» Top 4 Questions about LGBTQ Wedding Terminology

education expert

 

 

 

 

gay weddings

Photo by Stephanie W Photography

For the past six years, I’ve been working closely with wedding pros in the WeddingWire family via webinars and conferences. And although the marriage equality landscape and technology available to small businesses has changed dramatically over the course of that time, the most popular questions I receive from pros who want to improve their service offerings to same-sex couples and the larger LGBTQ community have not.

This past Pride month, WeddingWire hosted our annual LGBTQ wedding-focused webinar (Premium members can access it here). As always, we hosted a lively Q&A after my presentation and, as always, I couldn’t get to everyone’s questions. Thus, I decided to take a few more minutes to answer some important – and common – questions about language for those of you who remain curious about improving your business practices to be more inclusive of and successful with LGBTQ couples.


“Do gay couples typically have a ‘Bride & Groom’ or is it ‘Bride and Bride’ or ‘Groom and Groom’? What is the correct term to use for same-sex couples?”

Some variation of this question was the most asked during our recent webinar. And, in fact, has been one of the most popular questions I’ve received over the years. Language is incredibly important in marketing materials (a proactive effort) and in speech (a receptive and service-oriented effort). One of the reasons this question persists is because there is no one-size-fits-all answer, although there are some general best practices to follow.

One of my biggest pet peeves for all couples in the wedding industry is the intensity of the heteronormative, gender-role driven expectations in planning and in the ritual itself. Truly, this limits non-LGBTQ couples as much as it limits LGBTQ couples. In my ideal world, each couple has the opportunity to participate equally in the commitment ritual that is most meaningful and reflective to them. Period.

That said, I offer this short answer to your question: the correct terms to use with a same-sex couple are the terms they themselves prefer. If you aren’t sure because, in your eyes, they appear to falling into a pattern you recognize as a ‘bride role’ and a ‘groom role,’ please ask them how they wish to be addressed and/or how they are referring to the event and their “roles” in it. Never, ever, ever, ever, never ask a couple: “Which one of you is the bride and which one of you is the groom?”

The majority of couples identify as “two brides” or “two grooms,” but this is not always the case. Sometimes couples might get creative with their language (eg, appropriating the term ‘bridegroom’ to mean something a bit more non-binary) and some might choose to go with “bride and groom” and be queer-identified. Just don’t assume.

Please also do your best not to overthink the issue. Be open. Be inclusive. Be welcoming. Be curious. Ask the couple about how they met. What they hope for in their wedding day. How you can best help and support them. And be sure to ask if they have any additional concerns about which you might not have inquired. Finally, be sure to give the couple permission to give you feedback if you’ve made a mistake in the language or approach you are using. Open communication and building relationships is everything. Continue reading

» Millennials: They’re Not All the Same

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I was recently preparing for a new presentation, and among the other interesting information I found, there were several references to articles about millennials. One of them struck a familiar chord, which was that there’s a tendency to generalize about millennials. Whether it’s their communication skills, their shopping style or their work ethic, millennials are the focus of a lot of bashing, for lack of a better word.

There are two, really good reasons why we shouldn’t be bashing millennials: 1) stereotyping an entire generation is short-sighted and prejudicial, and 2) they’re our customers and employees. Saying that all millennials are one thing, or another, is like saying that Gen-X are all the same, or all Baby Boomers are the same. It just isn’t true. Are millennials different than Gen-X or Baby Boomers? Yes, of course, in the same way that Gen-Xers are different than their parents and grandparents. Each generation grows up a product of its environment, media, technology and more.

Digital Immigrants vs. Digital Natives

I’ve said this before, but I’m a digital immigrant. I started selling wedding advertising “B.I.” – before the internet. No, I’m not a dinosaur, or tech averse. Just the opposite. I love technology, and use it throughout my business (says the guy wearing an Apple Watch, listening to music on my iPhone 7 Plus, and writing this on a new MacBook Pro). Technology doesn’t make me sell better, but it does allow me to connect with my audience in a way that wasn’t available when I started. That doesn’t make it better or worse. It just is, what it is. Things are always evolving, are you?

I know lots of millennials who are ambitious, entrepreneurial and have great attitudes. I also know lots of Gen-Xers, and Baby Boomers, who constantly complain about how lazy millennials are and how much easier it was, back in the good old days (whenever that was). The disconnect comes when we pre-judge a prospect (hence the word prejudice). Each customer is entitled to fair treatment. If we assume they’re going to judge us, only on price, we’ll likely do and say things that will attract that kind of behavior. For instance, not putting price on your website, at all, will encourage them to either ask about price, or leave without giving you a chance.

Continue reading

» 4 Ways to Nail Networking: Turning Connections into Powerful Partnerships

This certainly won’t come as a surprise but bears repeating- networking is necessary for growing your business! Building a strong network creates a solid foundation for your company to expand and bring in more business, so if you haven’t been creating opportunities to meet new people, it’s time to reevaluate your schedule and make it a priority.

With that in mind, being strategic about your networking is the best way to ensure that you’re getting to know the right people and making the best impression possible. Here are some of my best practices for putting your best foot forward:

Choose events that fit your brand

There are many wedding and event industry associations that help bring professionals together, but they are each unique in their own ways. Do some research into the organizations around your area to see which best suits your brand and your values. If you find that the selection is limited in your market, consider starting your own group. Grab a few of your like-minded peers and start meeting regularly, then promote your meetings to other professionals in the area. Chances are they’ve been looking for the same opportunity as well!

Prepare as much as possible

Before attending a networking event, do your homework and find out who else is attending. Note anybody that you’d like to meet, so you can keep your focus while mingling. While you’re at it, research the venue and the sponsors of the event so you can get an idea of who is responsible (and who to thank at the end of the night!). Pick out an outfit that makes you feel confident and double check that your business cards are ready to go.

Continue reading

» Wow Your Clients with Our Custom Snapchat Wedding Filters

Chances are, your clients are often seeking new, creative ways to personalize their big day and create a unique experience for their guests. According to WeddingWire’s 2017 Newlywed Report, nearly 50 percent plan their wedding around a specific theme, and almost 25 percent create a signature cocktail for their reception.

snapchat filters custom weddingsKnowing the popularity of social media and the importance of personalization in the wedding planning process, WeddingWire has joined forces with Snapchat to allow couples to personalize their Snapchat wedding filters, schedule start and end time, set their geofence and pay conveniently all in one place. Couples can now create artfully designed, custom wedding Snapchat Geofilters for their wedding events directly on WeddingWire.

We put together a brief guide so that you can share this new feature with your clients to help them personalize their wedding and delight their guests.

 

Quick Guide to WeddingWire’s Customizable Snapchat Geofilters

  • How do you make a custom geofilter? Simply visit the Snapchat Geofilter page on WeddingWire.com and follow the steps to start building a custom filter. Each filter design includes customizable text fields and fonts allowing couples to make the filter their own.
  • What designs are available? In addition to dozens of signature WeddingWire designs, WeddingWire has also partnered with leading brands such as Lilly Pulitzer, Paper Source, and Tuckernuck, allowing couples to choose from a variety of themes and styles.
  • snapchat filtersHow do the geofilters work? Geofilters are available in a select location, for a limited time, based on the couple’s specific event details. The couple designs and purchases the geofilter between 1-90 days before the event. During the event, guests pull up their Snapchat app, take a photo, and swipe right to add the filter!
  • How much do they cost? Pricing is variable: Snapchat sets the filter cost proportional to the desired length of time and selected size of the geofence. As you enter your selections in Step 3, the price automatically updates accordingly.
  • How can I use this tool in my business? You can tell your clients about this tool as a creative idea that they can incorporate into their wedding and/or other celebratory events; they’ll be delighted that you shared this with them! What’s more, anyone can create a custom geofilter, not just the couple! You could also offer to create a custom filter for the couples you serve – just be sure to run the design by them before purchasing it.

Head on over to the Snapchat geofilters page on WeddingWire to check it out for yourself!

» Summer Reading List for Wedding Businesses

It’s summer and that means you’re in the midst of peak wedding season- who has time to read? Hear me out! When it comes to business development, you don’t want to fall behind no matter how packed your weekends are and reading the latest and greatest in business books is an easy way to stay ‘in the know.’ That way, you can hit the ground running when winter hits and you find yourself with more time on your hands. So, grab your sunscreen, some iced tea and relax outside with one or more of these bestsellers!

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

A fun fact about me: back in the day, I was once an intern at the Nike headquarters outside of Portland! So of course, the moment Phil Knight released this book I jumped at the chance to read it. It’s filled with tons of great stories about the early days of Nike, how he set himself apart from the competition, ignored the nay-sayers, and ultimately created a $30 billion company. For me, personal stories are the most effective way to inspire, and Knight’s story does just that.

Superbosses by Sydney Finkelstein

As business owners, we all have different styles when it comes to being a leader. Finkelstein’s book dives deep into what makes someone not just a good boss, but a superboss. Creating an effective master-apprentice relationship, the cohort effect, and how to say goodbye when the time is right are just a few examples covered in this must read. I am constantly searching for new and innovative ways to improve my leadership skills and this book has been a phenomenal resource.

The Power of Broke by Daymond John

As a fan of the show Sharktank, I was very excited to pick up Daymond John’s new book. In it, he talks about starting what would eventually become FUBU with just $40 in his bank account, as well as the out-of-the-box ways he promoted his products. John points out that desperation can drive your passion and push your creativity, efficiency, and innovation to the limits. If you like to run a lean business (I do!), then this is the book for you.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Yes, you’re a business owner, but working in the wedding industry means you’re probably also a creative at heart. Elizabeth Gilbert has been a long time favorite writer of mine and, in her newest book, she’s sharing her views on how to live a more creative life by being curious, braver, and more open-minded. Gilbert’s style will have you not wanting to put this book down and thinking about it long after you’re finished.

Enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation this summer in between weddings with one of these great books- you won’t be sorry!

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. 

 

» 5 Ways To Show Your LGBTQ Pride This June

This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings, 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.

Each June, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community celebrates Pride Month to commemorate the 1969 uprising in New York City at the Stonewall Inn (which was designated as a national monument in 2016). Many, including the Library of Congress, refer to Stonewall as a “tipping point” for the Gay Liberation Movement. Though some cities celebrate Pride in months other than June, most — including Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC and San Francisco — celebrate this month with festivals, workshops, events and marches.

In the spirit of “Gay Pride” and a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies, I invite you to consider choosing at least one of these five suggestions to show your Pride as a wedding pro who is ready, willing and able to serve (and serve well!) same-sex couples.

Attend A Pride Event

Every city does Pride differently, but all generally offer a festive, creative and colorful atmosphere. Though many Pride events are rooted in marches and platforms raising awareness for and requesting equal rights for LGBTQ persons, they also offer social opportunities (which served an important role in the days when most of our community was closeted and isolated) and celebration.

If you’ve never been to Pride before, it’s a great way to see the community in all its glory. From drag queens and floats to marching bands, families and religious organizations, the annual parades have it all. Many of the festivals feature advertisers and sponsors at booths, along with local resource organizations hoping to connect with the community. Some Pride celebrations have featured entertainers and speakers (both national and local) on stage and others have workshops and parties in the week leading up to the march, parade and/or festival.

Attending doesn’t mean you have to join in the parade or march yourself, but you are welcome to join informally (I’ve just jumped in to walk in years past) or formally (by organizing your own group or walking with one with whom you are affiliated). You can also mingle with folks at the festival, watch the parade or look for digital coverage of the events to enjoy Pride virtually.

Find a Pride near you with HRC’s Pride search tool.

Share Your Pride

The LGBTQ community loves to encounter its allies as we are always on the lookout for safe spaces. Even today.

Did you attend Pride? Blog about it! Share your photos and moments of celebration via your social media channels. Interview couples you met at Pride to learn more about their wedding planning needs (past, present or future) and post the Q & A.

Were you unable to attend a Pride event? Add a pridemoji or GayWeddings logo to your site or social media feeds. Create a rainbow-themed version of your logo for the month of June or find a filter from an organization that supports the LGBTQ community and use it. Whether you are LGBTQ-identified or an ally, June offers a great excuse to show more visibility than you already do or to start doing so now.

lgbtq wedding pride

Photo by Derek Chad Photography

Learn More

Still feeling a little overwhelmed and nervous about attending a Pride event in person? I certainly know the feeling! It reminds me of how I felt before I attended my first Pride in Philadelphia in 1991. If you identify as straight and/or cisgender and are feeling nervous about being seen at Pride, this is a valuable insight. It will help you to understand how LGBTQ persons and couples may feel about approaching uncertain “mainstream” situations or weddings professionals. This is a great time to learn more via books, blogs and other digital resources.

Even if you are yourself LGBTQ-identified and/or a Pride veteran, it’s always important to keep learning. Especially since the needs of today’s younger engaged couples are evolving from what couples from the past 20 years needed. Read about the history of Stonewall. Browse GayWeddings’ LGBTQ Wedding Planning Guide. Explore GayWeddings. Read up on LGBTQ Heritage. Learn more about what the Q means and why we’ve added it to LGBT.

Review Your Business Description and Mission

Take this opportunity to show your pride by reviewing the language you use to describe your business. Are you still using the word ‘bridal’ or ‘brides’ to reference your clients? Unless you only work with women, please update your language to be inclusive of all couples by using “brides and grooms” or “engaged couples.” Make sure you are speaking to a wide audience everywhere you advertise. Do you include same-sex couples in your portfolio, advertisements, social media posts or website images? Do you follow social media sources, LGBTQ publications and blogs that specialize in the LGBTQ niche? Add them to your list and RT or share LGBTQ news or inspirational content with your followers and prospective clients.

Sharpen Your Business Practices

Register for the WeddingWireEDU webinar I’ll be hosting on June 20 for Premium members. Not a premium subscriber? Contact your CSM today to learn more about how an upgraded listing can help you generate more leads and access the professional development you need to sharpen your business practices to be more inclusive of all couples.

» From Margins to Mainstream: A Decade of Change For Same-Sex Weddings

Education WeddingKathryn HammThis post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings, 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.

On May 1, 2007, Tim Chi and the founding members of the WeddingWire team sat down in his pink living room in Maryland to change the wedding industry by introducing technology built to connect wedding pros and “brides” in the wedding planning process.

Meanwhile, just across the Potomac River in neighboring Virginia, I was taking a look at
the explosive growth of our site traffic (a YOY increase of almost 700%) at GayWeddings.com, which we had updated the previous year from our original sites (TwoBrides.com & TwoGrooms.com). The
Dallas Morning News had recently referred to me and my straight mom, who founded our business, as “some of the most knowledgeable experts on commitment ceremonies in the country;” and the only state that recognized “gay marriage” (the term commonly used at the time) was Massachusetts. Most weddings were ceremonies that had no legal component, and the couples who were seeking legal recognition lived in or traveled to Massachusetts or to Canada, where marriage had been legalized in 2005.

It’s hard to believe that 10 short years ago, the landscape for online wedding planning and same-sex marriage was so vastly different. The market still had a traditional feel to it: most couples planned using binders and “bridal shows,” we used different language to describe our ceremonies and customers, and pursuing a marriage license or experiencing federally-recognized marriage equality seemed like an unattainable milestone for the majority of same-sex couples. Even LGBT advocacy groups at the time, with the exception of Freedom to Marry, were hesitant to push for marriage equality over workplace protections and other initiatives.

FlowersWhen did marriage equality and same-sex weddings come to your awareness? When did you begin to advertise your services to lesbian brides and gay grooms? Here are a few special LGBTQ wedding memories from GayWeddings, framed against a backdrop of WeddingWire’s 10th anniversary. We hope you’ll share a few of your stories and milestones with us as well!

Same-Sex Marriage Map, State by State (Pew Research Center)

Detailed Map of Gay Marriage in America (2014) (New York Times)

2008 ::  Connecticut became the second state to legalize same-sex marriage and California’s Supreme Court legalized marriage until a ballot measure known as Prop 8 overturned the decision. In the short span of months where marriage was recognized in California, 18,000 couples rushed to City Hall and GayWeddings’ business was booming. As one of the few resources available to couples and professionals, we were a stop along the planning journey for most same-sex couples, and we received dozens of inquiries from national and local press outlets. Meanwhile, legislators reacted defensively in Arizona and Florida and passed Constitutional Amendments banning same-sex marriage. The New York times ran a piece featuring yours truly and my industry peer, Bernadette Smith of the Gay Wedding Institute.

2009 ::  Along came Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont, with Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty signing a bill of his own for the District. With more options for legal marriage, couples were weighing options about how, when and if to have a ceremony and this was especially relevant for couples in the Metro DC area who might live in a state where marriage wasn’t recognized (VA or MD), but could easily travel a few miles to get legally married. The Washington Post took a look at some of the conversations that local couples were having as they weighed their legal choices on the weeks leading up to marriage equality.

2010 :: Momentum was building quickly. Washington, D.C. marriages began, with the US Capitol as backdrop, and the stage was set for New York to follow on its heels. Meanwhile, we, at GayWeddings, realized that, much as we enjoyed being a small family-run business, that the bigger wedding planning sites in the market were catching on to the need to serve same-sex couples. The tide was truly beginning to turn as the industry grew to be more open to the conversation. At GayWeddings, we understood that we were headed toward full inclusivity, and wanted to find a business partner with whom we could work toward that end.

Enter Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire, with whom I had a lunch that led to a milestone conversation. He introduced me to Tim Chi and the executive team and WeddingWire, and I prepared myself to pitch them on why marriage equality matters and the ways in which same-sex couples continued to be underserved. Their response? Complete acceptance and engagement. For the first time since my mom and I had begun our work in 1999, we encountered a “mainstream” influencer who had no qualms, self-consciousness or worries about open including and celebrating same-sex weddings.

Gay Wedding Trends: A 2015 Year-in-Review Snapshot2011 :: Following our preliminary planning work in 2010, GayWeddings launched its partnership with WeddingWire in January of 2011. With a flip of the switch, our “gay-friendly” vendor directory became the largest catalog of more than 20,000 wedding pros who were “ready, willing & able” to serve same-sex couples. That same year, Hawaii approved civil unions and New York legalized marriage equality, which (the New York City media market being what it is) created a tidal wave that was felt nationwide. The storyline about “gay weddings” being “big business” (like this CNN Money article) was the primary headline and wedding pros who hadn’t yet been paying attention began to be more open about considering the needs of and the opportunity in working with same-sex couples.

2012 :: The legal tide changed with a new twist in that voters (not judges and not legislators) in Maryland, Maine and Washington state approved same-sex marriage laws through popular vote. Our vendor directory grew to more than 35,000 wedding pros and we updated our language to be more inclusive, referring to it as “LGBT-friendly” rather than “gay-friendly.” I also found myself as an inaugural speaker of the first ever WeddingWire World at The Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Conferences had begun to be more inclusive of same-sex weddings in breakout groups, but WeddingWire was the first national conference (to my knowledge) to offer the topic from the main stage.

2013 :: Count this year as one of the most important years in the progress toward marriage equality. Two big rulings were issued from the Supreme Court. Thanks to the case of Edie Windsor, who sued as a result of the federal tax she paid upon the death of her spouse, the court struck down part of the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), which allowed couples who were legally married in their home states to also receive federal marriage recognition. Additionally, the Supreme Court refused to hear the challenge to marriage recognition in California thus reversing Prop 8 and opening the door to the return of marriage equality in California. Many couples (like my wife and I) used this opportunity to get legally married for the federal recognition, even if in-state recognition remained out of reach.

2014 :: By this point, as a regular speaker on the wedding industry circuit, I often found that, when I would say “marriage equality” from the stage, wedding pros would cheer. The joy and excitement was palpable. In fact, we found that the vast majority of pros we surveyed at the time said they were ready, willing and able to serve same-sex couples and our newly named “LGBTQ-friendly” directory surpassed 100,000 wedding pros. Meanwhile, there was still work to be done to provide a safe and open space for those wedding pros who had questions about same-sex weddings, had some religious reservations about participating, or otherwise were new to the conversation. At conferences, my favorite conversations were the ones with deeply thoughtful pros who were struggling with the new reality of marriage equality, but trusted me enough to talk through their concerns.

Legally speaking, appeals courts rulings struck down same-sex marriage bans in multiple states, but one appeals court upheld a constitutional ban making it clear that the next stop was the Supreme Court for all the proverbial marbles. Oh, and photographer Thea Dodds and I re-released our self-published book, Capturing Love, as The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography, under the imprint of Amphoto Books.

What does the post-marriage equality market look like for gay and lesbian couples?2015 :: A year I’ll never forget. In the early months of 2015, we completed the paperwork for WeddingWire to acquire GayWeddings, and shortly thereafter, on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. One of the proudest moments of my life was standing with my mom and many members of the WeddingWire team on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. as the decision was handed down. WiFi coverage was sparse and digital channels were congested because of the crowd, but word spread quickly and the cheers were contagious as we learned that same-sex couples could now marry in any state in the US. As the year closed, I launched a new initiative — #BridalRebrand — and invited professionals to take their efforts toward inclusivity to a whole new level.

2016 :: In order to help others better understand the needs of same-sex couples (particularly wedding professionals and reporters who cover wedding trends), we worked with Bernadette Smith, Community Marketing & Insights and the WedInsights team at WeddingWire to develop the most comprehensive and disciplined study of current wedding trends for all couples: the 2016 Study of Contemporary Couples & Wedding Trends. This national survey featured the largest sample of respondents and, unlike any other survey to date, asked the same questions of LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ couples — from identity to wedding ritual preferences to fears of rejections. The results were eye-opening.

2017 :: Ten years after the founding of WeddingWire and 18 years after the founding of GayWeddings, I hardly remember a time I wasn’t working with the WeddingWire team to improve inclusivity in the wedding market. I’m proud to be supporting not only the inclusion of same-sex couples, but also love lobbying the industry for more openness to serving men (straight or gay!) and other underserved couples who don’t feel that the market reflects them.


When it comes to love, there’s plenty of room for all of us. So, keep leading with love, listening with love and serving with love. In so doing, you can’t go wrong!

» What’s Changed (and What’s the Same!): Weddings Then & Now

Over the last decade, we’ve seen couples’ expectations for their weddings change and technology grow to play a critical role in helping them plan. As we continue to celebrate our 10th Anniversary this month, we’re taking a look at the evolution of wedding planning since our launch in 2007. We compiled data from nearly 15,000 couples who married during the last 10 years, and here’s what we learned…

» @WeddingWire’s Top 10 Instagram Posts + 10 Social Tips for Your Business

This article was written by Halie Greening, Senior Social Media Specialist at WeddingWire.

As the social media team behind the @wedddingwire handle, we spend our days analyzing the content that resonates with engaged couples, developing creative ways to connect with our audience, and staying on top of trends in the social sphere. In honor of WeddingWire’s 10th Anniversary this month, we compiled our top 10 Instagram posts of 2017 with the highest engagement, along with 10 social media insights that you can use today to boost your business’ social media strategy.

Tip #1: Heartfelt Moments Boost Engagement

Our followers love the moments that tug at their heartstrings, and rightfully so. There’s something special about reading the raw emotion that shines through this sweet note from a groom to his soon-to-be-wife on their wedding day that made this post so popular. Heartfelt moments target your followers’ pathos; find everyday moments that hit home and you’ve got yourself your next successful Instagram post. (Photo by @sarabeephoto)

Tip #2:  Your Followers Are Your Best Content Creators

Some of our best content, which is often ring selfies and celebratory #justsaidyes moments, comes from our biggest fans – our followers! Sharing content from your followers will make them feel heard and loved, AND it’s a great way to curate authentic, on-brand imagery (without having to create it from scratch). Get into the habit of regularly asking your clients if you can repost their photos. Always be sure to ask permission first, and of course tag them in the photo. Are you a florist? Ask your couples to tag you in their wedding photos so you get notified when you’ve been mentioned. Their #TBT to their gorgeous wedding bouquet = your Saturday morning post to remind your followers to “Stop and smell the roses!” (Ring: @brilliantearth)

Tip #3: Candid Moments Are ALWAYS a Good Idea

Posed portraits and carefully arranged photos can achieve a specific aesthetic, but sometimes it’s the relatable, candid moments that deliver the highest engagement. Moments like this one of a groom crying as he sees his beautiful bride for the first time will captivate your audience and bring in the likes. Consider sharing authentic behind-the-scenes photos of you in action, or maybe a genuine moment between you and your clients. The most compelling posts are often those unplanned shots. (Photo by @jordanvoth)

Tip #4: Find Your Brand BFFs and Build Each Other Up

If your brand or business were a person, who would they hang out with? What would you have in common with your circle of friends? We’ve got a few brand BFFs (all of our amazing wedding professionals!) who we admire for their unique brand stories. Two ways we strengthen our friendships are content swaps and contests (like this Lilly Pulitzer giveaway photo). Whether it be an overlapping demographic or a similar aesthetic, find wedding pros you consider to be your brand friends and coordinate content swaps with them. Do you arrange amazing bouquets and they bake drool-worthy cakes? Why not switch up your content mix with a photo of a delicious sweet treat, and offer them a photo of some stunning stems to share.

Tip #5: Find the “me” and “we” that makes your content relatable!

Ever tag your friend in a post you come across in your social feed because it instantly reminds you of them? Choose content that will make your audience think, “that’s SO me” or “my fiancé and I would TOTALLY do that.” Even if it’s just a shot of you and your Monday morning coffee in a cute mug with a cheeky caption, or maybe a fun peek into your weekend plans, it showcases your human side. Your followers will love to see what you have in common. (Photo by @michellelangephoto)

Tip #6: Find an Aesthetic That Fits Your Style and Stick With it

Just like your outfits, you don’t want your Instagram grid to clash. Keeping a consistent feel to your photos and ensuring that your feed looks cohesive is key making a strong brand impression. Give yourself a color palette you want your imagery to stay within. Create a grid for the week to layout how your images will look alongside one another. Find balance. Love a black and white photo to break up the feed, but typically post vibrant pictures? Balance it out by breaking them up in rows or squares, thinking of your feed in a more symmetrical manner. Whatever your style, create guidelines for yourself and stick with it. (Photo by @sarahlibbyphoto)

Tip #7:  Strong CTA’s = Strong Engagement

Want new followers? Want more likes on your photos? Sometimes the best way to get what you want is to ask! One of our best practices is the classic, direct “call to action” in a caption. Nothing encourages engagement more than telling your followers exactly what it is that you want them to do. Even better, if you’re ever stuck on a catchy caption, pull a “Double tap if…” a “Tag someone who…” or a “Comment below with…” out of your back pocket and not only have you solved your writer’s block, but you’ve also just told your audience exactly what you’re expecting from them when they look at your photo! (Photo by @maycarlson)

Tip #8: If it’s not broken, don’t fix it…build on it!

Donuts, dogs and jaw-dropping ceremony backdrops. What do these all have in common? They get people double-tapping like there’s no tomorrow. As a social team we’ve seen how well photos with these themes perform time and time again on our feed due to how strongly they resonate with our audience. Knowing that these pieces of content easily capture our followers’ attention, we are always on the lookout for content with these elements. Start by auditing your feed and identifying which types of content have performed the best in the past to help guide your content choices in the future. Taking a peek at popular posts from other wedding industry feeds will inevitably provide content inspiration, too. (Ring: @tacoriofficial)

Tip #9: Take note of what’s on trend, then tweak it!

Part of having a strong social media strategy is not only paying attention to what works well for you, but also staying in-the-know about current trends. Whether it’s the Pantone color of the year or the latest decor craze, showcasing trends on your social media tells your followers you are a knowledgeable, reliable source for what’s current in the wedding industry. Of course, staying on-brand and sticking to your style is important, so be picky about the trends you embrace and explore ways to incorporate your unique perspective. (Photo by @bretthickmanphoto)

Tip #10: Stop Their Thumbs in Their Tracks

Ever find yourself mesmerized by a video of a cocktail being made or a delicious dish coming together, ingredient by ingredient? THOSE are the videos that are pure gold. We quickly realized after re-gramming a video by Laura Hooper Calligraphy how much our audience enjoys watching calligraphy come to life before their eyes. So what did we do about it? We met up with Laura Hooper to have her write a variety of phrases that we could capture on video and add to our Instagram arsenal. Try taking quick videos of content relevant to your business. Speed them up, slow them down, reverse them. You’ll captivate your audience and stop those thumbs right in their tracks! (Calligraphy by @lhcalligraphy)

» A Decade of Change: How the Industry Has Evolved

 

 

 

alan bergThis 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.

As WeddingWire celebrates its 10th anniversary, I wanted to reflect on the last 10 years in our industry. We’ve been through some interesting times. The economy has gone through some wild swings, and we’ve experienced major ups and downs in politics. However, as I reflect on what’s happened, I’m reminded of the old saying: The more things change, the more they remain the same.

I’ve lived through many more than 10 years in our industry, and some things are constant. We should all be grateful that we’re in a recession-resistant industry. Regardless of the economic climate, people are still getting married. Yes, how much they spend, and how they spend it changes, but that’s not just a factor of the economy. Styles change. Trends change. Attitudes and priorities change. Yet, through all of that, people still get married.

We’re really lucky


I often remind wedding pros, like you, that we chose an industry that has couples spending billions of dollars on their weddings, and they are not required to do so. There’s no law that says you have to have a party to celebrate your marriage. There are laws about getting legally married. But, there are no laws about having food, pictures, music, flowers, fashion, etc. Those are discretionary purchases. Most discretionary purchases are highly affected by the economy, swinging with it up and down. Not weddings. Weddings happen, no matter what.

My theory on this (not scientific, just one man’s opinion) is that no one goes into their wedding thinking it’s practice for the next time. We all hope, and many of us are right, that it’s one and done. My parents just celebrated their 63rd anniversary, a benchmark we’d all like to achieve. So, we spend boatloads of money, celebrating the occasion. We should be thankful, every day.

Here are a few of my observations about the last decade:

Technology – If there’s one thing that’s constant, it’s changing technology. Sure, we all had websites 10 years ago, or knew we needed them, but the underlying technology of them is always changing. Much of what we used to do only on desktop computers, we now do on our mobile devices. It’s not better, or worse; it’s just different. For many of you, the technology of your service has changed. Think DJs going from LPs to CDs to all-digital music. Does that make you a better DJ? No. But, it helps you help your couples.

Communication – Whether it’s Facebook Messenger, LiveChat, Texting or WhatsApp, lots of new communication platforms have come along in the last 10 years. I hated Facebook Messenger when it first arrived. I didn’t think I needed it, as I already had phone, email and text. I quickly learned to love it, as clients, and potential clients, started to reach out to me through it. I can attribute real dollars to conversations that were started through Facebook Messenger, texting and WhatsApp. Today, I’ll embrace almost any technology that my clients want to use to connect with me.

Social Media – Here’s a statement of the obvious: social media has fundamentally changed our lives. Whether it’s for the better, or worse, is up to you to decide. All I know is that 10 years ago I wasn’t investing the time I do today in social media. Where did we get that time? What are we not doing now, that we were doing with that time 10 years ago? We didn’t get any more time, so it had to get shifted from other activities. That said, I use particular social media platforms because I get positive return on my investment in time and effort, and yes, money (if I buy an ad, or boost a post). Many of the wedding pros I meet, and consult with, have no idea if they’re getting any return on their investments. They do it because they feel they have to. Did you jump into the deep end of the social media pool, because everyone else was in the pool? Or, did you first learn how to be a great swimmer, and then jump in?

Social Proof – Here’s a phrase we weren’t using 10 years ago. According to a WeddingWire study, nearly 90% of consumers trust online reviews, as much as personal recommendations. So, while 10 years ago couples were asking their friends, family and coworkers for recommendations, now, with over 3 million reviews on WeddingWire alone, they can go online and find out who you really are. I’ve said this many times: your brand is defined by what your customers say about you, after they’ve worked with you. You need to be highlighting your reviews everywhere: on your website (not just on a testimonials page, as no one goes there) and in your marketing. You need to be actively involved in the process, responding to your good reviews, requesting reviews and yes, addressing anything negative, quickly and professionally. Your brand and your reputation is out there, for everyone to see… whether you choose to see it or not. Be involved.

Sales – Here’s something that hasn’t fundamentally changed. Sales is, and will always be, about people. Yes, you’ll use different technologies in your process, but ultimately, it’s people, buying from people. If you learn how to effectively help people buy, the technology is inconsequential. Artificial intelligence is a long way from being able to take the job of a salesperson in your business. You need to make a connection. You need to ask better questions. You need to really listen to the answers, and then show the customer how you, and only you, can deliver the results they want. That hasn’t changed in the last 10 years, and it’s not going to change in the next decade, if ever. If there’s one skill you need to hone, whether you’ve been selling for 20 minutes, or 20 years, it’s your sales skills. If you don’t make the sale, you don’t get to ply your craft and show your skills. It’s that simple.

So, what’s happened in the last 10 years? I remember first meeting Tim and Sonny at the Wedding MBA conference, 10 years ago. I was impressed with them, even though I was a competitor at the time. I’ve watched, from the sidelines, as WeddingWire has grown, and matured, yet still manages to remain nimble, something that’s not easy to do. I’m proud to be connected with WeddingWire for over 5 years now, and I’m looking forward to the next 10. I wish you all a decade of success!

» Top 10 Roundup: Most Popular Wedding Business Tips

A lot has changed in the wedding industry over the last 10 years, which has challenged wedding professionals to change with it. Since WeddingWire launched in 2007, we’ve shared marketing advice, expert education, and technology tips to help you manage and grow your business. While the rise of technology has dramatically changed the ways that wedding professionals connect with and book potential clients, many of the core principles of running a successful wedding business remain the same.

Here is a list of our top 10 most read articles of all time, containing some of our most essential business tips, insights, and marketing advice that are still just as relevant today:

#1 – Why Do Couples Ask About Price First?

#2 – Top Wedding Trends for 2017

#3 – 5 Ways You’re Losing The Sale

#4 – Business Branding: Consider Your Color!

#5 – How Are Weddings Changing? WeddingWire 2017 Newlywed Survey

#6 – What to Do When They Don’t Respond

#7 – How to Deal with Pricing Questions

#8 – 6 Ways to Optimize Your Website for Leads

#9 – How to Respond to a Negative Review

#10 – How Should You Politely Tell A Client ‘I Don’t Do That’?

» WeddingWire World LA 2017: Recap

Thank you to all of the wedding professionals who joined us for World LA 2017!

Our team was thrilled to be on the West coast for WeddingWire World LA at the Anaheim Marriott on May 1-2. From the engaging educational sessions to the electric networking night reception (and everything in between!), we are still buzzing as we reflect on two amazing days.

Thanks to our amazing attendees for all the posts, comments, and memories shared! Be sure to catch up on all the action by checking out #WWWorld on Instagram and Twitter.

World LA 2017 highlights included:

  • Two fabulous featured speakers: Candace Nelson, Founder and Pastry Chef of Sprinkles, and celebrity Event Planner Mindy Weiss of Mindy Weiss Party Consultants
  • Educational sessions on dozens of topics including pricing, PR, trends, branding, sales, SEO, marketing, product strategy, client communications, and much more.
  • Main stage and breakout sessions from our WeddingWire Education Experts and Contributors Alan Berg, Meghan Ely, Kathryn Hamm and Bethel Nathan.
  • Engaging pro panel discussions on topics including growth strategies for early stage businesses, destination weddings, today’s diverse couples, reviews and online reputation, and insights for seasoned business.
  • The opportunity for attendees to meet with our Customer Success team members one-on-one during the conference.
  • The WeddingWire Lounge, including complimentary professional headshots taken on-site by Jim Kennedy Photographers, a speaker table where attendees could engage with our speakers and WeddingWire executives, and interactive booths by GayWeddings and LiveBooks.
  • Special prizes and giveaways throughout both days – Amazon Echos, a new smart phone, books authored by our speakers, and more.
  • A rocking Networking Night Reception, including grilled cheese and taco stations, an open bar, new connections, and a packed dance floor!

All attendees will receive the slides from all presentations, so keep an eye on your inbox!

Finally, we’d like to extend one more big thank you to all the partners who made World LA 2017 possible:

Blueprint Studios
Fat Head
Jason Jani and SCE Event Group
Jim Kennedy Photographers
KIND Bars
Life Event Films
Michelle Marie Beauty
Omni Booth
Rob Ferre, Life of the Party
Susan’s Floral Design

Thank you again to all the wedding professionals who traveled from far and wide to join us this year. We’ve picked some of our favorite photos from World LA below, and you can check out the full album on our Facebook page!

World DC 2017: August 14-15

If you missed World LA, we’d love to have you join us at WeddingWire World DC on August 14-15, 2017! Tickets are on sale now– visit the World DC website for details and tickets.