Megan Hayes is a Regional Manager of the Customer Success Team at WeddingWire. As a client-facing customer advocate with 6+ years of experience in both account management and online advertising, she’s now taken her experience and travels nationally speaking on topics to empower small businesses with industry trends. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies with a Public Relations concentration from James Madison University.
One of the oldest (yet often overlooked) challenges in the wedding industry is that of diversity. While society has led us to think a certain way based on what’s portrayed to us in media outlets such as magazines and television, the reality is that today’s couples reflect a variety of ages, ethnicities, races, sexual orientations, and financial backgrounds.
Just think: How many times have you seen a young bride standing alone on the cover of a wedding magazine? Does she represent all of your wedding clients? The short answer, of course, is no. We all know that, yet you wouldn’t know that from the imagery and language used in the majority of wedding-related media.
Whether it’s your business website, your social networks, or ads in wedding magazines, only catering to one type of client could mean that your website (and marketing materials) could be turning away potential clients. According to a recent WedInsights fact sheet, 40% of straight grooms and 50% of brides and grooms of color say it is challenging to see themselves reflected in the content and imagery of magazines and online resources. Additionally, same-sex couples and those with lower household income are also more likely to say they experience this challenge.
It’s important to remember that all types of couples are looking for inspiration and relatability to help them with their decision-making needs throughout the wedding planning process. If couples can’t relate to or identify their own similarities within your work, this might deter them from considering your services. Conversely, our data shows that representing more diverse audiences can actually benefit your business. According to our 2016 Survey of Contemporary Couples & Current Wedding Trends, 98% of same-sex couples surveyed feel positively about a company featuring same-sex imagery on their websites and marketing collateral.
And diversity doesn’t only matter to those who aren’t represented in mainstream media. That same study indicates that 53% of opposite-sex couples have the same positive sentiment; half (49%) find it important for their vendors to be inclusive and provide services for all types of couples.
Over the years, companies have taken an initiative to step away from the stereotypical imagery to a more inclusive outlook on society. We’re starting to see a shift in focus with well-known brands launching campaigns tht promote real people such as Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign and Campbell Soup’s #RealRealLife Campaign. Additionally, companies like General Mills, Swiffer and Coca-Cola are great examples of established companies that have followed a similar strategy towards representing the realism of today’s culture through online marketing campaigns, print ads, commercials, and branded hashtags.
Take a second and think about the couples you’ve worked with in the past year. Now take a look at your advertising. Does your advertising display the broad array of body shapes, ages, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, or even personal styles of the couples you service? Are all of your recent clients reflected in your marketing materials? If your answer is no, here are some suggestions for how you can incorporate more diverse couples within your website, WeddingWire Storefront, and other online listings:
- Display an assorted representation of couples you’ve worked with through visual content such as your main image, photo albums, and video content
- Select all of the types of weddings you service within your FAQ to make it clear to same-sex couples whether or not you are open to LGBTQ clients
- Consider your social presence and the couples you’re using to feature in your blogs, social media, and website
If you haven’t yet worked with enough couples to represent all of the types of couples you wish to serve, consider purchasing stock imagery to fill in so couples who wouldn’t be represented in your own imagery can still relate (unless you’re a photographer). Or select imagery that doesn’t focus on people, if possible. Shifting the focus from the people in the photos to the details – such as a close up of your bouquet or place settings – alleviates the possibility that a potential client may not feel included.
And don’t forget: Language is also a big factor in making underrepresented couples feel welcome! Use inclusive language within your About Us section – i.e. use “couples” in place of “brides” wherever possible, since same-sex couples as well as straight grooms will not be able to identify with what you’re trying to say. Small changes can go a long way towards helping all types of couples feel comfortable reaching out and working with your business.
To learn more about diversity and inclusivity, read WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm’s post on bridal bias.