Where High-End Brides Find Their Wedding Vendors

Friday, June 10, 2016

Where high-end brides find their wedding professionals. |  Report image by Nancy Ray
For brides and grooms in the premium budget category (couples who spend $31,000 - 95,000 on their wedding, not including their honeymoon), word of mouth is still your first, best source of getting hired. It's also your second. Google and other Internet searches rank in at number 3. Here are a few of my observations on this:

1. The number one source couples in this spending category trust when it comes to hiring wedding professionals is other wedding pros. Part of this is due to the fact that couples in the higher spending categories tend to hire wedding planners. Not all of them do, however, but they do trust that a vendor working at a higher price point will know and can recommend other professionals of equal caliber.

What does this mean for you? If you're a photographer, the speed with which you provide photos for marketing to the other pros who worked on the wedding matters. The way a planner creates and executes a timeline matters. The way a designer collaborates with the planner and rental companies matters. The way the venue and catering team treat every single person on the creative team matters. It means you need to be kind to the valet attendants and bartenders. Also, all those networking events you loathe and justify skipping because these aren't actually your clients? You need to show up and show your face more often.

Regardless of the economy, people like to do business with people they like. Assuming that talent is a given, you are more likely to get referred because people click with you. They can't click with you if you never show up or you allow your ego to get in the way.

2. The second most popular source for premium budget couples is a recommendation from friends and family offline. These are not recs that come from asking all of their friends on Facebook who the best florist is. These are conversations that happen at dinner, over coffee, at SoulCycle, or at work. Brides have an average of five bridesmaids (and grooms have an average of five groomsmen). Three of those bridesmaids typically get engaged within the next year. This does not include any of their guests who may be engaged or who are soon-to-be-engaged.

This means that each wedding is your best marketing opportunity. I'm not suggesting you hand out cards or email sign-up sheets at a wedding — that is beyond tacky and any planner worth their salt will simply remove your materials and not recommend you ever again. What it does mean is that you need to bring your A-game to every single wedding. You need to make sure that you treat any guest you interact with as a star and not just the bride and groom. People do ask afterward: Who was the florist who made those jaw-dropping centerpieces? Who was the videographer? I ran into them while they were filming pre-ceremony and they were so professional and kind. 

Advertising and marketing online and in print is important and still an important element of how you promote yourself. Your goal though should be to have positive word of mouth whenever a mention of your online presence comes up. So, for example, if a bride says "I've been following Anna on Instagram and her work is gorgeous," you want her friend to reply, "Oh, I met her at Leslie and Joe's wedding and she was so nice to everyone!" You never want the associated word of mouth to be, "oh, yeah, her photos are great, but she did a wedding I was at and it was a terrible experience."

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You can learn more about the premium wedding market by downloading the 2016 Premium Wedding Market Report from Splendid Insights. You can also learn more about how we chose the budget segment names here

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