» Don’t Miss the WeddingWire Guest List Guide

WeddingWire-guest-list-guideOne of the latest additions to our suite of planning guides for couples is the new WeddingWire Guest List Guide!

Creating a guest list can be one of the most challenging parts of wedding planning. Whether your clients want a big wedding with hundreds of guests or a more intimate affair with just a few loved ones, deciding whom they’ll invite can be a major source of stress.

Our new Guest List Guide provides your clients with all of the information and etiquette they’ll need to answer these and other guest list-related questions so you can make the process as stress-free as possible.

Sections include:

  • Things to know before creating the guest list, including venue and budget considerations
  • Most common guest list etiquette questions, answered – kids, coworkers, parents’ friends?
  • Save-the-date inspiration for every wedding style and taste
  • Ways to make their guests’ lives easier through hotel room blocks, transportation, and more

The earlier your clients get the answers they need for these tough logistics questions, the earlier they can start focusing on the fun part – choosing the perfect vendor team and selecting all of the fun details that will make their day truly special.

Enjoy our Guest List Guide and help your clients keep the wedding planning process moving smoothly!

» Tips to Connect with Millennial Couples

The vast majority of today’s engaged couples are Millennials, and have specific ways they like to communicate, interact and work with wedding pros. Knowing how to connect with these Millennial couples is important to your business!

To help you stay up-to-date with this tech savvy and social generation, this month’s webinar for Premium members gave an inside look into their demographic, and shared ways they like to connect and how you can better reach them.

Review this helpful infographic to learn about Millennials, and gain insights that can help you succeed in booking more clients and better understanding your current couples.

Tips to Connect with Millennial Couples

» Oh Snap! Tips to Connect with Today’s Millennial Couples

August-Webinar_OhSnap!TipstoConnectwithToday_sMillenialCouples_TileWebinar recap!

Many of today’s engaged couples are considered Millennials, in fact 80% of WeddingWire couples are in that age range! For your wedding business to succeed in connecting with this tech-savvy and social group, it’s important to keep a close eye on the top trends, preferred communication methods, and best ways to stand out on and offline to ultimately win them over.

In this month’s webinar for Premium members, WeddingWire’s Director of Market Insights, Andy Whittaker, and Editor, Kim Forrest, provided an inside look into the mindset of today’s couples from how they prefer to connect with pros to the wedding content they are loving.

Here are some of the top take aways from the webinar:

  • Millennials now make up the largest group of the US population! There are 80 million individuals who are between the ages of 16-34, and are your average customer.
  • On average, they are engaged for 13 months, have 130 guests attend their big day, and hire 11 vendors to make their wedding come to life.
  • Millennial couples share the same top challenges when it comes to wedding planning as their more senior Gen Xers. These include budgeting, making decisions, tracking expenses, knowing they are on the right track and finding their vendors.
  • They look for their wedding pros on social media, so it’s important to have a presence and share your work and personality on top sites including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and beyond. Mostly they are looking for inspiration, to see the quality of your work, and to find your business info.
  • Aim to connect with your clients through visual content as much as you can. They love videos, listicles, infographics and visual-first social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Create your own images or share some you love, and add images of your work.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new social sites! Millennials are loving Snapchat and Facebook Live to name a few – so if these appeal to you, give them a whirl! You can also enlist Millennial employees to teach you about the sites or run accounts for your business if you lack time to coordinate the efforts yourself.

To learn more, watch the full webinar now! Plus, all past webinars are available within Premium member’s accounts to view anytime and learn about the topics that matter most to your business.

» Can You Hear Me Now? Communication Tips to Get More Replies and Bookings

July-Webinar-ImageWebinar recap!

Communicating with clients in this day in age can be very confusing. Technology has transformed not only the way we communicate, but what we should be saying and how we should be saying it.

It’s important to be familiar with the best modern communication practices in order to get more replies and book more couples! In this month’s webinar for Premium members, WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg shared his tips for successful communication in the wedding industry!

Here are the 6 T’s that Alan suggests for better client communication:

    • Technology. With literally thousands of apps available for communication–from Messages, to Live Chat, to email, to calling, etc.– it’s difficult to know the best way to get in touch with a couple. At the end of the day, customer convenience is the motto to live by. Follow their lead using their preferred communication type. If you’re making the first contact, email is typically your safest bet, as most couples prefer email over all other communication methods.
    • Timing. The faster you respond to a couple, the more likely it is that they will choose your business over others. Most couples expect a response within 24 hours, so if you know you won’t be able to get back to them before then, at least make contact to let them know you will be in touch soon.
    • Text. Whatever method of communication you choose, be sure to keep your message short and sweet. Also make sure that anything you send can be easily read on a mobile device. Alan suggests that you avoid using attachments and graphics when possible, as those tend not to load properly on mobile devices.
    • Tone. When it comes to your tone, the golden rule is to mirror your client. Get a feel for their manner, and respond accordingly. However, don’t feel obligated to ditch your unique voice, and don’t change your tone once you’ve booked a client. Stay true to yourself and your business personality!
    • Transition. Alan says that one of the most important elements to remember (and one that many business owners forget) is to always provide a call to action. Give your clients a sense of direction, letting them know what the next best step is. However, don’t be pushy; you don’t want to rush them or make them feel forced into an appointment.
    • Tenacity. Don’t give up on a sale if you haven’t heard back right away! Couples are very busy when planning a wedding, so follow up to remind them that you still care about their sale. Ask for the sale if they ask you a question, but avoid seeming impatient. It’s a best practice to follow up 3-5 times on a lead before you let it go, just remain professional and try different approaches to see what gets you a reply.

For more great advice, watch the full webinar, and be sure to check out Alan’s blog all about the business of weddings!

Pro tip: WeddingWire Messages is a fast and easy way to connect with couples, available now in your account! You’ll be notified about new leads or messages, and you can reply using your email, account or mobile device. You’re easily able to send attachments, manage conversations and client details, and move from inquiry to marked as booked instantly. Learn more here!

» 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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» Marketing To Today’s Couples, Not Yesterday’s Brides

This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, 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.

Here’s a question I’m often asking myself: I’m a married lesbian who is a same-sex wedding expert and educator; so why am I spending so much of time talking about straight grooms?

Marketing To Today’s Couples, Not Yesterday’s BridesI knew that the wedding industry was not inclusive of same-sex couples when my straight mom founded our business in 1999 to support same-sex couples, but I had no idea that most of the industry language and habits chugged along so relentlessly exclusive of grooms.

Say yes to the dress. Sell the bride. Bridal shows. Bridal showers. High-end brides. Book more brides. The list goes on. But, thankfully, it’s improving.

A quick scan of the top conferences offered in 2015 revealed that the majority of wedding industry conference offerings referenced ‘clients’ and ‘couples.’ A welcome change, in large part brought about by the push for the industry to be more inclusive of lesbian brides and gay grooms who can now legally marry legally nationwide. And, of course, the introduction of resources like TheManRegistry.com in 2007 and the book, In His Moment, by Ross Oscar Knight, which focuses the groom’s oft-overlooked narrative of his wedding day, help professionals and couples remember that there is at least one groom in the mix at the majority of weddings that take place.

Further, Andy Whittaker, the Director of Market Insights at WeddingWire, ran a quick meta analysis for me and found that there have been notable shifts in the inclusion of “grooms” in the media. In six of the largest national and urban papers (both online and in print), there has been a general increase of usage of the term “groom” in articles since 2007, and a decline in the ratio of usage of “brides” to “grooms” in articles since 2011.

Old “bridal bias” habits die hard, however, and the home stretch will require that wedding professionals, writers, editors and publishers update their language – spoken and printed – to be inclusive of “brides and grooms” rather than just “brides.”

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» 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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» When People Pleasing Becomes a Problem

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Her newest venture, Authentic Boss, is an online learning resource for business owners seeking to work and live more authentically. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

When People Pleasing Becomes a ProblemBusiness ownership can be confounding for a lot of reasons, a big one being that we often find our personalities in conflict with our priorities. Sometimes, our natural traits can be a hindrance, both to our financial success and to our well-being as business owners. For example, we all have times when we get frustrated or angry with a client, yet obviously we can’t express the sentiments that may be going through our head (at least not verbatim!).

There’s another trait that’s just as detrimental to business as an anger management problem, but far more common: an addiction to people-pleasing. Sure, empathizing with others and wanting to make them happy are good things in our uniquely sentimental, emotion-driven industry. However, constantly putting clients first, at the expense of your business, can quickly cause you to go under. The ability to honor your own standards, set boundaries, and maintain your bottom line are all essential to your company’s longevity.

If you’re a kind, thoughtful, chronic people-pleaser, here are three mistakes to avoid as you operate your business:

Agreeing to things that put your business in jeopardy. Selling our products or services often feels like selling ourselves, and it can be intimidating. When a client seems ready to hire us, but just wants us to make a “few” changes to our contract or modify our policies, it can be tempting to go along with their requests just so that we’ll make a sale. This is a dangerous risk to take, however. For instance, when a client is asking you to strike a clause holding them or their guests liable for damage, they’re essentially asking you to assume that liability yourself. It would be crazy to accept that, right? Well, sure, when you’re thinking about it theoretically – but when a client is putting the pressure on, it’s easy to rationalize that a worst-case scenario will never happen, you’ll accommodate them just this once, blah blah blah…All well and good, until something does happen. If nothing else, you’ve demonstrated to the client that you’re a pushover, and they’re bound to keep pushing. Instead, hold firm to your contract and to any other terms you’ve put in place, and do so with the confidence that you’re giving the client the benefit of being served by a protected, established business.

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» How Setting Boundaries can Save Your Sanity (and Your Business)

Pro to Pro Insights

Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events GroupThis post was written by Jennifer Taylor. Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui.

As business owners, it can be difficult to maintain a happy work-life balance and we often find ourselves feeling stretched too thin (which is just a few steps away from burnout, if not managed properly).

setting-boundariesThe truth is that burnout is not only bad for your mental health, but it can damage your business if you’re not feeling motivated to keep up with everything. Saying ‘yes’ may get you a lot of places, but an occasional ‘no’ is necessary for happiness and stability. Setting firm boundaries is the key to finding meaning in life and rediscovering a healthy balance, but the eternal question is where to draw the line.

We’ve all experienced those clients who expect the world (and more!) from you – whether it’s a panicked 2 A.M. call or a last-minute “urgent” meeting, some people will expect you at their beck and call and just won’t understand that you have family, as well as other clients, to attend. This is why you must set limitations ahead of time for both your clients and yourself.

At Taylor’d Events, we’re clear with our clients from the beginning of our relationships that it’s their responsibility to schedule appointments with me in advance, as well as choose the meeting location. They understand that I’m responsible for being there on time, as well as attentive to the situation. Before we start working together, we also make sure that both parties are on the same page for coordinating the Big Day so there are no lingering expectations that go unmet because they weren’t initially set. For example, our team is responsible for ensuring that all guests make it onto the last shuttle, but it’s important that we’re not liable for those who wander away from the venue. When boundaries are established from the get-go, you’ll know how to exceed expectations while your clients will be realistic when it comes to your time and attention.

Now, my boundaries may be different from all of my industry peers’ boundaries and that’s entirely fine. The limitations that you set within your business (and your life) are based upon who you are as an individual, how your business is structured, and what you value in life.

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» Infographic: 10 Creative Ways to Use Your Reviews

Reviews are a great way to showcase your business, all from the mouths of happy past clients! Beyond just collecting reviews, make sure you make your reviews easy to find, and consider adding them to all your marketing collateral including emails, websites, materials and more.

Our latest infographic highlights 10 creative ways to use your reviews to boost your business from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, who presented on the topic during a recent webinar for premium members.

Nov_Webinar_Infographic_10CreativeWaystoUseYourReviews

Ready to get started? Check out and manage your WeddingWire reviews, request reviews from past clients, and showcase your great reviews!

» 10 Dos and Don’ts from Couples this Engagement Season

Engagement season is here! Couples are getting engaged, starting to plan their dream day, and will be searching to find their perfect wedding team in the coming months. In our October webinar for premium members, we discussed the top 10 dos and don’ts for impressing these clients – right from WeddingWire couples themselves!

The infographic below highlights the 10 ways they indicated to make a great impression, keep your clients happy, and keep the planning process moving smoothly all the way to their big day!

Oct_Webinar_Infographic_DelightDontFright-final

» Webinar Recap: Delight, Don’t Fright! 10 Dos and Don’ts from Couples

October-Webinar_Delight-Dont-Fright!-10-Dos-and-Donts-from-Couples_TileWebinar recap!

Engagement season is upon us, and soon you will be interacting with many newly engaged couples searching for their wedding professionals. Are you ready to make a great impression and quickly earn their business?

During this month’s one hour webinar for premium members, WeddingWire’s Customer Success team leaders Marty Kaufman and Ashley Conway shared the top dos and dont’s for Pros – taken right from the couples’ themselves!

Here are 10 key takeaways for your business:

  1. Acknowledge and understand their point of view. Be approachable, helpful, and avoid surprises later on by asking and answering all questions up front.
  2. Respond quickly and professionally. Try to respond within 24 hours, and stay responsive through the planning process.
  3. Provide pricing. Share pricing information when asked, and consider adding it to your website and Storefront. Be direct and provide education around pricing, and avoid scoffing at their initial budget.
  4. Communicate professionally. Make sure you have a professional email address, and use easy to read fonts in your communication. Don’t forget to spell check!
  5. Get to know your clients. Focus on getting to know the couple, or all decision makers – not just the bride! Provide inclusive language and acknowledge that both partners getting married and planning their day.
  6. Educate your clients. Get to know your client’s wishes, and provide helpful suggestions or tips as necessary. Don’t brush off their ideas too quickly, but politely share your expertise as needed to help create their perfect day.
  7. Make a good first impression. Avoid pre-judging couples, being presumptive, or jumping into business too quickly. Instead, ask a few key questions about the couple, be open-minded with their ideas and interested in their vision.
  8. Respect your competition. Do not trash-talk your competitors! It will only reflect badly on your business and character. Instead always be respectful of the industry, take the high road, and make helpful suggestions to make a great impression and remain professional.
  9. Stay humble. Despite your many successes, try to remain grounded and approachable to connect with your clients. You don’t want to see too expensive, hard to reach, or busy for them to want to book with you. Instead, showcase your quality with great past work and reviews.
  10. Respect their opinions. Overall, the wedding is their day! Your job is to work to try to bring their vision to life and give helpful recommendations along the way. Avoid projecting your own taste or opinions too much, and be sure to ask for feedback throughout the process so you know they will be happy with the end result.

For more details, watch the full webinar!

Plus, all our past webinars are available in the Education Center for premium Pros to view at any time. Check it out for some great education on leading important topics for your business’ success.