For couples in the home stretch of wedding planning, creating a seating chart is an important task that can be a source of stress (and procrastination!) for many. The WeddingWire Editorial and Design teams created the new Reception Seating Guide to help couples plan out their reception seating—providing both etiquette advice and style inspiration. This is definitely a great guide to share with your couples in the later stages of wedding planning (the seating chart is usually created during the last few weeks before the big day!).
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!
Gay 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.
Wedding planning is supposed to be fun for your clients, but sometimes it becomes a super stressful process. Our research shows that 3 out of 5 WeddingWire couples report feeling significant pressure and stress to plan the perfect wedding, which takes away from what should be a happy time for engaged couples.
This wedding season, WeddingWire is helping your clients kick wedding stress to the curb and bring the focus back to love and commitment with our Something Blue campaign. Your clients can pledge to not let wedding stress take over their lives, and they’ll be signing up to receive exclusive deals from our partner brands and a special “something blue” band to wear as a reminder!
Each week through July 9, 2016 we’ll send weekly emails featuring select de-stressing tips offered by our pros, plus we’ve added a specially-curated article on WeddingWire with some of the best tips we received, including the following:
“Prioritize. Making a list of your top five ‘must-haves’ on your wedding day will help you stay on budget and get the wedding you have always envisioned.”
– Melissa Kramer of Kramer Events in San Luis Obispo, California.
“Stop trying to make everyone happy. Don’t be surprised if you are bombarded with ideas, suggestions and requests from every side from the moment you announce your engagement. Although you should be considerate, it is unwise to try and please everyone. Be true to your vision, and remember that this is your day. This will help you establish boundaries and have the wedding you always dreamed of.”
– Olga Pomeransky of Best for Bride in Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada.
“Don’t lose sight about what the big day is really about! If you remember that celebrating your love and commitment with everyone you care about is the most important part of the day, you won’t stress over the napkins matching the bridesmaids dresses perfectly.”
– Lindsay Quinn of NST Pictures in New York, New York.
Join the movement to reduce wedding planning stress! Share with your clients on social media using #wedosomethingblue to help spread the word that couples are not alone when it comes to wedding planning – they have family, friends, and friendly pros willing to help lessen the burden.
Learn more about wedding planning stress from our latest WedInsights fact sheet.
Wedding planning can be stressful and engaged couples often get overwhelmed with the pressure of planning and executing their day.
Our Editorial team is always looking out for ways to help brides and grooms combat the stress of wedding planning. We try to address the biggest questions and pain points with content like:
- 7 Times You Should Take a Break From Wedding Planning
- 20 Ways to Treat Yo Self During Wedding Planning
- 10 Ways to Make the Best of a “Wedding Planning Lull”
While much of our team has experienced the wedding planning struggle, we know that expert advice from wedding pros like you can really help make the process run smoothly for your clients.
This April, we’re collecting your best advice for engaged couples to help them stay organized, relaxed, and focused on what really matters as they plan their wedding. Do you have any tried-and-true tips for avoiding stress? Advice on staying focused on the importance of the occasion? Take a moment to share your best de-stressing tips to help prevent couples from becoming overwhelmed as we head into the busy summer months!
Selected tips will be included as part of an upcoming campaign for couples online and on social media, with a Storefront link or social media tag from WeddingWire. Be sure to fill out our form completely so we can give you credit for your ideas!
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.
Since 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
Whether 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!
We’re excited to let you know about some exciting updates to our consumer app!
We’ve learned that the vast majority of engaged couples prefer the convenience and simplicity of planning their wedding all within one app. We listened to feedback from real WeddingWire users and made significant updates to improve the performance of the app and the overall user experience.
Our newly redesigned WeddingWire app makes it easier for brides and grooms to find and interact with your wedding business by allowing them to:
- Search by vendor category and location
- Find your business and read your reviews
- Contact you directly by phone or email
Although the new WeddingWire app has changed a lot – including a personalized home screen, wedding countdown clock, and a fresh new look and feel – many of your clients’ favorite features have stayed the same! Your wedding clients can still:
- Stay organized with our wedding checklist and budget calculator
- Join the conversation in our community forums right from the app
- Access our guest list tool and manage RSVPs on the go
Engagement season is here, which means newly engaged couples everywhere are starting to plan their perfect wedding and looking for wedding professionals who can help pull it all together.
While some couples may be focused on celebrating their big news with family over the holidays, many others will jump right into the planning process – looking for a wedding planner, scoping out venues, building a budget and choosing a date.
Check out these statistics from Volume 7 of the WeddingWire WedInsights Series to find out what’s in store for your wedding business this engagement season!
17% of engagements happen on the same 10 days each year
In fact, nearly 40% of engagements occur between November and February. The holiday season is the perfect time for many engagements, given that many couples have time off work and travel home to visit their families. The top ten most popular dates include major holidays such as Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years’ Day, and Valentine’s Day.
On average, couples are engaged for 12 – 13 months before getting married
With that amount of time, couples have the ability to plan the wedding at a more manageable pace with their busy lives. However, it’s important to keep in mind that engagement lengths can vary greatly – our data shows that 29% of couples are engaged less than 9 months and 33% of couples are engaged for over 16 months. Those who have less than a year to plan are going to have very different wants and expectations, compared to a couple with 2 or more years to plan.
Most couples search for the majority of their vendors 7-9 months prior to their wedding
When jumping into the planning process, couples begin by setting a timeframe and budget. Certain categories such as venues, caterers, bands, and DJs are often researched as early as one year prior to the wedding. But don’t forget that 50% of couples getting married use products and/or services from at least 10 different vendors, so now is the time to ramp up your marketing. Continue reading
As seasoned wedding professionals know, couples who are new to the wedding planning process are often overwhelmed with the amount of coordination and careful preparation required to pull off the big day. Scattered across Pinterest are tons of wedding ideas, but it can be hard to manage it all without one place that brings it all together. That’s where WeddingWire comes in!
In addition to our wedding websites, budget and checklist tools, below are some of the latest ways we help couples with the wedding planning process:
After the proposal and celebration with friends and family, many couples experience the “Now what?” moment. Our newly engaged guide offers advice and information about the first five steps of the wedding planning process. The guide helps couples announce their engagement, choose a desired wedding date, set a budget, build a guest list, and find their venue. This engagement guide is just one of the ways we attract new couples to our site every day! These couples will use our leading technology to continue planning their dream wedding vision and find the perfect professionals to execute it.
Our new hashtag generators are sure to make a splash with your clients! Coming up with clever bachelor/bachelorette and wedding hashtags is a problem for today’s social-savvy brides and grooms, so we made a fun and easy tool that helps to get the creative juices flowing. Couples just need to fill out a quick form with some basic facts about the wedding day and—voila—a stream of customized hashtag options are generated! Share with your clients to help them get excited about all the wedding events.
Our editorial team is constantly on the hunt for the latest and greatest styles, fashion, and ideas. That’s why we release a new online magazine each season! Our free wedding magazines offer gorgeous inspiration for all types of wedding styles and tastes, and each new issue provides seasonally-appropriate ideas to spur creativity in your clients. Plus, since our magazines are exclusively online, they’re completely interactive and clickable. Businesses featured in our articles and real weddings can receive direct click-throughs to their Storefronts – a huge benefit that print magazines just can’t match.
Social media isn’t something that existed for your wedding business as recently as seven years ago. It requires time and effort, and making sure it’s at least a small piece of what you do every day is no easy task for a busy wedding professional. Have you ever wondered just how important social media is to the wedding planning process and whether or not it actually affects your bottom line?
Check out these five statistics from Volume 5 of the WeddingWire WedInsights Series to find out how couples are wedding planning on social media and how you can maximize your business’ presence.
74% of internet users are active on social media and 89% are between the ages of 18-29
There’s no doubt about it: data shows that your target demographic is on social media. Due to the significance of social media during the planning process, not having a social presence on these sites could negatively impact your brand’s reputation. In fact, 62% of couples say that vendors who are not on social media seem “outdated.” If you have not yet created a social presence for your wedding business, now is the time to start.
34% of couples say they’ve contacted a vendor though social media
Many social networks have become curated content streams for consumers to keep a pulse on the people, topics, and products they care about. Instead of flipping through magazines, today’s couples are scrolling through online feeds to find vendors for their big day. This is your chance to stand out and wow potential clients with content that appeals to your audience. Try posting examples of your work, aspirational photos, useful advice and tips, or interesting and funny links.
61% of couples ‘follow’ or ‘like’ a vendor’s page so that they can see the quality of their work
If a couple wants to learn more about your business, they’re likely to visit your Storefront or website. But what about those other factors that may not be easily seen through your own marketing materials? Social media allows for a more personal experience and should be a place for your clients to get to know you. Your customers want to work with people they enjoy being around, so show them a little bit of your personality!
Throughout their wedding planning journey, engaged couples are faced with hundreds of decisions and experience many emotions. As a wedding professional, it’s important not only to recognize where your clients are in the process, but also determine where and how you fit into the client journey. Understanding this process is key to booking more clients, as it can help you educate the couple, personalize their experience, and instill confidence.
To help you begin understanding the client journey, we’ve compiled consumer insights in Volume 2 of the WeddingWire WedInsights Series. Below are four statistics to help frame your thoughts as you dive into the client journey:
Today’s couples spend 80% of their planning online
Couples spend most of their time looking for vendors online, so it’s important to make sure you have an impressive online representation of your brand and offering. If a bride or groom can’t find the information they want on your website, third party business profile, blog or social media profiles, you are likely missing out on additional bookings! Make sure you’re telling a compelling story and relaying key information that couples are looking for, including pricing information, reviews, and high-quality photos.
89% of Pros have 1 – 3 conversations with a potential client before they book
Many factors come into play when planning a wedding – from who’s getting married to who’s paying. Don’t rush the process! Take a step back to observe and listen to your prospective clients along with their wants and needs for their big day. It usually takes a few conversations to develop a rapport, so don’t feel pressured to close the sale during your first phone call with a prospective client. Asking the right questions will help you understand what they’re looking for and how your business can be the right choice for the role.
We’re excited to announce our latest wedding planning tool, the WeddingWire Newly Engaged Guide found at engaged.weddingwire.com!
This website allows couples to start planning their dream wedding immediately after getting engaged. It’s full of advice and information for newly engaged couples so they have the first five steps to follow when they begin wedding planning.
Our guide helps couples through these first few important steps:
- Announcing their engagement by sharing one of our badges, or by following some expert advice on engagement etiquette, party ideas and more.
- Choosing a wedding date based on our suggestions for consideration and sending save-the-dates.
- Setting a budget to help couples easily manage expenses, track spending, and set up payment schedules.
- Building a guest list and keeping track of RSVPs and meal preferences.
- Finding a venue and other vendors in the WeddingWire directory, as well as advice for choosing the best venue for your needs and budget.
This new website is just one of the ways we attract new couples to our site every day! Of course, it’s powered by WeddingWire, so these new couples will use our leading technology to find the best vendors for their wedding day.
Check it out, and pass long to your clients for guidance and inspiration!