» How to Build Your Network and Collect More Content

Photo by Vanessa Joy Photography

This article was written by Vanessa Joy, Owner & Photographer of Vanessa Joy Photography.

I remember the first time I went to a wedding convention. It seemed like everyone knew everyone else; but the only person I knew was the bathroom attendant because my naturally introverted self would frequently hide there. I’m sure I’m not alone in being able to empathize with DJ Tanner from Full House, eating alone in the bathroom on her first day of high school. For the record, no, I didn’t eat in the bathroom – ew.

If you’re a budding industry professional, you may notice that a large part of the industry is who you know. Now, that’s not to say our livelihood is superficial in any way. It’s to draw attention to just how powerful networking is in our line of work. We’re a large industry, but a small community.

Networking may seem daunting, but building relationships within the wedding world is crucial not just to the success of your business, but to your enjoyment of it as well. After all, don’t you want to work with your friends every weekend? Here are 4 tips to up your networking game.

Read up on it

If you’re not a natural go-getter or social butterfly, it’s ok! Heck, I was homeschooled for 9 years of my life. Social graces were not on my side for most of my life. I had to learn them the good old-fashioned way: reading a book. Ok fine… listening to one on audible.

I do recommend Carnegie’s book, but another favorite of mine is Never Eat Alone. As an Italian, this is pretty much a rule for me anyway, but bringing it to business takes it to a whole new level. Read it and you’ll have breakfast, lunch and dinner dates at the next WeddingWire World no problem.

Use social

In what other century have you had direct access to someone’s personal line, without needing to get through their secretary? None. Thanks to social media, you have that power right at your fingertips.

Don’t underestimate what you can use social media for. I recently covered a HUGE part of this on a recent WeddingWire webinar Social Media: A Guide for Wedding Professionals. You should be using social media to connect with as many other wedding professionals as you can. Here’s an even bigger tip – connect with professionals before an upcoming conference by searching the conference’s hashtag. Bingo! You’ve made friends before you even stepped off the plane.

Stop reaching for the stars

Now I know your mom told you otherwise, but I’m here to bring you down to earth. As fabulous as it would be to take my advice from the previous tip and contact David Tutera and Silvia Weinstock and become besties immediately, it’s probably not going to happen. Why? Not only is everyone already barking up that tree, but they’ve been in the business for a while and already have their circle of tight friends.

Instead, make your own referral network. Befriend the next Marcy Blum or Fred Marcus (sorry to keep using NYC Wedding Vendors… it’s just where I’m from) by reaching out to people on your level of experience and clientele. Build each other up to be the next big thing.

Find photographers

It’s always funny to me when I hear that other wedding professionals have a hard time getting photos from photographers. You might not know this, but wedding planners, caterers, florists, bands, dj’s and venues are like the holy grail to us wedding photographers. To me, you’re the key to clients, and usually luxury clients that’ll spend more money on photography.

However, I know that it can be hard to get photos, so inside this last tip, I’ve got a few more for you that’ll help you get more photos of your work that you can use on social media to show off your services and connect with other vendors.

Offer Something, Anything

Now, I do not charge most vendors to use my photos on social media from weddings that I’ve worked. A lot of photographers feel the same way and are happy for the cross-promotion. However, contacting a photographer and expecting them to give you photos for free isn’t going to fly. It’s only polite to offer something in return, even if it’s not monetary.

Help Submit Weddings

You wouldn’t believe how much work is involved for a photographer after a wedding. Usually it’s where your wedding headaches end, and ours begin. Often when we’re being asked for photos, it’s another thing on our long to-do list.

However, if we give you photos, you can help us by submitting the wedding photos to popular magazines and blogs. If you have connections to some – even better! Obviously, make sure this is ok with the photographer first. But typically we’d be thrilled to have this taken off our plate and it’s a win-win when the photos get published.

Offer Future Collaboration

Us photographers need (and should want) to build relationships too. When you’re asking for photos, find ways to work with us again. Maybe you’re a makeup artist and you can offer to do hair and makeup for the photographer’s next headshot (we all need updated ones!). Or perhaps you’re an officiant that can provide some ceremony text that’ll make for a great blog post on the photographer’s blog. You could even suggest doing a styled shoot and get a whole group of vendors involved. The possibilities are endless, but if you start your intentions with serving other people, it’s amazing how much more you’ll get in return than you originally hoped for.

Use the Photos

Once you’ve snagged some photos and hopefully started a wonderful new work friendship, don’t hesitate to use the photos for LOTS of things! The more times you use them, the more the photographer will benefit from the cross-promotion. Make videos (super amazing for social posts) like these marketing and communication videos I’ve made right here. Use the photos alone in tons of social media posts like the ones I suggest here.

The Wedding Industry may ebb and flow but it’s always built on relationships. Spend time cultivating new ones and nurturing the ones you have and you’ll never be without work.

Vanessa Joy has been an influential photographer in the wedding community for a decade. Starting her photographic journey in 1998, she has since earned 5 college degrees, and has spoken at almost every major convention and platform in the industry such as CreativeLIVE, Wedding MBA, WPPI, ShutterFest, Imaging USA, WeddingWire World, and Mobile Beat. Recognized for her talent and more so her business sense, her clients love working with her and industry peers love to learn from her generous, informative and open-book style of teaching. Check out more of her resources at www.BreatheYourPassion.com

» 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.

» #JustSaidYes is Here – Share With Your Couples!

Engagement season is officially here and we are excited to launch our annual campaign for couples, #JustSaidYes! The contest, held during peak engagement season, asks couples to share their engagement moment on social media with #justsaidyes and @weddingwire for a chance to win the grand prize of $10,000 towards amazing wedding vendors like you!

Last year the #JustSaidYes campaign received over 34,000 entries, 114,000 landing page visits and over 46,000 new instagram followers – that’s a lot of newly engaged couples on the hunt for their dream wedding team! This year the campaign will be bigger than ever, and will bring more couples to your doorstep.  Want to get in on the buzz? Share these simple steps so that couples can enter to win:

  1. Get engaged and snap a photo!
  2. Share the photo via Instagram or upload a photo to the #JustSaidYes website
  3. Post the photo and tag @weddingwire and #JustSaidYes to enter

Lucky winners will be announced throughout the campaign from December 1, 2017 through February 28, 2018. One grand prize winner will receive $10,000 towards their wedding team, and three monthly winners will receive fantastic prizes for their wedding and honeymoon including: a wedding dress from Allure Bridals, two sets of luggage from AWAY and a $2,500 gift card from Blue Nile. See full terms and conditions here.

Make sure to follow along to see fun engagement posts and engagement inspiration shared on social media this engagement season using #JustSaidYes.

» How to Get On Preferred Vendor Lists (and Stay on Them)

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

The illustrious preferred vendor list is something that, as business owners, we all strive to be on. The exclusivity and third party validation is very appealing, not to mention the leg up it can give you against competition. So the question is, how do you get on it and stay on it? I’m sharing some of my best practices when it comes to approaching the subject.

Never ask immediately

Asking a fellow creative partner if you can get on their preferred list right out of the gate is probably the biggest mistake you can make. Would you want someone you just met five minutes ago asking you for a favor? No, probably not.

As I like to tell people- it’s not that far off from dating. You need to go in with the mindset that things take time. So how do you develop a relationship over time?

  • Attend industry events. Take the time to revisit what options you have in the area- be it WIPA, NACE, ILEA or organizations. Mark your calendar accordingly and make note of who attends. Better yet- if one of your targets is hosting or sponsoring a meeting make it a priority to be there.
  • With the above in mind, consider leadership and volunteer roles within the organizations. It’s one thing to attend and network, but the ROI will be far more considerable if you carve out time to give back and get to know your industry peers in more intimate settings.
  • Include them on your mailing list. We love celebrating obscure holidays with our clients and creative partners so add them to your mailing list for the next time National Scallop Day rolls around.

Once you have gotten to know them more on a professional (or even personal) level, bring the subject up in a more general way. For example, ask them how they choose who to put on their list, or how often they refresh it. That way you are getting the intel you want without directly asking them to consider you.  

Be open to feedback

I’ll never forget when I met one of the top caterers in town for the first time. I was new to the industry and didn’t know what I was doing at networking events- and it showed! I approached my newfound colleague and she was quick to give me a laundry list of things I needed to work on- all the way down to the baseball cap I needed to stop wearing to events.

She was well intentioned so I took her advice to heart and over the next year, I implemented many of her thoughts. Over time, we built a strong partnership and that very caterer has since become one of my top referrals.  

Get to know the other creative partners

Sit down and take a look at the list(s) you want to be a part of, and take note of the other creative partners on it that you may already know or would like to get to know. The local events community is a small one, and your relationships with people can make all the difference. If you’re close to someone that is well connected, and they respect your reputation, they may recommend you the next time a vacancy on a preferred list comes up. This has been my secret weapon for years.

One of the best ways to stay connected is online, especially as wedding season ramps up. We make a point to highlight our colleagues in an ongoing feature on our blog, in which we interview creative partners from around the region. We make it easy by creating a simple form, and the response has been positive.

Remember the key time to shine

It’s easy to forget in the middle of the hustle and bustle of an event that how you interact with other creative partners is key. Treat it like a job interview. Above all, be a team player and don’t be demanding. Help out where you can and be a problem solver. Follow up after the event and ask for feedback. Ultimately, it comes down to being the type of wedding professional that people want to recommend.

Don’t take it for granted

If and when you are added to the preferred list, don’t get too comfortable. Several places will update theirs at least once a year, and if they barely remember who you are or have been in close contact with someone else, you can easily be replaced. Small gestures can be a fun and creative way to keep your business at the top of their minds.

We love to implement the surprise and delight strategy by sending funny notes and trinkets to our creative partner friends that will put a smile on their face. Last summer, during a particular hot spell, we even traveled around delivering popsicles to many of our colleagues.

Don’t let the idea of trying to get on a preferred vendor list scare you. With the right approach businesses will be adding you in no time.  

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and 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 a past national president for WIPA.

» 4 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

In honor of #GivingTuesday, check out our 4 ways to give back this holiday seasonFor busy wedding professionals, it can be hard to find the time to do any extracurricular activities. With the holidays quickly approaching, you’re likely to add shopping, baking, and hosting to your to-do list! There’s no shame in enjoying the holiday season, but it’s important to remember those who are less fortunate and in need of our help.

Since today is #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to celebrating generosity and giving back, we thought we’d share a few of the ways you can give back this holiday season:

Volunteer

If you can spare some time out of your packed schedule, volunteering is one of the easiest ways to give back to the community! There are a ton of opportunities to help in your local area – every city has food banks, homeless shelters, animal shelters, youth clubs, or other organizations that could use some extra help around the holidays. There are also plenty of national charitable organizations you can look into for events coming to your area where you can donate your time.

Donate food

There’s typically no shortage of leftover food after a wedding! Instead of letting it go to waste, consider the possibility of donating it to a food bank or shelter in your area. Donating food requires little extra time on your part while benefiting many who are in desperate need. Programs like the New England NACE Feeding Our Neighbors program facilitate this process with local food rescue operations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island – learn more about the laws surrounding food donation here.

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» Attention DJs: Don’t Miss The 2015 Las Vegas DJ Show!

The Las Vegas DJ ShowWeddingWire believes in the value of education, that’s why we’re sharing details for The Las Vegas DJ Show event this coming August 30th – September 3rd!

Hosted by our association partner ADJA, The Las Vegas DJ Show is a great opportunity for DJs and Entertainers from around the country to come together to learn, celebrate and network. This year’s event will be held at Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino off of the Las Vegas strip.

To learn more about the event, check out the website with links to the full schedule, speaker details including keynotes from Michael Buffer and Darnyelle Jervey, hotel block details, and more. Plus, don’t miss WeddingWire Education Experts Andy Ebon and Alan Berg who will be featured presenters among other industry leaders and top professionals DJs.

Time is running out! Register today to save your spot.

» Educational Opportunity for Planners: ABC Conference

Attention Wedding Consultants and Planners! Have you registered for the annual conference from our partner the Association of Bridal Consultants? Enjoy two full days of education with industry speakers, networking and fun in sunny Orange County, CA this November 8-10th.

Learn more about the California Dreamin’ conference and save your spot here! Additionally, WeddingWire members can save and get a ticket for $595 with promo code WWABC for an extended time, now through July 30th. There are also Expo opportunities available, should your business want to showcase your services to top Wedding Consultants.ABC Conference 2015

Questions? Email Dena Davey at corp@bridalassn.com to learn more!

» It’s Official: WeddingWire Acquires GayWeddings.com

WeddingWire and GayWeddings.comWe’re ecstatic to announce the acquisition of GayWeddings.com, the pioneering wedding planning resource for same-sex couples!

From the day both companies opened our respective doors, WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com have shared a commitment to providing needed resources to all couples. Since January 2011, we’ve partnered with GayWeddings.com to develop a rapidly-expanding online database of over 120,000 wedding professionals who serve same-sex couples. Now, we’re happy to transition from partnership to acquisition to seamlessly extend the mission of both brands.

GayWeddings.com will continue to empower engaged couples and LGBTQ-friendly wedding professionals as part of the growing WeddingWire family of brands in the weddings and events category. Kathryn Hamm, President of GayWeddings.com, will continue on as Publisher to help guide the tools and resources provided for both Pros and engaged couples. And with Pride Month officially underway, there’s no better time to celebrate our union and raise a glass to an LGBTQ-inclusive wedding market!

Wedding and event professionals on WeddingWire can opt into the GayWeddings.com directory to show that they are ready, willing, and able to serve LGBTQ couples. Pros can also get up-to-date information, education, and resources to help them serve same-sex couples and understand the latest updates in marriage equality.

Same-sex weddings have been transforming the way wedding professionals think about their businesses and how engaged couples think about executing their wedding vision. We look forward to continued growth in creating a positive and helpful wedding planning experience for all couples and their wedding professionals as they plan the biggest day of their lives!

For additional information, please visit our Press Release.

» Special Offer for Members of IAPWO

IAPWO-LOGO-1500We are excited to announce a new special offer for members of The International Association of Professional Wedding Officiants (IAPWO). The IAPWO is a global membership organization committed to supporting professional wedding Officiants and their businesses, with members receiving education, tools, benefits and more as they commit to upholding the standards of excellence for their vocation.

IAPWO members receive a special 15% discount* off of Featured and Professional premium advertising listings for new and lite members of WeddingWire. Along with an upgraded business listing on WeddingWire, premium members also receive access to industry leading business management and client management tools, a dedicated Customer Success Rep, free educational webinars and more!

To learn more about IAPWO, check out their website and educational articles today.

*This discount is valid for IAPWO members only. 15% off discount applies for Featured & Professional Officiant listings only, and just for new business. No other discounts or offers may apply. Discount expires on 12/31/15. Some exclusions may apply.

» Promote Your GayWeddings Listing with a Custom Button

We’re excited to announce new GayWeddings.com custom buttons you can add to your website or blog to showcase your service to same-sex couples! Get started promoting your GayWeddings listing and boost your Storefront traffic by adding your button today.

Get your button by following our step-by-step instructions!

  1. Choose your button design from our four badge options
  2. Enter your GayWeddings Storefront URL, which you can easily grab from your WeddingWire account under the Networking tab
  3. Paste your GayWeddings Storefront URL into the form to get your custom code
  4. Add the code to your business website or blog, and your button will appear!

GayWeddings listing badgesLooking for more? You can also add a Wed We Can badge on your website or social media accounts, and show your support of all couples by joining in the #WedWeCan social media campaign.

Have additional questions? Learn more about our partnership with GayWeddings.com, get instructions on how to opt-in to the directory (open to all WeddingWire professionals), and learn how to customize your GayWeddings.com profile image. Plus, you can always contact support@weddingwire.com with any of your account needs!

» Support Marriage Equality with #WedWeCan!

Support Marriage Equality with #WedWeCan!

On, April 28th, 2015, the United States Supreme Court will begin to hear cases on the matter of marriage equality from four states: Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. The cases have been consolidated under the name of the Ohio case, Obergefell v Hodges, and will test two questions: whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage and whether states have to recognize the same-sex marriages of other states.

Currently, same-sex marriages are legal in thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia, and the status of marriage equality is on stay pending appeal in seven additional states where the constitutional bans were overturned.

We’ll be watching and waiting for a decision from the Court into May or June, but in the meantime we would like to invite our community of wedding and event professionals to show your support for marriage equality and join our Wed We Can movement!

Wed We Can was developed from the partnership between WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com, the leading niche-based wedding planning resource and boutique, dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. The campaign represents our shared investment in and commitment to the unions of all loving couples, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Today, we’re unveiling a new logo for same-sex marriage supporters to share across their favorite social networks. We invite you to share images of what love means to you with the hashtag #WedWeCan, and help us make history as one movement that stands for marriage equality and a commitment to be inclusive of all couples!

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» Expanding Worldviews, Serving Modern Couples

This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

Expanding Worldviews, Serving Modern CouplesI didn’t plan on becoming a professional in the wedding industry, let alone a same-sex wedding expert. I had only wanted to marry my partner at a time when this was still uncommon; and, then, I had only wanted to help my straight mom with the business she had founded in 1999 in response to our wedding.

But I’m also an educator and a social worker with an entrepreneurial spirit at heart and, like my mom, I recognized the gap in the wedding industry. There were couples who wanted to affirm their life-long relationships and there were initially very few resources at all. Now, thankfully, there are more than ever and attitudes and service capabilities have improved, but my experiences within the wedding industry have also opened my eyes to its other glaring omissions: people of color, diverse representation of ethnicity and religion; grooms (whether straight or gay!), etc.

As a result, I’ve wanted to inspire more dialogue and introspection beyond the question of how wedding professionals are serving same-sex couples. And, because of the education needed for the emerging LGBTQ wedding market, I believe our industry and its professionals have an opportunity to re-examine everything we are doing and update the habits that no longer serve us, let alone the modern couples who need our services and support.

I have found an incredible partner in the WeddingWire team, who have engaged in these conversations in their business considerations has in the implementation of their industry leading tools and educational opportunities for wedding professionals and engaged couples. And our conversations led to the creation of a forward-thinking panel discussion at the recent WeddingWire World 2015 conference in Washington, DC.

We are pleased to present a recording of the full conversation I enjoyed with Ross Oscar Knight, international photographer and photoculturalist from Atlanta, GA; Bree Ryback, founder of Capitol Romance, LLC and editor of its popular Washington DC-based planning blog; Bethel Nathan, owner of the San Diego-based Ceremonies by Bethel; and Kyle Mihalcoe, Regional Manager of Customer Success at WeddingWire.

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