» 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

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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.


» 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.

 

» 4 Ways to Optimize Your Lead Replies

In the competitive wedding industry, everyone wants lots of high quality leads – but how you reply to each lead plays a pivotal role in determining if you will successfully book the client. These quick tips will help you optimize your lead replies so you’re more likely to receive a positive response and ultimately win the business!

Don’t forget to be personal

Clients know you’re busy, but responding to an email inquiry with an auto response may not have the positive impact you intended. About 25% of couples don’t like generic automated responses, as they can be perceived as impersonal and often provide little added value. Take an extra minute to include in your reply some details from their message, such as wedding date, style, or venue, or to add a personal comment. This effort makes a human connection and helps you stand out in their crowded inbox.

Keep it short and simple

Many couples check emails primarily on their mobile devices, and short emails are more likely to get a reply. Start with a brief subject line and get to the point quickly, since lengthy emails often go unread. Avoid long paragraphs by adding line breaks and use bullet points or numbers where possible to highlight important details. Come up with a few sample responses to keep on hand so you can quickly add in a bit of custom information based on the inquiry and hit ‘send.’

Answer any questions they asked

Many pros make the mistake of not responding to directly asked questions, which can frustrate couples because they’re often reaching out to a number of pros and may have specific questions or criteria they need to know to move forward. You can prepare ahead of time by coming up with a list of answers to common questions such as price range, packages, and availability – but be sure to address any specific questions they asked in your initial reply. These answers are important in determining if you are a good match – nd will ultimately save you time!

Use their preferred contact method

Our research shows that 48% of couples express frustration when a vendor does not reciprocate their preferred communication type. Get off on the right foot with potential clients by contacting them in the way they prefer!

Couples can give you their phone number and indicate their preferred contact method for your response. The couple’s preferred method will be shared with you in their message details saved on their client information card within your account. If they choose to provide a phone number, it will also appear within their client details for easy reference.

Check out the change on your Storefront now >>

» 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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» 3 Ways to Reach More Same-Sex Couples

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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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» 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.

» 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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» 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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