» Please Be Seated: Check Out the Brand-New Reception Seating Guide!

For couples in the home stretch of wedding planning, creating a seating chart is an important task that can be a source of stress (and procrastination!) for many. The WeddingWire Editorial and Design teams created the new Reception Seating Guide to help couples plan out their reception seating—providing both etiquette advice and style inspiration. This is definitely a great guide to share with your couples in the later stages of wedding planning (the seating chart is usually created during the last few weeks before the big day!).

Check out the WeddingWire Reception Seating Guide here »

» WeddingWire Networking Night Tampa

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at The Rusty Pelican for WeddingWire Networking Night Tampa!

At the Networking Night, wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy an waterfront venue space, network with other local vendors across all service categories, and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned from a panel of their peers on the challenges and opportunities in the Tampa wedding market, moderated by Senior B2B Marketing Manager, Colleen Duggan.

Thank you to all the wonderful professionals who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the evening below.

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Robert from Mobile Mixology!

» 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’?

» How to Get Engaged Couples to Follow You on Instagram

how to get engaged couples to follow you on instagram

If you market your business with Instagram, you know the struggle almost every wedding vendor experiences at some point. You want engaged couples to follow you and see your posts, but no matter how hard you try, it seems like the only people you can get following you and engaging with your posts are other wedding professionals.

There are three main reasons for this:

  1. Many businesses set up bots that automatically like photos and follow users who use specific hashtags. If you use those hashtags, you may get followed by lots of other vendors automatically. This is a problem that is difficult to avoid, so don’t worry about these likes and followers.
  2. You may not be using enough or the best hashtags to reach couples.
  3. You may not be actively searching for engaged couples on Instagram or interacting with them, which makes it difficult for you to reach them. If you have tried to do this, you may struggle with trying to find users who are engaged in your area.

So how can you fix these issues and get real engaged couples to follow and engage with you?

Fix your hashtags

One of the easiest ways to start reaching couples on Instagram is to use hashtags strategically. Start by using 20-30 hashtags per post, and always put the hashtags in the first comment. This will maximize your reach and make sure your caption doesn’t look cluttered with hashtags.

Next, go to the profiles of successful competitors in your area. Take note of the hashtags they commonly use in their posts, and use them in your own. Think about which hashtags engaged couples are likely to search for on Instagram and use those, as well.

Here are some ideas for hashtags to use:

  • Location specific hashtags (examples: #nycweddingplanner, #PAweddingphotographer, #nashvilleweddings, etc.)
  • Wedding inspiration hashtags (examples: #weddingdetails, #weddingphotoideas, #fallweddinginspiration, etc.)
  • Branded hashtags to promote your business (examples: #MADbeautiful, #whitneyweddings, #howbostongetsengaged, etc.)

Use the LLLF strategy to reach couples

LLLF stands for like-like-like-follow. The strategy involves finding couples’ Instagram accounts, engaging with three posts either by liking or commenting, then following them. When you do this, make sure to comment something genuine and thought out, rather than quick and vague. The goal is to get the user to notice all of your engagement, click on your profile, and then follow you back.

So how do you find engaged couples to like, comment, and follow? Here are three great strategies:

  1. Search for hashtags engaged couples may use in their own posts to find users who are engaged. Make sure you include a location so that you find couples local to you. Here are some examples of hashtags to search: #NYCbridetobe, #dallasengagement, #LAgroom
  2. Search for engagement photographers in your area and look for users that they tag in their posts, then go to their accounts and implement LLLF. You can also check comments on posts without someone tagged in case the bride or groom commented. If the user is private, you can start by following, then engaging with their posts.
  3. Search for local bridal shops and jewelry stores, and then look for users tagged in their posts. Lots of bridal shops will post, “I said yes to the dress!” photos, while jewelers will often feature customers with their engagement rings.

If you start implementing these two strategies and spending only five minutes per day reaching out to engaged couples on Instagram, you will start to see more couples following you and engaging with your posts. In time, you may even begin to receive inquiries through your Instagram inbox.

 

Photo by Something Blue by Susan Elizabeth

» WeddingWire’s Destination Wedding Guide is Live!

About 15 percent of couples host destination weddings (more than 50 miles away from where they live), and we all know that planning a destination wedding can be quite different than planning a hometown event. The WeddingWire Editorial Team just released a Destination Wedding Guide to inspire and assist couples who are either considering or planning weddings in far-off locales. Inside, you’ll find:

  • Is a Destination Wedding Right for You? A fun flow chart that helps couples decide which type of destination wedding will best suit their needs.
  • How to Pick a Location: A step-by-step guide to choosing the perfect wedding locale and venue.
  • Destination Wedding FAQs: The most-asked logistical and etiquette questions, answered!
  • Real Destination Weddings: Get inspired with some truly stunning destination weddings!

Check out the Destination Wedding Guide, and stay tuned for more exciting guides coming up this year!

» A Roadmap to Inclusive Language For Wedding Show Producers

 

 

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.

A year and a half ago, I spoke with a number of wedding professionals, including Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting and Marc McIntosh of the Wedding Experience, about the importance of challenging bridal bias in 2016. That is, the importance of taking an in-depth look at one’s marketing language and, as needed, looking for ways to update and reinvent one’s marketing language to be more inclusive of both brides and grooms. For some (and you know who you are), this might also include completely rebuilding your brand or business name to be more relevant in today’s marketplace.

It’s a little campaign I like to call #BridalRebrand.

After more than a year’s worth of conversations with Marc about this topic, I reached out to him for an update on the work he’s done to challenge bridal bias, refresh his brand, and continue to evolve his product. As you’ll see in our conversation below, he has taken the concept of undertaking a #BridalRebrand to a whole new level.

As you consider this update in the Wedding Experience rebranding journey (the backstory of which you can read here), I hope you’ll also consider the scale and impact with which his work impacts our industry — couples and professionals alike.

Further, I hope you’ll take note: if you are a wedding professional who markets your services through expos like the Wedding Experience, it’s incredibly important for you to recognize how any bridal bias you have in your marketing language might be interpreted and potentially draw the wrong kind of attention to your brand.

Remember: unless your services are intended exclusively for women (eg, wedding gowns), wedding marketing needs to be about “brides and grooms” and/or “engaged couples.” Undertaking a #BridalRebrand may feel daunting but it’s doable. Case in point: the evolution of the Wedding Experience.

KATHRYN: Beyond updating your general language to be more inclusive (for example, using  “engaged couples” and “brides and grooms” instead of “brides”), what other changes did you make in your marketing materials?

MARC: In the past, when we relied primarily on mass-appeal advertising, our message tended to focus on the white female that made up the majority of our audience. Today, there are advertising opportunities that can be narrowly targeted, including social media, online music services and retargeting ads. We can now run ads that reach, for example, only Hispanic engaged couples within a 25 mile radius of our event. This has allowed us to target specific audience segments with a message that speaks directly to them.

While our events have always been designed to be open and inviting to everyone, we didn’t do a great job of communicating that in our advertising. Through targeting, we are now able to appeal to attendees regardless of their ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation. We have advertising that includes images of same-sex couples, and we were the first major wedding show producer to do so.  We have also integrated images that include multi-cultural couples, and we now include models of various shapes and sizes in our fashion shows.

 

“I see our changes as more evolutionary than revolutionary.”

– Marc McIntosh, The Wedding Experience

 

K: Did you run into any roadblocks or special challenges in implementing inclusive language in your print materials vs. your digital materials?

M: We have two audiences, the couples who attend our shows and the wedding professionals who exhibit. Our changes on the attendance side were relatively easy and involved tweaks to our advertising, registration forms and show branding. The changes on the wedding professional side proved to be a bit more challenging. Our exhibitor marketing materials screamed ‘bride’ (‘hundreds of brides attend’, ‘sell to a huge audience of brides’, etc.). The word ‘bride’ was so easy to use (and overuse), and we found that simply replacing it with ‘engaged couple’, or something similar, was a bit awkward at times. Making this change required a major rewrite of our marketing materials, but I am happy with the end result.

K: As you look back, what was the single most difficult hurdle to navigate during your #BridalRebrand overhaul?

M: The biggest hurdle was deciding how we were going to change our advertising to appeal to same-sex couples. Although same-sex marriage is legal, unfortunately, it is still a controversial subject and not yet universally accepted. This is a particular concern in the more conservative markets in which we produce our events. We realized that our changes might offend some prospective attendees and exhibitors, so the challenge was to find the right balance. Once we decided to make the changes, we proceeded without hesitation.  

 

“The best piece of advice that I can offer…is that being more inclusive in your marketing message can result in increased business.”

– Marc McIntosh, The Wedding Experience

 

K: What was easier to implement than you expected?

M: I see our changes as more evolutionary than revolutionary.  We have always strived to be fresh and relevant, and our ‘Bridal Rebrand’ was a continuation of that process. Many of our changes were very easy, such as changing the wording on the buttons we give out at our shows. These now read ‘I’m Getting Married’ instead of ‘Bride To Be’.

K: What sort of feedback have you gotten from the wedding professionals and engaged couples with whom you work?

M: We haven’t received a lot of feedback, either positive or negative, and that is exactly what we wanted. Our attendee audience turns over every year, as people enter the market when they are engaged and leave when they are married. The result is that most are seeing our advertising for the first time and don’t notice that we’ve made changes.

That said, we have seen a substantial increase in the number of couples attending our shows, whereas in the past our attendance was overwhelmingly female.  We have seen a small increase in same-sex couples, but not as many as we would like to see, so we continue to tweak our advertising to that market segment.

K: Anything else you’d like to add or additional advice you’d offer to your colleagues in the industry?

The best piece of advice that I can offer, which was my largest takeaway from all of the work we have done together, is that being more inclusive in your marketing message can result in increased business.  The millennial audience, regardless of their demographic, like and appreciate businesses that are inclusive.

Editor’s Note: if you are looking for a market research resource, check out WeddingWire’s WedInsights.

» Get Ready to Rock with the WeddingWire Music & Entertainment Guide!

Anyone who’s ever attended a wedding knows that the right music can make or break the experience. That’s why the WeddingWire Editorial Team created the brand-new WeddingWire Music & Entertainment Guide. It’s full of useful information to help couples choose both the right songs and the right professionals for their ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception—definitely worth sharing with your clients. Some of the topics covered in this guide include:

  • How to choose between live music or a DJ
  • Top songs for the important moments
  • How to best work with your music professionals
  • Other forms of entertainment for your wedding day

Be sure to check out the WeddingWire Music & Entertainment Guide, and stay tuned for more guides throughout the year.

Cover photo by Afterglow Images

» WeddingWire Networking Night Southern New Jersey

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at The Carriage House for WeddingWire Networking Night Southern New Jersey!

At the Networking Night, wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy an gorgeous venue space, network with other local vendors across all service categories, and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned about local-industry statistics and how to better reach engaged couples through social media from WeddingWire’s Regional Manager of Customer Success, Katey McBurney.

Thank you to all the wonderful professionals who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the evening below.

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Anna from Ramblewood Country Club!

» WeddingWire Networking Night Philadelphia

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at The Franklin Institute for WeddingWire Networking Night Philadelphia!

At the Networking Night, wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy an amazing venue space, network with other local vendors across all service categories, and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned about local-industry statistics and how to better reach engaged couples through social media from WeddingWire’s Regional Manager of Customer Success, Katey McBurney.

Thank you to all the wonderful professionals who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the evening below.

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Brian from The Philly Keys!


» How to Create an Automatic Email Welcome Sequence to Book Couples Faster

wedding pros email marketing welcome sequence

Imagine this: A couple planning their wedding heads to your website after finding you on WeddingWire. They want to learn more about you, but aren’t quite ready to contact you for a quote yet, so they sign up for your email list. Minutes later, they get an email welcoming them to your list and introducing your business. They then receive various emails from you over the next 10 days that eventually persuade them to reach out for a quote.

The best part? You can make all of this happen on autopilot. With an email marketing system like ActiveCampaign or MailerLite, you can set up emails that will automatically be sent to new subscribers. Here’s a brief tutorial on how to set it up in most email tools:

1. Create a form that requires a first name and email, and embed the form on your website.
2. Click on Automations and start creating your automated sequence.
3. Start with a trigger. Set the trigger to be activated when someone fills out your form that you just created.
4. Add a step to send your next email, and create your email.
5. Add a step with the setting to wait 1-2 days.
6. Repeat step 4 and 5 until you reach the end of your sequence.

Now, let’s talk about what should go into your welcome email sequence. This automation should have five emails set to send out every other day. Here’s what each email should include:

Email 1: Intro & What to Expect

In this email, start off by thanking the new subscriber for signing up for your emails. Tell them a little bit about you; what your business is all about, why you love what you do, and who you love working with. Then, let them know to expect lots of valuable advice in their inbox in the coming days.

Email 2: Value, Value, Value!

Give the subscriber an incredible piece of advice pertaining to your niche in this email. They will be excited to receive some advice instead of a sales pitch, especially if your tips are truly helpful. In order to make sure this email wows the subscriber, offer a tip about something most couples wouldn’t even think of.

Email 3: Fight Objections

What are some of the most common objections you hear from couples? It could be that your service is too expensive, they don’t see why it’s important, you don’t have enough reviews, etc. Pick one of those big objections and tell the subscriber why they shouldn’t let it worry them. This is your chance to fight objections before they are even brought up. However, don’t pitch your services just yet.

Email 4: Bust Some Myths

In this email, talk about common myths surrounding your niche. Some examples could be that videography is always expensive, you don’t need a wedding planner when you can DIY, no one has ever had great food at a wedding, etc. Talk about why those myths are false and give examples of your work or reviews to prove it.

Email 5: Sell Yourself

Now that you have introduced yourself, shared advice, fought objections, and dispelled common myths, it’s time to pitch your services. Remind them what you specialize in and how much you love what you do. Tell them that you would love to hear about their dream wedding, and ask them to reply and share their ideas so you can help bring them to life.

After going through this email sequence, your subscribers will love and trust you, which will make them more likely to reach out for a quote!

» Niche PR: How to Become the “Go-To” Expert in your Arena

Webinar recap!Niche, Webinar, PR, Marketing, Weddings, Expert, Education

In the often-saturated wedding market, a niche will help you stand out and cut back on competition. Defining a niche allows you to specialize in an area that suits your talents and personality, gives focus to your marketing, and helps you attract your ideal clients.

During this webinar for Premium members, Education Expert Meghan Ely shared the steps to identifying your niche, promoting your expertise to your target audience, and implementing PR strategies to grow your business.

Here are some of the webinar highlights:

  • Showcase your niche in your content. Your website content, social media strategy, and any other owned channels should clearly reflect your niche. In addition to your bio, portfolio, and client testimonials, add a press page and blog to your website to highlight your expertise and demonstrate your capabilities.
  • Introduce yourself as an expert to the media. Consider what media your ideal client is consuming and target those outlets. Start by sending a friendly email to introduce yourself as an expert and a resource in your niche field — and be sure to include a few brief story ideas, too.
  • Pitch yourself for guest writing and speaking opportunities. Review your topics and research opportunities; focus on those that will reach your target audience. Hone your messaging and send a concise, friendly pitch with a few examples of your work. When it comes to speaking engagements, start small, evolve your topics overtime, and never stop practicing.
  • Pursue real wedding submissions. Research opportunities, guidelines, and editorial calendars to determine the best fit and strategy for your business. Be sure to follow the rules of exclusivity and prioritize the opportunities that will reach your ideal audience.

For more tips and additional details about these recommendations, watch the full webinar! Don’t forget that past webinars are available within Premium member accounts to view anytime.

» WeddingWire Networking Night Sacramento

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Vizcaya for WeddingWire Networking Night Sacramento!

At the Networking Night, wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a stunning venue space, network with other local vendors across all service categories, and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned about local-industry statistics and how to better reach engaged couples through social media from WeddingWire’s Regional Manager of Customer Success, Megan Hayes.

Thank you to all the wonderful professionals who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the evening below.

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Meagan from Meagan Lucy Photographers!