» Royal Wedding Trends: What Your Clients Will Start Asking For

Photo by @Kensingtonroyal

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

The fascinator has been tucked away, lime green suit sent to the cleaners and the last of the lemon elderberry wedding cake crumbs swept up. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are now officially the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. So, is this where the conversation ends?

Quite the opposite- it’s just the beginning. The Meghan Markle effect, which has caused many of us to question whether we too should embrace berets, is officially impacting what your clients will be requesting for this year and beyond.

So what do we anticipate being the next big asks?

Personalization on a new level

The desire to customize wedding day details is certainly not a new notion but the bar was raised considerably as soon as it was revealed that Prince Harry handpicked blooms for his bride’s bouquet. While couples will still want to put their stamp on the décor, menu and entertainment, expect brides and grooms to take their requests to a whole new level. Want to stay ahead of the curve? Brainstorm bespoke services and/or products with your team that can be offered from the onset.

All hail the boat neck

Meghan’s dress choice was certainly a polarizing one- it drew as many happy sighs as it did head scratches. But one thing is for sure- the neckline is a welcome change from the strapless gowns’ ongoing campaign for world domination. Better yet- it can be incorporated into nearly every season- unlike the sleeves and thicker fabric that also made up the gown.  

Go local

If one thing was for sure, Prince Harry and Meghan wanted to celebrate with as many local elements as possible, which was evident from the florist selection to the reception menu. Be prepared for couples to officially be inspired, finding new ways to bring regional flavor to their party.

Black and white is the new… black?

Within moments of the engagement announcement last November, royal wedding enthusiasts have been watching Kensington Palace’s Instagram like a hawk, waiting with baited breath for photographs of the happy couple. The real winners this royal wedding season? The dramatic black and white images released by the Prince Harry and Meghan, as evident by the swoons heard around the world. With that, expect an uptick in the number of couples requesting more black and white photography.

No wedding party? No problem

The industry and media alike were abuzz once it was revealed that Meghan Markle would not be having a bevy of bridesmaids, or Maid-of-Honor for that matter, joining her down the aisle. This detail was quickly forgotten as soon as her veil floated down the aisle thanks to a handful of the cutest (and luckiest?) teeny tiny wedding attendants you ever did see. So can a couple survive without an extensive wedding party to do their bidding? Absolutely. Will brides and grooms catch on this year? We can only hope.

Rules were made to be broken

Nothing drew a bigger gasp then when Meghan’s father Thomas Markle announced (officially officially) that he was no longer walking his daughter down the aisle. Would she ask William?  Prince Charles? Her mom? Even better- Meghan decided to walk her own self down the aisle save for a few moments with her future father-in-law just before she arrived at the altar.

Even the most modern couples will question breaking tradition but the hope this season is that they will be inspired to break rules and do it their own way. After all, Meghan Markle broke hundreds of years of tradition in St. George’s Castle, and we’re all still standing.

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding PR firm OFD Consulting, which specializes in getting wedding professionals their brides. She is a highly sought after industry speaker and serves as a Public Relations adjunct professor for Virginia Commonwealth University, specializing in PW writing and brand promotion.

» 5 Big Ways LGBTQ Wedding Planning Has Changed in 5 Short Years

Photo by B. Jones Photography

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

Five years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decided that New York resident Edie Windsor’s out-of-state marriage (she married Thea Spyer in Canada in 2007) would be recognized in New York, where same-sex marriage had been legally recognized since 2011.

This landmark decision immediately opened the door for the many same-sex couples who wished to seek legal partnership recognition but could not do so in their home states, and ultimately paved the way toward SCOTUS’ Obergefell decision in 2015, which embraced marriage equality nationwide. Those legal shifts, though taking place in courtrooms, ultimately had a significant impact on the wedding market and the choices of engaged LGBTQ couples.

Time Flies

Prior to 2013, LGBTQ weddings were smaller, had older brides and grooms, were more custom than traditional in design, and the couples themselves tended to pay for the ceremony and celebration. After 2005, when Massachusetts legalized marriage and others followed, some couples were planning legal elopements to travel to jurisdictions for a marriage certificate, but many were choosing to have non-legally-recognized ceremonies and otherwise share their commitments more publicly.

Though I have a file full of instructive anecdotes and isolated data snapshots to explain what was happening in the market back in the day, it was 2013 that offered a turning point for enough data to explain how the same-sex wedding market has been changing with legal recognition. The result? With the spread of marriage equality recognition, we could see in real time how LGBTQ weddings were beginning to assimilate into the “mainstream” market and, conversely, how non-LGBTQ weddings had begun to adopt LGBTQ innovation more frequently, including trends like ‘pop up’ or micro-weddings, blended wedding parties, color variety in wedding parties, laypeople as officiants, and more.

Newlywed Report: LGBTQ Market Analysis

Over the past few years, WeddingWire’s WedInights team has issued its annual Newlywed Report, which is chock full of insights about today’s couples, gleaned from the answers from almost 18,000 participants (the most comprehensive and rigorous report in the industry). This essential tool is important to help wedding professionals stay up-to-date on the latest trends, particularly when it comes to same-sex couples because the LGBTQ market segment has been in a state of constant growth and flux for the past decade. What was true five years ago is not necessarily true today. Now that the U.S. is celebrating three years of marriage equality nationwide, however, trends within the LGBTQ market segment are beginning to stabilize, making it easier for wedding professionals to make thoughtful decisions about their marketing plans and service offerings for all couples.

‘What was true five years ago is not necessarily true today.’

Before I highlight a few key shifts in lesbian and gay wedding trends, it’s important to note that this analysis draws primarily from the WeddingWire Newlywed Reports (2015-2018) and WeddingWire Trends & Traditions Surveys, which offer a direct year-over-year comparison of questions. It also references trends revealed in the 2015 Contemporary Couples Report (by WeddingWire, GayWeddings, Community Marketing, Inc and the Gay Wedding Institute) of those who married in 2014, and a related report, Same-Sex Couples: Weddings & Engagements (by Community Marketing, Inc and the Gay Wedding Institute) of couples surveyed in 2013, but who may have celebrated a union or become engaged at any time in the previous years.

Five Big Changes for Same-Sex Couples

#1 Parents are stepping up. And in?

More than ever, same-sex couples are receiving help paying for their weddings. Five years ago, a strong majority of same-sex couples (79% in 2013) reported paying for all or most of the wedding themselves, compared to 2017 where that number has dropped significantly to 59% of couples. This shift tells us that more parents (and extended family) are participating in and supporting their kids’ LGBTQ weddings, and, as a result, the overall wedding spend is increasing as more vendors are hired, more guests are invited, and as LGBTQ couples have shifted away from practical and often quickly planned legal elopements to a more typical engagement and wedding planning process.

This also means that identifying the decision-maker in the booking process may be shifting now that a couple’s parents may have more financial investment in the wedding and, as such, an expectation around decision-making.

#2 Growth of the guestlist

The growth of the guestlist at gay and lesbian weddings is a direct result of more couples coming out, more couples choosing to marry, and more couples feeling comfortable celebrating with a broader circle of families, friends, and co-workers. It’s also a function of being able to get legally married in one’s home state and having the chance to plan accordingly. In fact, the 2015 Survey of Contemporary Couples revealed that 79% of same-sex couples were planning a wedding ceremony and reception, almost doubling the result (43%) of couples surveyed previously (Same-Sex Couples: Weddings & Engagements, 2013).

  • Prior to 2013, the size of the average guestlist was 65
  • In 2014, the average size was 80
  • In 2015 and 2016: 100
  • In 2017: 107 (which still lags behind non-LGBTQ couples average guestlist size of 127)

In sum, having both a ceremony and a reception is a relatively new development for a majority of same-sex couples and marks a major shift with clear planning and budgeting implications and has had a direct impact on the growth in size of the average guestlist.

#3 Size of wedding party

As same-sex weddings have grown in size, so, too, has the supporting cast. In 2013, 63% of same-sex couples reported that they had anywhere from 0 to 3 persons in their wedding party. Yes, you are hearing that correctly. Five years ago, same-sex couples had 3 or fewer people standing up with them as witnesses. Today, the average wedding party size for same-sex couples is 7, compared to 9 for heterosexual couples.

More moving parts, more guests and bigger wedding parties are just another indicator that same-sex couples are following the structural rules of traditional wedding planning compared to the highly personalized, more modestly-sized ceremonies from years’ past.

#4 Blended Wedding Party

There is perhaps no better example of a wedding custom than the wedding party in order to illustrate not only the difference in the willingness of same-sex couples to break with tradition, but also an impressive example of how gay weddings have influenced straight weddings.

In WeddingWire’s 2016 Trends and Traditions Report, only 14% of LGBTQ couples reported dividing their wedding parties based on gender. That is, guys on one side and gals on the other. Same-sex couples have always tended to blend their wedding parties, asking their closest supporters to stand with them, regardless of gender and often in whatever attire they choose (eg women wearing pants and dresses to suit). What’s most remarkable is to understand how this repurposed vision of a wedding party for same-sex couples has dramatically influenced the choices of opposite-sex couples in a short amount of time. Seventy-four (74%) of straight couples divided their wedding parties by gender in 2015, but the needle moved to 69% in 2016 and, more recently, dropped to 60% in 2017.

‘What’s most remarkable is to understand how this repurposed vision of a wedding party for same-sex couples has dramatically influenced the choices of opposite-sex couples in a short amount of time.’

As same-sex couples are assimilated into the mainstream market, it’s clear that there has been a two-way street of influence, which has been amplified by Millennial couples, who choose rituals and make planning choices that are highly customized to their preferences.

#5 Age of the couple

In 2014, Jennifer Senior, then a writer for the New York Magazine, noted that one third of LGBTQ newlyweds were over 50. WeddingWire’s Newlywed Report revealed that the average age of same-sex couples who had married in 2015 and 2016 was 35 (with a smidge of variation in age between gay grooms and lesbian brides). In 2017, the age dropped to 34. Today, LGBTQ couples still skew a bit older than non-LGBTQ couples (the average age for heterosexual couples in 2017 was 32), but the shrinking gap reveals not only how opposite-sex couples are getting married a few years later in life, but also how same-sex couples are getting younger.

This is just one more example of how the engagement and wedding planning trajectory for same-sex couples is assimilating to match the typical relationship trajectory for heterosexual couples: start dating, (perhaps cohabitate), get engaged, and get married. With more open acceptance of LGBTQ individuals and couples, one’s sexual orientation is no longer a factor in one’s interest in and access to marriage and wedding planning services.

kathryn hammThis post was written by Kathryn Hamm WeddingWire Education Expert, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

» WeddingWire Networking Night Atlanta

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Upstairs Atlanta for our WeddingWire Networking Night Atlanta!

Wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a beautifully rustic event space in West Midtown! Guests met other local vendors across all service categories as well as members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and tips on how to handle tough pricing questions, presented by WeddingWire’s Education Expert, Alan Berg!

Thank you to all the wonderful wedding 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 lovely evening below.

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

Thanks to all that attended!


» Top 5 Wedding Trends for 2018

With 2018 in full swing and busy season right around the corner, it’s time to dive into the top wedding trends couples will be requesting this year. We have the inside scoop from Jeffra Trumpower, WeddingWire’s Associate Director of Content and Creative Services, on the top five trends you can expect to see pop up. Many of these trends may come as a surprise, as couples begin to stray away from the “traditional” and opt for the “unconventional”.

1. Metallics, marbles and geometrics

Photo by Jennifer Weems Photography

So maybe this one doesn’t come as a total surprise, but the biggest decor trend from 2017 will be a highlight yet again for 2018 weddings. Metallics, specifically gold-toned metallics, are still in! Smaller metallic decor pieces, such as votives and charger plates, are as popular as ever because they are small enough to be understated, yet still manage to pack a huge punch overall. Not only do metallics add an extra layer of “umph” to any look, but metallics are a great way to help make everything look and feel more luxe.

Couples are also choosing metallic pieces with geometric shapes to make their wedding feel more modern. Geometric shapes provide a cool break between the ultra-softness and romance of floral elements. Stone elements, such as marble pieces, are also being utilized for the same reason. We don’t care if this is a repeat trend, we love it and are happy to see these favorites stick around!

2. Keeping it casual

Photo by Tracy Shoopman Photography

Weddings are becoming more of a casual affair, believe it or not! Younger couples have been choosing to go for a more laid-back route during their wedding festivities. In what might be the biggest departure from “traditional” style weddings, casual affairs have been trending because they are “no fuss”. Guests are able to feel more at ease and couples have less to worry about on their big day. Ultimately, comfort and simplicity are the main goal of casual weddings, and we think they look great!

Grooms and groomsmen have arguably kicked off the casual trend, as the popularity of less formal male attire started popping up more and more. However, this year, casual groom attire is set to take off. Expect to see less suit coats, more unconventional shoes, and even silly socks on grooms. Females have also begun to adopt more casual styles, too. Brides in particular have opted for more natural, effortless hairstyles for their big day as opposed to the previously popular ultra-sophisticated updo.

Formal styles aren’t the only thing to disappear in 2018. Formal traditions are also becoming less popular with millennial couples. Sorry Mom and Dad, but it looks like the Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances are quickly fading! Revered traditions like these dances, and even couple send offs (particularly involving sparklers) are now starting to be seen as “outdated” and “cliche” by millennial couples. While it may be sad to see some old traditions go, know that couples are opting to nix certain elements in order to replace them with their own creative and new traditions.

3. Greenery

Photo by Blueflash Photography     

While floral elements have always been a huge aspect of weddings, never before has such an emphasis been placed on natural greenery. From moss decor walls to leafy table runners, greenery isn’t just for bouquet filler anymore. Dare we say it, but greens might even surpass flowers this year! Greenery provides freshness and brightness to any arrangement, and can also can provide a lot of diversity, too. Beyond looking great, greens are also a more cost-friendly option for couples to consider when compared to flowers. So where will you find the most greenery this year? Jeffra notes that our couples are loving their natural greens in large wall or hanging displays, low table centerpieces, and in cascading bouquets.

4. Outdoor space

Photo by Patrick Nied Photography

Couples love outdoor weddings! Outdoor venues have always been popular with our couples, but their popularity is only expected to grow. Garden venues, followed by barn venues, are the most popular places amongst couples for their wedding celebrations. Even though the warmer summer months still make up “prime season”, more and more couples have been hosting fall weddings. As a matter of fact, 1 in 3 couples now get married in the fall, and nearly 15% of all weddings take place in October. In many locations, Autumn weather is still perfect for an outdoor celebration, if not cozy. So too, nature’s seasonal change provides the most beautiful backdrop for photos. With the ever-increasing popularity of outdoor venues, your calendars are bound to be filled with outdoor bookings this year!

5. Food displays

Photo by Dana Lynn Photography

We saved the best for last: food! +50% more couples are choosing to eliminate plated service in favor of food displays. Food displays, different from a buffet, are highly stylized tables and offer unique, themed food options where guests can help themselves. Food displays allow for couples to customize their offerings to fit their personalities and can be much more flexible in execution when compared to a more regimented plated or buffet service. From pizza to a bacon-lovers spread, couples are picking these personalized setups over all other meal options because they are easy, fun and most importantly, delicious. Displays are also cost effective, as they can be significantly cheaper than a plated service.

We are so excited to see how these trends adapt and grow in 2018. The biggest takeaway that we have learned (other than knowing that great snacks lie ahead!) is that couples are striving to implement unique designs and traditions that are truly their own. Simply put, customization is important to couples as they plan their 2018 weddings. If you are able to offer custom services or work with your clients to provide them a unique service, you can expect your couple to be over the moon with your work. We hope that this personalization-craze allows both you and your clients the opportunity to work creatively and create incredible new experiences and content. Who knows? Maybe you will set the next big trend.

These tips originally appeared in WeddingWire’s Webinar “2018 Trends: Insights from Today’s Couples” by Jeffra Trumpower, WeddingWire Associate Director of Content and Creative Services. 

» WeddingWire Networking Night Phoenix

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Tercero by Aldea Weddings for WeddingWire Networking Night Phoenix!

Wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a stunning bohemian event space! Guests met other local vendors across all service categories as well as members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and how to better serve millennial couples, presented by WeddingWire’s Regional Director of Sales, Alicia Darrow!

Thank you to all the wonderful pros 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 lovely evening below.

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

Thanks to all that attended!

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

Image by Signature Wedding Photography

» WeddingWire Networking Night Richmond

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Dover Hall for WeddingWire Networking Night Richmond!

Wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a stunning event space fit for royalty! Guests met other local vendors across all service categories as well as members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and insights on working with millennial couples in the wedding industry, presented by WeddingWire’s Associate Director of Customer Success, Kyle Mihalcoe!

Thank you to all the wonderful pros 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 lovely evening below. For additional photos from the evening, check out our gallery!

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 Katherine from The Westin Richmond!

» 3 Key Ways Millennial Couples are Different from Past Generations

millennial couples

Photo by Anna Simonak Photography

Millennials (also known as Gen Y), whose current age ranges from 16-34, account for roughly 25% of today’s US population – making them the largest living generation. As of 2017, U.S. Millennials are estimated to spend roughly $200 billion annually, make up 75% of the workplace and comprise the majority of the consumer market within the next 10 years.

Why does this matter for your business? The Millennial generation is at the age where major life events are taking place, like graduating, buying a house, and getting married. In fact, more than 80% of WeddingWire couples are Millennials! Knowing where they are in their life stages is key for understanding how to communicate with this important group.

Millennials are willing to spend more to personalize their weddings

Over the past 10 years we’ve continued to see overall guest count decrease, regardless of age, whereas the total spend per guest is on the rise. Couples are willing to spend extra on each guest in order to really personalize their big day and make it memorable and unique. On average, millennials spend $31,000 on their wedding, whereas GenXers spend $24,000 on fewer guests. A few other points of differentiation between Millennials and their older counterparts:

  • Engagement Length: 13 months for Millennials, 11 months for GenX
  • Number in Wedding Party: 10 for Millennials, 7 for GenX
  • Number of Vendors Hired: 11 for Millennials, 9 for GenX

87% of Millennials report having their smartphones on them at all times

Millennials are the “mobile generation” — everything they do or want to do can be done on-the-go, so a non-existent or poor mobile website can be an instant deal breaker for this group! Make mobile a priority by doing a full sweep of your online properties from your mobile website to your emails, and make sure the content is easily digestible (and layout is responsive) on smartphones and tablet devices.

Nearly all (89%) of Millennials report using social media

Millennials spend about 5 ½ hours on social media daily, most of the time via mobile devices, so it’s important for your business to have an active presence online. Make sure to post interesting, relevant content that will grab their attention. Keep your content visual and whimsical by incorporating useful videos, tips or advice! Use hashtags to focus on key topics and don’t forget to interact with followers, prospective clients and other industry professionals.

Remember: Just because we’re focusing on Millennials, these tips and tricks are relevant for ALL of your customers. Thinking about age and generation is one helpful way to think about where you customers are in their life stage and how can you best serve and meet their needs!

» 3 Reasons Reviews Are Important to Couples

Photo by: epaga FOTO

You’ve been hearing it for years: reviews are imperative for your wedding business. We’ve seen just how important online reviews have become – and how couples are using this information throughout the entire planning process, from researching prospective vendors to making a final booking. But from the couple’s perspective, why are reviews so important?

Our WedInsights series provides wedding professionals with consumer and business insights from a variety of research and surveys conducted throughout the year. The Reviews volume is full of actionable information surrounding reviews from initial research to the actual submission of wedding reviews. Below are a few reasons your wedding reviews are important to both engaged and newlywed couples!

Couples are looking for baseline information

When couples read your wedding reviews, they’re trying to find out more about your business than you’ve provided on your Storefront or website. In fact, couples consider price and reviews to be the most important features when choosing which vendors to reach out to for their big day! Collectively, reviews provide information about your business’ personality, quality of work, and professionalism that is most likely not conveyed through your own marketing materials.

Couples want to read about the full experience

83% of searching couples like to hear what they should expect – not from the vendors themselves, but from past customers who’ve been in their position. Whether your reviews display your business in a positive or in a not-so-positive light, couples want to read about it all. Even negative reviews provide valuable information about your responsiveness, timeliness, and consistency. But don’t worry about a few unfavorable reviews: Over 50% of couples say they are more likely to consider a vendor who has a mixture of positive and negative reviews, rather than no reviews at all.

Couples want to help future couples – and vendors!

Because reviews are such a big part of the planning process, couples know that feedback is super important for other brides and grooms searching for their vendors. Furthermore, they know how important positive feedback can be for vendors. Our data shows that couples are most likely to write a review for their venue, officiant, and DJ, but that doesn’t mean your business won’t receive a review if your business doesn’t fall into one of those service categories. One in three clients will write a review if they are reminded at least once. All you have to do is ask! You can contact your previous clients using the Review Collector Tool or send them an email to request a review.

Prospective clients want to hear real stories from real couples so they can gauge whether you can help fulfill their vision and deliver quality service. The more reviews you have, the more couples can learn about your business before contacting you – meaning more qualified leads.


» 5 Things We Learned About the Diverse Needs of Today’s Couples

5 Things We Learned about the Diverse Needs of Today’s Couples’ Photo by Cynthia Rose Photography

Here at WeddingWire, we continually promote the importance of understanding today’s couples, largely millennials who want a personalized experience that might not closely mirror the weddings of yesterday. At WeddingWire World DC on August 14-15, we assembled a panel of trend experts for a discussion about “Understanding the Diverse Needs of Today’s Couples”, including Chezelle Rodriguez, Destination Wedding & Event Specialist at CD Weddings; Jacqueline Nwobu, CEO & Editor-in-Chief of Munaluchi Bride Magazine and Anne Chertoff, WeddingWire Trend Expert.

Attendees were treated to insider secrets on how to appeal to and best serve today’s couples, whether they be straight or LGBTQ, of a different ethnicity or religion. Here are the top five takeaways:

There’s no “I” in team.

Although all couples are looking for different skills and qualities in their wedding vendors, modern couples really want a “wedding team”. That means they’re not just looking for a caterer to come in, set up food and leave. They want to know who you are, what your values are and how you’ll fit into their overall vision. So, don’t be afraid to show your personality to couples on social media!

Little details help when you’re in uncharted territory.

There’s a first time for everything. Maybe you’ve never served a same-sex couple before, but you’ve just signed a contract with a gay couple. Or, perhaps, you’ve mainly done non-denominational ceremonies, but your newest client wants a traditional Hindu wedding. Whatever the case, be sure to approach potential clients with the respect and industry knowledge that made them want to inquire with you in the first place. Of course, it helps to do your research before your first meeting, but, otherwise, be sure to listen actively, remember little things (like their names!) and be courteous — just as you would with all potential clients. Pretty soon, you’ll be confident and familiar with the couple and happy to add a new area of expertise to your portfolio.

Authenticity matters.

Weddings are highly personalized and it’s OK, if not preferred, to specialize in a certain aesthetic or style of wedding. This might mean that you turn down clients, or some clients won’t approach you, but it will also mean that you’ll spend your time working with couples who really enjoy the same style that you do. Millennials in particular are looking for wedding vendors with an authentic approach to their work, rather than a one-size-fits-all chameleon. This might come into play with a more curated Instagram feed or even working with other wedding vendors who have a similar style to create a styled shoot that represents your aesthetic.

Speaking of styled shoots...

They’re a great way to enter a new wedding market. For example, if you’re dying to book your first LGBTQ couple, but don’t have examples to show you know how to shoot or style a wedding for a same-sex couple, consider getting some of your favorite wedding pros together for a styled shoot. However, be strategic. Create a short list of wedding publications or websites where you can submit the styled shoot for maximum exposure before you spend the time and money to produce it. Also, when you’re sharing the shoot, be extra-careful to credit everyone who was involved!

Avoid the cookie-cutter approach. 

This is a phrase you’ve likely heard from a lot of clients — “I don’t want a cookie cutter wedding.” While it’s true that most weddings follow a very similar time schedule (ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, possibly an after party), couples want you to infuse their wedding with their personality and love story. This means listening carefully and asking the right questions, like how did you meet; when did you fall in love; what are some of your favorite things to do as a couple? From here, you’re able to present your client with your vision for wedding details that are meaningful to them.

» WedInsights: Destination Weddings by the Numbers

In the past, weddings were traditionally expected to take place in a couple’s hometown. Nowadays, couples often meet and live in different cities from their hometown, or they have the resources to travel to a chosen destination for their big day. From a sandy beach in another country, to a gorgeous garden several hours from their city of residence, couples are choosing destinations to reflect their personalities with the surrounding scenery of their dreams.

destination weddings fact sheet

15% of weddings are destination weddings, but a “destination” wedding doesn’t necessarily mean that the celebration is taking place on a faraway island. In fact, a “destination” wedding is considered anything more than 50 miles from the couple’s home. With this in mind, you may have already been a part of a destination wedding and you didn’t even know it!

This recent WedInsights fact sheet gives a glimpse of industry data surrounding destination weddings to get you thinking about opportunities with destination weddings. Our favorite takeaways include:

  • The average number of wedding professionals booked for a destination wedding is 9
  • When deciding on a venue for a destination wedding, 89% of couples say that price is the biggest factor with location being a close second at 87%
  • 50% of couples planning a destination wedding decide to do so for a truly unique experience

Planning a destination wedding comes with its own set of challenges (on top of an already complicated process!), which is why it is important for wedding professionals to understand the motivations and needs of a couple planning this type of wedding in order to better serve them.

For more insights on Destination Weddings read our full Destination Wedding Guide.

 

» 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…