklines were all over the runways this season. It’s a great look for brides who want to show off some gorgeous shoulders.

Radiant Orchid
Pantone just announced the Color of the Year for 2014, and it’s Radiant Orchid – a pretty pinky-purple that is a beautiful hue for wedding décor. Purple was the hot hue a few years back, so is it making a comeback? We’ll soon find out!

Custom Hashtags
Gone are the days of placing disposable cameras on guest tables – now it’s all about the Instagram hashtag as a means of collecting guest photos! Couples are creating signs to inform guests of their Instagram hashtags (#nickandsara for example) so that all of the photos of their wedding will be easily accessed.

Dahlias
We’re predicting that this beautiful bloom will be the hot flower for 2014. They come in a wide variety of colors and create such a lush, unique look!

600x600_1375472888634-sabadossmolinskiriverlandstudiosaj008low Photo by Riverland Studios

“Naked” Wedding Cakes
We’re not trying to be crass here, but wedding cakes without any icing are becoming a quite the trend for rustic, casual weddings.

Hanging Décor
From lanterns to flowers to ribbons, crepe paper, even parasols – couples are clamoring for décor hanging from the ceiling! It’s a striking and dramatic look that turns the traditional centerpiece upside-down!

Bridesmaid Dress Color = Mint
Pale green bridesmaid dresses were all over the runways at bridal market, so expect to see this minty fresh color at spring and summer weddings in 2014!

» Happy Holidays from WeddingWire!

From our team to yours, Happy Holidays!

It’s not too late to spread your own holiday cheer! You can send your own WeddingWire Holiday Cheer eCard to your family, friends and clients with a personalized message. Simply type in your name and the email address you’d like to send the card to in our form, type your own personal message and send joy to whoever you choose!

Send your eCard > 

» Giving Thanks to Your Team

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

As the holiday season and end of the year approaches, many Pros scramble to send holiday greetings to their clients and other vendors. However, as business owners, it’s important that we remember the people who make keeping our company going: our employees, contractors and colleagues. Giving thanks to your team members for all their hard work is just as important!

Giving Thanks to Your TeamCelebrating the winter holidays with my team has always been an important part of my business’s operations. How we celebrate has evolved over the years, but it’s always been an invaluable time for celebrating our successes over the past year and enjoying each other’s company.

Here are five ways you can acknowledge your team’s hard work at any budget:

A holiday or new year soiree. I know I’d give up a lot of things in my company’s budget before I gave up our holiday party, because it’s that important for morale. A holiday party can be anything from drinks and desserts at your home or office to a fancy meal in a restaurant or hotel. As event professionals, many of us rarely get to actually cut loose at a party instead of working at it, and everyone seems to enjoy the opportunity to relax.You can also schedule ta fun start of the new year party once schedules slow down a bit and to kick the year off on a positive note.

Personalized gifts. Everyone loves presents, and choosing something tailored to an employee’s tastes and interests is a great way to show you care. When you don’t know a person very well, a gift card is always appreciated!

Bonuses. For business owners who feel uncomfortable selecting personal gifts for their team, a monetary cash bonus is a fantastic way to express gratitude (and lighten your staff’s financial burden during an expensive time of year!).

Unexpected perks. Sometimes handing out money isn’t feasible, but you can get creative with other benefits. Offering an extra day (or more) of paid vacation, allowing your team to come in late or leave early, or taking a burdensome project off someone’s plate can often be just as appreciated as something you actually buy.

A sincere “Thank you.” I believe the people who work for us know when money is really tight, or when the business isn’t as lucrative as it could be. When you genuinely can’t afford to do something tangible to celebrate, you can still let your team know you value their work, and thank them for their contribution.

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season and a fantastically successful 2014!

Image Source

» 2014 Prep: Set Up Your Clients Tab!

The Clients tab in premium WeddingWire accounts are designed for wedding and event professionals like you! We created it to help you manage your clients so you can focus on doing what you love. Premium Pros have access to this suite of industry-leading tools that allow you to manage your client relationships, from prospect to payment – included at no additional cost.

We’ve heard from some Pros who’ve said it’s hard to find the time to shift from their current client management system to our system while still maintaining the business. During the holiday season, you likely have fewer events and fewer inquiries, but January is a huge planning month for newly engaged couples. What better time to set up your Clients tab and prepare for the newly engaged couples who will start sending inquiries your way soon?

Take a day or two in the upcoming weeks to check out the Clients tab to see how you can start saving time and money by using the WeddingWire suite of tools to manage your clients so you will be organized and ready to boost your business in the New Year.

Below are a few best practices to help you make the transition to online client management!

2014 Prep: Set up Your Clients Tab!Inquiries: Use the Inquiries section to better manage incoming inquiries from potential clients. We require essential event details, such as event type, date, time and location, so you can make faster decisions about which clients you’d like to work with.

Questionnaires: Create custom questionnaires to collect responses from each client and prospect regarding their individual event needs. Find out the client’s budget, event location, music preferences, etc. and save the details so you go back and reference them whenever you need them.

Digital Contracts: Create digital contracts to quickly provide your clients with customizable details like contract terms, payment schedule and required signatures. You can also make revisions to your contracts in real-time and see a history of the changes made to make it easy to keep track. Want to make the process even faster? Close the deal in seconds with Digital Signatures! No more faxing or waiting for the mail – your clients can electronically sign their contract directly through their own personal password-protected Client Site.

Continue reading

» Pro Forum Buzz: Event Insurance, Promo Videos 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.

If you haven’t checked in on the Pro Forums in a while, don’t worry – here’s what Pros are talking about this month in the Pro Forums!

Event Insurance for Sole Proprietors

Pros offer recommendations and advice for sole proprietors regarding event insurance companies and annual premiums for policies, as well as any experiences they’ve had with customer service and filing claims.

Offer your advice >

Pros working together to educate prospective clients

Photographers, officiants and other Pros weigh in on the issue of today’s “DIY brides” and the disconnect between unrealistic expectations for price compared to time spent on their events.

Join the conversation >

Share your 2013-2014 Promo Video

Wedding Pros share their promotional videos in order to inspire and compare to others in the industry! There’s also discussion around new concepts for 2014 and the fair price to pay for these types of videos.

Share your video now >

Hosting giveaways

A wedding planner is seeking the advice of other Wedding Pros about some sort of social media contest involving a giveaway, which has spurred and outpouring of suggestions for promotional items that can be used as contest prizes.

Give your opinion >

Have a question or want advice? Get an outsider’s point of view, expand your social network, stay up-to-date on industry news and more from your own private, members-only community. The Pro Forums are organized by topic so you can easily browse what interests you or use the search option on the right to find something specific.

» 8 Ways to be Productive During the Holidays

8 Ways to be Productive During the HolidaysThe end of the year is right around the corner, which means that the next few weeks are “crunch time” for many. It’s even more stressful with the knowledge that many people (from clients to employees, and even yourself) travel and take off work during the holidays, which means less time to get everything done!

Don’t panic. Although there may seem like a lot of expectations during the holidays, you shouldn’t let yourself burn out too quickly. Step away from the chaos and be productive during the holidays with these 8 tips:

1.  Plan early.

Even if you promise yourself you’ll be working from home or working remotely on or surrounding the holidays, you can still fall behind. Plan the days you’ll be taking off or out of the office early so that you can figure out your own timeline for getting things done.

2.  Communicate the schedule.

Communicate your schedule with other coworkers or employees with details on your availability while you may be “out of the office.” Also be sure to communicate any closures or time restraints to your customers so they know when they can expect to hear back from you. Consider including basic details on your availability and the best way to get in touch in an email auto-reply and your voicemail.

3.  Create to-do lists and prioritize tasks.

Now that you know your schedule, create your to-do lists. Make sure to prioritize your tasks – there are tasks that are important and urgent as well as tasks that are important but not urgent. Know the difference and prioritize that way! Checking tasks off your list will be satisfying and will help you relax.

4.  Don’t multi-task.

Work on one project at a time rather than several at once. You should have created your to-do list in the step above, so go down this list one project at a time until you’ve hit the end of the must-dos. Working on several projects at once may lead to none reaching full completion.

Continue reading

» The 4 Steps of Wedding PR Research

WeddingWire Education Expert

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.

Wedding professionals are passionate people – we fall in love easily. We love our clients and those ruffled linens, as well as our recent Pinterest finds. And when we fall in love, we’re apt to take action quickly.

The 4 Steps of Wedding PR ResearchLet’s admit it – wedding PR is a seductive notion. Enjoying blog features and an extensive press portfolio showcasing a slew of Magazine covers? Yes please.

The reality is, however, that you can’t jump in feet first without proper preparation and expect stellar results. Public Relations is a four step process – Research, Planning, Implementation and Analysis. Yes, steps can be skipped but quality efforts will be sacrificed.

While Research isn’t necessarily the most exciting step in the Wedding PR process, it is essential to the success of any campaign. If you’re not sure where to begin, below are the four steps of wedding PR research to help guide you:

1.  Your Publics: When taking the steps towards a wedding PR campaign, it’s important to narrow down your Publics, that is, a group of people tied together by a common purpose. In this instance, the obvious answer would be engaged couples, but dig a bit deeper and take an honest look at your goals. Are you trying to catch the attention of the right people for national speaking gigs? Introduce yourself to brides and fellow wedding professionals in another region?

2.  Your Message: The goal of wedding PR is, in part, to send out a particular message to your Publics. While “Book me!” may take the initial lead on your list, keep in mind that this would be better suited for an advertising campaign, which allows you to buy time or space to give couples a controlled message about your services. Wedding PR is meant to draw awareness to your brand and build your reputation while sending a message about how you want to be perceived. Take a good hard look at your goals and ask yourself what you intend to tell people when showcasing your Real Wedding features.

Continue reading

» Increase Your Storefront Traffic for the Holidays

Increase Your Storefront Traffic for the HolidaysWith engagement season upon us, it’s important for wedding and event professionals to increase the traffic coming to your Storefronts or websites to generate more revenue! But it’s also the holiday season, which means engaged couples have a lot of other things on their minds.

You likely see fewer inquiries, reviews and other activities in your account during the holidays. How do you keep couples coming to your Storefront even when they’re focused on impending holiday travel and plans?

Below are several things your business can do to increase your Storefront traffic during this tough time of year!

  • Promotions: Deals are a great way to drive more interest, especially during this time of the year when everyone one is looking for a good bargain! Get the attention of potential clients by giving them a better deal for a limited time. Use your social media pages and email to alert your audience of any promotions you establish.
  • Gifts: Tis’ the season of giving! Consider giving a free gift to clients who book you during the holidays! This is similar to a deal, but instead of offering a discount, you can make your packages more appealing. Try offering a free gift that they’ll want to use in their wedding planning! Your gift could also come in the form of a gift certificate for other services you provide.
  • Host a party: What better time to network, connect and book clients than with a holiday party? A holiday party with food, drinks and even raffles could help build awareness of your brand. Just remember to provide guests with a business card and other materials that tell them how to find out more about your business!
  • Give back to those in need: Think about ways you can give to your community! Not only will you help someone in need, but you’ll also earn a lot of goodwill for your business. Use our Love. Write. Feed. program as an example – pledge a donation amount for a certain action your clients can take.

These four ideas will help you continue to bring in business over the holidays, despite the holiday distractions! What strategies have you tried in years past? Let us know in the comments.