Wedding Buyer Behavior

5 Reasons Potential Clients Ghost You

Photo by    Cameron Clark

Photo by Cameron Clark

No one likes being ghosted, and it can be extremely frustrating when you’ve done all you can to communicate with a potential client only to hear crickets. The most common reaction to ghosting in the wedding industry is to assume it’s all about cost and to lower your prices. While it sometimes is about money, there are other reasons that cause people to avoid telling you no:


1. You’re sending your pricing right away.

Sticker shock is real, and if you’re one of the wedding pros they’re considering at the beginning of their planning process (namely planners, venues, or photographers), it is likely that the budget they have in their mind is not based in reality whatsoever.

People hear that the average wedding in the US is around $30k, they watch the “reality” wedding TV shows that display costs on the bottom of the screen without noting which items or services were comped or discounted by the vendors in exchange for publicity, they find creative inspiration on wedding blogs and magazines and don’t know that they will have to pay triple to make that design happen because they are getting married in a union town, and when they ask their friend what they spent on a given item, the friend feels uncomfortable sharing real numbers, so they tell a little white lie to seem smart and like they got a deal.

Your potential clients likely don’t know what real weddings cost because they have never gotten married before. Your primary role at this point in the process is to educate them in a way that shows your value.

Also, if you are sending prices right away, you’re not educating yourself on what their wedding will actually require from you. On top of that, you’re branding yourself as cookie cutter because you’re essentially saying “we only do these types of weddings, so we know how much to charge without talking to you.” Lose-lose.

If you’re still sending pricing right away, I’d encourage you to break this bad business habit.


2. You’re sending too much info too soon.

I’ve spent years doing research on how couples and their families truly approach their wedding spending and as a result developed WedType, a scientifically-based wedding buyer behavior model. Of the four types of wedding consumers (Seekers, Drivers, Researchers, and Lovers), Researchers are the ones who will read everything. For them, when it comes to information, more is better. For the other three types, more is too much.

While you won’t know right off the bat which WedType you’re dealing with, if you’re sending every possible piece of information, if you’re counting on people to read through all of your website and move on the exact right path through your marketing funnel, if you’re asking them to take a quiz or fill out a multi-page questionnaire before you even talk to them, you will overwhelm the majority of your potential clients.

When people feel overwhelmed, they subconsciously associate that feeling with you and your brand. This means that they may love your work but, for some reason they can’t quite put their finger on, feel like you would be burdensome/tiring/a drag to work with.


3. You’re being a little TOO efficient.

No one likes to feel like a number. No one likes to feel like a checkmark on your to-do list. And no one wants to feel like their wedding is one of 2.2 million a year and therefore not all that unique.

Automated replies have their place, but you probably don’t need to use them. Here’s some tough love: automated and canned replies may help you feel more organized and efficient behind the scenes, but they make you look cold and uncaring.

I’m willing to bet that when you wrote out your core values and mission statement for your business and marketing plans, “cold” and “uncaring” were not traits you included as wanting to be known as.

If you’re in the luxury space, this is especially true. High end means high touch. You get to charge more because you have to hold their hand through more of the process.

People almost always hire the person who makes them feel the best from the very beginning of the process. Be the person who’s willing to sacrifice a little bit of efficiency in order to make people feel truly valued, heard, and connected.


4. You’re not scheduling a followup BEFORE you send the proposal.

If you want to close the sale faster, or get to a firm “yes” or “no” answer more quickly, schedule a 10 minute call for a couple days after you send the proposal to discuss it and answer any questions they may have.

This is a decades-old tactic that is used by sales people all over the world because it works. Here’s a very simplified example of one of the ways it could play out:

Monday AM: You receive an inquiry via your website. Yay! You reply right away that you’d love to chat for 10 minutes to learn more about them and their wedding.

Monday PM: They’re available for a call after they get off work, so at 6 pm their time, you have a quick call. Towards the end, you say, “Congratulations again! I love your ideas! I’m going to send you a customized proposal by Wednesday. I want you to take a day or so to bounce it off your friends and family and get their feedback, then on Friday I’d love to chat with you to go over it and answer any questions you may have. What time works best for you this Friday for a quick 10 minute call?”

Wednesday: Send the proposal with a reminder to bounce it off their friends and family.

Friday: On your 10 minute call answer any questions they may have. Sell your value as you go through it.

The idea that if people want you they will find a way to pay for it is true to a point. Money doesn’t grow on trees and you may just be flat out of their budget even if they decide to scale back in other areas. If this is the case, tell them that you understand (because you do, because you also do not have an unlimited bank account), and that you’d love to refer them to some wedding pros who may be more in line with their budget. While you may not get the sale, you’re raising the bar for the industry by referring them to talented people rather than charlatans who are only good at Instagram.

You’ll want to tell them 10 minutes for these first phone calls because it is too early in the process for them to feel comfortable committing to a longer period of time. Typically once they’re on the phone, they’ll want to speak longer, but showing them up front that you are respectful of their time and schedule is important.

A quick note on telling them to bounce it off their family and friends: millennials and Gen Z grew up making decisions in groups thanks to a change in the educational system in the 1980’s. Giving them space to solicit feedback from people they trust allows them to feel more comfortable with you and not pressured to make a decision they may end up regretting. Their putting a priority on their college roommate’s opinion may feel like a slap in the face to you, the actual expert, but building trust with your potential client is the most important factor here.


5. No one likes being the bearer of bad news.

Everyone is human and no one wants the icky feeling that comes with letting someone else down. Even if you have an “it’s just business” mindset, your potential clients may still feel terrible telling you they’re going with someone else. Add to this the fact that they may have interviewed a dozen other wedding professionals in your category and it’s easy to understand how telling a dozen people “no” could put a huge damper on their day.

One way to combat this is to tell them that if you’re not the right fit, you’re happy to recommend someone else who may be better suited for them. This shows that you genuinely care about them having the best wedding, even if they don’t end up booking you. Generosity wins.

Ghosting is not a new phenomenon. All ages do it, and blaming it just on millennials or Gen Z is lazy thinking and a way to avoid doing the work of examining where you could be running your business better.


Originally published December 2018

How To Get More Wedding Inquiries

5 Website Changes You Can Make Today

Wedding welcome party photo by    Cameron Clark

Wedding welcome party photo by Cameron Clark


If you’re a wedding entrepreneur, here are four changes you can make to your company’s website that will help you get more inquiries.


1. Create one clear call to action throughout your site.

Not three, not five, not eight. One.

If you're a service-based wedding professional, the point of your website is to get potential clients to contact you so that you can start a conversation. It is not to convince them of everything they need to know.

We like to think that people click through our sites in the way that we've laid them out, that they’ll go through all our galleries, or swipe through our 10 favorite things, or that they'll complete the fun Buzzfeed-style quiz on the wedding colors that best match their personality, but they don't.

The majority won't even land your home page, they'll land on whichever page on your site best matched their Google search term.

Make sure whichever page they land on is clear about what step you want them to ultimately take. That ultimate step should be contacting you.


2. Delete all industry jargon from your website's copy.

You may hate the term "vendor" or "supplier” (and with good reason), but a potential client who has no experience with the wedding industry will assume the term "creative partner" refers to your business partner or your life partner. They have no idea that you're referring to wedding professionals from other companies.

If this is the battle you want to pick, that’s your choice, but educating a client on how much weddings actually cost may be a better issue to focus on than making sure they get their vocabulary straight, especially since wedding spending is down and the DOW dropped 800 points earlier this month after “the bond market flashed a warning sign about a possible recession for the first time since 2007.”


3. Make your website’s copy inclusive.

Love is love, and it’s important that your site’s copy doesn’t unintentionally alienate people based on who they’re marrying.

Instead of writing the singular “bride and groom” (assumes the partnership includes one of each), you can use :

  • “bride or groom” (“Our services are designed to take all the stress off the bride or groom’s plate.”)

  • the plural: “brides or grooms”/”brides and grooms” (“I love seeing the faces of our brides and grooms when they see the beautifully designed ballroom for the first time.”)

  • couple/couples (“The couples we work with tend to be fun and down-to-earth while still appreciating the finer things in life.”)

On your contact form, if you need the second person’s name, simply use “Your Name” and “Partner’s Name” instead of bride/groom’s name for those fields.


4. Having a blog on your website is still the best SEO method. Period.

If you're not getting found online, blogging is the easiest and quickest fix.

If you have a blog but it's hosted elsewhere (Medium, Tumblr, Blogspot, etc), transfer it to your site. The best method is to host it as a folder (website.com/blog) and the second best is as a subdomain (blog.website.com).

I've written 2 million+ words on my wedding business blog over the years. I am not a blogger. It is not sponsored, ad supported, or affiliate-monetized. But it has landed me some of my biggest clients because it ensures I turn up on the first page for whatever they're looking for. Plus it shows that my expertise runs deep and I know what I'm talking about.

2 million+ additional words on my site for Google to crawl.

You know how many words my competitors have on their sites? Not 2 million. Not even close.

How many words does yours have? How many do your competitors have?

If you write paragraphs as Instagram captions (which do NOT help your SEO because they're coded as no-follow links), you can reprioritize to schedule some blog posts as well. Make the brand house you rent work for you (Instagram), but build equity in the brand house you own (your website and blog).

Also, "engagement season" in the United States starts at Thanksgiving (late November) and goes until Valentine's Day. If you want a potential bride or groom to find you once the question is popped and a ring is on their finger, start updating your site and blog now so that Google has time to index everything.


5. General web UX (short for "user experience") wisdom is that your contact form should be short and sweet.

By short, I mean three fields or less. Even bumping up to just four fields can reduce the number of people who fill out the form and click "submit" by over 50%. That measly extra field can cut your inquiries in HALF!

  • Unless you're a high-volume venue, you probably don't need their wedding date before you talk to them.

  • You don’t need to know up front where a potential client first heard of you, plus whatever they fill in on your contact form is probably wrong. They'll write Instagram because that was their last click when in reality they first saw you mentioned in a print issue of WedLuxe magazine, googled your company on their phone, clicked on a Pinterest result, clicked on a photo to a real wedding you had published on Over the Moon, clicked to your Instagram, then after scrolling for a while, clicked to your website.

  • A couple at the beginning of their wedding planning process likely does not know their real wedding budget yet. If they're having a luxury wedding, they may even assume that their budget will be around $50,000-$60,000 (they’ve heard the US national average is around $30k, so they figure doubling that number is a safe bet). Filtering them out by budget on your contact form is a sure-fire way to lose amazing clients who are happy to pay your rate once they've been educated on real costs and have been guided past sticker shock.

The above information is useful, but asking these questions can wait until your first conversation after you’ve gotten the inquiry.

That said, in some cases you can get away with more form fields without hurting your visitor-to-inquiry conversion rate, which can be helpful in certain circumstances. The catch with this is that the form fields have to be valuable to the potential client, not only to you.

For example, Millennials and Gen Z (aged 40 and younger) are famously guarded when it comes to giving out their personal cell phone numbers. This can be mystifying for people who grew up primarily sharing a landline with their family members.

Even so, it can be very helpful for you to get their phone number up front. If you opt to do this, one way to increase the chances that they complete your contact form is to include a field that asks how they prefer you contact them (by email, by phone, by text/WhatsApp, by Facetime).

A doctor or a teacher is unlikely to be able to take an unsolicited phone call and doesn't necessarily want non-urgent texts showing up on their Apple Watch. People working in an open-plan office where personal calls are frowned upon or personal email sites are blocked can often return a quick text without interrupting their workflow. If your destination wedding client lives outside the US, WhatsApp is likely king. Gen Zers are known for their love of FaceTime because – despite the anti-social label they’ve wrongly been given – they highly value face-to-face connection, even if it can’t be in person.

If you want clients from a younger generation to hand over their phone number on the initial inquiry form, make sure you give them the power to tell you how to use it, and then respect those boundaries.

Why People Hire the Mediocre Wedding Pro Instead of You

It has nothing to do with price.

Photo by    Cameron Clark

Photo by Cameron Clark


There is a woman who has written more than 25 books and makes her living as a professional author and as a writing professor at a university. She was up for a prestigious literary award and everyone just knew she was going to win.

The evening of the black-tie awards ceremony came and, while the nominees were being announced, she discreetly pulled her folded acceptance speech out of her purse.

Another woman’s name was announced from the stage. The award was given to a young author who had recently published her very first book.

The veteran author nursed her grudge through the rest of the ceremony, cycling through jealousy, self-pity, and even anger:

That award was rightfully hers!

She had been in the industry for decades!

Who was this nobody who came along and took the award after just one book?

She hadn't yet paid her dues!

After the event, the younger author approached her, stuck out her hand in introduction and asked, "Do you remember me?"

The veteran author confessed that she did not.

The younger author replied, "You were my writing professor in college. In fact, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life until I took your class. You were the one who inspired me to pursue a career as a writer. Thank you so much – I feel alive when I write, I love my life, and I owe that to you."

The veteran author was taken aback and, of course, immediately felt guilty about nursing any animosity towards the younger writer. This person she had felt jealous towards only a few moments before was crediting her for her success.

When it comes to the wedding industry, there’s a lot we can learn from this story.

Yes, in paving a path for others to follow, you may end up losing a wedding, or an award, or a speaking engagement, or a TV spot to someone much newer to the industry than you. Focusing only on these occasional losses is where people miss the forest for the trees.

If you want people to appreciate that what you offer is better, that what you offer is actually good, the market needs to have more actually good businesses in it. It seems like you should be able to stand apart by being good when surrounded by a sea of mediocrity, but real life rarely works that way.

Don’t believe me? Consider this: everyone likes to think of themselves as having exceptional taste, yet mediocrity sells every single day.

Vocalists who have to rely heavily on autotune make the Top 40 all the time.

Mismatched, poorly made leggings were the one of the hottest must-have items of the mid-2010’s.

Millions of people are currently drinking celery juice to cure their diseases because a guy on Instagram with zero medical training said that a ghost told him it was a good idea.

Everyone wants what everyone wants because humans are pack animals and we associate safety with numbers. Mediocrity sells because it’s familiar.

So, if you want more people to want what you offer, at the level of expertise and taste you offer it, then you need to help ensure that the better options are what’s familiar.

You need more legitimately good competitors producing legitimately good work and showing it off. Sharing what you know and working to leave the industry better than you found it will almost always come back to benefit you in the long run.

Generosity wins.


The original version of this post was originally published February 2012.