» Sneak Peek: The Hottest 2015 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. 

We can’t believe 2014 is almost over – and what a wonderful year it’s been in the wedding world! As the Editorial Team is hard at work finishing our WinterBook (look for it in January), we’re also looking ahead at the wedding trends we think will be big in 2015.

We hope these ideas will help you prepare for all of those newly-engaged 2015 couples coming your way very soon!

Sneak Peek: The Hottest 2015 Wedding TrendsCenterpiece photo courtesy of XOXO Bride Events; Cake photo by Megan Saul Photography, cake by Molly’s Cupcakes

Greenery

From table runners to decorative wreaths, garlands, and more, we’re seeing greenery emerge from the sidelines and into the spotlight. It’s versatile, and provides an Old World look that’s so chic right now. In this same vein, we’re betting on animal topiaries becoming a hot decor item in the New Year.

Miniature Wedding Cakes    

Instead of or in addition to featuring a multi-tiered wedding cake, couples are also serving several smaller cakes to offer a wide variety of flavors. We’ve even seen a cake displayed on each reception table for an extra-sweet touch.

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» Join Us (And Monte Durham!) at WeddingWire World 2015!

Join Us (And Monte!) at WeddingWire World 2015!You’ve seen him on Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, CNN and Fox, now hear from Monte Durham live at WeddingWire World 2015!

Monte Durham is the Fashion Director at Bridals by Lori, the South’s premier bridal salon featured on TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta. A native of small-town West Virginia, Monte describes his ascension from one-room schoolhouse to the fashion industry an unlikely story. Before he found his way to bridal, Monte worked in fashion merchandising and hair styling, then made a name for himself as a Washington, D.C.-based bridal image consultant. His work has appeared in the pages of The Washingtonian, Martha Stewart Living, Brides Magazine, and several other publications. Monte’s no-nonsense fashion commentary and naughty sense of humor have made him a favorite and regular guest on CNN and Fox. For more information on Monte, visit MonteDurham.com.

From Monte’s session, you’ll learn how to put a modern twist on classic traditions, exceed client expectations, and even ask the Martha Stewart Living and Brides Magazine published bridal guru questions of your own. You will also have the unique opportunity to hear from other leading wedding industry professionals and meet with our Customer Success Management team, who will answer your questions and ensure you are able to take advantage of everything in your WeddingWire account.

There’s no better time to get your tickets for WeddingWire World 2015! Prices increase on January 1st, so make sure you save your spot now. WeddingWire World 2015 will offer two full days of education and information to help you grow your business. As a wedding professional, you will become motivated and prepared to succeed across all of the most important channels for your business, including sales, marketing, reviews, networking, and more.

The full WeddingWire World 2015 agenda is coming soon, so stay tuned! We hope to see you March 16-17 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Washington, DC!

» What’s Next in Social Media: 2014 Year in Review

What's Next in Social Media

What’s Next in Social Media: 2014 Year in ReviewThe big social networks are still finding new ways to innovate and introduce new features, even though they’re years old at this point. Don’t be fooled – just because networks like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest aren’t shiny and new doesn’t mean that their updates don’t constantly influence the way businesses conduct online marketing. 2014 was still a huge year for the big social players!

If you’re just now deciding whether or not to start a new social media marketing strategy, make sure you catch up on the latest social media news and updates before you start planning for the New Year.

Before you spend time searching the news stories to find out what’s next in social media, check out the biggest updates to social networks in 2014!

Facebook

Facebook’s biggest update for businesses was announced in December – new tools and insights for businesses are coming for 2015! The exciting announcement came as a result of feedback from publishers who need more social media marketing tools than just paid options. Facebook is introducing interest targeting for organic posts that allows you to target a subset of people who like your page so only that subset sees your post. Facebook will also give publishers the option to add a Post End Date to prevent users from seeing out-of-date posts from your business.  Finally, Facebook will introduce Smart Publishing to help businesses publish the most relevant and timely posts automatically. Besides the Facebook redesign in March and the News Feed algorithm update in June, these new tools are the biggest Facebook news for businesses in 2014!

Twitter

2014 was a big year for Twitter. Following its late-year IPO in 2013, Twitter created a new desktop design that radically changed the layout of the social network. The network then added Promoted Accounts to Twitter search so businesses could suggest their account to users searching on a similar topic. In July, Twitter helped businesses out in a big way by expanding Twitter Analytics so businesses could find out more about those following them as well as other users who show interest in their brand or activities. In the final months of the year Twitter also made strides in the e-commerce market by adding the “Buy” button to tweets as well as adding Offers to help businesses drive urgency with deals. All these features helped Twitter to solidify its presence in the top of the social media world, and businesses would do well to take advantage of these features in the New Year.

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» Happy Holidays From WeddingWire!

Wishing you health, happiness and much success this holiday season! Happy holidays from our team!

Happy Holidays 2014

Forgot to send the holiday cards in time? It’s not too late!

Use our template to send your own personalized WeddingWire Holiday Cheer eCard to your family, friends and clients. 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 > 

» How to Improve Your Website Conversion Rate

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

Be sure to check out Alan’s full, original post on AlanBerg.com!

The holidays are always a busy time for engagements, followed by the January rush of visits to websites. Is your wedding business’ website ready to convert that traffic into inquiries, appointments and then sales? After all, you only get one chance to make that first impression. Make sure it counts!

How to Improve Your Website Conversion RateHere are a few easy things you can do right now to improve your website conversion rate. These will only cost you time, not money, but they’re well worth the effort:

  • Read over the text on your website. I mean really read it, not just skim. When’s the last time you actually read what you wrote? You’ll likely find things that are out of date or incorrect; you may even find typos. When I consult with someone about their site I read the text out loud to hear the “voice” and see if it sounds the way you intended.
  • While you’re reading the text, pay attention to whether you’re only talking about you. Do you use the words “we,” “I” and “me” a lot more than you use “you” and “your” on your website? You’ll engage your prospects a lot better if you speak to them about them, instead of about the bride, groom or other third parties. Try writing as if you’re speaking to one person – the person who’s reading it. That will make it more conversational and engaging.

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» Email Marketing 2015: Trends to Know

Email Marketing 2015: Trends to KnowAlthough email isn’t a new medium, the way we communicate through email is changing. Technology, software and user behavior all influence the way we interact with our inboxes. In the fight for limited space in the inbox, email marketing strategies evolve each year.

Despite the daily inundation of emails in our inboxes, email marketing is still a great way to reach your audience and share timely and pertinent information! The following 2015 email marketing trends will help your wedding business stand out in the New Year.

Adding more images

Research suggests that users prefer image-based emails over text-based emails, so consider incorporating more images into your emails in 2015. Whether you purchase images through a licensing website or use those which you already have, use them in your emails to illustrate and emphasize the message you’re conveying. You can also take this a step further by using free graphic design software (like Canva) to add text and other effects to your images for a professional look. Just remember, though, that your entire email should not be ALL images – it’s still important to include both HTML and text-based code so email providers with stricter image settings will still see the email the way you want it to look! Mix images and text to make sure all your bases are covered in the event images don’t load properly in some email environments.

More A/B testing

Modern marketing strategies are largely based on data, meaning that businesses are getting smarter about the way they engage with clients. In order to gather data on the best send times, email length and messaging, try more A/B testing in 2015. With A/B testing, you send version A and version B to a small subset of your email list, then send the winning version (the version with the highest open rate) of the email to the rest of your email list. Most email service providers incorporate A/B testing as a feature to make it easy to try out different things. If your email service provider allows for A/B testing, they’ll automatically segment your list and send the winning version to the rest of the population for you so you don’t have to do it manually. This type of testing will help you learn how to optimize your emails and ultimately achieve better results.

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» Submit Your Favorite Real Events of 2014 to Get Published!

Did you know you can submit your real events to be featured on EventWire, and our partner site Celebrations.com?

Don’t let your amazing photos from life events including photos from Bar/Bat Mitzvahs to birthday parties to baby showers, corporate events, and more go unnoticed.

Share your favorite photos of real events with the world! Submit your photos and learn more at RealEventPics.com. You can learn more about the submission process, upload your photos directly through the form, and share all the details of the event with us. It’s easy!

If you are selected for a feature, your work will be credited and we will link to your EventWire Storefront, and the Storefronts of all vendors who participated in the event. Being featured in editorial is a great opportunity for added publicity for your business and to impress potential clients.

RealEventPics

Questions? Email realevents@eventwire.com for more information!

Have weddings you want to submit to be featured on WeddingWire as well? Check out RealWeds.com!

» #WWEDUChat Recap: Pricing Questions with Alan Berg

#WWEDUChatYesterday, we hosted our first Twitter Chat for Pros, featuring WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg.

Alan answered the biggest pricing questions so you can be better prepared to deal with ‘how much?’ this engagement season. Missed the chat? No problem! Find below a full recap of our Q&A with Alan, or check it out on Twitter by following along with the #WWEDUChat hashtag.

Q1: How should you respond when a couple’s first question is ‘how much?’

  • A1: Don’t be evasive, that will turn them off. Give them an idea of cost, without committing to a specific price. #WWEDUChat

Q2: How do you stand out among competition to book the business besides having the best prices?

  • A2: Use reviews to show the value of doing business with you beyond your price. #WWEDUChat

Q3: Do couples find price more important than the quality of work?

  • A3: They’re buying something they’ve never bought so they default to price. Let them ask & start the conversation #WWEDUChat

Q4: How can you shift early convos from price to service quality?

  • A4: Tell them, “I don’t want you to pay any more than you have to, to get everything you need and want” #WWEDUChat

Q5: What is the best way to offer a deal or discount in pricing convos?

  • A5: Discounts and deals work best when there’s a sense of urgency or deadline. Make them clear and simple #WWEDUChat

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» Pro Forum Buzz: Best of 2014

Every day, wedding professionals are talking about a variety of topics in the WeddingWire Pro Forums. We regularly read these conversations to see what’s trending in the industry and how we can help our community of Pros. Some conversations attract Pros from all categories to weigh in on important topics and offer advice where possible – those are our favorite discussions!

Below we’ve identified some of the best WeddingWire Pro Forums conversations of 2014 – join in on these now or create your own to start preparing for 2015.

Pro Forum Buzz: Best of 2014Working without a guest list

What do you do when your clients won’t provide you with a clear (or at least estimated) guest count? Pros weigh in with their opinions on handling the situation and provide advice for explaining why a guest list is so important for wedding professionals.

Join the conversation >>

Accepting final payments

When do you accept final payments from your clients? Some Pros add a specific date in their contracts, while others accept final payments within a certain time frame such as the month or week before.

Share your experiences >> 

How to coexist with photographers

For DJs, caterers and wedding planners, it’s important that the newlyweds stick to a schedule for the reception, but often photographers need more time than allotted to get all the right shots. What suggestions can you offer to ease this type of situation?

Offer your suggestions >>

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» How to Avoid Becoming a Wedding Industry Cliché

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

The all-time cliché success advice from business coaches is to just be yourself. If only life were so simple! In reality, such an approach works for a scant few. As a professional in the wedding industry, it’s important that you rise above maintaining the status quo and come up with ways to be original.

To avoid becoming a wedding industry cliché, ask yourself these questions, below.

How to Avoid Becoming a Wedding Industry ClichéAre you aiming to be the best or to be the most unique?

One can debate who is best at something all day long, but that’s completely subjective and cliché. It’s far better to be different, striking, unusual, interesting in one or various ways. People and work that are truly set apart from the crowd don’t have to shout (figuratively or literally), “Look at me, look at me!” Their work and personal style do that without the accompanying fireworks.

Do you have 10 years of experience or 1 year of experience 10 times?

Many professionals stop growing after a few years in one job or profession. They simply start to repeat themselves. Yawn! Whether you change your services or start coming up with out-of-the-box wedding ideas, be original. Over time it becomes clear that your company produces fresh work for each client. Don’t keep giving tired, repeat performances – try something new and different each year.

Are you obsessively comparing your business to your competition?

Seeing your competition at work, on websites, or in any forum will automatically cause you to compare yourself. If you’re looking for inspiration, find it at conferences, on websites and photos from across the country and around the world. Don’t just copy. Find an inspiration that amplifies or alters what you do.

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» Top 10 WeddingWireEDU Posts of 2014

Top 10 WeddingWireEDU Posts of 2014Throughout 2014, we’ve shared the latest news and advice to apply to your wedding and events business. We always hope our posts are helpful, but it’s great when we reflect on the year and look at which articles our community of wedding professionals enjoyed the most!

Check out our countdown of the top WeddingWireEDU posts of 2014 based on your views, comments and shares:

10.  How to Build Strong SEO in 4 Ways

Building strong Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is very important for your wedding business’ online exposure. But, there’s so much information available about SEO that it may be difficult to know what you should (or should not) be doing for your business. We break down what you need to know to build strong SEO with tips for how to optimize your website, blog, social networks and online listings.

9.  3 Unique Ways to Collect More Reviews

Building online credibility by collecting reviews from past clients is an important aspect of your business’ marketing. While your clients probably tell you they are going to write you a review, you may find getting them to follow through is time consuming and difficult. We’ve got three unique ways you may not have tried to reach out and collect more reviews from your clients!

8.  Pro Tips: Auto-Reply Email Best Practices

For many wedding professionals, email auto-replies are the simplest (and quickest) way to respond while you are out and about. Make sure your business is putting its best foot forward right away by following these five best practices for crafting your auto-reply emails.

7.  5 Ways to Improve Your Communication with Clients

Wedding Pros are often juggling busy schedules. All the phone conversations, emails, and in-person meetings with both prospective and booked clients can feel overwhelming, but effective client communication is key for your business’ success. These tips from Education Expert Jennifer Reitmeyer will help set the tone for a strong first impression from first contact with the client to the event itself!

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