Technology has had a huge impact on how small businesses market, operate and communicate. The wedding business is no exception. A recent survey by TheKnot.com & WeddingChannel.com revealed that 93 percent of brides use the Internet regularly for wedding planning and they visited an average of four different bridal sites during the planning process. As many as 63 percent of brides research vendor listings online.
The Knot is the nation's leading wedding resource, providing more the 1 million engaged couples each year with wedding guidance via resources like TheKnot.com, national and local editions of The Knot magazine, and “The Knot” books (published by Random House and Chronicle).
BusinessNewsDaily spoke with The Knot's Editor-in-Chief Carley Roney for her advice on ways small businesses in the wedding industry can capitalize on the latest wedding trends.
BusinessNewsDaily: Your “11 Weddings Trends for 2011” report indicated that brides are increasingly integrating social media and online tools into all aspects of their wedding. How has this new “connected” bride changed the wedding business?
Carley Roney: Today, 90 percent of brides are using the Internet to plan their wedding, find ideas and use Internet-based tools. Our members plan weddings, research vendors and venues, and most importantly, communicate with other brides on our community chat boards. There’s also a huge opportunity with everything’s going wireless — think portable devices like smartphones and iPads — as these brides are increasingly using these devices. We are moving our content — and community — to mobile applications so that brides can always be connected to planning tools and the supportive social network of brides.
BND: What impact does this new online wedding trend have on businesses based around paper invitations and traditional communications?
C.R.: In the tech-savvy and “green” world we live in, e-save-the-dates have become quite popular. We’ve even heard of couples who create e-video save-the-dates. That being said, we still recommend (and most brides are) sending out invitations via snail mail. In this e-communicating world, paper invitations are just a bit more special — and you want to elicit emotion about your wedding—so a sense of touch is important. Fewer engaged couples are visiting individual stores to go through binders of invitation samples and more are choosing to research and select invites online. The paper invitation is something that is sure to stick around.
BND: What about wedding planners? Should they change and/or expand their services to keep up?
C.R.: Planning a wedding these days is easier than ever, thanks to the resource-rich Internet. But sometimes a bride just doesn't have the time to do it all on her own. Those are the brides who choose to hire a professional wedding planner , and that’s something that will never change. Planning a wedding takes time even with the amazing resources there are available online.
Wedding planners are going to have to step up their game to make sure they stand out. They have to have an engaging website that highlights a good amount of their previous work and show off all the amazing things that will make brides want them to plan their wedding. A planner’s site should also include client testimonials. Make friends with local vendors and anyone else who will come into contact with potential customers. A wedding planner’s success will depend on maintaining good relationships. Referrals are key!
BND: What changes are you seeing in the wedding venue business?
C.R.: Given the digital nature of the world we are living in, venues need to have a strong online presence. That means an engaging website with amazing photos and positive reviews from customers/clients.
Weddings are viral, they are water-cooler fodder and TheKnot.com message boards have become a significant part of planning for brides in our network. There they can post to get vendor referrals, vendor experiences and answers to any question. Venues (as well as other vendors) have the most insane access to market research and should use it proactively!
BND: Any chance we’ll ever see the iPod eliminate the live band or DJ?
C.R.: The odds of the iPod taking over in the wedding world are very slim. Sure, you can play every unknown unsigned band ever because it’s all the music on your own iPod or MP3 player. You can save some money, but what if something goes wrong? You have no pro there to step in and fix things. Can I tell you how many stories I’ve heard about how such and such a song was only downloaded halfway — and it cut out in the middle? Talk about a bummer for the first dance.
Both a DJ and a band will find ways to make that transition smoother, but an iPod on its own really doesn’t. I also think you miss something in stage presence. It’s fun to dance around the DJ booth, or dance around the band set up. You just don’t get that same experience with an iPod.
BusinessNewsDaily: How has the role of professional photographers/videographers changed now that most people have these tools at the ready in a smartphone or iPad?
C.R.: When it comes to documenting this once-in-a-lifetime event, couples are still looking to hire the most qualified photographer who shares their vision. Yes, anyone can film a wedding or edit photos, but because couples want gorgeous photos to remember one of the most important days of their lives, the photographer still plays such a critical part of the wedding. The day is too special to leave it up to smartphones and guests’ digital cameras, which is why professionals are still in demand.
This is the most important tip for photographers and videographers. Before you can sell your work, you must first get the consumer to your office. Many of today’s brides make their appointments after they view photographer portfolios on the Internet (after all, today’s brides are addicted to the Web). That being said, photographers and videographers should make sure portfolios are up to speed online and off, and that their site is easy-to-use and well-marketed. Make sure your name appears wherever a bride is looking for a wedding photographer: the local magazine, your city’s newspaper, and, most importantly, on the Web where 90 percent of brides, grooms and wedding consultants are searching for their wedding photographers.
BND: What are the hot wedding themes now?
C.R.: Couples want a wedding that reflects their personal passions, shows guests a really good time and, ultimately, will be an event that people will talk about for months to come. Some of the key themes and trends we are seeing right now include 1920s-inspired bars, cocktails and attire, (and) “wedding man caves” with blackjack tables, brandy bars, PlayStations and stogies. With a royal wedding around the corner, expect to see a lot of princess-worthy trends in fashion, haute desserts and gourmet cakes.
BND: What one key tip would you give to any wedding business owner in marketing their services?
C.R.: Today, more than ever, brides are using the Web to aid in wedding planning. Couples are so busy these days trying to balance work, life, etc. and the Web lets them work on wedding plans anytime of the day or night right in the comfort of their own home.
Brides want a lot of information in a searchable format and tons of pictures. They also expect a quick connection and quick communication with vendors — whether it’s booking a photographer or choosing the venue for their big day. They want as much information they can find, as fast as they can find it. They’re also expecting community and to hear what other brides have to say.
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