» 3 Ways to Reach More Same-Sex Couples

WedInsights

3 Ways to Reach More Same-Sex Couples2015 was a momentous year and a huge win for same-sex marriage equality. As inclusivity continues to increase in 2016, 85% of wedding professionals surveyed said they are ready, willing and able to serve same-sex couples. However, being willing to serve and prepared to serve are two different things!

These tips, backed by data found in Volume 12 of our WedInsights series, can help your wedding business reach more same-sex couples as part of the expanding wedding market.

Go beyond the first glance

Many in the industry (e.g., wedding pros, wedding expos, registry) assume a marrying couple is one male and one female, thus distributing forms/contracts with “bride” and “groom” language, and often using the term “bridal” when referencing their clientele. This bridal bias and heteronormative assumption is important to recognize as you may be alienating current and potential clients.

89% of LGBTQ couples feel positively about a company featuring same-sex imagery on their websites and marketing collateral, and 53% of opposite-sex couples feel the same! Make the change to show your inclusivity by using the word “couples” instead of “brides”, and updating your collateral and/or contracts to be suitable for all types of couples.

Aim to be gay wedding competent

In today’s market it’s not enough to be ‘gay-friendly’ – you must be gay wedding competent. Even those pros who appear or claim to be gay-friendly can still make same-sex couples uncomfortable or unwelcome through small actions. Our data shows that 12% of engaged same-sex couples say they’ve experienced discrimination, while 13% are uncertain (i.e. unreturned phone calls or emails can create suspicion despite the true reasons).

LGBTQ couples now have a greater choice when it comes to their vendor team and it’s no longer just about who responds back. Make it a seamless experience and show your competence by:

  • Understanding what LGBTQ couples need (ex. how to enter down the aisle, how to orchestrate child-parent dances, etc.)
  • Understanding how LGBTQ experiences and legal options shape their choices
  • Using the terms that couples use to identify themselves

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» Same-Sex Weddings & LGBTQ Planning Trends: The Real Story

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.

We often have a tendency to frame what we are looking for based on what we have known. And in these cases, our questions can be limited based on those presumptions.

In the case of understanding LGBTQ planning trends and the choices that go into coordinating same-sex weddings, applying what we have known (eg, the traditions and trends of straight couples) results in a miss on some of the most interesting aspects of how the behaviors of LGBTQ couples are changing.

Assumptions driven by a heteronormative filter – and one that hasn’t needed to question the legal accessibility of marriage or the limitations gender roles – means that key themes are missed. An assumption of the primary client as a bride means that the behavior of grooms is overlooked. An assumption that behaviors of white brides and grooms can be generalized to non-white brides and grooms may not always apply. And so on.

Same-Sex Weddings & LGBTQ Planning Trends:  2016 Survey of Contemporary CouplesSo we asked: What happens if you “flip the script” and ask the same questions of straight couples as you would ask of same-sex couples?

What happens if you compare the choices and reactions of same-sex couples whose marriages and engagements have occurred since the major legal milestones (namely, the 2013 DOMA decision and the 2016 federal marriage equality rulings by the Supreme Court)?

What happens if you compare same-sex to opposite-sex couples, and what if you look at what trends are changing for straight couples while asking the question if there is resonance in those changes with the wedding trends that same-sex couples have pioneered (i.e., blended wedding parties, avoiding certain wedding traditions, discarding a ‘bride’s side’ and a ‘groom’s side’, etc)?

Simple: By challenging the assumptions of the “traditional” one bride/one groom script and utilizing our peripheral vision to shift the context to be more inclusive of all couples, my team – which consisted of me and the GayWeddings team, the WedInsights team at WeddingWire, the experts at Community Marketing & Insights (CMI), and Bernadette Smith of the Gay Wedding Institute – asked better questions of all couples.

The result is the 2016 Survey of Contemporary Couples and Current Wedding Planning Trends report, which surveyed more than 1,400 same-sex and opposite-sex couples who were married or engaged since 2013. Our inclusive and comprehensive nationwide survey revealed the clear impact that marriage equality has had on current wedding planning trends for same-sex, opposite sex and queer-identified couples. With the quickly evolving landscape of same-sex wedding planning underway, this is key; relying on outdated data to inform your business choices will put you at a distinct disadvantage.

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» Annual Survey Highlights: Top Wedding Business Goals for 2016

WedInsights

Annual Survey Highlights: Top Wedding Business Goals for 2016The wedding professionals on WeddingWire are a diverse and varied group, but many share a common goal: growth. However, the strategies they employ to achieve growth depend heavily on a number of factors – so we went straight to the source. Six thousand WeddingWire Pros responded to our 2015 Annual Vendor Survey, so we’ve got great insights and data about your industry colleagues to share in the latest volume of our WedInsights Series.

Based on the feedback from the pros who responded to our 2015 Annual Survey, it’s clear that many of them hope to grow their business in 2016 and beyond. Pros not only expressed their desire to book more business and increase revenue, but also provided insights into what they’re doing to make their goal a reality. Whether you are a sole entrepreneur or work for a multinational organization, see what wedding business goals your peers are making a priority in 2016.

Collecting more reviews to stand out

Reviews function as online recommendations for your business from past clients, so it should come as no surprise that over 90% of professionals say online reviews are critical to their business. The majority of pros also report that they collect most of their reviews on popular third party review sites like WeddingWire, Yelp, and Google.

Despite the well-known importance of collecting reviews, wedding professionals admit they are not as confident about collecting and managing reviews – nearly 25% say they could use help in this area. Getting reviews can be a major strain for a quarter of pros surveyed, especially for those in jewelry (43%), transportation (34%), beauty and health (32%), event rentals/ photobooths (31%), and venues (29%). Increase the likelihood of capturing client reviews by incorporating reviews throughout your client experience to make them more likely to submit a review for you after the big day.

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» Serving Same-Sex Couples: The Real Story

Serving-Same-Sex-CouplesWebinar recap!

Being accurately informed and understanding the real story around what goes into planning a same-sex wedding is key for pros who want to be prepared to proudly serve all couples in the increasingly competitive modern market.

As we approach the one year anniversary of marriage equality in June, this month’s educational webinar hosted by Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, and Andy Whittaker, Director of Market Insights at WeddingWire, discussed the latest LGBTQ wedding trends, how LGBTQ weddings differ and are the same as opposite-sex weddings, and how the landscape for same-sex weddings has evolved.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the interesting insights shared during the webinar:

  • Gay-friendliness and customer service often outranks industry experience in importance to same-sex couples when it comes time to select their wedding team
  • Self-identified same-sex couples who married in 2014 & 2015 remain much more comfortable breaking with traditionally-defined gender roles than previously-wed couples
  • Same-sex couples are more likely to have blended wedding parties than opposite-sex couples 
  • As marriage equality has become the law of the land, legal elopements and out-of-state ceremonies are on the decline for same-sex couples
  • Non-LGBTQ couples who value inclusion continue to rise as more couples look to work with wedding professionals who serve all loving couples

For more information, watch the full webinar, available within all Premium member accounts. And stay tuned for more in depth information on the latest wedding trends for today’s same-sex couples, coming soon!

Plus, don’t forget to opt-in to the GayWeddings vendor directory and update your main image just for GayWeddings.com to attract more engaged same-sex couples – learn how with our step by step guide.

Already listed on GayWeddings.com? Grab your GayWeddings listing badge to add to your website or blog and get added traffic to your listing!

» Breakthroughs & Backlash in Marriage Equality: The 2016 Legal Landscape

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.

One of the hardest aspects of our long walk to marriage equality was, for me, hearing nationally broadcast comments from those who have never met me declaring my life and relationship to be “immoral” or “wrong” or “not right with God.”

How would they know me, my spirituality, and my life? Those who do know me would say the exact opposite.

My values have, after all, been crafted in the careful curation of a family and community that embraces compassion, commitment, service, and integrity. And these values are the hallmark of my 23+ year relationship with my spouse.

I had hoped that the marriage equality breakthrough granted to us by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015 would mean that my marriage (spiritually-bound for so many years, until we received this long-overdue, important civil right) would no longer be subject to the abject pronouncements by a small vocal group, and fueled by the members of their community who remained silent in fear of the repercussions for speaking up or revealing a change of heart.

But, here we are, even with marriage equality settled in all 50 states and over 85% of wedding professionals nationwide saying that they are ready, willing and able to serve same-sex couples, and the backlash is well underway. The conversation, though, is now being tried actively as one of religious freedom in both the court of public opinion and the court of law.

From The Headlines

Breakthroughs & Backlash in Marriage Equality: The 2016 Legal LandscapeKim Davis, a clerk in Kentucky, was the first high profile example of protest when she refused to sign the marriage license of a gay male couple that appeared in her office to apply. After a few short days in jail for refusing to do her civic duty and her ongoing resistance to fulfill the duties of her elected office, Gov. Matt Bevin altered the licenses allowing Davis and other dissenters not to sign. Kentucky then went on to attempt to pass a “separate-but-not-equal bill” that was ultimately rejected (and notably, not even supported by Davis).

More recently, after Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a bill to shield marriage equality opponents, the governors of North Carolina and Mississippi waded into these controversial waters. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill into a law that banned “anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and requiring transgender people in government buildings and public schools to use bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates.” And, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a broadly-worded bill into law allowing individuals and institutions to deny services to the LGBT community based on their religious beliefs.

The result in North Carolina? Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in protest. PayPal withdrew its plan for a $3.6M expansion in Charlotte, NC, an economic repercussion not unlike that faced by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence after his push for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would have allowed for denial of services to LGBTQ couples. An additional 120 companies also signed an open letter for repeal of that law. In Mississippi, singer Bryan Adams cancelled a concert and eight companies, including Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Choice Hotels Corp, Inc., have signed an open letter to Gov. Bryant to repeal the bill, HB 1523. With such vocal and consistent support for the past few years, it remains clear that Fortune 500 companies recognize that supporting LGBTQ couples and families is good for business.

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» WedInsights: How Couples Choose a Wedding Date

WedInsights

WedInsights: How Couples Choose a Wedding DateWhile 37% of engagements occur between November and February, 76% of weddings occur during the summer and fall months. In fact, 25 dates make up 50% of all weddings in 2015 (and you guessed right, they’re all on Saturdays!). Despite the fact that there’s a ton of competition between clients for those coveted dates, there are a number of reasons why a couple selects their wedding date.

Our research shows that the top ten most popular factors that influence when couples choose a wedding date are:

  1. Season/weather
  2. Convenient for the couples and families
  3. Sentimental date (i.e., anniversary date)
  4. Venue availability
  5. No clear reason
  6. Liked the date
  7. Convenient based on engagement length (i.e., enough time to plan)
  8. For financial reason
  9. On a holiday
  10. Astrology

Beyond those considerations, 74% of couples know vendor pricing may differ based on day of the week or season – which could also come into play when selecting a date if the couple is on a tight budget. And for those considering a destination wedding, choosing a date has a whole different set of considerations than those couples getting married locally. Our data indicates that 14% of U.S. couples have a destination wedding, and of those, 11% have a wedding at a destination within the U.S. and 3% travel internationally (mostly to the Caribbean).

What does it all mean for you?

Once the ceremony and/or reception venue is booked and the date is set, there is a general expectation that all other vendors need to work within that schedule. Since most couples hire 10-13 wedding pros, availability is a key criterion for choosing which pros to contact. However, don’t forget that other factors affect who a couple contacts – most importantly price, reviews, and location.

As we head into the busy wedding season, be sure to add pricing to your Storefront, update your About Us section to make all your contact information easily available, and collect those last few reviews you’ve been putting off! Ensuring you cover the top three factors couples consider when reaching out to a pro means that they’ll be well-informed about your business before they even ask you about your availability.

For more insights on how couples choose a wedding date, read our latest WedInsights fact sheet.

» 4 Tips for Better Client Communication

WedInsights

	Understanding the New Rules of Client CommunicationApproximately 80% of engaged couples use email to inquire about their products or services – that’s a huge shift from the more traditional phone calls and appointments that many pros may be used to! Because more and more client communication is taking place online, understanding the communication preferences of today’s couples is important for setting your business apart from the competition.

Response time and method can make a huge difference in whether or not you get the business, so check out thesetips to help you better manage your client communication with statistics about consumer communication preferences.

Know when to be ready to reply

Roughly 33% of all online leads are submitted on Monday and Tuesday. During the weekday, lead submission is generally the highest between 11am-4pm; however, a second peak occurs after couples are home from work between 8-10pm.

Since most couples expect to hear back from a vendor within 24 hours of sending an online request for more information, it’s vital that you take note of these peak periods so you can dedicate time to reply. With those two peak periods spanning most of the work day, plan to reply to last night’s inquiries first thing in the morning and the day’s inquiries at the end of your work day. This way, you can address incoming inquiries in a timely manner without interrupting your day each time you see a new message appear.

Respond as quickly as you can

39% of professionals say they respond to an inquiry within 24 hours, meaning that the majority take longer than a day to respond due to busy schedules, appointments, and other events. In fact, 40% of couples say they haven’t heard back from a vendor within 5 days, leaving a negative first impression and giving other wedding pros the opportunity to win their business instead.

Want more insights surrounding consumer preferences for response time, method, and style? Download volume 4 of our WedInsights series.

If you’re not able to respond within 24 hours, try sending your prospective client a quick message thanking them for their interest in your business and letting them know you will respond with more information specific to their questions soon. This small effort can go a long way with clients who expect a timely response, especially if you know you won’t be at your computer for a few days.

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» Pro Wedding Planning Questions Answered: Pre-Engagement

WedInsights

Andy Whittaker is Director of Market Insights at WeddingWire. As a client-side market researcher with 15+ years experience in both qualitative and quantitative methods, his efforts to better understand customer mindsets have directly led to the development of brand and product strategy. Prior to WeddingWire, Andy led research initiatives at other for-profit and non-profit organizations. He received his MBA from George Washington University.

As the Director of Market Insights, I’m constantly interested in hearing from both engaged couples and newlyweds about their wedding journey – from what excites them to any pain points they might have encountered. This information not only helps us to make their wedding planning experience greater and find better ways to connect them with pros, but gives us the opportunity to pass along these findings so you can gain important insight into your customers.

Pro Wedding Planning Questions Answered: Pre-EngagementSince we strongly believe in getting to know your customers, we held a panel at WeddingWire World 2016 so attendees could hear from some engaged and newlywed folks about their experiences and offer advice for wedding professionals. After the panel, we found that many of our pros still had questions about the wedding planning journey and wanted to learn more from those on our panel.

While we can’t give you the in-person experience, we can certainly offer the chance to have your wedding planning questions answered! Below are some of the questions we heard from our members surrounding the pre-engagement period, with answers from engaged and recently married WeddingWire staff.

What is the first thing you plan to do once you get engaged?

“Celebrate, and decide on a wedding date! Then figure out a potential engagement party date so we can begin planning.” – Alex

“Tell our families, create a cute engagement announcement, and pick a wedding date and venue so we can start planning the rest.” – Melissa

“Update our status on Facebook.” – Elaine

Do you already have a venue in mind? What research have you already done to find a potential venue?

“Yes!  I have dreamed about it since I was young! My family and I grew up summering in Avalon, NJ, and just knew from a young age this would be the perfect area.” – Alex

“I have always known that I wanted a hotel venue so I had a few in mind.” – Anonymous

“No, we hadn’t already selected a venue. No other research was done.” – Elaine

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» How Personalization is Changing the Wedding Industry

WedInsights

How Personalization is Changing the Wedding IndustryWhether it’s a highly customized ceremony or new personalized traditions at the reception, today’s couples are mixing the old with the new and looking for ways to make their wedding stand out from the rest. Your clients want a personal experience that reflects their values and beliefs as a couple, which means all bets are off when it comes to the tried and true customs of the past.

Below are some key stats from Volume 10 of the WedInsights Series that show how personalization is changing the wedding industry landscape in 2016 and beyond!

  • 72% of ceremonies are held at a non-religious location, and 1 in 3 couples create their own vows to add a personal touch.
  • While over 80% of brides are still being escorted down the aisle by their father, 55% of couples choose to have themselves and the wedding party walk down the aisle to non-traditional music.
  • 43% of couples prefer to see each other before the ceremony to take pictures – a popular trend that we’ve seen among same-sex couples for years.
  • While 72% of couples incorporate a tiered wedding cake, others are opting for alternative desserts like doughnuts.

The best part about personalization in weddings is that it’s a trend that applies to virtually all types of wedding pros! You can find ways to personalize all areas of the ceremony and reception to give your clients the unique experience they’re looking for. Your wedding business can take advantage of these trends by making the following adjustments to your sales process:

Be more visible to engaged couples across the internet

Modern couples are conditioned to expect instant access to important information. Make sure your website and all other online listings (including your social networks) are up-to-date and clearly communicate the key information that couples want to see – especially pricing and reviews. And don’t be afraid to show some personality – couples are looking for unique ways to approach age-old traditions, and they’ll value your personal experience and flair!

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» Editors’ Favorite Multicultural Real Weddings

Kim Forrest is one of WeddingWire’s editors. She manages content creation on both WeddingWire and EventWire. Kim has been writing about weddings for nearly a decade, and has been quoted as a weddings expert in the New York Times, Washington Post, Slate, and more. 

One of the best parts of the WeddingWire Editorial Team’s job is reviewing all of the real wedding submissions we receive. We particularly are inspired by weddings with strong cultural elements, as we want to share a diverse group of weddings and wedding inspiration with our readers. We also to want to educate our users about all kinds of wedding customs and traditions, which are so rich, varied, and exciting.

Below are some of our favorite recent multicultural real weddings to inspire your next event! And if you’re interested in submitting a real wedding, engagement shoot, or styled shoot for the opportunity to be published, please visit RealWeds.com for more information.

Jubilant Vietnamese Wedding in Florida with photos by Diana Lupu Photography

– Jubilant Vietnamese Wedding in Florida with photos by Diana Lupu Photography

Bright Indian Wedding, combining Hindu and Sikh traditions, in Texas with photos by Jennifer Weems Photography

– Bright Indian Wedding, combining Hindu and Sikh traditions, in Texas with photos by Jennifer Weems Photography

Nature-Inspired Vietnamese Wedding in New Hampshire with photos by Mon Petit Studio

– Nature-Inspired Vietnamese Wedding in New Hampshire with photos by Mon Petit Studio

Korean and Filipino Wedding in Torono, Canada with photos by Hennygraphy

– Korean and Filipino Wedding in Torono, Canada with photos by Hennygraphy

Sparkling Indian Wedding in New York with photos by Origin Photos

– Sparkling Indian Wedding in New York with photos by Origin Photos

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» Announcing the 2015 Newlywed Report

WedInsights

Announcing the 2015 Newlywed ReportWeddingWire is excited to release our 2015 Newlywed Report, our largest analysis of newlyweds to date!

Based on a comprehensive survey of 6,000 WeddingWire couples, the report details statistics and trends across the entire wedding planning process from pre-engagement to the big day itself. Uniquely, the Newlywed Report crosses over the traditional wedding boundaries and includes data from same-sex weddings, as well as, second (plus) weddings.

Highlights from this year’s report include:

  • Average number of wedding guests: 120
  • Average spend on engagement ring: $4,758
  • Average wedding ceremony/reception cost: $28,958
  • Average spend on honeymoon: $3,882

Flip through the Newlywed Report today to get more insight on the use of technology throughout the planning process, spending habits, influences, challenges, and more!

» WedInsights: Why Couples Prefer Online Payments

WedInsights

WedInsights: Why Couples Prefer Online PaymentsSmall and large businesses alike have an increasing number of options to collect digital payments from customers. Now that credit cards and online payments are more commonly being used in the wedding industry, it’s important for professionals to accept most forms of payment – especially the forms that are most convenient for your clients!*

Mobile payments are only expected to grow in prevalence – transforming the way consumers pay both online and offline in the coming years. Stay ahead of the trend and ensure you are collecting payment the fastest, and easiest, way for your clients! The stats below from Volume 9 of the WeddingWire WedInsights Series shed light on why couples prefer online payments.

More than 50% of couples prefer to pay their wedding vendors using an online payment method

Although 85% of couples pay for their products or services by personal check, writing a check has become a thing of the past in the minds of today’s couples. Just like you need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in your field, it’s important to do the same with your business practices so you aren’t perceived as outdated!

Online payments typically take less than one day to submit payment

Submitting a payment online is not only convenient for the client, but it also helps you get paid faster. Couples on average take less than one day to submit an online payment, whereas those required to mail in or drop off a check take 3 – 4 times longer. Why wait?

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