» A Decade of Change: How the Industry Has Evolved

 

 

 

alan bergThis article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

As WeddingWire celebrates its 10th anniversary, I wanted to reflect on the last 10 years in our industry. We’ve been through some interesting times. The economy has gone through some wild swings, and we’ve experienced major ups and downs in politics. However, as I reflect on what’s happened, I’m reminded of the old saying: The more things change, the more they remain the same.

I’ve lived through many more than 10 years in our industry, and some things are constant. We should all be grateful that we’re in a recession-resistant industry. Regardless of the economic climate, people are still getting married. Yes, how much they spend, and how they spend it changes, but that’s not just a factor of the economy. Styles change. Trends change. Attitudes and priorities change. Yet, through all of that, people still get married.

We’re really lucky


I often remind wedding pros, like you, that we chose an industry that has couples spending billions of dollars on their weddings, and they are not required to do so. There’s no law that says you have to have a party to celebrate your marriage. There are laws about getting legally married. But, there are no laws about having food, pictures, music, flowers, fashion, etc. Those are discretionary purchases. Most discretionary purchases are highly affected by the economy, swinging with it up and down. Not weddings. Weddings happen, no matter what.

My theory on this (not scientific, just one man’s opinion) is that no one goes into their wedding thinking it’s practice for the next time. We all hope, and many of us are right, that it’s one and done. My parents just celebrated their 63rd anniversary, a benchmark we’d all like to achieve. So, we spend boatloads of money, celebrating the occasion. We should be thankful, every day.

Here are a few of my observations about the last decade:

Technology – If there’s one thing that’s constant, it’s changing technology. Sure, we all had websites 10 years ago, or knew we needed them, but the underlying technology of them is always changing. Much of what we used to do only on desktop computers, we now do on our mobile devices. It’s not better, or worse; it’s just different. For many of you, the technology of your service has changed. Think DJs going from LPs to CDs to all-digital music. Does that make you a better DJ? No. But, it helps you help your couples.

Communication – Whether it’s Facebook Messenger, LiveChat, Texting or WhatsApp, lots of new communication platforms have come along in the last 10 years. I hated Facebook Messenger when it first arrived. I didn’t think I needed it, as I already had phone, email and text. I quickly learned to love it, as clients, and potential clients, started to reach out to me through it. I can attribute real dollars to conversations that were started through Facebook Messenger, texting and WhatsApp. Today, I’ll embrace almost any technology that my clients want to use to connect with me.

Social Media – Here’s a statement of the obvious: social media has fundamentally changed our lives. Whether it’s for the better, or worse, is up to you to decide. All I know is that 10 years ago I wasn’t investing the time I do today in social media. Where did we get that time? What are we not doing now, that we were doing with that time 10 years ago? We didn’t get any more time, so it had to get shifted from other activities. That said, I use particular social media platforms because I get positive return on my investment in time and effort, and yes, money (if I buy an ad, or boost a post). Many of the wedding pros I meet, and consult with, have no idea if they’re getting any return on their investments. They do it because they feel they have to. Did you jump into the deep end of the social media pool, because everyone else was in the pool? Or, did you first learn how to be a great swimmer, and then jump in?

Social Proof – Here’s a phrase we weren’t using 10 years ago. According to a WeddingWire study, nearly 90% of consumers trust online reviews, as much as personal recommendations. So, while 10 years ago couples were asking their friends, family and coworkers for recommendations, now, with over 3 million reviews on WeddingWire alone, they can go online and find out who you really are. I’ve said this many times: your brand is defined by what your customers say about you, after they’ve worked with you. You need to be highlighting your reviews everywhere: on your website (not just on a testimonials page, as no one goes there) and in your marketing. You need to be actively involved in the process, responding to your good reviews, requesting reviews and yes, addressing anything negative, quickly and professionally. Your brand and your reputation is out there, for everyone to see… whether you choose to see it or not. Be involved.

Sales – Here’s something that hasn’t fundamentally changed. Sales is, and will always be, about people. Yes, you’ll use different technologies in your process, but ultimately, it’s people, buying from people. If you learn how to effectively help people buy, the technology is inconsequential. Artificial intelligence is a long way from being able to take the job of a salesperson in your business. You need to make a connection. You need to ask better questions. You need to really listen to the answers, and then show the customer how you, and only you, can deliver the results they want. That hasn’t changed in the last 10 years, and it’s not going to change in the next decade, if ever. If there’s one skill you need to hone, whether you’ve been selling for 20 minutes, or 20 years, it’s your sales skills. If you don’t make the sale, you don’t get to ply your craft and show your skills. It’s that simple.

So, what’s happened in the last 10 years? I remember first meeting Tim and Sonny at the Wedding MBA conference, 10 years ago. I was impressed with them, even though I was a competitor at the time. I’ve watched, from the sidelines, as WeddingWire has grown, and matured, yet still manages to remain nimble, something that’s not easy to do. I’m proud to be connected with WeddingWire for over 5 years now, and I’m looking forward to the next 10. I wish you all a decade of success!

» Top 10 Roundup: Most Popular Wedding Business Tips

A lot has changed in the wedding industry over the last 10 years, which has challenged wedding professionals to change with it. Since WeddingWire launched in 2007, we’ve shared marketing advice, expert education, and technology tips to help you manage and grow your business. While the rise of technology has dramatically changed the ways that wedding professionals connect with and book potential clients, many of the core principles of running a successful wedding business remain the same.

Here is a list of our top 10 most read articles of all time, containing some of our most essential business tips, insights, and marketing advice that are still just as relevant today:

#1 – Why Do Couples Ask About Price First?

#2 – Top Wedding Trends for 2017

#3 – 5 Ways You’re Losing The Sale

#4 – Business Branding: Consider Your Color!

#5 – How Are Weddings Changing? WeddingWire 2017 Newlywed Survey

#6 – What to Do When They Don’t Respond

#7 – How to Deal with Pricing Questions

#8 – 6 Ways to Optimize Your Website for Leads

#9 – How to Respond to a Negative Review

#10 – How Should You Politely Tell A Client ‘I Don’t Do That’?

» A Special Thank You to Our Wedding Businesses for 10 Years!

Ten years ago we started WeddingWire with one mission in mind: to help engaged couples and wedding professionals connect online. It’s amazing to reflect on just how much wedding planning has evolved since then, but our founding goal has never wavered. We feel so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to help businesses like yours reach local couples and grow to new heights since 2007. 

Without you — our phenomenal wedding professionals — WeddingWire would not be possible, and we owe our decade of success to you. We’ve helped millions of couples celebrate one of the most important days of their lives. Here’s what we’ve achieved together over the years:

On behalf of everyone at WeddingWire, thank you for being an invaluable part of our first 10 years. I look forward to all we will accomplish together in the future.

Cheers to the next 10!

– Tim Chi, Founder and CEO

 

 

 

 

 

 


Celebrate with us this month! 

Share your favorite wedding throwback photos on Instagram with #WeDoTBT and tag @WeddingWireEDU for a chance to win fun prizes! Get the details here.

 

» How Are Weddings Changing? WeddingWire 2017 Newlywed Survey

WeddingWire 2017 Newlywed Report It’s that time again—the WeddingWire 2017 Newlywed Survey is here! This year, we surveyed more than 13,000 couples that wed in 2016 to learn about their weddings and what was most important to them.

Read the full survey here >>

Here are some of the big changes:

1. Technology matters: Couples now spend 50% of their time planning from a smartphone (up from 30% last year).

2. Uniformity is out: Bridesmaids are more likely to wear non-matching than in previous years, a trend we’ve seen continue to grow.

3. While the average wedding price tag hasn’t grown, millennials spend a bit more: $31,000 on average.

 

But, some things are staying put:

1. The average price of a wedding is still about $28,000. Spend on honeymoons ($4,000) and engagement rings ($5,000) is also about the same as last year.

2. The first dance continues to be the most popular tradition for all couples, but same-sex couples are less likely to perform one.

3. The average number of wedding guests for straight couples is 124, just four more than last year. For same-sex couples, it’s 100.

There’s lots more information for wedding pros, so check out the full survey!

» What Wedding Traditions Are Important to Today’s Couples?

wedding traditions

Today’s couples can be both sticklers for wedding traditions and thirsty for change. According to WeddingWire’s Wedding Trends & Traditions Fact Sheet, many wedding traditions are staying put, while others seem to be fading from popularity.

For example, time-honored wedding traditions like the bouquet toss are slowly losing favor with modern couples. Yet, others, like at least one person in the couple wearing white and performing a first dance, are staunchly in style.

What should come as no surprise to those in the wedding industry, images are still the preferred currency of weddings for couples. Most couples now opt for engagement photos and a wedding website. The percentage of couples who use a wedding hashtag to organize photos of their wedding on Instagram is now almost 50%.

wedding traditions wedding cake

What’s the Takeaway for Wedding Pros?

Be sure you’re staying abreast of which traditions are fading from popularity (and what might be replacing them) while also keeping an eye out for things that are fast becoming mandatory. Couples see you as the expert on what their options are, so be sure to have a robust well of knowledge on trends and traditions to help guide them.

Ultimately, though, each couple will want a unique and personalized experience, so be open and ready to make their wedding vision come to life, no matter where it falls on the scale of trendy to traditional.

Read more about Trends & Traditions in this one-pager.

Photo credits: Arte de Vie; Hyer ImagesCharleston Cakes, Etc.

» 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!

wed-insights-2016

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

weddingtrendguide2017-cover

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.

Continue reading

» 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!

snapchat-geofilters

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.

Continue reading

» 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