» WedInsights: How Couples Choose a Wedding Date

WedInsights

WedInsights: How Couples Choose a Wedding DateWhile 37% of engagements occur between November and February, 76% of weddings occur during the summer and fall months. In fact, 25 dates make up 50% of all weddings in 2015 (and you guessed right, they’re all on Saturdays!). Despite the fact that there’s a ton of competition between clients for those coveted dates, there are a number of reasons why a couple selects their wedding date.

Our research shows that the top ten most popular factors that influence when couples choose a wedding date are:

  1. Season/weather
  2. Convenient for the couples and families
  3. Sentimental date (i.e., anniversary date)
  4. Venue availability
  5. No clear reason
  6. Liked the date
  7. Convenient based on engagement length (i.e., enough time to plan)
  8. For financial reason
  9. On a holiday
  10. Astrology

Beyond those considerations, 74% of couples know vendor pricing may differ based on day of the week or season – which could also come into play when selecting a date if the couple is on a tight budget. And for those considering a destination wedding, choosing a date has a whole different set of considerations than those couples getting married locally. Our data indicates that 14% of U.S. couples have a destination wedding, and of those, 11% have a wedding at a destination within the U.S. and 3% travel internationally (mostly to the Caribbean).

What does it all mean for you?

Once the ceremony and/or reception venue is booked and the date is set, there is a general expectation that all other vendors need to work within that schedule. Since most couples hire 10-13 wedding pros, availability is a key criterion for choosing which pros to contact. However, don’t forget that other factors affect who a couple contacts – most importantly price, reviews, and location.

As we head into the busy wedding season, be sure to add pricing to your Storefront, update your About Us section to make all your contact information easily available, and collect those last few reviews you’ve been putting off! Ensuring you cover the top three factors couples consider when reaching out to a pro means that they’ll be well-informed about your business before they even ask you about your availability.

For more insights on how couples choose a wedding date, read our latest WedInsights fact sheet.

» Listen Up… and Sell Even More!

Listen Up and Sell Even MoreWebinar recap: Learn how you can benefit from listening up to sell even more!

Like it or not, sales skills are an important part of every successful wedding professional’s job! Do you ever talk yourself out of a sale? When was the last time you had a couple sell themselves?

This month’s educational webinar for premium members hosted by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg provided key insights on how talking less, but with thoughtful intent, can help you make more sales in less time. After all, we all want to do business with people we know, like and trust!

Here are a few key tips:

  • If you want more sales, ask better questions – and really listen to the answers!
  • Ditch the pitch and instead focus on what details matter to the individual client to customize your sale to connect with each couple.
  • Let the potential client the majority of the talking so you can learn more about their day, and don’t answer questions they haven’t asked.
  • Don’t try to rush the decision making process, it can be a big decision to choose their wedding team that can take time!
  • Remember that listening applies not only to appointments and calls but also emails and texts, so don’t data dump or over-share without finding more about their needs and wishes first.
  • Close the sale when you see and hear buying signals (such as asking about price, or availability for a specific date), and don’t be afraid to ask for their business!

Want to learn more about these tips? Watch the full webinar! 

All past webinars are available in the Education Center for Premium members to view anytime right from your WeddingWire account.

» #BridalRebrand: Being More Inclusive While Maintaining SEO

#BridalRebrand: Being More Inclusive While Maintaining SEOWith marriage equality finally legal across the United States, the time has come to take a harder look at the language of the wedding industry. But as WeddingWire Education Expert and Publisher of GayWeddings.com points out, inclusive language is important because it’s part of a larger trend that recognizes the role that both parts of the engaged couple – gay or straight – plays in planning a wedding, not just one partner. No matter what your feelings are on marriage equality, each time you use “bride” instead of “couple,” you’re potentially shutting out key clients who may be the decision-makers. And because most couples are primarily researching online, your website, online listings, or social networks could be the first (and only) impression that prospective clients have of your business.

It may seem daunting, but updating your language in your marketing materials and on your website to be inclusive can be done. In 2014, WeddingWire underwent a major rebrand for our annual awards program, previously known as the Bride’s Choice Awards. We updated the program name to WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards®, which is representative and inclusive of all types of couples who submit the reviews that qualify each business. Our hope was to make gay couples feel more included in our brand, but also to make sure that any groom wouldn’t feel neglected or brushed aside by word choice.

From an SEO perspective, the biggest challenge lies in updating your online presence (organic and paid), which is no small feat in today’s world. If you’re an experienced wedding professional, you’ve likely spent years building up your search presence – so it’s important to keep your authority and rankings intact. For those considering a #BridalRebrand, follow these steps to adequately address all the SEO concerns that come with changing your company name, products, or website content.

Conducting keyword research

Your search rankings are likely built upon certain wedding industry keywords that you hold dear. However, most ‘bridal’ keywords have inclusive counterparts that make updating simple. Use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to suggest alternative keywords for each word or phrase you want to replace. Here’s a cheat sheet with some of the terms that have the biggest impact in making all couples feel included. If you want to transition your language more slowly or offer a variety of terms, you can also add inclusive terms to your website, listings, and other materials and phase out the old keywords more slowly.  Learn more about where to start and how to update in our infographic with inclusivity do’s and don’ts from Kathryn Hamm.

Updating your content

Once you’ve decided which keywords you’d like to update within your site content, it’s time to make the updates. Some may be obvious, like your page titles and paragraph text. But don’t forget to update the keywords in your page URLs, the alt text of your images, and the meta titles and descriptions for those pages you’ve been updated. All of these are vital for search ranking, plus they’ll be consistent for any visitors to your site. You should also consider the diversity of your website images as well – if all your images are of straight couples or only brides, it can be off-putting for same-sex couples who visit your website. If you haven’t served any same-sex couples yet so you lack the imagery, consider buying stock photos or simply updating the photos to be general wedding images of your area of expertise: a close up of a bouquet, photos of guests dancing, venue photos, etc.

Continue reading

» 4 Tips for Better Client Communication

WedInsights

	Understanding the New Rules of Client CommunicationApproximately 80% of engaged couples use email to inquire about their products or services – that’s a huge shift from the more traditional phone calls and appointments that many pros may be used to! Because more and more client communication is taking place online, understanding the communication preferences of today’s couples is important for setting your business apart from the competition.

Response time and method can make a huge difference in whether or not you get the business, so check out thesetips to help you better manage your client communication with statistics about consumer communication preferences.

Know when to be ready to reply

Roughly 33% of all online leads are submitted on Monday and Tuesday. During the weekday, lead submission is generally the highest between 11am-4pm; however, a second peak occurs after couples are home from work between 8-10pm.

Since most couples expect to hear back from a vendor within 24 hours of sending an online request for more information, it’s vital that you take note of these peak periods so you can dedicate time to reply. With those two peak periods spanning most of the work day, plan to reply to last night’s inquiries first thing in the morning and the day’s inquiries at the end of your work day. This way, you can address incoming inquiries in a timely manner without interrupting your day each time you see a new message appear.

Respond as quickly as you can

39% of professionals say they respond to an inquiry within 24 hours, meaning that the majority take longer than a day to respond due to busy schedules, appointments, and other events. In fact, 40% of couples say they haven’t heard back from a vendor within 5 days, leaving a negative first impression and giving other wedding pros the opportunity to win their business instead.

Want more insights surrounding consumer preferences for response time, method, and style? Download volume 4 of our WedInsights series.

If you’re not able to respond within 24 hours, try sending your prospective client a quick message thanking them for their interest in your business and letting them know you will respond with more information specific to their questions soon. This small effort can go a long way with clients who expect a timely response, especially if you know you won’t be at your computer for a few days.

Continue reading

» Training Staff to Align with Your Brand

Pro to Pro Insights

Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events GroupThis post was written by Jennifer Taylor. Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui.

Last month, we discussed the importance of having policies and procedures set in place to help streamline your business processes and guarantee that all team members are on the same page. Having a strong foundation is key to building a well-trained staff, which can be invaluable when looking to expand your company.

Training Staff to Align with Your BrandNot only does a well-trained staff bring a consistently positive client experience, but they’ll also be privy to the company’s roadmap for the future. Although wedding planning involves a number of moving pieces, laying out expectations in advance can provide a structure to support the ever-changing atmosphere of the industry.

One of the very best ways to train your staff is to take them on as interns from the get-go, rather than hiring them on as employees right away. This allows each of you to go through a trial period – while you evaluate their performance and determine if they’re a fit for your brand, they also have the opportunity to decide if your company is best suited for them. View this as a teaching period – provide them with lessons and gauge how well they learn. Be sure to get feedback from clients during the event, as they may have the best idea of how helpful the interns were.

Once hired, it’s crucial to continue empowering your employees and providing them with an atmosphere that fosters their creativity and their independence. You should have systems in place that allows them to work on their own, but you’ll still want to check in consistently to ensure that they’re working and producing the best work possible. Give them the tools to succeed, but let your team evolve based upon their own planning preferences. Everybody operates differently, so it’s especially important to value each and every person for what they bring to the table.

We provide supplemental training guides in the way of onboarding handbooks and training sessions with ourselves and with our trusted vendors. This gives them a bit of hands-on experience before truly putting them to the test and they appreciate the chance to learn from those they will be working with later down the line.

Continue reading

» Pro Wedding Planning Questions Answered: Pre-Engagement

WedInsights

Andy Whittaker is Director of Market Insights at WeddingWire. As a client-side market researcher with 15+ years experience in both qualitative and quantitative methods, his efforts to better understand customer mindsets have directly led to the development of brand and product strategy. Prior to WeddingWire, Andy led research initiatives at other for-profit and non-profit organizations. He received his MBA from George Washington University.

As the Director of Market Insights, I’m constantly interested in hearing from both engaged couples and newlyweds about their wedding journey – from what excites them to any pain points they might have encountered. This information not only helps us to make their wedding planning experience greater and find better ways to connect them with pros, but gives us the opportunity to pass along these findings so you can gain important insight into your customers.

Pro Wedding Planning Questions Answered: Pre-EngagementSince we strongly believe in getting to know your customers, we held a panel at WeddingWire World 2016 so attendees could hear from some engaged and newlywed folks about their experiences and offer advice for wedding professionals. After the panel, we found that many of our pros still had questions about the wedding planning journey and wanted to learn more from those on our panel.

While we can’t give you the in-person experience, we can certainly offer the chance to have your wedding planning questions answered! Below are some of the questions we heard from our members surrounding the pre-engagement period, with answers from engaged and recently married WeddingWire staff.

What is the first thing you plan to do once you get engaged?

“Celebrate, and decide on a wedding date! Then figure out a potential engagement party date so we can begin planning.” – Alex

“Tell our families, create a cute engagement announcement, and pick a wedding date and venue so we can start planning the rest.” – Melissa

“Update our status on Facebook.” – Elaine

Do you already have a venue in mind? What research have you already done to find a potential venue?

“Yes!  I have dreamed about it since I was young! My family and I grew up summering in Avalon, NJ, and just knew from a young age this would be the perfect area.” – Alex

“I have always known that I wanted a hotel venue so I had a few in mind.” – Anonymous

“No, we hadn’t already selected a venue. No other research was done.” – Elaine

Continue reading

» Wedding PR: Let’s Change the Conversation about Networking

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.

My life in the wedding industry began with three martinis at an industry networking group when I was fresh out of college. It gave me just enough confidence (liquid courage?) to run as a write-in candidate for the inaugural PR chair of the local wedding association. Much to my surprise, I won that evening and it was the catalyst that led to everything else – increased sales for my employer, wonderful friendships, new job opportunities, and even the chance to manage that same association when I first opened the doors to OFD.

Wedding PR: Let’s Change the Conversation about NetworkingSo as you can imagine, I’m a big proponent of networking. In fact, if there were some sort of wedding industry networking fan club, I would be the president of it. Or, at the very least, the PR chair.

Here’s the thing about networking: it wears on you after awhile. And I get it – you start to really get tired of the elevator pitches and the constant card exchanging.  So today I’m here to ask you to rethink networking and instead, consider a new approach. At this year’s WeddingWire World, I shared the top networking notions you need to throw out the window and today, I’m asking you to consider the same.

So how do we change the conversation about networking?

Stop telling yourself that networking is supposed to be fun.
You have goals for your wedding business (and if you don’t, stop reading this immediately and get to work on those!) and there are things you should be doing to help you achieve those goals. Statistically speaking, vendor referrals is one of the leading ways that couples find out about you so more than likely, networking is a necessary component to your promotional strategies.

But for some reason, we assume that we network because it’s fun. I don’t blame you – event people throw great events. But if the only reason you’re going is to kick back with your friends and joke about the endless trend of mason jars, you’re not going to see a solid ROI for your time. Instead, select your networking events because they’re the key to getting you closer to your business goals.

Continue reading

» Infographic: How to Stay Profitable During the Off-Season

Many pros consider this time of the year that is more quiet a bit of an ‘off-season’ before busy wedding season picks up in in few months. Even if you may be less busy during this time, it is important to focus on your business, and set yourself up for a successful and profitable year ahead!

Check out these four ways to stay profitable and focused even during the ‘off-season’ from WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Want more information? Watch the full webinar here!

Stay Profitable During the Off-Season

» How Personalization is Changing the Wedding Industry

WedInsights

How Personalization is Changing the Wedding IndustryWhether it’s a highly customized ceremony or new personalized traditions at the reception, today’s couples are mixing the old with the new and looking for ways to make their wedding stand out from the rest. Your clients want a personal experience that reflects their values and beliefs as a couple, which means all bets are off when it comes to the tried and true customs of the past.

Below are some key stats from Volume 10 of the WedInsights Series that show how personalization is changing the wedding industry landscape in 2016 and beyond!

  • 72% of ceremonies are held at a non-religious location, and 1 in 3 couples create their own vows to add a personal touch.
  • While over 80% of brides are still being escorted down the aisle by their father, 55% of couples choose to have themselves and the wedding party walk down the aisle to non-traditional music.
  • 43% of couples prefer to see each other before the ceremony to take pictures – a popular trend that we’ve seen among same-sex couples for years.
  • While 72% of couples incorporate a tiered wedding cake, others are opting for alternative desserts like doughnuts.

The best part about personalization in weddings is that it’s a trend that applies to virtually all types of wedding pros! You can find ways to personalize all areas of the ceremony and reception to give your clients the unique experience they’re looking for. Your wedding business can take advantage of these trends by making the following adjustments to your sales process:

Be more visible to engaged couples across the internet

Modern couples are conditioned to expect instant access to important information. Make sure your website and all other online listings (including your social networks) are up-to-date and clearly communicate the key information that couples want to see – especially pricing and reviews. And don’t be afraid to show some personality – couples are looking for unique ways to approach age-old traditions, and they’ll value your personal experience and flair!

Continue reading

» 5 Tips for Maximizing Your Productivity

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.

When you look back at your day and remember how busy and stressed you felt, take a second to think about what you actually accomplished. If you are able to check a number of tasks off of your to-do list, good for you! If you are realizing that you may not have spent your time so productively, it is time to make some changes in your day-to-day routine.

	5 Tips for Maximizing Your ProductivityHere are some tips on getting organized and maximizing your productivity!

1. Start the mornings off right: There’s nothing more stressful than running late and trying to grab everything you need for the day last minute, nervous that you’ll forget something. Mornings like these always put us in a frantic mood. A productive day usually begins with the previous night. Before you go to sleep, pack your bag with all of your work essentials. If you are going to be in the office all day make sure you bring snacks, lunch, and a water bottle. It can be hard to focus if your stomach is growling.

2. Plan it out: At the very beginning of the day decide what you are going to accomplish. If you have a game plan, you are more likely to stick to it and finish the work you need to get done. This is also a great way to measure your productivity at the end of the day. It is extremely satisfying to cross tasks off your list as you finish them.

3. Focus on one task at a time: While we think that multitasking is so important in the office, often times we are much more productive when we give all of our attention to one project. At the beginning of the day, read and respond to all of your emails so you can feel good about an empty mailbox, even if it’s only empty for a minute. Concentrate on what you are doing instead of becoming preoccupied with other things you have to do. By following this rule you will finish complete projects instead of jumping from task to task.

Continue reading

» Editors’ Favorite Multicultural Real Weddings

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. 

One of the best parts of the WeddingWire Editorial Team’s job is reviewing all of the real wedding submissions we receive. We particularly are inspired by weddings with strong cultural elements, as we want to share a diverse group of weddings and wedding inspiration with our readers. We also to want to educate our users about all kinds of wedding customs and traditions, which are so rich, varied, and exciting.

Below are some of our favorite recent multicultural real weddings to inspire your next event! And if you’re interested in submitting a real wedding, engagement shoot, or styled shoot for the opportunity to be published, please visit RealWeds.com for more information.

Jubilant Vietnamese Wedding in Florida with photos by Diana Lupu Photography

– Jubilant Vietnamese Wedding in Florida with photos by Diana Lupu Photography

Bright Indian Wedding, combining Hindu and Sikh traditions, in Texas with photos by Jennifer Weems Photography

– Bright Indian Wedding, combining Hindu and Sikh traditions, in Texas with photos by Jennifer Weems Photography

Nature-Inspired Vietnamese Wedding in New Hampshire with photos by Mon Petit Studio

– Nature-Inspired Vietnamese Wedding in New Hampshire with photos by Mon Petit Studio

Korean and Filipino Wedding in Torono, Canada with photos by Hennygraphy

– Korean and Filipino Wedding in Torono, Canada with photos by Hennygraphy

Sparkling Indian Wedding in New York with photos by Origin Photos

– Sparkling Indian Wedding in New York with photos by Origin Photos

Continue reading

» Marketing To Today’s Couples, Not Yesterday’s Brides

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.

Here’s a question I’m often asking myself: I’m a married lesbian who is a same-sex wedding expert and educator; so why am I spending so much of time talking about straight grooms?

Marketing To Today’s Couples, Not Yesterday’s BridesI knew that the wedding industry was not inclusive of same-sex couples when my straight mom founded our business in 1999 to support same-sex couples, but I had no idea that most of the industry language and habits chugged along so relentlessly exclusive of grooms.

Say yes to the dress. Sell the bride. Bridal shows. Bridal showers. High-end brides. Book more brides. The list goes on. But, thankfully, it’s improving.

A quick scan of the top conferences offered in 2015 revealed that the majority of wedding industry conference offerings referenced ‘clients’ and ‘couples.’ A welcome change, in large part brought about by the push for the industry to be more inclusive of lesbian brides and gay grooms who can now legally marry legally nationwide. And, of course, the introduction of resources like TheManRegistry.com in 2007 and the book, In His Moment, by Ross Oscar Knight, which focuses the groom’s oft-overlooked narrative of his wedding day, help professionals and couples remember that there is at least one groom in the mix at the majority of weddings that take place.

Further, Andy Whittaker, the Director of Market Insights at WeddingWire, ran a quick meta analysis for me and found that there have been notable shifts in the inclusion of “grooms” in the media. In six of the largest national and urban papers (both online and in print), there has been a general increase of usage of the term “groom” in articles since 2007, and a decline in the ratio of usage of “brides” to “grooms” in articles since 2011.

Old “bridal bias” habits die hard, however, and the home stretch will require that wedding professionals, writers, editors and publishers update their language – spoken and printed – to be inclusive of “brides and grooms” rather than just “brides.”

Continue reading