Top Trends in Weddings for 2018

By Kylie Carlson, International Academy of Wedding and Event Planning

Wedding pros take note – the 2018 International Wedding Trends Report is here! Our annual conversation with the industry’s most influential experts provides savvy wedding business owners with everything they need to know to anticipate the demands of prospective couples- including insight from WeddingIQ's very own Kevin Dennis. Here are some highlights of the report that you can take with you into booking season!

Photo Credit: Summer Rain Photography

Personalization Is Still the Key

Over and over we hear our experts saying loud and clear that clients want personalized events, not cookie cutter parties from Pinterest. According to Sarah Chancey, Wedding Planner, Educator & Creative Director of Chancey Charm, all of her “full planning clients for 2018 want something that’s completely unique to them – it doesn’t have to be décor and all, just something unique in the food or experience.”

Venue Personalization

This demand is consistent in the 2018 venue trends as well. Amy Parfett and Melany McBride, Co-Founders of WedShed observe that unconventional properties like campgrounds, orchards and industrial commercial spaces will rise in popularity in 2018. Most owners of these venues say, in fact, that they would never have considered hosting weddings if not approached first by couples with the question “do you do weddings.”

Couples choosing alternative sites want the freedom to personalize their events. “In line with current trends in the industry, couples expect to be able to have a good degree of flexibility in tailoring their wedding day, and any venues that can’t offer this will struggle to compete with emerging venues that have this ability,” say Parfett and McBride.

Cakes and the Guest Experience

A focus on experience dominates the most exciting trends in catering. Wedding desserts, for example, are a huge focal point at weddings and it is becoming increasingly popular to create stunning “dessert rooms” as part of the great reveal,” says Elizabeth Solaru, Founder of Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium. “Elaborate painted backdrops, mirrors, flowers, flower walls, cherry blossom trees, and even balloons are commonly used to dress the area in coordinating colors to create impact. Also, couples want the dessert area to be interactive and immersive and occasionally, alluring scents are used to draw guests in,” continues Solaru.

Photo Credit: Cream Photography

Photo Credit: Cream Photography

2017 Floral Design Trends Evolve for 2018

Design in the New Year will continue to be heavily influenced by the most popular themes of 2017 according to most of our contributors. “Following the move towards texture and greenery we saw in 2017,” says stylist Dee McMeeking, “I believe that we will continue to see the use of greenery but the scale of designs will get bigger.” McMeeking predicts that “statement pieces including round arches, hanging florals and decorated staircases will become more common at all price points.” She also points out that wedding professionals should anticipate that the May British Royal wedding will have an influence as well.

These are just some of the incredibly exciting trends we can anticipate for 2018. If you take the time now to prepare for the demands of the upcoming season, you will set your business up for the best booking season yet. Happy New Year!

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What You Need for Your 2018 PR Push

By Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting

The end of a season is a time for celebration, reflection and naturally for looking forward to what is coming next. If you’re starting to think about 2018 and what is in store for your business, you’re not alone. This is the time of year that successful businesses prepare to take their message to all of the couples that will become engaged in the next two months. Are you ready to take the press plunge or to ramp up your PR efforts for the new year? As 2017 draws to an end, it’s time to take stock and decide what you will need for your 2018 PR campaigns. 

Look Back Before Moving Forward

First things first – you can’t put together your 2018 PR strategy until you invest a little time reflecting on your successes and challenges in 2017. What went right with your PR efforts? Which pitches were accepted and which were declined? If you experienced some success with publishers, did it yield bookings? 

As always, you need to go into the new year with a clear picture of your message, your target audience and which media channels best reach them. Looking back to see what has worked so far and where you need to dig up new opportunities will help you with the next step.

Create a PR List

Take the information that you gathered during your reflection and create a targeted PR list of publishers that you want to successfully pitch in 2018. Organize this list in a spreadsheet with the contact information, known deadlines and submission guidelines all in one place for quick reference.

Organize Your Potential Submissions

Long before your couples make their grand exits, you can begin preparing to submit their stories to targeted media. If you anticipate a great wedding worthy of sharing, prepare in advance by connecting with the photographer and sharing your intention to publish. Get your clients’ permission in advance and collect the details about their love story and planning experience that you will need to fulfill publisher submission requirements. 

If you will seek guest posting opportunities or plan to submit articles to various blogs and magazines, take the time now to develop a list of topic ideas about which you can write as an expert. The easier you make the process of idea generation on publishers, the more appealing your participation will be. You’ll be the apple of every editor’s eye if you can not only pitch relevant, insightful content but also be prepared to deliver great writing quickly.

The best PR campaigns take time and effort to construct and execute. Use your down time now to reflect, organize and prepare for your PR efforts in 2018. You’ll thank yourself very soon for thinking ahead.

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Getting your Client Experience ready for the New Year!

By Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events Group

When a potential client comes to your website, vendor listing, Facebook page, Instagram account, what are they experiencing?   Was there a process or procedure that needs to be updated to make the client experience better for next year?   What, if any automation can you add to your process.  What are your touchpoints through-out the planning process for your couple?   Finally, do you really need gifts?   Let’s get started!

Website

Is your website up to date?   Do you have a place where they can link to your email or contact form?  Make sure your email address and phone number are on every page.  You never know when they want to reach out, make it easy for them.   Is your portfolio page up-to-date with new weddings?   Copy up to date?  All these things matter. 

Facebook/Instagram

Do you have your latest weddings and reviews?  Are you showing photos from weddings you have done that are your ideal client or portions that ideal to you?  You don’t have to show every wedding, be selective.  Do you have a way for them to reach out to you?  If I can’t find your email address on your Facebook page, then your client can’t either.  Remember to make sure you credit the photographer in all of the photos you do!

Process & Procedures

Was there a process that did not work for you or your clients?   Did you not follow up with potentials clients in a timely fashion, where you feeling overwhelmed in keeping up with the clients you had?  This is where processes and procedures come into play, where can you can you add in automation to your process to automatically send emails to clients to remind them to set up times for meetings, can you set up automation where your clients can look at your calendar and set up their own meetings with you?   Can you create a workflow for you on when you will be working on what client projects on what days?   This is the time to get it done!

Touchpoints

How many times are you reaching out to your clients, after they hired you, do you disappear until they reach out to your, or are you touching base with them every few months.  We are being hired earlier and earlier, so keeping you top of mind with them is imperative.  Your clients have friends and family that could be getting married.  This is a huge client experience it is not much, but just reaching out and saying “Hi”

Gifts

Touchpoint and gifts could be the same.   We actually implemented this and it helps with creating the client experience.  It does not need to be a huge gift, we give a notebook and a pen, and a mug.  Nothing huge, but it is fun to see your clients tag you when they receive the gift in the mail. 

I hope these tips have helped you start thinking about your current client experience and implement some of the tips above. 

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2018 International Trend Report Industry Survey

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The 2018 International Wedding Trend Report launch is just around the corner, and this year, they've added a new dynamic to their predictions.

In addition to the latest in décor, themes, entertainment and fashion, they're unveiling insight into the industry itself- from couples’ budgets and market growth to client acquisition.

With that being said, they need your help. Please take five minutes to share your perspective with their 2018 International Trend Report Industry Survey.

Your feedback will be invaluable as they present their findings to a global audience.

As an additional incentive, they’ll have a $50 iTunes gift card drawing after the survey has closed. The deadline is Sunday, November 5, so don’t delay!

Please click here to take the survey.

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Preparing a Wedding Venue for the Off-Season

By Heather Jones, Wente Vineyards

Peak wedding season can seem like a blur, no matter how well-organized and energetic you are. If you are managing a venue that is in a constant state of turnover between amazing events, you may have to put some important business functions on the back burner until things slow down and you can catch your breath. Your off-season is the perfect opportunity to catch up, work on necessary projects and get your property and your team ready for the next wedding season to come.

Keep a List Year-Round

Throughout the year, as issues are brought to your attention that need to be addressed, keep them on a list so you can prioritize them during your off-season. I have an erasable white board with all of the projects I want to work on and add items all year. This allows my team and I to keep an eye on the things that need to be done and address them as soon as we can. There is such satisfaction in crossing something off of that list!

Make Administrative Updates

Take a look at all of your materials and refresh them if necessary. Contact vendors and ensure that you have current contact information. Sit down with your legal team for an annual contract review and adjust any clauses that you may have noticed needed tweaking.

Schedule Repairs and Property Updates

No matter how well-planned, repairs and construction can be highly disruptive during wedding season. No couple wants to work around your repair schedule on their big day. If the repairs can reasonably wait, schedule them during the off-season when they will least impact your clients and your events.

Refresh Your Online and Social Media Presence

Review your website and make any necessary adjustments – you want prospective clients to find accurate information and your carefully constructed message when they click through. Check your profiles on wedding sites. Upload new photos and respond to reviews so your clients know you care. Correct inaccurate information and add anything new and exciting that you want to share with the world.

Hold Tastings

It can be very difficult to pay the kind of attention your clients deserve when you’re knee-deep in back-to-back weddings. If possible, schedule menu and beverage tastings during slower periods when you can focus entirely on future events, and when you have the bandwidth to devote your attention on the couple on hand.

Meet with Your Team

Whether you set aside some meeting time in your office or go for an all-out retreat, take the time to review your past season with your team. Did you make any changes? Were they effective, or do you need to try something new. Did you show progress in areas that you measured? Set new goals and discuss new ideas in preparation for the coming year.

You can get so much more done for your venue when you’re not buried deeply in wedding season. Take advantage of the relative lull of your off-season and prepare your venue before the next big wave of weddings starts again.

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