» 3 Key Ways Millennial Couples are Different from Past Generations

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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.

 

» 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!

» 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!

» 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

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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» Is Your Website Turning Away Potential Clients?

Megan Hayes is a Regional Manager of the Customer Success Team at WeddingWire. As a client-facing customer advocate with 6+ years of experience in both account management and online advertising, she’s now taken her experience and travels nationally speaking on topics to empower small businesses with industry trends. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies with a Public Relations concentration from James Madison University.

One of the oldest (yet often overlooked) challenges in the wedding industry is that of diversity. While society has led us to think a certain way based on what’s portrayed to us in media outlets such as magazines and television, the reality is that today’s couples reflect a variety of ages, ethnicities, races, sexual orientations, and financial backgrounds.

Just think: How many times have you seen a young bride standing alone on the cover of a wedding magazine? Does she represent all of your wedding clients? The short answer, of course, is no. We all know that, yet you wouldn’t know that from the imagery and language used in the majority of wedding-related media.

Is Your Website Turning Away Potential Clients?Whether it’s your business website, your social networks, or ads in wedding magazines, only catering to one type of client could mean that your website (and marketing materials) could be turning away potential clients. According to a recent WedInsights fact sheet, 40% of straight grooms and 50% of brides and grooms of color say it is challenging to see themselves reflected in the content and imagery of magazines and online resources. Additionally, same-sex couples and those with lower household income are also more likely to say they experience this challenge.

It’s important to remember that all types of couples are looking for inspiration and relatability to help them with their decision-making needs throughout the wedding planning process. If couples can’t relate to or identify their own similarities within your work, this might deter them from considering your services. Conversely, our data shows that representing more diverse audiences can actually benefit your business. According to our 2016 Survey of Contemporary Couples & Current Wedding Trends, 98% of same-sex couples surveyed feel positively about a company featuring same-sex imagery on their websites and marketing collateral.

And diversity doesn’t only matter to those who aren’t represented in mainstream media. That same study indicates that 53% of opposite-sex couples have the same positive sentiment; half (49%) find it important for their vendors to be inclusive and provide services for all types of couples.

Over the years, companies have taken an initiative to step away from the stereotypical imagery to a more inclusive outlook on society. We’re starting to see a shift in focus with well-known brands launching campaigns tht promote real people such as Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign and Campbell Soup’s #RealRealLife Campaign. Additionally, companies like General Mills, Swiffer and Coca-Cola are great examples of established companies that have followed a similar strategy towards representing the realism of today’s culture through online marketing campaigns, print ads, commercials, and branded hashtags.

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

This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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» Annual Survey Highlights: Top Wedding Business Goals for 2016

WedInsights

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

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

Collecting more reviews to stand out

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

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

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» WedInsights: How Couples Choose a Wedding Date

WedInsights

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

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

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

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

What does it all mean for you?

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

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

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

» 4 Tips for Better Client Communication

WedInsights

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

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

Know when to be ready to reply

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

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

Respond as quickly as you can

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

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

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

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