» How to Create a PR Plan

Photo by Michael Stephens Photography

This article was written by Education Expert, Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting

Being the wise wedding professional that you are, you know you need a PR plan. You realize that great press equals great clients and an increase in your standing among your peers in the industry. It’s just that making a plan seems so hard.

Putting off the PR plan you could create today until tomorrow may seem like it’s saving you time and effort at the moment. In the long run, though, it really just pushes off attaining your dreams further into the future. You deserve better than that and you know it. Instead of procrastinating, start with these steps to get your PR plan underway today.

Take stock

Begin by assessing your business. What do your clients love about you? To whom do you appeal now, and to whom would you like to in the future? Who is your ideal client? How do people find you? If you could reach the ones who have never heard of you, what is the first thing you would want them to know? Before you can launch a PR campaign, you need to answer these questions, refine your message and pinpoint your desired audience.

Make a wish list

Next, dive deep into the internet and social media and create a wish list of the outlets you plan to target. It’s not enough to just list the ones you enjoy reading or visiting. Make sure you identify the publishers that reach your ideal customers – using the demographic information you compiled.

Maximize efficiency through organization

Even if it isn’t your strong suit, staying organized has become much easier with advances in technology. These leaps forward currently take the form of online apps and tools to help keep you on top of your game. I personally love Wufoo to collect couple’s wedding day information, Basecamp as project management software to keep us moving along with our daily to do’s and Boomerang, which sends reminders to me to follow up with emails I’ve sent that have not received replies.

Promote your results

Once you are successful at publishing a real wedding or contributing your expertise to an industry article, you’ll want to promote your success. First, send a thank you note to the editor or publisher to solidify your relationship for the future. Then, get the word out on social media. If you have your own blog, craft a post about the piece and include a link to the full piece. By promoting the piece, you’ll be magnifying the spotlight on your business and helping create valuable Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your website and your publisher’s as well.

Ultimately, avoiding creating a plan can only hurt your business, not help it. Make a point of ensuring your future success by creating a PR plan and beginning to check off related tasks today!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

» WeddingWire World Los Angeles 2018

A big “thank you” to all the wedding professionals who joined us for WeddingWire World LA 2018!

Our team was elated to host the first WeddingWire World of 2018 at The Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on February 6th. From inspiring speakers and educational workshops, to spending time catching up with so many of our favorite wedding professionals, we can’t stop beaming about World LA.  We especially miss the epic balloon installations, yummy Champagne gummy bear favors and delicious juice tasting!

Nine educational presentations
Thank you to our incredible presenters Tim Chi, Sonny Ganguly, Alan Berg, Jacqueline Nwobu, Meghan Ely, Kyle Mihalcoe, John Lincoln, Jeffra Trumpower and Kathryn Hamm, who covered everything from pricing to marketing to trends and more.

1:1 customer success sessions
In between presentations and networking, we were thrilled to have our Customer Success team members on site to meet with attendees and offer personalized account tips. We loved spending time together and hearing how everyone plans to grow their business in 2018!

Power lunch
WeddingWire World isn’t just for educational sessions! We love hosting these events because they allow wedding professionals to meet, network and share ideas. Lunchtime featured a round of networking bingo that encouraged networking with new professionals for a chance to win some WeddingWire swag. Leaving lunch with a full stomach and new connections in our contact list is a definite win in our book.

This moment
We got a kick out of WeddingWire’s Education Guru Alan Berg and WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer Sonny Ganguly’s stage selfie. Between the stunning venue and incredible balloon walls, not only did our attendees have fun, but they had endless opportunities for selfies as good as Alan and Sonny’s!

Cocktail reception
To close out the day, attendees gathered for cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and more mingling. Everyone enjoyed getting to know one another and hitting the dance floor. Seeing these connections being made is what WeddingWire World is all about!

We sincerely want to thank every World LA attendee for your posts, comments and time shared with us. We can’t wait to see how you apply your knowledge from World LA to your business this year. You’ve got this!

Enjoy the Facebook album of some of our favorite moments, and be sure to check out #WeDoWorld on Instagram and Twitter for some other moments you may have missed!

And finally to our fabulous partners— thank you! World LA wouldn’t have been the same without you.

Abigail Gagne Photography
Balloonzilla
Blueprint Studios
Extreme DJ Service
Fancy Fox Productions
I Do Event Decals
Nekter Juice Bar
Royal Bee Flower Design and Event Planning
Skirball Cultural Center
Taylor Street Favors
Type E Design

» Ways to Make Your Website Accessible for More Clients

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Expert, Kathryn Hamm.

The first and easiest part of being more inclusive in your digital marketing is to diversify representation within your images and text. As I’ve written previously, this includes written and visual representation of “brides and grooms” or “engaged couples;” of same-sex couples; of various races and ethnicities, religious rituals and physical abilities, shapes and sizes. These are simple cues that say “I see you” to prospective clients who might not feel included in mainstream wedding media.

Consistency is key

Though this may be enough to broaden your appeal to more clients, I advise wedding professionals to seek more information to understand the nuance of need beneath a first impression. It’s important to recognize that when a client feels “seen,” they are more likely to make an inquiry, but also they are more likely to hire you if you can deliver a truly inclusive experience from beginning to end.

Consider the case of a Caucasian stylist who features African-American brides on her website, but does not have a wide range of foundations and complementary hues for darker skin tones or an understanding of styles that are trending amongst black brides. Or the photographer who books a same-sex couple but applies a heteronormative (one bride, one groom) approach to the poses of two grooms or two brides or offers a referral to a caterer who is outspoken against same-sex marriage. When broadening your service offering, extra homework, preparation and consistency goes a long way.

Consider your website accessibility for all clients

Though your website may offer that “first impression” opportunity for some clients, it can also result in couples (and/or their attendants and guests) who have disabilities leaving your website quickly due to accessibility issues.

Below are a few simple tips to enhance your website to be more inclusive and accessible for clients with disabilities. Remember: these considerations may be important for the engaged person who is doing the planning, but might also be important for engaging the collaborative assistance of a parent or best man or best woman.

  1. Image accessibility
    Make sure that your key images and actionable buttons are large enough to be seen by someone with limited eyesight and that your ‘alt tags’ and ‘title tags’ clearly describe the content in an image so that a screen reader can interpret that visual information in a spoken form for those who are blind or dyslexic. It’s likely that many of you are already tending to your ‘alt tags’ for SEO (and if not you should be!) so this additional consideration increases the value of your business investment.
  2. Text accessibility
    Consider the flexibility of your written content to make sure that the information you are presenting comes across impactfully if a client is using a screen magnification tool to enlarge the text or a screen reader to interpret the text. It can also be helpful to make sure that your links are underlined or otherwise clearly differentiated from your normal text so that those who are color blind can easily find important links on your site.
  3. Video accessibility
    As you publish video content of your work or expertise on your website and in social media feeds, make sure to offer a clear description about the main point of your content, but also consider adding subtitles or investing in a sign language interpreter to provide a translation for those who are deaf.
  4. Inclusive representation
    Beyond including images of brides, grooms and guests with disabilities in your marketing images, take the time to find a local ASL interpreter to include in your referral list and/or professional network. If you aren’t otherwise required by ADA compliance, take a take a test tour of your office, event space or venue in a wheelchair to understand where access may be an issue. Or consider having a large print or screen-reader-friendly version of your contract so that a client with a visual impairment or dyslexia can more easily understand all of the terms related to the booking.

These small adjustments can be made during your next website update or as an improvement to your next blog, social media or video post. And, beyond making a meaningful difference for many brides and grooms with disabilities, engaged couples who are looking out for their guests with disabilities will also appreciate that you are ready, willing and able to serve them, too.

Did you know? Apple products have a wide range of accessibility tools built in to its iOS. If you have an iPad or iPhone, explore the features on your own device to see how those with vision, hearing or physical disabilities might be accessing your digital presence without even realizing it. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility.

kathryn hammThis post was written by Kathryn Hamm WeddingWire Education Expert, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist. 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.

» How to Captivate the Fleeting Attention Span of Millennials

captivate millennials

Photo by Eileen K Photography

Did you know the average adult attention span is only eight seconds? That means you have just eight seconds to make an impression on a potential client, much like we only have eight seconds to convince you to read the rest of this post. In these eight seconds, it is crucial to make a compelling statement about your brand and show off the best of what you have to offer in order to inspire a potential client to stick around and learn more.

Millennials, or Generation X, have greatly contributed to the dwindling average of our attention spans, in large part because they are the ones who have fuelled the transition from partial screen time to constant screen time. 80% of currently engaged couples are millennials, and they are spending more money on weddings than ever before. On average, millennial couples are spending $31,000 on their weddings as opposed to Generation Y, who spent an average of $24,000. Additionally, millennials are hiring more vendors and having longer engagements, giving them more time to plan their nuptials.

In order to grab the attention of a potential client, whether it’s their first WeddingWire search or their first time coming across your business Instagram, it is imperative that things look great when they land on any one of your pages. We work in a visual industry, meaning that any content you post must [subtly] scream for attention. Here’s 6 tips from WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly to help you do it:

Always be branding
Ultimately, you have to pull your audience in with your brand. Potential clients – aka millennials – won’t stick around if they aren’t compelled by something. WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer, Sonny Ganguly, says that your brand is “more than a logo”. Every single aspect of your company, from your logo, to the design of your website, to a picture that you upload to Facebook, is a representation of your brand. If this content isn’t captivating, consistent, and representative of you as a brand, potential clients are going to move on. Remember: Your brand is one of the best ways to stand out from your competition, so be proud to convey your “why” at every turn.

Update, update, update!
Just like you would take your car in for an oil change or upgrade your mobile device when a new model comes out, you should constantly be working on your website to keep it running and relevant. Think about how often popular platforms and websites update their formats and interfaces, or even how frequently app icons change. If you aren’t making changes and tweaks to your website often enough, visitors are going to stop coming to your site if there is nothing new to see. Some first-timers will even leave without a chance of revisiting if they feel like your website looks outdated.

But how do you make time for this in your busy schedule? The more often you take the time to make small adjustments to your website here and there, the less time you will need to spend down the road completely bulldozing and rebuilding your website when everything becomes outdated. Your website should never be something placed on the backburner – instead, dedicate 30 minutes each week to revising your site.

Think mobile
Your website must be mobile-friendly. It should look almost exactly the same on your mobile as it does on your desktop. It should also function just like the desktop version, have the same information available, lead to the same (working) links and have everything displayed in a clean and visually appealing format. The majority of couples are wedding planning on their phones, and it would be a missed opportunity not to have your mobile site up to par.

Be upfront
Every single piece of information that you can provide about your business and services should be made easily accessible to potential clients. This is a controversial one, but millennials don’t like small talk. Thus, requiring them to reach out for general pieces of information about your services is not ideal. It’s also a drain on your time when you have to respond to questions that could be easily available on an FAQ page. Let them find the information that they need and then contact you when they are already hooked.

Speaking of being upfront, not providing pricing on your website(s) is a huge turn off for couples who are looking for vendors. Seeing “Please contact for pricing” on a website is a big frustration for couples. This is because price, followed by reviews, is the number one thing couples are looking for when searching for vendors. By not listing your pricing, you are potentially losing sales instead of gaining them.

Reduce fields
Plain and simple: the less information that potential clients are required to provide on an inquiry form, the more inquiries you will get. By reducing the fields, you can see a +47% increase in the number of inquiries received. Reducing fields also helps you keep your mobile audience engaged. If you have more than three inquiry fields, consider rethinking the essential information you need at first contact versus the information you want.

Go the extra mile
When you get a new booking and client, focus on going above and beyond from day one.  Going the extra mile for your clients is what will make them remember you, especially post-wedding. If you do something special for your clients, not only will you get glowing reviews and a confidence boost, but you can bet on a couple of referrals, too! Yes, it takes a bit of time, effort and energy, but the payoff and reward can make all the difference for your business.

Get ready for Generation Z
They are coming and they will be here sooner than you think! Millennials were slowly introduced to groundbreaking technologies and dependency on tech, but Generation Z grew up with it. While Generation X prefers this newer tech-heavy lifestyle, they are still relatively familiar with the “traditional” (read: outdated) aspects of business. Gen Z won’t be.

To be prepared for tackling Generation Z, who will be having their own weddings soon enough (the oldest GenZers are currently 18), you have to master your millennial audience first. Be aware of trends and incorporate them into your brand and platforms to help you stay connected to your “younger” audiences. If you treat the millennial audience as a very serious “practice round” as you update aspects of your business, you will have an easier time adapting to fit the demands of Gen Z. when they come along.

Since millennials are making up the bulk of the current wedding market — and time is of the essence here — make sure you keep these 6 crucial tips in mind to help you hook, line, and sink as many new millennial couples as possible before their attention goes elsewhere.

These tips originally appeared in WeddingWire’s Webinar “Marketing to Millennials” by Sonny Ganguly, WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer. Premium Members can view the webinar recording in their accounts.

» How Strong Are Your Lead Replies?


In the vastly competitive wedding industry, everyone is striving for a large volume of high quality leads – but those leads aren’t worth much unless you know how to turn them into a sale. How you reply to each lead plays a pivotal role in the success of booking the client. These quick tips will help you optimize your lead replies so you’re more likely to receive a positive response and ultimately win their business!

Don’t forget to be personal

Clients know you’re busy, but responding to an email inquiry with an auto response may not have the positive impact you intended. About 25% of couples don’t like generic automated responses, as they can be perceived as impersonal and often provide little added value. Take an extra minute to include some details from their message, such as wedding date, style, or venue, or add a personal comment. This small effort makes a human connection and helps you stand out in their crowded inbox.

Keep it short and simple

Many couples check emails primarily on their mobile devices, and therefore short emails are more likely to get a reply. Start with a brief subject line and get to the point quickly, since lengthy emails often go unread. Avoid long paragraphs by adding line breaks and use bullet points or numbers where possible to highlight important details. Come up with a few sample responses to keep on hand so you can quickly add in a bit of custom information based on the inquiry and hit ‘send.’

Answer any questions they asked

Many professionals make the mistake of not responding to directly asked questions, which can frustrate couples because they’re often reaching out to a number of professionals and may have specific questions or criteria they need to know to move forward. You can prepare ahead of time by coming up with a list of answers to common questions such as price ranges, packages, and availability – but be sure to address any specific questions they asked in your initial reply. These answers are important in determining if you are a good match – and will ultimately save you time!

Use their preferred contact method

Our research shows that 48% of couples express frustration when a vendor does not reciprocate their preferred communication type. With literally thousands of methods of communication available – from Messages, to Live Chat, to email and phone calls – it’s difficult to know the best way to get in touch with a couple. At the end of the day, customer convenience is the motto to live by. Follow their lead by using their preferred communication type. If you’re making contact first, email is typically your safest bet, as most couples prefer email over all other communication methods.

As leads start to hit your inbox for the upcoming wedding season, keep these simple tips in mind to promptly and properly reply to leads and create strong connections with potential clients.

» How to Streamline Your PR in 2018

This article was written by Education Expert, Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting

During this time of the year, most wedding professionals are enjoying the beginning of a slower season when event work eases up and the business of running a business takes priority. When you are knee-deep in busy season, it’s so easy to get excited about PR and all of the exposure you know comes with it, but it can easily fall to the backburner when one of a million more pressing issues crops up.

The downtime of the slower season is a great time to streamline your PR for the coming year and make sure it becomes part of your week-to-week workflow. Don’t miss out on opportunities to promote your business through targeted pitches to prime publishers by simply putting the time in now.

The following steps are time-tested ways to streamline your PR and get ready for the coming year:

Implement block scheduling

Block scheduling is a method of time management in which you evaluate your priority tasks and pre-schedule the amount of time you are going to devote to each one and how often (i.e. on daily, weekly or monthly basis).  I recommend committing to at least one hour per week to engage in PR-related activities, whether that means assembling a media list, creating pitches or submitting proposals for speaking engagements. Set aside the time you plan to invest in PR and during that time focus exclusively on it. Don’t get distracted by social media, your phone, email, your children or even your cat. Make your PR time power time.

Use HARO

HARO (helpareporter.com) is the go-to site for matching your amazing stories and expertise with press looking for something to report about. Commit 10 minutes every business day to scanning HARO and acting on opportunities that have potential.

Preview upcoming weddings and make predictions

Look ahead at the weddings you have in the works. Which ones have publishing potential or meet editorial requests? Start gathering what you would need if you decided to submit them now. Coordinate with your photographer, get client permission, obtain and process the backstory information from your couple and their vendors. Do the tedious tasks that normally stand in the way of completing important projects while you still have the time and are focused on the benefits.

Explore ways to make your life easier

Sounds like a pretty great step, right? Think about your pain points and then ask yourself if there are any apps, programs or changes you can make that will alleviate them. Some may take a small investment, or you may need to learn to use them, but if they perform necessary tasks and save you time that you can use to address something that really needs you, they are invaluable.

The slow season is your best opportunity to put in place procedures and systems you need to make you a superhero of PR all year long. Follow these simple steps and focus on the desired outcome. Your efforts now will most certainly yield PR rock star-level results in the not-too-distant future.

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

» How to Solidify Your Vendor Relationships in the Off-Season

Photo by Patrick Nied Photography

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ.

Having strong vendor relationships will help build your business; this is something we all know to be true. From networking events to associations to mastermind groups, there are lots of ways you can start getting to know your peers and establishing relationships that are going to lead to the all-important vendor referral.

So, how do you get there? See some of my top tips below:

Make the time

During the off-season many event professionals take the extra time they have and use it to network and get their face back out there. You should be doing the same thing. Yes, you may be understandably using that time to go on vacation and get organized for the upcoming year, but don’t disappear from your community. The last thing you want is for a competitor to sweep in and start using your absence to their advantage.

Always respond

Working in the events industry means you know that being unresponsive can cost you clients and money. The same can be said for your relationships. If you’re ignoring or putting off emails from your creative partners, even if it’s just a quick hello, they may forget to reply back to you when you need them in the future. Be sure that if you aren’t in the office, you’ve got a clear out-of-office email letting them know when you will be back to respond.

Share the wealth

When vendors start referring business your way, be sure to return the favor- when it’s appropriate. There is no better way of saying thank you or showing that you value their work than by sending one of your clients to them. If you have a preferred vendor list that you give to couples, consider adding them to it. The gesture will no doubt come back to you tenfold.

Make the extra effort

Sending your creative partners a symbol of appreciation is a great way to cement your relationship. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or cost a lot of money, but it should be something meaningful and from the heart. For example, in the middle of summer, we send popsicles to our friends in the community as a reminder to stay cool down and take a break. We’ve received Starbucks gift cards from fellow event professionals that know how much we love caffeine.

Use part of your off-season to plan how you’re going to strengthen your existing relationships and establish new ones. We promise that dedicating some of your off-season time to this will ultimately be a long-term investment in your own business.

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and National Vice President for WIPA.

» Why Price Questions Shouldn’t Worry You

Photo by Riverland Studios

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP.

As we enter a new year, and get into the heart of engagement season, I want to remind you that price questions are buying signals. If you know that, and you live it, then I could make this the shortest article I’ve ever written, but let me fill in the details for the rest of you.

By the time you have someone asking you what you’d charge for your services for their wedding, or event, they’ve already done a lot of filtering. Most of your competitors will never hear from this same couple, or customer. It’s very likely that they know a little, or more, about you, from your website, WeddingWire storefront, reviews and more. You only got the inquiry because they like what they’ve seen and heard so far.

Don’t blow it!

Since you’ve made it to their short-list of companies they think can do what they want, and produce the results that they want, don’t ruin your chances with them by taking the lead for granted, or worse, assuming they can’t afford you just because they’ve asked about price. Don’t you ask about price when you’re the customer? Does it mean you can’t afford it because you’ve asked about price? Of course not. It’s just one of many pieces of information you need to make a decision. The thing is, when you’re shopping for something you know, you ask about price after you find out whether it fits your technical specs.

For example, if you need a new camera, you’ll ask about resolution, features, compatibility with your lenses, etc., and then, once you’ve checked off all of your technical needs, you ask about price. If it doesn’t fit your technical needs, then price doesn’t matter. The same applies if you need a new vehicle for your business. Price will only matter after you determine that it meets your technical needs. It doesn’t mean you can’t afford that truck, it just means you have needs that are more important that price.

They don’t know, what they don’t know

The challenge for your customers is that they don’t know how to articulate their needs. They’ve likely never shopped for your product or service before, so they’re not equipped with how to shop. Or, they’ve been to your website, read your online storefront, checked out your reviews, seen your photos and videos, and they already think that you’re a good fit. So, the only questions that they have left are: Are you available? and How much do you charge?

When they ask about price…

  • It may not mean they’re looking for your lowest package/offering
  • It may not  mean they’re price shopping (only comparing on price)
  • It may not mean they can’t afford your prices

Don’t judge a book by its cover

If you treat them as if they can’t afford you, or that they’re looking for your lowest price, you’re likely to lose some legitimate prospects. How many sales have you made, for more than your lowest package/offering, to people who first asked about price? The answer is probably: a lot. We all have. Everyone needs to know the price, eventually. Some just don’t know what else to ask, so they start with the one thing they understand… money! So, instead of dreading getting the “How much does it cost…?” question, celebrate it. Relish in the fact that most of your competitors aren’t getting asked that, or anything, by this same customer. They’re not in the game, because they don’t know there’s a game going on. But you do, and you’ve just been told to suit-up, and get in the game.

The change starts with you

They’re not going to change the way they inquire with you. I’ve been in this industry for a long time, and couples have always asked about price, earlier than you, the professionals, want to hear it. I’d rather have that discussion early, than not have a chance at all. Learn how to have the same conversation you’d have in person or on the phone, via email, messenger, LiveChat or text. Whatever the technology, it’s still a real conversation. Don’t avoid their question, you’ll turn them off. Don’t try to change from a digital conversation, to a phone/in-person one, too soon. You’ll turn them off. If you reply to their inquiries about price, and they don’t reply to you, that doesn’t mean they can’t afford you. It could be the way you’re replying. I see it all the time (and it’s the subject of my next book).

The short answer is that if you reply to “How much do you charge?” with “Let’s have a phone call or schedule a meeting”, and then you don’t hear back… stop doing that! I’ve spoken about this on WeddingWire webinars, and written about it in articles, but my favorite way to answer this is to quote them a price range, so they, and you, can see if you should continue the discussion (that is, assuming you don’t have a range on your site and storefront, in which case price shouldn’t be an issue when they reach out).

So, the next time you get an email, or message through WeddingWire, that asks about price, put a smile on your face, because you’re communicating with a BUYER! It’s a mindset change that will serve you well.

WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP 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.

» Announcing the 2018 WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards®

Drumroll please…We are so excited to announce the winners of the tenth annual WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards®! Honorees represent the top 5% of wedding professionals nationwide for their excellence in quality, service, responsiveness, and professionalism within the wedding industry.

We are so proud to recognize these award-winning professionals for their exemplary work and the outstanding reputation they’ve established among newlywed couples as demonstrated through their excellent reviews. Winners are selected solely based on their reviews and are determined by a combination of four factors: overall rating, total number of reviews, review performance from 2017, and consistency of reviews from year to year.

Engaged couples use the award as an indicator of legitimacy and reliability when selecting their team of wedding professionals. The badge demonstrates to couples that a wedding professional is committed to providing the highest quality service throughout the planning process and on their wedding day. According to Yan Volodarsky, Manager at Elite Entertainment , an eight-time Couples’ Choice Award winner:

“Awards like the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Award bring a different level of expertise and professionalism to our brand.”

WeddingWire was the first wedding planning site to offer online wedding reviews and today leads the industry with more than 3 million reviews. Congratulations to all of our 2018 Couples’ Choice Award winners for their accomplishments and for their dedication to excellence within the industry.

Search for winners in your region or category.

» Is Your SEO Up to Par for 2018?

This post was written by Mike Anderson, Associate Director of SEO at WeddingWire.

These days, most purchases start with a search.

Customers turn first to Google or Bing to find what they’re looking for, which means if you want to be found, a strong search engine presence is a must. In fact, 81% of people perform some kind of search before making a large purchase. (1)

But in order to land high in Google’s search engine results, you first have to make your website and content easy for Google and customers to understand.

As we kick off 2018, follow the steps below to make sure that your SEO is up to par to gain online visibility, increase your website traffic and ultimately, your sales.

Find relevant keywords to focus on

The first step in optimization is to figure out what keywords you want to rank for. To help find keywords, there are a number of free tools available such as Moz’s Keyword Explorer and the SERPs Keyword Research Database. If you have an account with Google AdWords, their Keyword Planner is a great option as well. Each of these tools allows you to find popular search queries and export keywords you like.

Tip: When conducting your keyword research, try to search for keywords as your customers would. If you were looking for a DJ in your town, what would you search for?

Optimize your website

Once you have a list of keywords, the next step is to incorporate them into your website. Try to be strategic. Make sure keywords are included in the following elements of your website:

  • Title tag – keep it to 50-60 characters and use your target keywords at the beginning. Treat it like a headline – your title tags should be compelling to your audience and include your brand name towards the end
  • Meta Description – these are limited to 160 characters, Make sure they give an accurate description of the page, include your target keyword(s), and are intriguing enough that users will want to click through
  • H1 – this is the heading of a page. It should be kept to about 20-30 characters, and describe the page’s topic. It will often be similar to your title tag, and likely be the title of a blog or article on the page, which means it should stand out and include the keyword that page is targeting. Use only one H1 tag per page.
  • H2s – these are your subheadings, which can be used to break up the content on a page. Don’t include your target keyword in every one, but try to use it once or twice.  

Tip: Try to optimize your homepage for 2 to 3 broad keywords and use sub pages to target more specific, service-related terms. Also, don’t forget to make sure your site is optimized for mobile use. More than half of all searches are done on mobile devices!

Make sure your content is unique and engaging

Once you have optimized your website, it is important to focus on your content. Content quality is widely regarded as one of the most important SEO signals, and speaks volumes about your website’s reputation. By posting quality photos, engaging articles, and useful resources, your clients will want to link to your website. Content freshness is also an important ranking factor, so remember to post new content every so often.

As you begin writing, keep in mind, content should be formatted in a way that keeps readers engaged.  Use short blocks of content to make it easily skimmable, and use a combination of bullet points and paragraphs. Remember to also include links where possible and natural, both to other pages on your site as well as to other relevant websites.

Tip: If you’re looking for article ideas, refer back to keyword research tools to see what things your clients are searching for. Or take a look at your competitor’s social media profiles to see what topics are most popular with similar audiences.  

Optimize your business profiles

While your website is an important asset, it’s critical to ensure that your business information and content is accurate and well represented on other sites as well. Make sure that your Google My Business listing is claimed and features accurate information. The same goes for local directories like Yelp, YP, Apple Maps. Also, if you have signed up for WeddingWire, make sure to add a thorough description of your business and high-quality photos.

As you are filling out your profiles, remember to fill in as much information as possible. The more you provide, the easier it will be for customers to find you. In addition to address and contact information, try adding a relevant category to your Google My Business profile, mention any areas your business specializes in or choosing a high quality profile photo to use in your listings.

Tip: To run a quick analysis of your local listings, try Moz Local, which offers a free scan and score.

Grow your social communities

In addition to your site and your online profiles, social media is also an important part of your online presence. Being active on social media can help grow your online audience, and more importantly, drive more leads. But it can also help your SEO. Studies have shown that social linking itself does not add much SEO benefit. But related signals – such as business reviews and links back to your site from bloggers – can make a big difference. Regular posting on social networks can also help you see what content resonates with your clients, giving you ideas on what other topics would be good to write about. The larger your audience becomes, the more likes, reviews and links you receive.  

Tip: Make sure you provide information about your business on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other sites you appear on.  

Also, consider boosting some of your posts. Because business pages have limited organic reach, boosting will gain a significant amount of exposure and visibility. When choosing which posts to boost, remember to pick ones that promote your own content and are especially helpful to your audience. Also consider boosting anything designed to collect contact information, such as free downloads and giveaways.

Take it from Google

Google offers a number of resources to webmasters interested in bettering their sites and their search engine rankings. Their official webmaster guidelines is a great resource to learn about recommended best practices and discouraged activities. The company also has multiple spokespeople that answer community questions and give updates on changes to Google’s algorithm.

Tip: Check out Google’s webmaster guidelines to learn more about SEO best practices. Also, try following John Mueller (@JohnMu) on Twitter for the latest updates.

SEO isn’t always easy, but it is worth it.

So take the time to find the best keywords. Incorporate them properly and naturally into your site and content. Optimize your online presence with the correct information, and reach out to influencers in your industry.

Once you’ve done so, the pay-off will be a higher rank in search engines, more exposure, and more leads.  

Sources
(1) Retailing Today (2014)

» Why You Should Always Think Mobile in Your Marketing

This article was written by Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire.

In 2018, a mobile-friendly website is no longer a trend or a nice-to-have – it’s a necessity for conducting business, especially in the wedding industry. More than ever, couples are using smartphones at all hours of the day to keep the planning process moving, from searching for wedding professionals to finding inspiration for the big day. Your mobile website might be the first-and-only impression a couple sees of your business, so it’s vital that your site provides a great user experience and highlights important information that will turn prospective clients into a bookings.

The tech landscape is fast-evolving, and not so long ago simply having a great website could put you ahead of your competition. But today, it’s no longer enough to give you a competitive edge. No matter your industry, you must be aware of the new platforms and tools used by your audience. If the majority of your audience is using mobile (and they are!), you should make the investment in mobile optimization and prepare for the Google mobile-first index.

Millennials are programmed to think mobile

As we know, smartphones have significantly changed consumer behavior and their impact on the wedding industry is no exception. Roughly 90% of adults in the U.S. between the ages of 25-34 own a smartphone, meaning that the majority of engaged couples are active on mobile devices.

Today’s society is accustomed to instant gratification, and the same holds true for couples in the wedding planning process. Smartphones allow couples to search for information during their commute, while at the gym, or pretty much anywhere at anytime of the day. It’s critical to provide the content they’re searching for when you have their attention! If a couple can’t find the information they’re looking for on your site, they’ll quickly move on to the next.

Mobile optimization is essential

Gone are the days when a business could get away with displaying their desktop layout on mobile. The moment a prospect needs to magnify text on their smartphone, you’ve lost a client – and if they’re willing to stick around, you’re certainly not providing the amazing experience your brand deserves. Instead, your business should have a responsive website, meaning that the content on each page adjusts to the device being used, so you can provide the best experience no matter how visitors are viewing your site. If you just redesigned your website and it’s not responsive, no need to panic! Until you’re ready to fully optimize your website, take the following actions to improve how your site appears on mobile without a responsive template:

  • Keep your color palette and branding consistent
  • Stick with a simple layout and avoid multiple pages
  • Resize your font and images to be mobile friendly
  • Reduce the amount of text displayed
  • Use large clickable buttons for calls-to-action

Understand how customers interact with your mobile site

Each week, couples spend over 30% of their time planning their wedding from a mobile or tablet device, which is about 40 minutes a day. During this time, couples are searching for things like wedding checklists, planners, colors, themes, websites, venues, budgets and more. Couples feel that these searches are less “risky” actions to be taking on mobile.

While all businesses need to have a strong mobile presence, it’s important to recognize if the product or service you provide is better suited for a desktop or mobile interaction and adjust content accordingly. While a couple might not create their wedding invitation on a mobile device, they will certainly browse for design inspiration on mobile. Think about what is most valuable to your clients and how you can deliver a great experience, while highlighting the most meaningful content (like providing contact information or sharing inspiring imagery). A good mobile experience does not need to replicate your website but should offer content that makes prospective clients want to take the next step.

Be ready for mobile-first SEO

By optimizing for mobile, you are setting yourself up for mobile-first search engine optimization. Now that mobile searches outnumber desktop searches, Google has been working on a rollout that will create and rank search listings based on the mobile version of content rather than the desktop experience. This project is most likely to launch sometime in 2018 and could negatively impact your search rankings over time if your site is not mobile friendly. You must ensure that your mobile site is at parity to your desktop version.

Having a mobile presence for your wedding business will change the way potential customers interact with your business for the better! Keep these advantages in mind and you’ll reach more couples and keep them coming back to your business.

Sonny GangulySonny leads WeddingWire’s B2C/B2B marketing strategy, customer acquisition, and community development. Sonny is a widely acclaimed speaker, giving over 50 presentations across the globe each year on technology, marketing and strategy. Sonny holds a B.A. in Economics with a focus in Management and Marketing from The University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

» How to Prep for 2018 Wedding Submissions

Photo by Walking Eagle Photography

This article was written by Education Expert, Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting

With the end of the year upon us, it’s a great time to sit down and start mapping out your public relations efforts for 2018. For event professionals, real wedding submissions should be a big part of your strategy. It’s an effective way to get your brand in front of the audiences you’re seeking, and helps to establish you as an influencer in the industry.

Don’t know where to start? Let’s take a look at some of my top tips to follow for submitting.

Get permission

Before you do anything else, you want to make sure that you have not only the photographer’s permission but the client as well. The easiest way to do this is by including it in their contract, but we also recommend talking to them about it beforehand so you know they are on board from the beginning.

Do your homework

This may come as a surprise, but not every blog is right for every wedding. When deciding where to send a submission, sit down and do some research on which blogs are going to be the

right fit. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to send a black tie luxury wedding to a blog that heavily features rustic backyard celebrations. Be sure that you can find complementary events that are recent (within the last year) so you know what the editor is looking for.

It’s all about the details

When selecting images you’re planning to include in the submission, you want to think about it with the editor’s point of view in mind. Remember that they are trying to inspire their readers with trends and fresh ideas, so they will generally give preference to those who include lots of details. You may have adored the couple and want to see their faces all over the feature, but that isn’t what’s going to catch an editor’s eye.

Follow the rules

The biggest mistake you can make when submitting is not following the guidelines for each publication. There is no exact formula to follow, each outlet is distinct and will have different requirements. From image sizing to number of photos to sharing programs, no two are exactly the same. Be sure that you are checking the directions each time you submit a wedding to ensure that you haven’t missed anything.

Develop the story

While the photos will tell part of the story, it’s the couple themselves that editor’s want to hear about. The detail photos are important, but they want to know why the couple selected them, and what personal touches they included. For us, we have a questionnaire that is sent out to couples asking them details about their wedding like inspiration, DIY projects and how they met/got engaged. The couple will love getting involved in the process, and the editor will appreciate all of the detail you have included in the submission.

Include the team

No event is made great by just one person. It takes a team of vendors to bring everything together and make it a success. It’s important that when submitting a wedding you give credit where credit is due by including everyone that was involved. If the wedding gets published, they will appreciate the recognition, and will likely promote it themselves, increasing exposure for your business in turn.

With these tips in mind, you’re sure to kick your 2018 PR plan off with a bang!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.