» Event Recap: The Planners Suite Conference

Event Recap: The Planners Suite Conference 2016This past Monday, event planners of all different backgrounds and stages of their careers gathered for The Planners Suite Conference at Top of the Town in Arlington, VA!

WeddingWire was thrilled to have our own Kyle Mihalcoe in attendance to speak about how your business can stand out on social media, but the conference also included a number of expert speakers on a variety of topics surrounding the core message of the day – turning passion and purpose into profit!

After a warm welcome from Jon’ll Boyd, CEO of Completely Yours Events and Founder of the Planners Suite Conference, and emcee Candice Camille, WellologistTM, attendees observed a ton of great presentations from true industry experts, including:

  • Tips on grabbing the attention of key sponsors for events from Stacey Ferguson of Blogalicious
  • Instructions for creating successful and full proof contracts from Rebecca Melone of Melone Law, P.C.
  • Lessons on managing your finances from Sonya Smith-Valentine of Financially Fierce
  • Helpful marketing advice and strategies from Sherron Washington of P3 Solutions
  • Guidelines for effectively and gracefully executing a styled shoot from Christina Grimes of Completely Yours Events
  • Reasons why it’s so important to take control of your own A/V from Taren Bradley of PSAV
  • Sales automation best practices from Che Brown and Trevor Otts of Peak Performers Institute
  • Engaging tips for taking the plunge and investing in your own success from Cheryl Wood of Cheryl Wood Empowers
  • Keynote presentation by the one and only Jodi Moraru of EVOKE
  • Suggestions for learning how to charge what you’re worth from Shelby Tuck-Horton of Exquisite Expressions and Events
  • Branding strategies and reminders from Amanda Miller Littlejohn of The Branding Box
  • Steps to building and maintaining a successful team from host and creator Jon’ll Boyd of Completely Yours Events
  • Information for defending against copyright infringement from Jennifer Reitmeyer and Kyle Bergner of WeddingIQ

Attendees finished a very long, inspirational day with a happy hour and mixer filled with the constant exchange of advice, laughs, and business cards. But the best part about the conference was the unity among attendees. Each planner was there to grow themselves, and their business, but they left with plenty of connections and an extended network.

In addition to the amazing planners in attendance, The Planners Suite Conference featured the wonderful work of the following pros:

Check out a few photo highlights from Chip Dizárd Weddings, below!

The Planners Suite Conference 2016
The Planners Suite Conference 2016
The Planners Suite Conference 2016
The Planners Suite Conference 2016
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» WedInsights: Why Couples Prefer Online Payments

WedInsights

WedInsights: Why Couples Prefer Online PaymentsSmall and large businesses alike have an increasing number of options to collect digital payments from customers. Now that credit cards and online payments are more commonly being used in the wedding industry, it’s important for professionals to accept most forms of payment – especially the forms that are most convenient for your clients!*

Mobile payments are only expected to grow in prevalence – transforming the way consumers pay both online and offline in the coming years. Stay ahead of the trend and ensure you are collecting payment the fastest, and easiest, way for your clients! The stats below from Volume 9 of the WeddingWire WedInsights Series shed light on why couples prefer online payments.

More than 50% of couples prefer to pay their wedding vendors using an online payment method

Although 85% of couples pay for their products or services by personal check, writing a check has become a thing of the past in the minds of today’s couples. Just like you need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in your field, it’s important to do the same with your business practices so you aren’t perceived as outdated!

Online payments typically take less than one day to submit payment

Submitting a payment online is not only convenient for the client, but it also helps you get paid faster. Couples on average take less than one day to submit an online payment, whereas those required to mail in or drop off a check take 3 – 4 times longer. Why wait?

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» Top 4 Email Dos and Don’ts

Pro to Pro Insights

Leila Lewis, photo by Valorie Darling PhotographyThis post was written by Leila Lewis of Be Inspired PR. As a business school graduate from Santa Clara University, Leila (Khalil) Lewis’ career began in publishing, where she worked in marketing and editorial roles for business and lifestyle publications. Since transitioning into the wedding business in 2004, Leila has over 10 years of wedding marketing experience under her belt, and is the industry’s go-to for wedding public relations services, brand development and business consulting.

In many situations, communication between businesses and clients occurs almost exclusively over email. While emailing is a huge time saver, it’s important to realize that they are often the first and only impression that a client or business has of you!

Take your emails seriously and follow these dos and don’ts to ensure that your emails are representing you well.

Top 4 Email Dos and Don’tsReply…and reply quickly! Do not take too long to reply to an email. An overdue email response can not only be a lost opportunity, but it can also send a negative message about you and your business. Take the time to reply to everyone who has taken the time to reach out to you, no matter how insignificant.

Think about how you sound. Although emails often seem like a very informal form of communication, you should always use correct punctuation, spelling, and format. Take the time to proofread your emails so you come off as intelligent and professional. That being said, you can (and should!) still attempt to convey your personality and excitement in your emails. This can often be hard in writing, but don’t be afraid to use exclamations to change the tone of what you are saying and make the recipient feel more comfortable.

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» Gay Wedding Trends: A 2015 Year-in-Review Snapshot

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.

Though the spiritual implementation of wedding rituals for same-sex couples has remained steady since GayWeddings.com was founded in 1999, the practical implementation and legal opportunities have changed dramatically.

Gay Wedding Trends: A 2015 Year-in-Review Snapshot

Besides the most dramatic change–same-sex couples having legal access to marriage rights in all 50 states–gay and lesbian wedding trends now look overwhelmingly different than they did 20, or even 10, years ago.

Where once we were having small, private ceremonies that might or might not have included our family members, we are now celebrating our unions with many more guests in attendance (100 on average according to a recent WeddingWire survey), with more family members than ever celebrating with us and, it’s worth noting, often pressuring us to hurry up and get engaged already.

I’ll be speaking at WeddingWire World in greater depth on the latest LGBTQ wedding trends, data insights, and how same-sex couples continue to impact the larger modern market, but I hope you’ll enjoy this brief sneak preview of the themes ahead.

LGBTQ wedding trends look an awful lot like those for non-LGBTQ couples

Yes, wedding ritual assimilation is well underway. Thankfully, that street goes both ways, which means that straight couples are gaining a few fun twists just as LGBTQ couples are lining up behind wedding trends shared by all couples in the mainstream market.

If you are looking for a crystal ball into 2016, GayWeddings.com’s lead writer, Whitney Teal, offered couples a fabulous summary of the 2016 style trends that are important for couples to keep in mind. Her summary includes 7 trends from mixed-gender wedding parties to drones (the camera carrying kind, not the dull guests!) to hashtags and retro menswear. It’s a great read so check it out to learn more about what’s ahead.

Pro Tip: Share the GayWeddings.com 2016 Style Trends post with your LGBTQ couples or prospective couples as a conversation starter.

Structurally speaking, we’re more alike than different…

Many of you are now familiar with the tradition and trend statistics the WeddingWire team released summarizing the behavior of same-sex couples in 2014. You might not be surprised to know that we continue to find a similar pattern for all couples in 2015, including:

  • LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ couples who use WeddingWire report similar levels of use of planning apps, announcing an engagement on social media and using a wedding hashtag.
  • LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ couples who use WeddingWire report a similar number of months for their engagement period.
  • LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ couples who use WeddingWire report a similar number of dollars spent in wedding costs.

…But some differences are essential to remember and integrate into your toolbox

In 2014, we found that LGBTQ couples broke from “tradition” and expressed themselves a bit differently when it came to wedding rituals. For individual LGBTQ couples, this was largely determined by fit with or rejection of heteronormative gender roles (eg. what a bride “does” and what a groom “does”). But, that was yesterday.

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