» WedInsights Recap to Boost Your Business Success in 2017

As we enter 2017, it’s important to start planning for the upcoming wedding season and beyond. Besides preparing for upcoming events, dedicate some time to assess your business and find ways to make improvements.

For many pros, a more successful year can mean focusing on a stronger online presence through social media or an improved mobile website. For others, it’s acquiring new customers or finding ways to make their marketing dollars go furtherRegardless of your specific goals, one thing is certain: you must know your customers and understand their wants and needs during the planning process to make the best adjustments to your business — and we are here to help!

Throughout the year, our Consumer Insights & Research Team conducts studies with thousands of engaged and newlywed couples nationwide to assemble the latest in industry and consumer data. Our findings are available to download for free anytime at WedInsights.com. Each volume, one-pager, report or infographic is filled with actionable insights designed to help your business grow and succeed!

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View some of the most popular WedInsights:

Check back often for new reports as we’ll continue to add new topics each month. Do you have a topic you’d like to learn more about? Email us and let us know!

» Top Wedding Trends for 2017

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2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year in the wedding industry, and as always, the Editorial Team here at WeddingWire been looking into our crystal ball to try to determine the top trends for the upcoming season. So we’re excited to share our hot-off-the-presses WeddingWire 2017 Wedding Trend Guide which highlights over 100 of the newest trends.

Just a few of the exciting wedding trends we can’t wait to see more of in 2017:

  • Sheer and sexy wedding dresses
  • Gray and burgundy suits for grooms
  • Bridesmaid jumpsuits
  • Urban Elegance = the “new Rustic”
  • Marble details
  • Giant floral wreath backdrops for ceremonies
  • Drone photography and videography
  • Instagram videos
  • Brunch weddings
  • Doughnuts
  • Creative food presentation – food “walls” and hanging food
  • Silent disco (seriously, it’s awesome)
  • Geode cakes
  • Drip cakes
  • Greenery motifs on invitations

And there’s a lot more where those came from! Be sure to check out the brand-new 2017 WeddingWire Trend Guide, out now!

Cover photo by Jeremy Chou Photography

» How Photography and the Wedding Industry have Evolved Since Full Marriage Equality

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.

The aspect I enjoy most about my work is having the chance to talk with wedding professionals about the work they do. Though we often talk about same-sex couples, trends and marketing practices, I absolutely love learning more about the specific talents and “tricks of the trade” of those who work with couples every day.

wedding-photography-marriage-equalityIn this spirit, four years ago, I fielded a phone call from New Hampshire-based photographer Thea Dodds. And that phone call turned into a coffee and a two-day exchange of ideas and professional experience. The end result was our self-published title, Capturing Love, which went on to be published as The New Art of Capturing Love by Amphoto Books in 2014.

The collaboration was meaningful for both of us and I came to understand more about wedding photography — and the challenge of producing beautiful, meaningful and personal images — than I had ever imagined I might.

I decided it was time for us to catch up — and this time on the record. I wanted to know how writing the book and being on tour teaching same-sex wedding photography in the industry has impacted her perspective.

Here’s what she had to say:

It’s been 4 years since we first sat down to produce and publish Capturing Love. How has the experience impacted your approach to wedding photography and couples portraiture?

Four years! That is hard to believe! When we first starting writing this book we could count the number of marriage equality states on one hand. So much has changed in four years.  Co-authoring Capturing Love has changed me, too, both in my business and my personal life.  I’ve learned so much from working with you, my clients, and our contributing photographers, that it’s hard to know where to start.

Overall, I’d say that Capturing Love has helped me connect with my clients more authentically. In a large part, I’m able to do this because I’m more conscious of the assumptions I bring to the table. I also have inclusive language that invites people to share who they are. And all of this blends right into my personal life because this work is really about being a better person.  

How has it impacted your thinking as a small business owner?

Capturing Love was a wake-up call to me about how important our work is. Our photographs influence opinions so we better make sure we know what the work is saying. One of the things that drove me to this project originally was that I felt my photographs of same-sex couples looked more like pictures of siblings. Once I listened to what my work was saying, I was able to change it. Now I am concerned with underlying meanings, power relationships and diversity in my portfolio. For instance, now that I know the LGBTQ population is about 5% of the US population, I want to make sure that my portfolio reflects that. Now that I know a ‘dip photo’ communicates strength and power, I’m a little more cautious about imposing that message on a couple.  It’s not that I never do it because some couples want that iconic image, but I’m just careful that they’re not doing it just because I told them to.

What changes, if any, have you seen in the photography industry?

Change is the one thing you can count on in the world, and the photo industry is no different.  I’ve been photographing weddings for 11 years and I’ve seen a lot of changes in my clientele, in industry standards and in wedding traditions, too. In the last two years, I have seen a sharp increase of interest in serving the LGBTQ community. This is truly fantastic change. It’s not every day that you get an entirely new segment of the population entering the wedding industry, so this has been a very exciting time to be a wedding photographer; but, there is still a lot of work to do.

Some photographers may have rushed into being LGBTQ-friendly while not learning how to be LGBTQ-competent. Just like we say in the book, the only way to get better at something is practice, and the one thing you never want to do at a wedding is practice. A wedding is a wedding, but there are some physical and cultural differences that impact our approach to best-serving the LGBTQ community.

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» Get Up-to-Speed this Engagement Season with Fact Sheets

engagement-season-fact-sheetEngagement season is here with 40% of couples celebrating their engagement from November to February each year. Now that the fall busy season is slowing down for may pros, the holidays are a great time to decompress and prepare your business for the busy months ahead.

It’s important to stay updated on the latest industry trends and stats to understand your audience and how your business can stand out. WeddingWire fact sheets are here to help!

As part of our WedInsights content, we have a helpful library full of great one-page resources you can download to get quickly informed on the latest industry research so you can impress more couples.

Here’s a peek at some of the latest fact sheets:

  • Buying an Engagement Ring: See how couples search for the perfect ring and what attributes matter most.
  • Setting a Wedding Date: Uncover the most popular days to wed and learn how couples pick their vendor team.
  • Wedding Stress: Learn what tasks stress couples out the most during the wedding planning process.
  • Bridal Re-Brand: A look at bridal bias and heteronormative assumptions in the wedding industry.
  • Planning a Honeymoon: From destination to budget, see what decisions couples make when planning a honeymoon.

Get started accessing these guides for free!

» Engaged Couples Don’t Just Like, They Love Snapchat!

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Snapchat is a quickly growing social media site — and the favorite site of many of your current (and future) couples! In fact, it’s the top social site in growth this year, and 10 billion photos and videos are being shared on the site daily! As social sharing moves more visual than ever before and video grows in importance, getting comfortable on visual-first social sites like Snapchat is important.

One of the biggest social trends we have seen this year is that many weddings are getting shared live on Snapchat. From venue details to behind the scenes looks at the wedding party to the reception celebrations and speeches — couples and their guests are sharing the full wedding experience with their followers.

Couples love to see their day celebrated by their guests, and also want their wedding experience to be special. A great way to encourage posts and customization is by adding a Snapchat Geofilter for their wedding day. To help, WeddingWire has made it easy for couples to pick a design and get it set up with Snapchat for their big day with our free Geofilter designs!

How to Geofilters work? Couples can simply select their favorite design, and easily click through to set it up on Snapchat by uploading their design, picking a time and geofence for the filter and then submitting it to Snapchat for approval (there is a fee required by Snapchat).

If you haven’t set up a Snapchat account, we encourage you to give it a try! If you would like to start posting on Snapchat for your business, focus on becoming a storyteller for your business and authentically capture content in the moment. Share behind-the-scenes photos and videos of you wedding prep, peeks at your daily lives, and of course the beautiful finished product of your work. To grow a following, cross-promote your Snapchat account across your marketing materials and other social channels. Learn more about Snapchat Marketing by reading this recent post!

Photo by Krista A. Jones Photography

» 2016 Wedding Business Goals: How Are You Doing?

In our 2015 Annual Vendor Survey, six thousand of our WeddingWire Pros gave us some insight into their biggest pain points and business growth priorities in 2016. Now that the busy season is coming to a close, how are you doing in reaching those goals?

Data from our survey suggests that venues (including rehearsal dinner venues) and catering professionals tend to work in larger corporations with larger employee counts and annual revenues – so we’ve broken out the data for this group separately from the rest of the service categories available for couples to account for the difference in available budgets.

Check out our interactive graph below to see how you measure up against your peers, and read on for more context on each goal.

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» Tips to Connect with Millennial Couples

The vast majority of today’s engaged couples are Millennials, and have specific ways they like to communicate, interact and work with wedding pros. Knowing how to connect with these Millennial couples is important to your business!

To help you stay up-to-date with this tech savvy and social generation, this month’s webinar for Premium members gave an inside look into their demographic, and shared ways they like to connect and how you can better reach them.

Review this helpful infographic to learn about Millennials, and gain insights that can help you succeed in booking more clients and better understanding your current couples.

Tips to Connect with Millennial Couples

» Oh Snap! Tips to Connect with Today’s Millennial Couples

August-Webinar_OhSnap!TipstoConnectwithToday_sMillenialCouples_TileWebinar recap!

Many of today’s engaged couples are considered Millennials, in fact 80% of WeddingWire couples are in that age range! For your wedding business to succeed in connecting with this tech-savvy and social group, it’s important to keep a close eye on the top trends, preferred communication methods, and best ways to stand out on and offline to ultimately win them over.

In this month’s webinar for Premium members, WeddingWire’s Director of Market Insights, Andy Whittaker, and Editor, Kim Forrest, provided an inside look into the mindset of today’s couples from how they prefer to connect with pros to the wedding content they are loving.

Here are some of the top take aways from the webinar:

  • Millennials now make up the largest group of the US population! There are 80 million individuals who are between the ages of 16-34, and are your average customer.
  • On average, they are engaged for 13 months, have 130 guests attend their big day, and hire 11 vendors to make their wedding come to life.
  • Millennial couples share the same top challenges when it comes to wedding planning as their more senior Gen Xers. These include budgeting, making decisions, tracking expenses, knowing they are on the right track and finding their vendors.
  • They look for their wedding pros on social media, so it’s important to have a presence and share your work and personality on top sites including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and beyond. Mostly they are looking for inspiration, to see the quality of your work, and to find your business info.
  • Aim to connect with your clients through visual content as much as you can. They love videos, listicles, infographics and visual-first social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Create your own images or share some you love, and add images of your work.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new social sites! Millennials are loving Snapchat and Facebook Live to name a few – so if these appeal to you, give them a whirl! You can also enlist Millennial employees to teach you about the sites or run accounts for your business if you lack time to coordinate the efforts yourself.

To learn more, watch the full webinar now! Plus, all past webinars are available within Premium member’s accounts to view anytime and learn about the topics that matter most to your business.

» Wedding Trend Differences in Gay Men Versus Lesbians

WeddingWire Contributor

Bernadette Smith

Bernadette Smith is the founder and president of 14 Stories and the Gay Wedding Institute (GWI), and award-winning author of three books, including The Business of Gay Weddings: A Guide for Wedding Professionals. Through the GWI, Bernadette has trained thousands of wedding and hospitality professionals on sales and marketing best practices to same-sex couples. Bernadette’s expertise has been sought after by the Today Show, National Public Radio, the BBC, the New York Times, CNN, among many others.

In general, I think it’s dangerous to generalize and foolish to put people in boxes. That said, there are some striking differences in the wedding planning activities of gay men versus lesbians. I’ve seen this over time in my wedding planning career, and in your role as a wedding professional I think it’s important to be aware of some of these differences/trends in order to best serve your clients.

Lesbians are female, and most of them identify as brides, are therefore much more “bridal” – and they are also more traditional as a result. If you think about it, since a very young age, many girls have been indoctrinated into the idea of having a wedding; their fairytale princess fantasy. It’s just been something that’s been expected of young girls for decades – lesbian girls included!

Wedding Trend Differences in Gay Men Versus LesbiansGay men, on the other hand, were unlikely to have been raised dreaming about their wedding. It’s just not something that parents talk to sons much about during their childhood, the way those same parents might talk to their daughters about it. As a result of this, plus the wedding industry’s focus on “the bride”, and the gender roles that play a part in most wedding traditions, gay men are far less traditional on their wedding days.

The survey of contemporary couples that my company conducted with WeddingWire, GayWeddings.com and Community Marketing validates my experiences as a wedding planner. For example, we found that gay men are far less likely to want to follow wedding traditions such as something borrowed, something blue (35% of lesbians adhere to this tradition vs. 7% of gay men), doing a first dance (43% of lesbians vs. 18% of gay men), changing their name (42% vs. 7%), having a wedding shower (23% vs. 4%), and many other traditions. You can take a look at the full report here.

You may also find that gay men are less likely to even have a sit down dinner and instead choose a cocktail reception. You may find that gay men are interested in hiring a DJ with experience in clubs as opposed to a DJ whose experience is primarily limited to weddings. You may find that gay men are interested in a fashion photographer rather than a traditional wedding photographer. Gay men may even be interested in picking out the attire of their waitstaff, and may ask for model bartenders/servers! I once had a gay client ask for a cute young male wedding officiant! Is that discriminatory? No, because someone’s appearance is not a protected class… but there’s no doubt that it’s shallow.

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» 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

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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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