» Pro Wedding Planning Questions Answered: Pre-Engagement

WedInsights

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.

Pro Wedding Planning Questions Answered: Pre-EngagementSince 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

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» 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

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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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» 3 Ways Online Contracts Can Help Grow Your Business

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	3 Ways Online Contracts Can Help Grow Your BusinessWhen it comes to closing the deal and signing on the dotted line, many wedding professionals unintentionally end up delaying the final sale due to outdated processes surrounding contracts and payments. As a result, engaged couples can become frustrated trying to find the time to meet in person or find a printer or fax machine.

In today’s digital age, millennials expect to do most of their wedding planning and vendor communication online. Using an online contract can not only help you close the deal faster, but also reflects well on your reputation as a tech-savvy wedding business! Below are some compelling statistics about the use of online contracts from Volume 8 of the WedInsight Series:

Over 60% of couples are required to sign a contract by meeting in person or by printing, signing, and sending the contract back.

Fax machines and scanners are no longer a household device, so why force your clients to spend time tracking down these devices to deliver you a signed contract? Plus, businesses that require their clients to fax a contract back take 1-2 days on average to receive a signed contract. Today’s couples prefer to use online methods, so use it to your advantage to make closing the deal as convenient as possible.

When given the choice, a couple’s most preferred method for signing a contract is using an online contract platform.

Using antiquated, offline methods could have a negative impact on your business’ reputation. The majority of couples perceive businesses that require contracts to be signed and sent back via fax or snail mail to be outdated and not tech savvy – which could give couples the same perception about your business. Make sure this same perception doesn’t carry over to your professional work by staying up-to-date with modern technology to show that your business is able to adapt.

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» 4 Statistics to Prepare You for Engagement Season

WedInsights

Engagement season statistics from WedInsightsEngagement 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

» 3 Ways Displaying Pricing Information Generates More Leads

WedInsights

Statistics from WedInsights Volume 6Couples spend a lot of time researching the perfect wedding vendors and one of the main things they look for before reaching out is the potential price tag – and no, it’s not because they’re price shopping.

44% of wedding professionals say their prices vary per customer, which is why they prefer to have a dialogue or meeting to collect more details before providing a price point. Although couples understand there may be a variance in price, they express frustration when they cannot get a general baseline and are more likely to continue a conversation with a vendor who willingly provides this information as a starting point.

Below we share some of the insights from Volume 6 of the WeddingWire WedInsights Series to find out how displaying pricing information can help your wedding business connect with more qualified couples online.

Stand out as a possible choice

Due to the importance of pricing information, many couples bypass vendors who don’t display pricing information and focus on those that give a price indication up front. In fact, 88% of couples want to see pricing before reaching out to contact a vendor. Couples simply don’t want to waste their time or get excited about a product or service only to discover it’s outside of their budget. Give prospective clients the information they need to send a lead by adding initial pricing information to your website and additional online listings.

Establish trust at the point of inquiry

Couples hate nothing more than to ask “how much” and in return get forced into having a conversation or sales pitch in order to get an answer. As much as we know that wedding professionals prefer to have a conversation to get all the details and provide an accurate price, couples just want to get a baseline. Don’t be afraid to answer the question and then ask to set up time to chat. And remember – despite budgeting and planning, 74% of couples come in over budget. Only 10% of couples report coming in right on budget and 16% under budget, indicating that couples are willing to be flexible, but they need to feel comfortable with your business before they can make adjustments.

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» Wedding Planning on Social Media: 5 Statistics

WedInsights

Five statistics about how couples use social media for wedding planningSocial 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!

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» Responding to Leads: Response Time, Method, and Style

WedInsights

Responding to Leads: Response Time, Method, and StyleEngaged couples send out dozens of online inquiries during the planning process trying to find the perfect vendor team for their wedding day. While some couples may know a little (or a lot) about your business prior to submitting a lead, how you respond and the speed of your response will determine the likelihood of booking.

Below we share data from Volume 4 of the WeddingWire WedInsights Series to help you understand the impact your response time and communication style have on the likelihood of booking wedding clients:

80% of couples use email to submit inquiries

Couples have become expert multi-taskers and take every opportunity they have to do wedding research and submit leads – often during work or school. Furthermore, many couples like to have a record of the conversation in their email so they can easily reference it at a later date. Since they won’t always have the time to schedule a phone call with you, make sure you’re responding to inquiries in a way that’s convenient for your prospective client. If they reach out via email, respond via email.

Most couples expect to hear back from a vendor within 24 hours

One way to increase your likelihood of booking a client is to respond quickly – within 24 hours to be exact. Our data shows that couples have an all-around more positive perception of a vendor when they respond quickly. The faster you respond, the more likely your prospective client is still thinking about your business and will continue the conversation. Think about the leg up you’d have if you’ve already had two conversations before your competition has even replied!

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» 3 Statistics That Prove You Need Mobile Optimization

WedInsights

Young people using mobile devicesA mobile-friendly website is no longer a nice-to-have – it’s now a necessity for conducting business in the wedding industry. More than ever, couples are using smartphones at all hours of the day to keep the planning process moving along, from searching for vendors to finding inspiration.

Your mobile website might be the first and only impression a couples sees of your business, so it’s vital that your site provides a good user experience and highlights important information. You can learn more about mobile optimization in Volume 3 of the WeddingWire WedInsights Series, but below we’ve compiled a few stats that prove that mobile optimization is a big deal for your wedding business!

61% of mobile users say they are likely to visit another site when they don’t find the information they’re looking for right away

Today’s society is accustomed to instant gratification and the same holds true for the wedding planning process. Smartphones allow couples to search for information during their commute, while at the gym and even at 2am; therefore, it’s important to provide the content they’re searching for when you have their attention! If a couple can’t find the information they’re looking for on your site, they’ll quickly move on to the next.

Each week, couples spend over 30% of their time planning their wedding from a mobile device

While all businesses need to have a strong mobile presence, it’s important to recognize if the product or service you provide is better suited for a desktop or mobile interaction and adjust content accordingly. While a couple might not create their wedding invitation on a mobile device, they will certainly be browsing for design inspiration. Think about what is most valuable to your mobile clients and how you can deliver a great experience, while highlighting the most meaningful content. A good mobile experience does not need to replicate your website, but should offer up content that makes prospective clients want to take the next step.

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» Understanding the Client Journey: 4 Statistics

WedInsights

StatisticsThroughout 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.

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» Introducing the WedInsights Series

WedInsights

Introducing the WedInsights SeriesWe’re proud to introduce WedInsights, a new publication designed to provide wedding professionals with actionable consumer and business insights.

WedInsights is a free monthly series that will allow wedding and event professionals to stay up-to-date on the latest wedding industry findings and new client data. Each month we’ll provide you with a new issue aimed at providing relevant and insightful data around important topics for businesses in the wedding industry, including:

  • The importance of a mobile presence
  • The couples’ wedding planning journey
  • Capturing and converting more leads
  • …and more!

Each publication will provide a holistic view of the topic from both the consumer and vendor perspective. We’ll provide relevant behavioral data, quotes and testimonials from real consumers, and peer-to-peer insights to help you understand how to use the information provided to help your business.

Our inaugural issue focuses on Reviews and details how reviews have become instrumental to every wedding business’s success. Download the free WedInsight Reviews report here and keep an eye out for new topics each month!