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Dress Up Your Rehearsal Dinner & Invitations with These 3 Tips

Choosing your invitations and wedding stationery can be an overwhelming process. Where do you get inspiration and then how do you take that inspiration for your own wedding, without looking like everyone else’s? Check out this guest blog from our friends at Basic Invite, featuring tips to dress up your rehearsal dinner and invitations!

Check out this guest blog on our website from Basic Invite! 3 unique ideas for your rehearsal and wedding invitations that you need to know!

Most brides know what’s trending when it comes to wedding invitations and their special day. And for all of those pre-wedding celebrations like the bridal shower and bachelorette party… themes are where it’s at which makes those festivities just about as celebrated as the wedding. But there is one final moment before the most important day comes that is often overlooked, the rehearsal dinner!
Let’s face it, the day before the big day is so chaotic and unfortunately for the runner up rehearsal dinner things usually seem to be thrown together and the night always flies by. But rehearsal dinners deserve a bit more credit than that. It is the final moment for reflection and gathering and the single life after all!

script wedding invitation

So, let’s show rehearsal dinners some love this wedding season by using these three tips to dress it up!

Go Digital

Wedding websites are totally in right now and for good reason! We are living in the digital age and that means keeping up with people’s needs. Wedding websites make it so easy to let your guests know what’s going on ahead of time and in real-time with instant updates!

wedding invitation

Where does the rehearsal dinner fit in to this? Rather than including rehearsal dinner info in your wedding invitation suite use the address request function on your wedding website to request the addresses of your rehearsal dinner guests and send out separate personalized rehearsal dinner invites to just them.

Always Accessorize

Don’t forget to accessorize! Foil details make any invitation pop! With rehearsal dinner invites, that is no exception. Usually rehearsal invites are sent on a smaller invitation so finding an aspect you want to showcase like your names or the border and make it foil!
Choose from gold, silver, or rose gold to match your rehearsal dinner theme or wedding colors.

It’s All in the Details

Rehearsal dinners are usually a more intimate affair so this is the time to splurge on details! Whether your party is low-key and laid back or black-tie attire, set out personalized coasters for guests to grab or place their drink on.

floral wedding invitation

They can take it home as a favor and you get to keep the rest! It’s a super cute detail all new to Basic Invite. Choose a monogram design or upload a photo!
Put these ideas to use and head over to Basic Invite. They’re an online stationery design company providing brides with all things wedding stationery + more!

Everything Wedding Professionals Need to Know About Instagram Marketing

Instagram marketing can make anyone go crazy. The constant algorithm changes, the confusion about how much to post and when to post; it’s ridiculous. But, since Instagram has the highest engagement of all social media platforms, it’s really important to know what you’re doing.

As a wedding professional, if you’re not taking advantage of Instagram, you’re basically leaving money on the table. In this blog, I’m giving you a crash course on how to master the Instagram game and start booking more brides. 

Blog for wedding professionals about how to use instagram to book more brides

Who Are You?
Your identity on Instagram is more important than you think to potential engaged couples. What you say in your bio has to be good enough to not only get the attention of brides and grooms, but so good that they contact you and hopefully, book you. Because followers don’t matter if they never become actual customers.
The harsh truth? Most bios totally suck.
Before you go all crazy defensive, the reason most bios suck is for two reasons: 1. No one has any idea what actually needs to go in one and 2. Most people don’t realize just how important the bio is. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but if the cover is ugly, you’re probably not going to read the book, right?

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite
 

Right.
So what should go in your bio? With only 150 characters available, you have to use this space wisely. Don’t get all cutesy in the hopes that brides will laugh themselves straight over to your contact form to book you for their wedding. Personality is important, as I mentioned in a previous blogbut telling brides who you are and what you can do for them is way more important. 
To help create your bio, ask yourself these questions:
  1. Who is your account for?
  2. What kind of brides are you trying to attract?
After The Intro
Once you’ve created the dream bio, it’s time to tackle everything else that follows. Too many wedding professionals put wedding photos in their avatar. That is not what that space is for. When brides and grooms are scrolling for new wedding venues and vendors on Instagram, they are more inclined to click on a profile with a picture of you. But this isn’t your personal Facebook page, so keep it professional and post a headshot instead of a selfie. 

Lindsay Arnold magazine wedding

You bio is also the only place where you can include a clickable link on Instagram. Your Instagram marketing tactic is going to depend on what your goal is. Do you want to get people to a specific page of your website? If so, make that the clickable link. Or maybe you’re like me and post pictures with the caption “link in bio” all the time. If that’s the case, then you want to look into using a service like Link in Profile. Now, you won’t have to worry about someone seeing one of your pictures only to go to your bio and click on a link that has nothing to do with that picture anymore. 
There are countless other ways to use a clickable link to your benefit, as well as secrets to using emojis and hashtags in your bio. To have us design your customized bio for your Instagram marketing plan, contact us to get started!
A Picture is Worth 1,000 Hashtags
The never ending mystery of the hashtag universe. Mastering your hashtag game is essential for kicking ass at Instagram marketing. For those of you that don’t get it, think of hashtags as search terms. If you went on google to look for something, what would you type in? Brides and grooms go on Instagram and use it as a search engine in the same exact way. And just like google, the goal is to show up on the first page of results.
Using hashtags is just the beginning though, because if you’re using the wrong hashtags, you’re going to lose this game. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags and while you don’t have to use all 30, I can’t think of a good reason not to. 
television interview behind the scenes
What do I mean by “wrong hashtag”? If you post a picture of a bridal bouquet, don’t use the hashtag “wedding reception”. Why? Because when brides use “wedding reception” as their search term, they aren’t looking for a bridal bouquet. The result? They scroll right on by, not even clicking on your picture, and you just wasted a precious hashtag.
But figuring out hashtags is soooooooo harrrrrrddddddd!!!!!
Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite
 
Yeah, I know. Some hashtags have millions (yes, millions) of pictures associated with it on a rolling basis. You want to use a mix of competitive hashtags and ones that aren’t competitive as all hell. Seem like a lot of work? We will put together a customized hashtag list (or 2, or 3 or 500) for you, saving you time while helping you attract your ideal bride. Contact us to find out more.
Want to try the hashtag game out for yourself and not sure where to start? If you’re not ready to contact us just yet (we’ll be here anytime, no worries) then do the absolute next best thing and get yourself a Tailwind account. Tailwind is legit amazing. Along with the countless other features that I’ll talk about later in the blog, Tailwind will help you find the best hashtags for your captions and even tell you which ones are the most competitive. If there is only one purchase you make to help your Instagram marketing strategy, let Tailwind be it. 

new jersey bride magazine cover

For more hashtag secrets including what the perfect length is and how to create your own brand hashtag, contact us today!
The Picture Game
Now that you’ve gone through the hashtag crash course, let’s talk about the more important part of the puzzle: the actual picture. Let’s face it, you could have a list of the most perfect hashtags ever, and a caption that totally kills, but if your picture is the worst, no bride or groom is going to click on it. 
There are so many social media marketing coaches out there, and they all know plenty about taking the best pictures, how to do it, what lighting to use and all that other stuff. Here’s the problem with that: 

It doesn’t apply to the wedding industry whatsoever.

We already have the professional pictures, so working with a coach or paying for some e-book for how to style the perfect picture is a waste of time and money. We offer social media marketing services specifically for members of the wedding industry. So, if you’re looking for help in this area that actually applies to, you know, weddings, then let’s talk.

Introducing Tailwind's Instagram Hashtag Finder
 

Not quite ready to take that step and just looking for a few quick pointers to try out on your own? Keep on reading!

First and foremost, only post professional pictures. I don’t care if you’re a florist, a photographer or a DJ; your entire Instagram feed should be full of nothing but professional pictures. Selfies and the like belong in your Instagram stories, which I’ll talk about later in this blog. When posting pictures, always give credit to the photographer. Seriously. Tag them, mention them in the caption, but give them credit. People that don’t credit the photographer are assholes. Fact.
Next, be sure to mix it up, while staying true to your brand. Post pictures that relate to current wedding trending topics and make sure to use those topics as part of your hashtags. 
Interview with Kathie Lee Gifford
The one thing you should never ever do? Post other people’s work unless you are using the re-post app. If there’s one thing that makes me want to reach through my phone and strangle a wedding vendor, it’s seeing someone else’s work posted on their Instagram page. I do not care one bit if you mention in your profile that not all of the pictures are yours. Besides wasting space in your 150 characters or less bio, anyone that finds your picture using hashtags might not even see that.
It’s also not OK to post a picture and write some adorable caption about how “inspired” you are by an image (that isn’t yours). If you’re really inspired, use the repost app (it’s free) and share the image that way, while also tagging the account that you’re borrowing the photo from.
When?
Yes, it matters when you post. With the brand new algorithm changes (which you can read about in this blog hereInstagram has made it crystal clear that when you post is important. 

marcus lemonis the profit

I know, I know, your feed doesn’t look chronological so why does it matter, right? Well, it’s about to be and you can read all the detailed details in the blog I linked above. But if you don’t care and you just take my word for it (the easiest path to go down) then let’s just focus on how to know when to post. Cool?
As promised, I’m going to talk about the magic of Tailwind once again. Along with generating the best hashtags for you, they also analyze your profile to tell you the best times on which days to post. You have to enter how many times a day you want to post, but Tailwind will do the rest. Bonus? They’ll even post to Instagram for you, basically allowing you to put this social media platform on auto-pilot so you can have time to do actual wedding related stuff. 
Size Matters
For the most part, working with an app like Tailwind will save you a lot of time. But (you knew it was coming) if your pictures aren’t the right size, you could be posting blurry images on auto-pilot, or not be posting anything at all. 
An important step to take is to make sure your pictures are the correct size for Instagram. This goes for your feed as well as your stories. Before you go cropping crazy on your photos, make sure the photographer is cool with it first. Oh, and never crop out a watermark.
For more information on the exact sizes you need for your feed and stories, and my favorite website that does all that boring work for you, email us right now!

magazine spread

What’s Your Story?
250 million users watch Instagram stories daily. Stories are the absolute best way to get in front of engaged couples that don’t know you even exist. Authenticity is a big deal right now, and IG stories gives you a chance to show brides who you really are.


 

If you’re new to the IG stories game, spend some time checking out the filters and different features available. Once someone views your story, they won’t see it again. In fact, they won’t see it again until you post another story. Every time you post a story, your avatar will go to the beginning of the story feed of your followers. Translation? Post often
What to post? Get creative. Behind the scenes content is always a favorite, but you can also create polls and ask questions in order to get people interacting with your profile. By featuring popular landmarks and tagging them, users will be able to find your profile just because they were searching for the place you’re at. And since 90% of online shoppers said they find videos helpful when making purchase decisions, be sure to use your stories for videos as often as possible.

grand opening picture

To work with us on creating content for your stories and how to showcase your business, contact us here.
Moral of the IG Marketing Story?
Social media users are 40% more likely to share visual content over anything else. As a wedding professional, if your Instagram marketing strategy is solid, you will start to book more brides. Make it clear to engaged couples why they should not only follow you, but book you for their wedding. 
What has been working for you on Instagram? Have you started booking more brides by using stories or hashtags? Share in the comments below what your secret strategy is!


 

For personalized coaching and help with your Instagram marketing strategy, contact us today to get started. We’ll show you marketing secrets that you can start using right away, plus you’ll receive printable materials, customized hashtags and more tricks to winning the Instagram marketing game. We’ll also tell you the real deal behind how many followers you have and the amount of people you should be following.

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram too!

Let us do the hard work for you and spend less time on social media and more time on weddings! Learn more right here!

The New Instagram Algorithm and What it Means for Wedding Pros

Do the words “Instagram algorithm” make your blood run cold? No? Just me?

Managing social media is a full time job, and for most wedding pros, it’s not only confusing but requires time they don’t have. We work with wedding pros on everything from social media marketing (including Instagram) to blogging and SEO. But if you’re not ready to say “I do” to working with us just yet, be sure to keep visiting this blog for plenty of freebies!

In today’s blog, we’re bringing you all the details behind the new Instagram algorithm and exactly what it means for wedding pros. You’ll also get plenty of ideas how to take advantage of these new changes and turn those followers into customers.

All the details about the new Instagram algorithm and what it means for wedding pros. Read the blog now to learn how to use these changes to book more brides.

Order Up

I’m guessing you hate seeing posts on your Instagram feed that are weeks old, right? Pretty much everyone I know participated in riots when Instagram decided that a chronological feed was so over. Well, you can stop burning buildings down because the algorithm change is putting things back in order. At least….for the most part.
How you use Instagram has always played a factor in how your feed appeared. For instance, the more you engaged with an account, the more it would show up in your feed. With the new algorithm, Instagram will still consider your behavior, but it won’t be the only thing that determines what you see.


 

The “scrollers” of Instagram are the people that will get that chronological feed back that we’ve all been missing. So, if you are that person that slides down your feed on the regular, then you’ll be seeing posts in order. More importantly though (since this blog is about marketing to brides) now your content will show in order for those scrolling brides that follow you.  How do you take advantage of that?

Right Time and Place

Brides aren’t scrolling IG morning, noon and night…this isn’t Pinterest after all. So finding out exactly when they are scrolling is more important now than ever. It’s more about when instead of only engagement and content, which I’ll talk about later in this blog. 

instagram screenshot

But how can you figure out the best time to post? Sure, there are plenty of info-graphics available that will give you the “supposed” best times. However, those info-graphics are cookie-cutter nonsense. There are times when the average engagement across any social media channel will be higher than others, but that’s not enough information to determine the best times that you should be posting.
For that, there’s one of my favorite apps that I’ve mentioned a thousand times before, Tailwind. If you’re a wedding professional and you’re not using Tailwind for your social media, then you are wasting your time! Tailwind for Instagram is able to do so much, including give you the best times to post for maximum engagement. For other tips and tricks on how to make your Instagram stand out, check out this blog or contact us to plan your social media marketing strategy!

Judging a Vendor by Their Cover

Just because you’re in the right place at the right time on the feed of your potential bride to be, that doesn’t mean she’s going to engage with you. I mentioned in this previous IG blog how no one is going to read a book if the cover isn’t cute. Besides getting the timing right, your content game has to be strong AF. 

wedding bouquet and invitation

If a bride isn’t already following you, then they can find you in various other ways. No matter the path they take though, it’s still you versus your competitors. Consistent strong content will win the bride every time, but that doesn’t mean to post three times in a row. In fact, if you do that, Instagram will likely break up those posts with other accounts that are being followed. Schedule everything through Tailwind and forget about it!

Engagements, Not Just for Couples

You’ve probably heard the term “organic reach” one too many times by now. A struggle that many wedding professionals have had in the past is trying to determine where to advertise. What’s the answer to getting in front of the “right” brides and grooms? Print? Wedding websites? 
It’s becoming more and more obvious that social media and wedding blogs are a favorite place for engaged couples to look for wedding venues and vendors. Social media can be a game changer in your business if you do your marketing right.

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite
 

While calling this a “game” may make it sound cold and robotic, in order to stand out from the crowd, you have to be anything but that in terms of engagement.
I don’t mean spamming pictures with the same lame comments and emojis. I mean posting comments on pictures you genuinely like and writing something authentic. The more you engage on an authentic level, the more relevant you are to Instagram under their new algorithm. As a wedding professional, this is great news because it gives you another way to connect with engaged couples not yet following you, as well as the ones who already are. 

wedding bands and shoes

The more you exchange comments, the more frequent and higher up you will show in your followers’ feeds (whether they are the scroller type or not). Tagging is another way to show Instagram you’re worthy of showcasing to more people.
Marketing Tip: Encourage your followers to tag you in their posts, which will make your profile show up more frequently in their feed.
Want more tips on engagement? Contact us to put your plan together!

Lies You’ve Heard

When Instagram released the details of their latest algorithm, they also took some time to debunk a few myths:
  1. Your reach doesn’t change if you have a personal account or a business account. So, if you’ve been afraid to take the business account leap, it’s time to jump.
  2. Shadowbanning is bullshit and doesn’t exist. If you’re using a popular hashtag, you have very little chance of being seen…but that doesn’t mean you’re “banned”. 
  3. Instagram Stories and Instagram Live Videos do not help you rank higher in the feed. 

bride and groomsmen

More to Come

Along with the algorithm changes, Instagram is planning to roll out a ton of other updates throughout 2018. Here is a sample of what you’ll be seeing soon:
  1. Group video chats
  2. New explore page
  3. Make and share your own filters
For marketing ideas on how to use these future updates to book more brides, contact us now!


 

The New Instagram Algorithm + Wedding Pros

In general, I am a huge fan of the new algorithm and really excited about the features to follow. You can’t not be excited about a more chronological feed, right? What is your favorite update and how will you change your Instagram game? Leave a comment below to share your strategy!
Want even more information or looking for some assistance with your Instagram marketing? Not sure if the amount of followers matters anymore? What’s the right amount of people you should be following? Get in touch with us today for personalized social media marketing, access to tons of printables and private coaching from someone already in the wedding industry!

All the details about the new Instagram algorithm and what it means for wedding pros. Read the blog now to learn how to use these changes to book more brides.

10 Mistakes You’re Making on Pinterest

If you’re a wedding professional like me, you probably know how important having a Pinterest page is. There’s nothing better than booking brides from Pinterest because you’re attracting your ideal client and it costs you nothing. But between constant algorithm changes and the time it takes to manage a Pinterest page, it’s really easy to make mistakes.

Mistakes that can mean the difference between booking another wedding and…well…not.

I am highlighting the 10 biggest mistakes I see being made on Pinterest in this blog. Read on to see if you’re making any of them and find out how to fix them all!

blog post

Your Page is Ugly
The way your Pinterest page shows up is more important to brides than you might think. If your page is a mess of pictures, with no clear board descriptions or details, why would an engaged couple want to book with you? You wouldn’t have a consultation with papers all over your desk, would you? Time to clean that mess up that is your Pinterest page.

This is a screenshot from part of my Pinterest page.  I have a whole bunch of boards and I present them in a clear and organized fashion, making it easier for brides to find exactly what they want. Since Pinterest has recently introduced the ability to follow individual boards instead of following the account (and thus all of their boards), it’s important to cater to that bride. 
You can make up as many boards as you want, but take it up a notch by adding a cover board. Each of my boards has a main picture on the left that gives the title of that board. I use the same font and layout to make the overall look seamless. This is so easy to do, so you have no excuse! I am a big fan of Canva and use it for everything including Pinterest board covers and even blog covers like the one you saw at the beginning of this post (and every other post). Canva takes a little while to get used to, but once you do, you’ll wish you had found it sooner.
Oh, and did I mention it’s free? Bonus! 
Of course, even if you have a Pinterest page that’s organized AF, the photos have to be pretty too. Which brings us to…
You’re Pinning Crap Photos
It doesn’t matter how good your boards look if the pictures don’t appeal to your ideal bride or groom. It should go without saying, but only post your best work. Pinterest is not the place for candids or unprofessional photos. Save that garbage for your IG stories or Snapchat.

But having great photos (not good…great) is only part of the winning combination. What’s the other part you ask? A big mistake that people make on Pinterest is posting those damn horizontal photos. You ever scroll through your home page on Pinterest and see a large amount of vertical photos? Ever wonder why that is?
They take up way more space and thus, garner way more attention. The vertical photo versus horizontal photo debate on Pinterest is a heated one, but it really shouldn’t be. You are more likely to pay attention to the image that takes up the most real estate, and that’s the vertical ones. Can you post the occasional horizontal photo? Sure, of course. Believe me, I have a lot of horizontal photos that I love and post…but if you can choose, go team vertical.


 

Your Images Lack Direction
Pinterest is basically a search engine. Actually, it’s not basically a search engine so much so as it is a search engine. Just like Google, Pinterest is used to find things. Things include recipes, meditations videos, memes and of course, wedding inspiration. But it’s more than just an image search. A picture might say 1,000 words, but brides want more.
How can you give them more? Send them somewhere!
Here’s an example: Bride goes to Pinterest to look for white wedding inspiration. She types in “white wedding flowers” and one of your beautiful (and vertical) images catches her eye. She goes to the picture and pins it with the 5,000 other pictures she has, only to never see it again. Your pin that you worked so hard to perfect, dies a lonely death on a bride’s board. A bride that you could’ve booked.

bride

When you set up pins, be sure you are linking them to your webpage. More specifically, send them to your contact page so when they click on your photo, that’s where they will end up. If the photo is associated with a blog you wrote, then link it there. Just get the bride to you instead of leaving her at a dead end with no link. Then go one more step and include your call to action in the description of the pin. Let brides know that they should click on the photo, why, and where it will take them. 
If you leave a trail of breadcrumbs, you’ll have brides banging on your website door in no time.
You’ve Got No Timing Game
It absolutely, 100% matters when you post to Pinterest. Just as it matters when you post to Instagram and those other social media networks, which I will touch on in future blog posts. The question is, how do you find the best times to post?
And the answer, is Tailwind.

Dessy Spring Style 2013
 

If you’re not already familiar with Tailwind, let me introduce you to your new best friend. Tailwind has a ton of amazing features, and you’ll hear me talk about all of them across various blog posts. I go into major details in my social media marketing e-book and class, so contact me if you’re really ready to take your social media game to the next level.
In terms of using Tailwind for Pinterest, you can use their “Smart Schedule” feature to find out the best times for you to post on Pinterest. It’s personalized and based on your analytics. Forget all of those stupid info-graphics about the best times to post. What do they have to do with you? They are generic, at best, so don’t waste your time with them. 

silver shoes

With Tailwind, not only can you find out the exact times to post every single day of the week, but you can use their “Tribes” to get even more exposure! While Tailwind does have a cost associated with it (invest in this, it’s worth it and then some) the Tribe feature is free. With Tribes, you can post your pins to a form of group boards, getting your pins seen by others that might never have seen it at all. Then these people share your pins and up goes that engagement rate!
If you take nothing else from this blog, take my advice and get yourself a Tailwind account. It’s a lot of stuff and it can be overwhelming, but their blogs are super informative and you’ll be kicking yourself that you didn’t join sooner! Click here to get started right now!
No One Cares About What You’re Pinning
I am always amazed at the lack of thought that goes into pinning by so many of you guys. We all know the wedding industry is super saturated, so why do you just pin whatever? I know, I know, how are you supposed to know what brides want?
Use the explore feature on Pinterest!

Dessy Group
 

The explore feature will show you what is trending right now and you can pin images related to whatever is trending. For instance, right now “barn weddings” is trending, so I just scheduled a bunch of my farm wedding pictures to post today. Yes, I already had things scheduled, but this is one thing that a scheduler cannot do. As nice as it would be to just use Tailwind and let my Pinterest run on autopilot, that just isn’t enough.
Once a day, check out that explore feature and check out what is trending so you can join the party. If there’s nothing trending that’s wedding specific under the general explore feature, go to the “weddings” tab to find the trending topics there.

bride and groom and dog

I promise you will be surprised at what is trending. Half the time I never would have guessed the trending topics and half of that time I can’t figure out why certain things are trending. But none of that matters because you want to be trending too, right?
You Don’t Know About “The First Five”
So you’ve got yourself set up on Tailwind, and you’re setting up image to pin to multiple boards at different dates and times and you’re all set. Right? They are going to post for you at your best times and your engagement will go up. Right?
Yes. But want it to go up more? Of course you do…that’s why you’re still reading!
Very quietly (like everything else all social media platforms do), Pinterest started putting an emphasis on the first five pins of the day. Your first five pins, whether they start going up at 12:01am or 3:30pm, are more important than the rest. How? What? Why?

The simple breakdown is this: when you go onto Pinterest for the first time on any day and go to your your followers tab, you are going to see the first five newest pins of the day (from people you follow). But that’s all that you will see: those first five pins from each person you follow respectively. This way, you are drowning in content from the same person. 
Again, this doesn’t mean to post your 5 best pins right after midnight! Post your five best pins whenever Tailwind says you should start pinning that day. Then, when your followers see it, there is a better chance that they will interact with it. If they interact with it, then your engagement goes up and your images start showing up on homepages of the brides you are trying to book. 
Bonus Tip: Pin your first 5 images directly from your website!
Your Reach is Limited
A common mistake wedding professionals make when using Pinterest is one they don’t even realize. Sucks, right?
In order to get traffic on Pinterest, you need high engagement. In order to get high engagement, you need high traffic. When will the madness stop? Never, so let’s fix this Pinterest mistake you’re making and the opportunity you’re missing out on.

flowers and rings

There is a really easy way to get your pins seen by a captive and engaged (they getting married type) audience. Group Boards are an opportunity to put your work in front of brides and grooms that might never have found your page on their own. Despite what wedding websites will have you believe, less and less wedding planning couples are relying on inspiration from stale styled shoots on their pages. And I know you’re wondering where all of the brides and grooms have gone, because why else would you be here???
Yes, they have gone over to Pinterest, but specifically, they are utilizing Group Boards. Group Boards are a collection of boards and pins, contributed by people like you and me. There are countless boards with tens of thousands of followers that are already there, and that you can put your work in front of for free.


 

Brides follow these boards and while they might not have found your pins or your page, there is a good chance they will find your images on these boards. And as long as your images are strong, that will get them to your Pinterest page. And then your call to action on your pins will get them to where?
Your booking page on your website because you read this entire blog so far.
It’s super easy to find these Group Boards by using Pingroupie. Simply go to this link and start searching for wedding related Group Boards. You can filter them by a bunch of factors and choose which ones you want to join. Joining these boards can be as simple as emailing the board owner and following their posted instructions, but some boards are hard to get involved with because they literally don’t tell you how to join.
Find a board you want to join and there are no ways in? Start following the board and interact with the pins to get them to take notice. You might get an invitation so be sure to check your inbox on Pinterest every day!
You Have No Identity
So many people make the classic Pinterest mistake and ignore the importance of a bio. Or, they try to get cute in their bio, which doesn’t book brides either. But with so few characters allowed, how do you know what to include and what to ditch?

bride and groom

First and foremost, make sure you have a professional headshot in your avatar. This isn’t the space for some centerpiece or anything other than a professional picture of you. Brides want to know who you are and if they can’t see you, they’ll swipe left…or something like that. Point is, they won’t follow you and they certainly won’t book you. It’s all about being authentic, which I talked about in a recent blog right here. So, show them you.
Your business name should be listed, but you should also include what you do. What you do needs to align with what brides will use as a search term to find you. My profile lists Rothweiler Event Design, Wedding Planner and Ideas. I have my business name and any bride looking for wedding ideas will turn up my profile because I have that listed too.


 

Location can be specific or slightly broad, depending on your market. I am a wedding planner in the NYC Metro Area, so I have four specific states listed. I also have my website linked to make it easy for brides to get to all of my information. The last part is the small amount of real estate we are given for our bios. Don’t waste time being cutesy here. Be direct and tell brides and grooms exactly what you do and give them a call to action such as emailing you if they are looking for a wedding photographer/planner/florist/venue/whatever.
To Get Engaged Couples You Need to Engage
Pinterest and social media in general can feel cold and impersonal, but, in reality, it is the total opposite. The wedding professionals doing the best on social media are the ones interacting with others. They’re playing nice in the sandbox because they know that building relationships is so important in the engagement game.
Both in the couples getting married looking for wedding vendors game and the vendors talking to vendors game.
Authentic engagement is necessary across all social media channels, but right now let’s just focus on Pinterest. If you want to get help with the other channels (and Pinterest) we offer personal consulting so get my attention by going here

The amount of followers you have on Pinterest doesn’t matter, but your engagement numbers do. Participating in Tailwind Tribes is a great way to connect, as is getting involved with Group Boards. But you can help your engagement score by interacting with others on your own.
Start by following other members of the wedding industry on Pinterest. Take it one step further by re-pinning some of their pins. Just make sure you don’t change where their image directs to (their website) because that is a no-no. Go another step further and comment on their photos with a genuine compliment. None of this stale “gorgeous picture” bullshit that you put on every picture you see on Instagram just so other accounts will see your account.
Yeah, I’m onto you.

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite
 

When you leave a comment, be specific with what you like and go ahead and re-pin the image. Don’t ever drop your website or information in the comments section because that’s tacky and you’re not tacky. Carve out time every day (yes, every day), roughly 20 minutes to interact with others across all of your social media channels. This includes responding to anyone and everyone that comments on your pictures. Even the idiots that write the same shit on every picture just to increase their visibility.
And they are idiots because they don’t realize that it doesn’t increase their visibility at all.  
Why Isn’t Your Blog on Pinterest?
The last and a huge mistake I see wedding professionals making on Pinterest is not using the platform to promote their blogs. I’ll be talking tips and tricks for blogging in future posts, and I even offer ghost blog and sponsored blog services which you can talk to me about by going here.

bride and groom flowers

If you’re not blogging, you’ve got something to work on immediately. If you are blogging, even if you’re making mistakes you don’t know about, don’t let one of those mistakes be with Pinterest. You can drive a ton of traffic to your blog by using Pinterest correctly. 
Using Canva, which I mentioned earlier in this blog, you can create gorgeous board images to showcase your blogs. At the top and bottom of this blog is the image I am using, and the one you will see on my Pinterest board as well. When I pin that image I clearly state what the blog is about using the correct keywords and hashtags (Pinterest has those now but keep it to 2-3 max) and I have a call to action to get brides to click on the picture and go read the blog. 
You can also join specific Tailwind Tribes for bloggers, which is a great way to be seen as I mentioned early and about a dozen other times.

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite
 

When creating the image for your blog post, it’s a great idea to use the same font and style. This way, when your blog post shows up on someone’s homepage, they will know it’s you. Be sure to add your actual website on the image as well because it’s real easy for your image to float around Pinterest and lose the website you once had associated with the pin image. 
Bonus Tip: Pins related to trending topics see an average of 94% increase in click-throughs. Use that explore feature to find trending topics, blog about that and then share it on Pinterest and watch your engagement numbers skyrocket!

table with flowers and candles

What do you think about these 10 mistakes you’re making on Pinterest? Are you making any of these mistakes? How are you going to fix them? Share in the comments below and let’s get that authentic conversation started!

For more information on how we can work with you to take your social media and blog to the next level, contact us right here.

blog post

How to Plan a Wedding Without Mom

It’s something many engaged couples don’t have to think about: how to plan a wedding without mom. But for those couples without a mom in the picture, the wedding planning experience will be very different. There are moments that some couples will never get to have, both when planning their wedding and on the wedding day, when mom is missing. 
While there are probably thousands of blogs going up this weekend for Mother’s Day to honor a mom’s role in the wedding planning process, this isn’t going to be one of them. I’m not going to give a “Top 10” list of mother of the groom dance songs, or great gift ideas, or anything like that. Because, as a wedding planner, I have seen just how powerful the absence of a mother is for my brides and grooms. So this blog, is for them.

Before I write a blog, I create a new folder with pictures I want to include. For obvious reasons, I wanted to select wedding day photos that included either the mother of the bride or the mother of the groom. 
I was shocked how few I was able to pull. 
Don’t get me wrong, I work with a lot of engaged couples that have wonderful parents and great relationships with them. I just didn’t realize how many of my couples weren’t that lucky. So, if you are planning your wedding without your mom, believe me, you are not alone. Far from it.

When I say “without” mom, that doesn’t necessarily mean deceased either. Of course it can mean that, but I’ve see moms be just as absent from wedding planning while being alive. The struggles are very different, in that a bride who lost her mother to death, doesn’t even get a chance to wedding plan with her. Many brides will feel robbed of the moments like finding the gown and having it zipped up on the actual wedding day. There are countless times when a bride or groom who lost their mom to death will be overwhelmed with feelings; feelings that can easily impact the entire wedding planning process.
Then there are the brides and grooms who have difficult relationships with their moms and struggle to plan anything with her. These brides and grooms have the one person that many others wish they still have. Yet that person could be checked out of the the wedding planning or so consistently negative, that it almost would be easier if she was completely missing in action instead.
And then there’s everything in between. Whatever your relationship status is with mom, a wedding will magnify it.
Being that I plan with most of my couples for at least a full year, I get to know them pretty well. This means I find out about all the family drama, and I learn a lot about the parental dynamic on both the bride and the groom’s side. There are many planners that probably don’t get as personally invested as I do, but seeing as how two people I just met are now trusting me with a pretty important day, I like to have a solid relationship with them. Plus, knowing things like whether or not mom is in the picture, helps me to better understand my couple as it greatly impacts the planning process.

The Present But Absent Mom
I once worked with a bride who called me on a Friday afternoon and said the following:

“Can I just vent to you for a few minutes? My mom is killing me.”

My bride had just gone back to look at a wedding venue that she had already toured and loved. The appointment she was calling me from was the follow up that she brought her mother to. She was excited to show her mother the venue because she thought it was perfect for her wedding. Her mother was over 40 minutes late to this appointment (no apologies) and spent the entire time there picking the place apart. Not only did my couple not end up selecting that venue, but even the venue they finally selected never got the mom’s approval.
Another bride I worked with had a mom that constantly said how much she wanted to be involved, but everything was a struggle. Competing with her calendar of events was a challenge for my bride who just wanted her mother there. After jumping through multiple hoops for each appointment though, the end result was always the same: whatever my bride loved, her mother hated. And she was very vocal about it too. I watched the happiness drain from my bride’s face a little more with each meeting with mom because she was so desperate for her approval. It was almost as if the more her mom hated something, the more my bride wanted her to love it.

The need for mom’s approval is something I see with many of my brides. Most people want the mom that is happy about their engagement, that loves the wedding gown they love and is so excited to help with wedding planning. It breaks my heart to watch a bride’s mom not love something that her daughter so badly wants her to love. But more painful than that, is watching a bride change her details because her mother doesn’t approve, while continuing to need her approval for everything else related to the wedding. 
Approval that is never going to happen.
I’m not talking about moms not being able to have an opinion here; I’m talking about moms that are going to disagree with the bride on everything. If you are getting married and you know your mom falls into this category, do not fall into the trap of needing approval. You will not get it and it doesn’t matter. Yes, it would be nice, but don’t ruin your engagement by stressing over what your mom doesn’t like or changing details to make her happy. 
Sometimes it get to the point where the bride or groom need to cut ties with these moms and make their own decisions. If you think there is a possibility that this tension is just a miscommunication, then try and work that out before removing her from all wedding decisions. Be upfront about how things will be going forward and explain why.
And then do what you want because it’s your wedding…not hers.
The Missing in Action Mother
Over the years, I have planned weddings with multiple couples where one person had never met the other person’s parents. I used to think that was odd, but it’s happened so many times now that I consider it normal. I really hope that if you’re in that situation, you now feel a little less alone.
The couples I work with have everything from parents married for 30 plus years, to parents that were never married, to divorced parents, to parents that got divorced and then only one got remarried….basically every combination you can come up with. Because of that, some of my couples have estranged relationships with one or both of their parents. 

One bride I worked with had never met her fiance’s mother. Not while they were dating, not when he proposed. Never. This happens so much now that I have a policy in place stating that the first meeting will not be on the wedding day. So, this couple, just like the ones before and after them that I have worked with, tried for months to make a meeting happen. They spent time and effort so that the mother of the groom could meet the bride before the wedding day. And just like the couples before and after them, they got the same result:
No meeting. Which also meant, the mother was not at the wedding.
I could work with dozens of other couples in this situation and I will never be able to understand it. As a mother, the thought of not meeting my son’s fiance or attending his wedding, is unfathomable to me. Then again, I’ll probably be so involved in both of my children’s weddings that they’ll end up writing a blog about me…
My heart hurts for any bride or groom with an intentionally absent mother, because that’s not how it’s supposed to be. What I say to my couples in this situation is to discuss together what the ideal outcome would be. Do you want a relationship with this mom? Do you want her at the wedding? It’s important to figure out what you want to happen before making any moves. And then it’s important to know when to let go (if need be) so you can enjoy the wedding planning process. 
But a meeting before the wedding day is essential. If you’re one of those couples that got engaged without mom in the picture, make this meeting happen as soon as possible. If you want to repair the damage, be the one to reach out first. That way, if things don’t come together, you can at least know you tried and did your part.

During the planning process, any time when mom would be involved, be sure to surround yourself with those closest to you. No mom to go dress shopping with? Bring a sibling or maid of honor for support. No mom for the groom to dance with on the wedding day? Consider an alternative family member or even cutting the parent dances if that’s an option. Look ahead to the planning process where you think your mom being absent will make a big impact and prepare so that you’ll still enjoy yourself.
With or without her.
When Mom Is Gone
Then there are the brides and grooms that have no choice but to plan alone. For these people, there is no chance of reconciliation. There are no decisions to be made about whether or not to hear out the opinion of mom. Arguments over color choices and the guest list, ones that brides vent to their wedding planners about, are arguments these brides wish they could have. 
I have planned with many brides that lost their moms years before the wedding. I have planned with a couple for their summer wedding that had to get moved up 5 months due to the groom’s mother being diagnosed with stage 4 terminal cancer. 

It is painful enough to wish that your mom would be the supportive mom you deserve. It is painful enough to know that your mom makes the conscience choice to simply not show up to the wedding. But it is a entirely different level of pain when you have absolutely no control of the situation because she is gone.
And so, for these brides and grooms, they don’t get to call mom after the proposal. The planning process can feel draining and far from joyous. There is a fear that lingers about the wedding day without mom. All of these things and more, are reasons for a solid support system to be in place. Whatever you need to do to feel closer to the mom you lost, is what you should do. However you want to honor her memory, is what you should do.

The Mom Factor
No matter the relationship with your mom, the best thing for any bride or groom to do is work through it right away. Wasting time and effort to get that elusive mom approval, will damper your engagement. Not reaching out to connect with an estranged mom until the last minute will only cause problems at the worst time. Burying your emotions when you miss the mom you lost does you no favors. Be authentic with how you feel and do what is right for you.
Are you planning a wedding and have a mom story you want to share? Comment below and let other brides and grooms know they aren’t alone. Don’t forget to Follow my blog with Bloglovin!

Authenticity is the New Black

Authenticity is the new black and what it took to succeed in the wedding industry in the past no longer works. Have you noticed a slump in your wedding business this year? Are your inquiries nothing but price shoppers? Do you have less inquiries than ever?

Where are all the brides and grooms? Did everyone just stop getting married? Not likely

So what changed? And what do you need to change to get those inquiries back?

 How to attract brides and grooms and everything you are doing wrong. Read our blog to get social media tips and tricks and find out the secret behind getting your ideal client! #weddingmarketing #socialmediamarketing

Marketing to Brides

How have you reached brides and grooms in the past? We’ve all done the same thing. Online advertising with popular wedding websites, submitting to get published in magazines and bridal shows that packed engaged couples into the room by the hundreds. Whether some of that or all of that worked for you, I know it’s not working anymore.
How do I know? Two reasons:
1. You’re reading this, and
2. None of that works for me either.
But why isn’t it working? We’ve all heard the argument that print is dead, and I am not here for that argument today (at all). So if you’re advertising online, shouldn’t your inquiries still be rolling in? Sure the industry is saturated but that isn’t something new to 2018. Does that mean engaged couples aren’t using online wedding websites like The Knot and Wedding Wire or does it mean that what brides and grooms want has changed?
Both and Neither.
Hang with me here…
bride and maid of honor with flowers
Jessica Janae Photography
Who is your ideal client? Is it an engaged couple with a healthy (i.e. realistic) budget? Do they know what they want and have a certain style? Well, if you’re advertising with the big national wedding websites and/or the local ones, you’re likely not reaching them anymore.
Along with the saturation of the wedding industry, there are more wedding websites and blogs than ever. Where did the brides go? Everywhere. Now you have an overly saturated industry competing for brides and grooms that are no longer contained to a handful of powerful wedding websites.  Maybe you used to get all of your leads from The Knot, and a handful of price shoppers….but now you’re only getting price shoppers. Know why that is?
Because your ideal client left. Except they didn’t all go to the same place. Think of it like dropping a glass bowl: pieces go everywhere. There’s a pile of glass in one spot, another pile somewhere else, and about 30 other piles in random places. Brides and grooms are still using online wedding websites, but since there are so many available, engaged couples are hanging out on the ones that speak to them.
And you’re probably trying to figure out exactly what websites those are, right? Because if you can figure out where the brides went, then you can advertise to them again and everything will go back to normal.

bridesmaids in champagne color dresses

Or maybe you’ve done that already and know what I know: things aren’t going back to normal. Not that way. Not anymore. Because engaged couples are spread out everywhere but now the same amount of people in the wedding industry are going after them. That’s what makes the saturation that much more obvious.
You can waste your time and go broke advertising on every wedding website that you think your ideal client is on. However, that’s only half of the problem. These brides and grooms are all over the place and just as fast as they latched onto these “niche” style websites, some of them left. Basically, those broken pieces of that glass bowl got broken into even smaller pieces.
What’s the glue that holds them all together?

Authenticity is the New Black

Wedding websites have made adjustments because they realize that what brides and grooms want is ever evolving. So many offer a (worthless) wedding planning concierge service, because they know that engaged couples plan from their phones. How to market to millennial brides and grooms is what this whole industry started to focus on. But we only paid attention to part of the technology portion of it….the convenience of planning via smart phone.

bride and groom first look

We all know that the generation getting married is tech-savvy and would rather text than talk. If they can avoid actual interaction with people, that’s fantastic. Why go to a store, when Amazon can drone drop you anything you want in a day?
Because of all this, the whole industry tried to find a way to reach these tech brides and grooms. The idea was (and still is) to provide everything an engaged couple could possibly need online and to be on the online platform, that caters to your ideal couple.
What’s the problem and why isn’t that working? You’ve all underestimated and misjudged what matters to these couples. It’s not all about convenience. It’s about being real.
Authenticity is the new black.
bride and groom
Studio One Photography
A few weeks ago, there was news of a popular wedding website and arguably one of the first wedding blogs ever, shutting down. While many suspect this was a publicity stunt, there are blogs that fail every day just like this one. They can’t drive traffic and they can’t compete with the over saturated wedding website market. They can’t stand out. 
This is the same reason you aren’t getting inquiries. You don’t stand out anymore. Because what worked yesterday, what worked last year, what worked in the past…it doesn’t work anymore. No bride or groom cares if you are a “spotlight” vendor or in some “prestigious” little black book on a wedding website. They don’t even care about….are you ready for this?…They don’t even care how many followers you have.
maid of honor wedding toast crying
Justin Tinapay Photography
Ok, some do, but the majority of the engaged couples will not base their decision to contact you for their wedding on the amount of followers you have. Yes, they want to find you online, but that’s where the desire for convenience completely ends. 
“Who are these women? Does anyone know? I don’t recognize any of them……”

13 Going on 30

You wanna know what I hear from the couples we work with? They want to have a unique wedding. They don’t want something that all of their friends had and they want the wedding to reflect them. They want their guests to know that they are at their wedding and not something out of Style Me Pretty. Brides cannot relate to some picture of a drop dead gorgeous model standing on the edge of a cliff with her equally good looking groom as they embrace at their elopement in Iceland as the clouds part and a single beam of sunlight touches the exact spot they are standing in.
Those aren’t real people. Brides and grooms want to see real people.
“I want to see my best friend’s big sister, the girls from the soccer team, my next door neighbor, real women who are smart and pretty and happy to be who they are. “

13 Going on 30

bride and groom high five
Know what else our couples say? When it comes to choosing a photographer, they want someone that won’t put them in “posed photos”. Yes, the millennial brides and grooms want those candid moments. The same millennials that avoid interaction, text instead of call, and would order Amazon over a trip to the store anyday…those people want real moments of interaction captured on camera at their weddings.
And that’s what everyone is missing. 
It’s not all about having the most wedding information on a convenient platform with the best hashtags and highest SEO ranking. If your content isn’t good, none of that even matters. Say it out loud so you really hear this:
If your content isn’t good none of that matters. None. Of. It.
A social media platform could rank you high, but if that’s not what your ideal client is looking for, none of that matters either. If you want to matter, you need to have what actually matters.
You want those brides and grooms? Make a decision. Decide to be authentic. Authentic on every single level of your wedding business.

bride and groom

The “A” Factor

Do you have it? Are you authentic? Most people struggle with authenticity for fear of being rejected. When you meet someone for the first time, you aren’t meeting them; you’re meeting their representative. How long did it take you before you knew your best friend; your spouse; your roommate?
Now imagine you’re a bride or a groom looking for a wedding venue and wedding vendors. You don’t know what you’re doing because you’ve never planned a wedding before. You are overwhelmed with outside advice, wedding vendor websites and stacks of magazines. You look for venues and vendors and read reviews that all start to sound the same after awhile. What does this all mean?
It means engaged couples have to dig a little deeper searching for venues and vendors. It means venues and vendors have to stand out in a sea of the same thing over and over. You might have everything in common with vendors you compete with. But I guarantee you, there is one thing you have that they don’t: They aren’t you
Time to get comfortable with yourself.
first look bride and father of the bride
Domenick Michael Photography
When Style Me Pretty was going to “shut down”, I had some serious opinions (surprise surprise) which you can read in my blog right here. The gist of it had to do with the lack of authenticity. Style Me Pretty posts the same wedding over and over and over. And look, I’ve been published by them, so this is not a personal ax to grind. This is me being authentic. Their weddings have all become the same over-saturated, natural light, blonde hair blue eyed couples, getting married in lavender fields or surrounded by tall wheat grass.
No one actually looks like that. There’s nothing real about those weddings. And so, the only thing that resonates with couples is inspiration for wedding vibes and maybe colors that look nice together. Brides aren’t jumping on that site, or any other, tracking down the vendors involved in those real weddings and seeking them out. That isn’t happening. Ask around. But let’s pause because I’ll talk about where you actually do need to be later in this blog.
Being authentic can be scary. But think about it this way: you want to attract your ideal client, right? Is your ideal client someone that would like you behind the scenes or just who you pretend to be? I make all of my brides and grooms meet with potential vendors in person. They need to click with these people, not just love their work. You can’t get your ideal client by being something you are not or by hiding who you really are!
bride and mother of the bride getting ready
Domenick Michael Photography
Steps you can take to show authenticity? Behind the scenes videos. Blogging. Going live on Instagram or Facebook. Hosting webinars. You’re a florist? Post a video putting together a centerpiece and talk while you do it. Photographer? Shoot behind the scenes of an engagement photoshoot. Caterer? Facebook live a kitchen tour or tasting. There is so much you can do.
You are not a robot. Stop acting like one.

Right Place. Right Time.

Step 1 is to fix yourself. Get that “A” factor. That brings us to the second part of the problem. Once you have it, where do you show it?
Where are all of the brides and grooms?
bride and groom first look
Justin Tinapay Photography
This should come as no surprise. They’re on social media, specifically, Pinterest and Instagram. And I know what some of you are saying….”Danielle, I actively post on social media and I don’t get brides and grooms…blah blah blah.”
Yeah, well, you’re doing it wrong. First off, check your A factor. If you don’t have that going consistently, meaning every day for at least a month, then that’s your problem. Go back to step 1, which is fix yourself.
If you are authentic and your “A” game is tight, and you’re not getting social media clients, there are many things you can do. A large percentage of my brides and grooms find me on social media. Don’t believe me? Look how many monthly page views I have on my Pinterest page alone:

Yes, that’s one million. It didn’t happen overnight and I have been racing to keep up with the evolving wedding industry just like the rest of you. Between Pinterest and Instagram, I am no longer looking for my engaged couples.
They are looking for me.
You have to leave breadcrumbs. You have to make a trail to your website for brides and grooms to follow. They are not going to follow stale, moldy breadcrumbs that look like everyone else’s breadcrumbs. Everyone has 5 star reviews. Everyone has a bunch of wedding awards. What makes you different?
Take what makes you different to Instagram and Pinterest. However, beware that this is a rabbit hole. It is a time sucker. You have to do it right. You want to do it right? Cause this is where the sales pitch starts and the blog ends. So if you’re not about doing this right, if you think you can do this on your own and master the frequent algorithm changes on social media, then stop reading. If you’re happy about no leads, price shoppers and want to stay in your unauthentic shell waiting for this stationary storm to pass, then stop reading right now.
 
 bride and groom
 
Still here? Good. Welcome to the club of wedding vendors that want to book more brides and grooms. Bridal marketing has been the same for years with little changes here and there. Now, it’s like an earthquake and everyone needs a better wedding marketing strategy so they don’t fall into the earth and get burnt alive by the magma chamber. (I know that’s not how the science of geology works but you get what I’m saying here).
Over the next few weeks, a series of blogs will be released with solid brand marketing ideas. You’ll learn how to leverage free social media and the best tools you need to reach your ideal clients. They are out there, and this is where you will learn to find them. Sign up for the mailing list now to get the crash course information you need. You’ll get blog updates and be able to choose what you want to learn more about every step of the way.

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I’ve done the research. I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. Don’t spend your time sifting through articles every day when the information you need is one click away. Sign up for the mailing list right now and get ready to find your ideal bride and groom. They are out there. Stop handing them off to mediocre vendors who can’t give them the wedding that you can. They don’t know you exist.
Isn’t it time for that to change?

 How to attract brides and grooms and everything you are doing wrong. Read our blog to get social media tips and tricks and find out the secret behind getting your ideal client! #weddingmarketing #socialmediamarketing

 

The Complete List of Bridesmaid’s Duties

Being a bridesmaid is exciting to a lot of people because what’s more fun than helping one of your best friends with their wedding? That is, until you hate the dress you’re being forced to wear and find yourself going broke paying for it (and everything else). Pretty soon you’re so over it and ready to rip up that list of bridesmaid’s duties. 

For a bride, selecting her closest friends to stand with her from wedding planning to wedding day can be a stressful task too. The constant worry that you’re offending someone or having to deal with unresponsive bridesmaids can make any bride wish she hadn’t had a wedding party at all. 

But the biggest source of problems always revolves around what is and isn’t required of a bridesmaid. The list of bridemaid’s duties isn’t completely set in stone, so I’ve put together a full list including tasks that vary from wedding to wedding. So whether you’re a bride selecting her squad or a bridesmaid with no idea how this whole thing works, check out the details below to help guide you along!

Wardrobe

Deciding what your bridesmaids are going to wear is a decision that many brides struggle with. I’m not even talking about figuring out color and cut. Nope. That’s the easy part.


 

I’m talking about finding a dress that all of your bridesmaids will actually be happy to wear. Not only that, but they all need to be happy about the price of the dress too. Because, yes, as a bridesmaid you are responsible for the cost of the dress you will wear on the wedding day.
When selecting these dresses, some brides choose to do so on their own, while others like to bring members of the wedding party along for the ride. As with any other aspect of your wedding, if you invite someone to give you their opinion, then be prepared to get it.
If you’re the type of bride that knows what she wants and isn’t looking for bridesmaid input, then make this selection on your own. I promise you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If, however, you do want some advice, then bring along your Maid of Honor and perhaps 1 or 2 other bridesmaids. Nothing good happens when you roll up with an entourage.

bride and bridesmaids tossing purple bouquets

Whatever you choose to do, the duty of the bridesmaids is to be happy when you are happy. Too many times, as a wedding planner, I have seen bridesmaids absolutely ruin this appointment by complaining about every last dress they were put in. It’s one thing if a bridesmaid is uncomfortable, but it’s another thing if they’re just uncomfortable with life in general.
As a bride, it’s important to be sensitive to the body types of your bridesmaids, as well as their budget. If it’s not possible to find one style that flatters everyone, then consider varying styles and allowing the bridesmaids to select what they feel comfortable in most. If mixing styles just isn’t your style, then work to find something that will look nice on everyone.
Budget also plays a big factor in the selection of the bridesmaid dress and a fair cost means something different to everyone. In order to get the most options available, the cost will range anywhere between $200-$275. That’s not to say the perfect dress isn’t less (or more), but this window of pricing will give you the most to choose from. As a bride, be considerate of what your bridesmaids can spend and never pick a dress without checking that price tag first. For some amazing dress options under $150, I love The Dessy Group options!


 

As a bridesmaid, one of the duties is to pay for this dress and everything that goes with it. That includes any alterations as well as shoes. You are not required to attend store after store looking for the right gown unless you’re the bride’s sister or Maid/Matron of Honor.   

Shower

It is a myth that the bridesmaids are the ones to plan the bridal shower. While they absolutely should be in attendance, and therefore have a say in the date and location, this is the responsibility of the Mother of the Bride or other close family member. This also means that the cost of the shower does not have to be covered by the bridesmaids.

bride and bridesmaids walking down street

In situations where it won’t be possible for the Mother of the Bride to host a bridal shower (for whatever reason), it is still not the duty of the bridesmaids to do this. Is it a nice gesture? Yes. So, if you’re a bridesmaid and want to handle this, speak to the other bridesmaids first to make sure you’re all on the same page. 

Bachelorette Party

Throwing a bachelorette party is one of the duties of being a bridesmaid. Where it goes left is deciding the details which ultimately decide the cost. While it might be super popular to get on an airplane and hit up Vegas for a weekend, it’s not always realistic financially. The details of the party also depend on the details of the bridesmaids. A group of ladies in their mid 20s with limited responsibility is very different from a group of ladies where some are moms and home owners.
bridesmaids holding bouquets
Domenick Michael Photography
As a bride, it is unfair to expect the bridesmaids you selected to plan an elaborate weekend getaway. Just because these parties have evolved from not existing at all, to a fun night out in a local city, to now a plane ride half way around the world, doesn’t mean you’re owed any of that. Between the expense of the trip and the life obligations your bridesmaids have, it’s important to be gracious and thankful for any type of celebration they plan for you.
Bridesmaids should be sure to talk to each other early on in the planning process about this event. It might seem like the date is far off, since the party would be closer to the wedding date, but everyone knows time goes quickly and calendars fill up. Create a group email to discuss some ideas and more importantly, the budget that everyone is comfortable with. Be upfront and honest with what you are willing to spend and the dates you are available. Keep in mind that any costs associated with the bride’s attendance must be split equally between the bridesmaids.
MOH giving toast
Domenick Michael Photography

Planning

A bride is going to lean on her bridesmaids in one way or another. Maybe it will just be to vent about not finding the right shoes to go with her gown, or maybe it will be about how her mom doesn’t like the invitations she picked. Each bride is different and depending on her relationship with the bridesmaid, what she expects from one might be different than another.
bride and bridesmaids
Jessica Janae Photography
This is also where the role of Maid and/or Matron of Honor separates from the rest of the bridesmaids. When selecting this person or persons, it’s important to consider not just the closeness of your relationship, but their availability. Will they be able to go dress shopping with you or look at a venue that you can’t make a decision on? This person isn’t just the one giving a toast at your wedding and holding your bouquet; she’s going to be obligated to more planning work with you than the bridesmaids, so pick someone that’s actually available.
If you’re selected as a Maid or Matron of Honor, it’s crazy important to understand how that role is different than a bridesmaid before you say “yes”. Whether or not the bride is working with a planner, there is nothing like a best friend to lean on. You’ll also be seen by the bridesmaids as the one who has to get stuff done…so if you’re not going to get stuff done, then nothing will get done and you should probably ask to just be a bridesmaid instead.
bridesmaid and bride
Domenick Michael Photography
Bridesmaids can expect to be a sounding board here and there for the bride as she plans the big day. However, there are no rules that say you must accompany the bride to any meetings whatsoever. Yes, you should attend any pre-wedding functions including an engagement party, bridal shower, etc. , but you do not have to hold the bride’s hand and help her plan.


 

Day of Wedding

The duties of the bridesmaids on the day of the wedding start long before the actual day. Typically, a bride will select the members of her wedding party right before or right after the date and venue are set. A bride should always make the time to ask her friends and family to be her bridesmaids though, before really getting the planning going. It wouldn’t be all that fun to pick out a bunch of stuff, only to then ask people who might not even be available for that weekend, right?
Plus, the people you are going to ask to be in your wedding party, probably have a feeling that the question is coming. It’s majorly awkward if you keep talking about wedding details to them while they have no idea just how involved they will be. And depending on the details of your wedding, many people need as much notice as possible. As a bride, it’s important to recognize how significant it is to many people to be asked to be a bridesmaid. Show your friends and family members the ultimate respect by making time to ask them…especially before you ask them to listen to a bunch of wedding planning drama and insist they book a hotel room for the weekend. Tacky.

bride, groom and wedding party outside

The wedding location is a big factor here as a member of the wedding party. It’s expensive to be a bridesmaid, but the cost of the dress is just for starters. You are also responsible for the bachelorette party costs, a gift to the couple and the costs it takes to get to these places. Know what you’re not responsible for?
The lodging on the weekend of the wedding. 
That’s right. If we want to get technical and get the etiquette correct, the couple is responsible for the lodging costs of the wedding party on the dates of the wedding weekend. This, however, almost never happens. You can quote this blog, you can go ahead and quote Anna Post, but I promise you, the likelihood of this happening is not good at all.


 

This means the (unofficial) duty of the bridesmaids is to cover their personal wedding day costs. It’s likely that the bridesmaids will all need to be together the night before the wedding so they can get ready together on the morning of. You’re now looking at a two night hotel stay as, odds are, you’ll also stay the night of the wedding.
Brides should consider this when selecting their wedding party as everyone might have different circumstances. For instance, it’s a lot easier (and affordable) for a single bridesmaid to make a weekend trip than it would be for a married bridesmaid that has children. If the wedding is a children-free zone, make it easy on your mama bridesmaids by offering to cover baby-sitting costs, or letting them bring their children and providing a nanny service. Otherwise, don’t be offended when they decline the invite to stand at the altar with you.
Yes, that’s right bridesmaids: if being in the wedding party has the potential to be financially taxing on you, then don’t do it. Your duty is to be honest with the bride. While it might hurt her feelings, it would be a lot worse to go through the planning while completely resenting her.
bride and bridesmaids outside
Gabelli Studio
Typically, the cost of hair and make up also falls on the shoulders of the bridesmaids. Don’t assume the bride is going to be picking up the tab or offering this as a gift. While many of my brides have gifted this as a “thank you”, they are not required to cover that cost. But since we’re on the subject, if you’re a bride and the costs are getting crazy because you either had some 4 day bender bachelorette party or are hosting a destination wedding, then picking up the cost for hair and make up would be the right thing to do. 

Recap

The duties of a bridesmaid can vary from wedding to wedding. They depend on many details including the size, style and location of the event. Brides should be mindful of each individual bridesmaid’s situation, and also consider the budget. Bridesmaids need to be supportive of the bride and since that might mean something different to everyone, I’ll put it this way: treat the bride the way you would want to be treated if you were the bride instead.
And no one wants a sourpuss that hates every dress option available.

bride and bridesmaids inside

What are your thoughts on the subject? Are you currently a bridesmaid and getting overwhelmed with responsibility? Share in the comments below what your duties are and what you think they should be!

The Evolution of the Online Wedding Industry

Well, well, well…in a (not so) interesting turn of events, Style Me Pretty won’t be shutting down this weekend. A massive representation of the online wedding industry and a leader in the rustic chic style has been “saved”. Fair warning, I’m going to use more “air quotes” and italic font than you can possibly imagine. See what I did there?

If you’re not familiar with the whole story, I highly suggest reading my earlier blog on this subject. Otherwise, you’re going to be more confused than a bride deciding between table linen colors. 

Only days away from “going dark”, Style Me Pretty made the “shocking” announcement on Instagram that the original owners were taking over. So, is this the result of a major corporate company yielding to a petition to save SMP, or just an amateur publicity stunt that relied on the stupidity of the masses?

Style Me Pretty has announced that it will not be closing after all. What does this mean and how do you not get destroyed by the evolution of the online wedding industry?

The Announcement
Shortly after word got out that Style Me Pretty would be wiped off the internet as if it never existed, a petition was created to “save it”. During that time, the closure notices posted on their social media accounts and even on their main website all disappeared.
What did that mean? 
Then, the original owner posted on her Instagram account that she was in discussion with the corporation she originally sold the website to, and she had no idea what was going to happen, but she felt positive. Just like the original closure notices, that post has also disappeared.
What did that mean? 

bride and groom sparkler exit

And while all of that was going on, those members of the wedding industry that had been published on Style Me Pretty, all scrambled to screenshot their work. Editors from countless other publications dropped their exclusivity rule and began accepting submissions from those that either had been published on SMP or had recently submitted to be published. 
What did that mean? Well, that meant a serious amount of time for hundreds affected by the closure announcements.
Time Wasted?
Just yesterday, a notice appeared on Style Me Pretty’s Instagram page. 

Style Me Pretty IG screenshot

It’s a long statement (which, by the way, came as a surprise to absolutely no one) and many people didn’t read the whole thing. Why? Is it because everyone has a short attention span? Is it because there are no details that will matter to anyone at this point since the majority of people have a “girl bye” attitude to what looks like a PR stunt?
This isn’t a laundry list of thank yous ala Oscar speech style either. There’s stuff in here that people should read. So, was the length intentional, much like a contract would be in order to take advantage of that short attention span?
Here are a few things that jumped out to me:
“…the original founders have acquired Style Me Pretty’s assets so that the brand can live on and thrive and become even better than ever….Tait and I are SO excited to reboot this incredible company and build on the work that the team at SMP has already created.”
Implying what? A re-brand of a site that completely changed focus when it was originally sold? Re-branding is an arduous task for any company in any industry, and many times it is considered suicide. This website died when it was sold, but it seems no DNR was ever signed so here we are with those cardiac arrest plates yelling “clear” and hitting the chest of SMP.
bridesmaids
Jessica Janae Photography
“In the short term, we will be self-funding the site, running super lean and we’ll be making as much time to interview brides and industry professionals as possible so that we continue to build a place that vendors want to stand beside and readers want to devour.”
And by running super lean, I’m going to jump to the conclusion that many people are out of a job. Would they have been out of that same job had the closure actually happen? Absolutely. But, this feels just like when the Titanic sank and only one life boat went back to rescue those that went down with the ship. Rose is all “I’ll never let go”, but she ain’t sharing that door she’s floating on either so…
The interviews they reference are perplexing too. The online wedding industry is rapidly changing and what SMP offered is not what engaged couples want anymore. Vendors that advertise on the website don’t book couples with the success they used to. Unless these interviews are with vendors outside the SMP “you can’t sit with us” circle, it’s a total waste of time.
“I believe that any joy felt here should be gifted to this incredible team and not to Tait nor myself. It is bittersweet that we won’t be able to take them along right now as the work that they have done for this company is simply immeasurable.”
Well, no good deed goes unpunished.
bride and groom
Mary + Roy
The Greatest Show On Earth
It has been said that to write well, you have to write what you know. Well, what do we know?
Was this all a publicity stunt? It’s starting to feel that way, and there is an overwhelming social media response screaming just that. I’ll admit that when I first heard about the closure, that was my initial thought as well. It was one of those rare times when I was hoping to be wrong. But, once again, I’m never wrong. Ask my husband, he’ll tell you.
Out of curiosity, I looked up the expiration date of the domain name. I figured it would be close to the closure date since we had been told the website would vanish from existence. On the contrary, the expiration date was set for 2020. Which could mean a few things:
1. The domain would be held onto until that time, when it would be available for sale.
2. The owners of the domain would auction it off or sell it to the highest bidder before the 2020 date.
Or
3. The website was never going anywhere. At least not until 2020. Which means they already had other plans and transfer of ownership ideas in place.
wedding bands
Jessica Janae Photography
There are rumors that the corporate owners of SMP did try to sell the domain to other companies, specifically to a competing blog called Ruffled. But is it possible that the original owners were given first rite of refusal and leveraged that to drum up some publicity and see if the buy back would be worth it?
It’s not a total stretch and here’s why:
In my original blog written about the “closure” of SMP, I talked about the evolution of engaged couples. Specifically, how they don’t want anything that SMP has offered. They want authenticity, and let’s be honest, there isn’t a whole lot of authenticity in pictures of a blonde bride and groom standing at the top of a mountain bathing in sunlight while holding a 500 pound bouquet of cascading greenery. The percentage of couples that can relate to that is low.
Shocking right?
We know that SMP had millions of monthly page views. But, if those views don’t turn into conversions for the advertisers, then “bye bye” advertisers. I never advertised with them, but I have had a celebrity wedding I planned published on the first page and pushed by their social media team. What do I know? I know I never received a single inquiry from it, yet I received plenty of inquiries from brides that saw those same exact images on my Pinterest page.

bride and groom at Villanova chapel

How do you get wedding industry members to care about your website again when it has become painfully obvious you’re not attracting their ideal client anymore? A petition with thousands of signatures and a bunch of passion isn’t a bad way to start. Combine that with the panic of “if a website like Style Me Pretty can just close, what does that mean?!” and you’ve got a winning combination. There’s just one problem:
It does not matter at all what the wedding industry and these online wedding magazines and blogs think of themselves. It only matters what the engaged couples think. So, if you have to use a PR stunt to raise brand awareness, is your brand worth being aware of? 
As We Stumble Along
The online wedding industry is not the same animal that it was when Style Me Pretty was born. In fact, the entire wedding industry has been in a constant state of evolution. Style Me Pretty represents a niche market, which on some levels can be a good thing. It’s not a good thing, however, when that niche market appeals to roughly 5 people.
Which brings us to the re-branding implications/promises of the former and now once again owners of Style Me Pretty. They are self-funding which I am interpreting to mean no advertising…for now. If there is no vendor book, like the old (way old) original days of SMP, there’s no obligation on their part to publish anything other than what they want to. What do they want to publish?
bride and bridesmaids
Jessica Janae Photography
Their announcement on Instagram was paired with a photograph taken by the photographer who started the SaveSMP hashtag as well as the petition. Before I started writing this blog, I wanted to sift through the comments for two reasons: 1. What was the reaction of industry members and 2. Did any actual engaged couples care to comment?
While there is no shortage of positive comments and heart emojis, there are a fair share of industry members quick to point out the missing diversity and authenticity on Style Me Pretty.

IG QUOTE

IG QUOTE

It was a good thing to see Style Me Pretty fade away. It is part of the online wedding industry evolution, and the evolution of the wedding world in general. You can have a niche, sure, but if the niche only resonates with the smallest percentage of engaged couples available, either adapt or close.  If the picture they chose to accompany their “J/K we’re actually not pulling the plug” is any indication of their level of commitment to re-brand, then we might see the real death of this website sooner than later.
And since there wasn’t a single comment from a bride or groom regarding the “saving” of SMP, I’m guessing that funeral would be poorly attended.

IG QUOTE

Engaged couples want authenticity. It doesn’t get much more black and white than that. Why members of the wedding industry threw themselves in front of a building about to be knocked over to save someone else’s brand other than work on their own is not something I can understand. Maybe they’re afraid of change, but if that’s the case, then their in the wrong industry.
We will never know if this whole thing was a weak sauce publicity stunt (it was) and I personally won’t waste my time on anyone else’s brand other than my own. Authenticity is winning, finally. The evolution of the online wedding industry is no longer moving at a glacial pace. It doesn’t matter what Style Me Pretty does next. 
What’s your next move?
 

Real Wedding Inspiration: Wedding Planning with Blogger, Melissa Victoria

I love sharing real wedding inspiration with you guys, because I know how every engaged couple is looking for something different. A bunch of real weddings we have planned have been showcased on this wedding blog before, and just like you, I always want something different.
Real Weddings show our readers the final product, but what about the months leading up to it? I chatted with lifestyle blogger, Melissa Victoria, about her upcoming wedding and she gave me plenty of details! If you’re planning your wedding, check out what a fellow fiance had to say, including the one (and only) trend she plans to use for her big day!
Wedding blog with wedding planning inspiration
Courtesy of Melissa Victoria

Melissa Victoria, Lifestyle Blogger

I first found Melissa on Instagram (so shocking, right?) and instantly fell in love with her style. Of course, she’s a California girl, because I always fall in love with West Coast brides and their wedding style….or style in general. When I saw that she was getting married, I had to know more about the big day. 
Let me just say that I tend to fall for the bloggers that radiate “real”. There are about 2 bazillion bloggers out there, and sometimes I feel like I am seeing the same person over and over again. It’s that “my life is perfect, buy this product” smile in their pictures that works for so many bloggers and yet makes me want to basically die. Because no one is that happy all of the time and can you please calm down OMG?!

bridesmaid tote bag bride handbag
 

But Melissa makes you smile when you look at the pictures of her smiling. Her stories are fun and you basically want to just hang out with her. As a wedding planner, I pride myself on the fact that I don’t work with brides I wouldn’t want to hang out with. Bridezillas is a show, not my life…generally. Between her fun style and her intense realness, I had to know more about her wedding details.
And I have to say…none of her answers disappointed. In fact, many had me saying “really?!”, but in a good way. Because she’s different than other bloggers and guess what? That makes her different from so many other brides. Thank. The. Lord.

The Basics

Melissa and Martin got engaged on November 12, 2017 during their weekend trip to Big Bear. Since I was not that bride that had her nails done every week (just in case of a proposal), nor did my fiance have a photographer on stand-by, I had to ask if she was surprised by the proposal. I figured that a style blogger with a huge following would have figured out all the details before her now fiance got down on one knee, but nope!
Engagement ring picture
Gabelli Studio
“Looking back, there were SO many signs of him wanting to propose all weekend long, so when he finally did, it was so special.”
And I love that. Because it used to be (listen to how old I sound, wow) about a man getting down on one knee, pulling out a ring and we’re done. Now, it’s drone footage, surprise family appearances and fireworks. While I love the idea of having that special moment captured by a photographer, I am not in love with the whole “hiring a proposal planner” thing. This isn’t to take away from anyone’s proposal, but I personally like this step to be as basic as possible.


 

Anyway, back to Melissa and Martin! Their big day is February 9, 2019, which means their engagement period is about a year and change. As a wedding planner, I swoon over year long plus engagements…especially when the “must have” wedding date is during the most popular time of the year. Over a year gives you time to enjoy the engagement and get the venue and vendors that you want because everyone isn’t already booked.

The Details

Melissa and Martin decided not to plan anything for the remainder of 2017. But you know what they say about the best laid plans, right? In late 2017 they visited a spot two blocks away from Martin’s job and fell head over heels for it. Despite the whole “no planning in 2017” promise, they locked their venue down in December that year.
Wedding escort card table
Images by Berit
I am sure many of you will just glaze over that like it’s not a big deal. But I want to emphasize that it actually is. When you get engaged, you’re likely to put together some sort of timeline to get stuff done. Sometimes, the perfect venue or vendor will come along at what you decided was the wrong time. I love that Melissa and Martin didn’t turn this place down because it didn’t fit their planning timeline. Take their lead and if you find the venue or vendor before you’re “supposed” to, don’t be afraid to lock it down!
Their guest count sits around 200 people, which seems to be the average for weddings right now. Most of the couples we plan weddings with are inviting anywhere from 150-250 people. If you’re still looking for the perfect venue, it’s super important to get your guest list together before shopping. You don’t want to fall in love with a wedding venue, only to find out it doesn’t fit the guest count you’re inviting.


 

Melissa has put together plenty of ideas and details, and yes, that includes her wedding gown. Since she is a style blogger, I absolutely had to ask her about this! Of all the celebrity wedding inspiration available to brides, she was struck by Olivia Palermo’s wedding style, which included chic long sleeve gowns.
Bride in long sleeve lace gown
Jason Rhee
Not unlike many of my brides, Melissa tried on about 10 dresses and went to 2 different stores before finding the one. I always tell my brides that they will know when they’ve found the right gown (and venue and vendors), and Melissa shares how she knew:
“In the end, I went with something I know what meant for me.”
And it’s true…just like your fiance is meant for you, everything else will be during the wedding planning process.

Wedding Day Vibes

With a February wedding date, the winter wedding season is well underway. But between the obsession with pale colors, and her ever enviable California location, I wondered if she wouldn’t have a wedding full of rose golds, creams and pinks. And as a style blogger, where does she turn for inspiration?
Bride and groom
Justin Tinapay
As much as brides are always looking for something different for their wedding day, many tend to do the same exact thing they have seen everyone else do. Different is scary and if everyone else is doing a mix of muted colors, it’s hard not to play it safe. Well, I was extremely excited to find out that this trendy fashion blogger is not playing it safe, but instead, playing with deep colors mixed in with neutrals. 
Let the church say “Amen!”

Give the perfect travel gift - a Honeyfund gift card
 

Along with their fabulous color palette, Melissa and Martin are going for a vintage feel to go with their old Hollywood glam wedding venue. Their wedding party consists of six bridesmaids and groomsmen, but their wardrobe is at different stages. The idea of keeping the bridesmaids in different gowns is something Melissa loves and already has ideas about. But, remember how I said she was totally real? Well, when I asked her about the groomsmen wardrobe she said:
“Martin has a few colors he likes, so he needs to crank that out ASAP haha.”
Sound familiar ladies?
Sparkler exit at wedding
Jessica Janae

Searching For Inspiration

Wedding inspiration available on the internet can legit drown a bride. With countless wedding websites available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with ideas only to end up hating them all. So, where does a style blogger turn for her own wedding day inspiration?
red rose
Justin Tinapay
Just like any other bride, Melissa turns to Pinterest and Instagram for wedding ideas. As a wedding planner, we book with many of our clients because they found us on either one of those social media sites and I love finding new ideas and vendors on them as well.
But I know what you’re thinking…you’re always on Pinterest and you keep seeing the same damn thing every day. Right? Hashtags and keywords are your friend and foe. When searching for wedding inspiration, it’s important to be more specific in your searches because “Winter Wedding” is going to turn up a bunch of stuff that you don’t like. Hashtags work on both sites, but Pinterest just brought them back, so a keyword search is a better option. Keep your search general enough so you don’t miss out on creative ideas, but specific enough so that you’re not seeing starfish decor for your barn wedding.
“I love to look up my venue’s location on Instagram every Sunday to see what the previous night’s event looked like.”
Maybe you haven’t found your venue yet, and maybe you have. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a few (or 40) in mind…so use the venue’s social media profile and hashtag to see what other couples have done. It’s not about copying their style, but more about seeing what does (and doesn’t) work. That goes double for those of you that have found your wedding venue!

Moevenpick Hotels and Resorts
 

Trends and Have to Haves

When you basically live on social media, it can be hard to plan an event. You’ve seen it all, and the trends might be less “trendy” and more “played out” by the time your wedding day rolls around. It shouldn’t have surprised me, though it did, that Melissa only has one trend she wants to incorporate for her wedding day:
“A hashtag. I’m a social media chick, so obviously, this has to be part of our wedding.”
Social media chick, or not, hashtags have become a major part of weddings. When the idea first came about, it was largely seen as only good for those that were obsessed with social media. In reality, both then and now, it’s a great way to keep your photos all in the same place. What good are those random pictures your friends and family took if you never see them? 
wedding sweetheart table
Domenick Michael
Just like many other engaged couples, Melissa and Martin want to incorporate their faith into their wedding day. As a wedding planner, this is something I see most couples decide on, but many struggle with.  It could be anything from coming from different religious backgrounds to wanting a religious ceremony outside of a religious house, and thousands of other possibilities in between. The only thing that matters here, is that you and your fiance celebrate your marriage in a ceremony that means the most to the both of you. 
What else matters to Melissa and Martin? Two words: Open. Bar.
“We knew we wanted an open bar because duh- the best memories always include an open bar!”
Truer words have never been spoken.

 

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

More and more, traditional aspects of a wedding are disappearing. Couples are making their wedding a reflection of their relationship by using cake pops instead of wedding cake and having that first look happen long before the walk down the aisle. There are very few rules when it comes to a wedding anymore, so if you’re a trendy fashion blogger getting married, what rules are you following?

black and white photo of bride and groom

The bouquet and garter toss have been put on ice by most of our engaged couples. Honestly though, I miss them both and I pretty much thought I was stuck in the “not cool old person” past by still loving the idea. Leave it to Melissa though, to remind me how awesome and trendy I still am (woot woot), when she told me how they will be incorporating this tradition into their wedding day! Along with that, they will have their special parent dances, but are on the fence about the grand entrance for the entire wedding party; another tradition we’re starting to see fade away.
I asked Melissa if they planned on making their heritage a part of the wedding day. My engaged couples are always looking for that something different, but sometimes that something different has been done for centuries that many couples aren’t doing anymore. Their ceremony taking place in a Catholic Church has to do, in part, with their Latin heritage. But in addition to incorporating their religion, their guests will also enjoy other Latin traditions like the lasso ceremony. The wedding ceremony is a great opportunity to celebrate your traditions in a new way as you begin your new life together!
wedding rope ceremony
Justin Tinapay
What about the structure and the rules? Should you tell your guests what the dress code is, or is that no longer acceptable? What about kids at the wedding? There are so many wedding etiquette blogs, with rules that have been written and re-written for decades. Between those and all the endless “helpful” advice brides and grooms get from friends and family, it’s not easy to keep it all together. 
“I would say to do things the way you want to do them. There will be so many previously married people that will tell you all about their experience and what you should do, but no one knows your heart the way you do.”
As difficult as it can be, it’s important to listen to the voices of two people: you and your fiance. When you plan a wedding, trust me, everyone in your life will become an expert. Your BFF that just got married and suddenly knows everything and your Aunt Sally that got married 700 years ago and also knows everything…No one can change the fact that you will know when you found the right venue and the right vendors. It’s the first day of the rest of your lives, and it’s really important to start it off with your own decisions. 


 

Just like any other bride, Melissa can share the worst part of wedding planning she’s gone through. And just like many brides, that worst part had a lot to do with herself. While she recognized the “I can do it myself” part of her, she worried about being too picky. If you’re that bride that can’t (or won’t) let her guard down and won’t trust her vendors, you are not alone here. Melissa shared that she is really a hands on bride and that trusting others was something she had a really hard time with. 
 I told you she was real…
“I think I’m worried about vendors backing out or not showing up on time.”
Every bride worries about her wedding day, and that is completely normal. It doesn’t mean things won’t go as planned; it just means you’re normal. It’s OK to let yourself worry and to vent about completely ridiculous things going wrong that would never ever happen. Surround yourself with supportive people during your engagement process, people that will let you lean on their shoulders…just don’t forget that they have problems of their own that they made need your shoulder for!
bride and groom spelling LOVE
Justin Tinapay

Your Day. Yours.

A wedding day (can) come with a lot of rules. Rules that are set by you and your fiance, rules set by you before you even meet your fiance, rules by your friend and family, and rules set by all those blogs and magazines you read. The thing is, there are no rules anymore. What was a rule 20 years ago, is only a rule if you want it to be. You get one day to wear the dress you want to wear, to say the vows you want to say and to dance to the songs you want to dance to.
I loved interviewing Melissa for this blog, because I expected a style blogger to follow the rules and that’s totally not her. I thought she would be incorporating every wedding trend under the California sun. But really, she is having the only type of wedding that should be trending:
Her own.
Hashtag You Should Too.
Bride and groom save the date
Courtesy of Melissa Victoria
Thanks to Melissa for taking the time to chat with me about your big day! If you want to read more about her planning process, follow along on her blog right here! Don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list in the top banner to get more stories like this one, plus plenty more real weddings inspiration.
What wedding rules and trends are you following and breaking for your own wedding day? Share in the comments below and let your own voice be heard!

 

 

Breaking News: Alpacas Officially Not Cool Anymore

Style Me Pretty has been a source of wedding inspiration for 12 years now. Back before wedding websites were a dime a dozen, Style Me Pretty represented a more organic wedding style that would eventually become a trend. Phrases like “rustic chic” and “boho” became popular with a major assist from Style Me Pretty. If you like barn weddings, you’re likely on the wedding website every day.

But with the extinction of Style Me Pretty after April 30, 2018, will we also find out that flower draped alpacas aren’t cool anymore? What does this website take with it once it goes dark later this month? How does this impact the wedding industry? 

And is this really a bad thing?

The Fairytale

Once upon a time, a girl created a website full of whimsy. Years later, she sold it to a huge corporation for a bunch of money. Turmoil raged through the land, there was a whole bunch of corporate merger madness and the website went up for sale. No one bought the website and the big scary corporation shut it down. The end.
Not exactly the happily ever after ending, if you consider the corporation being the villain. But, are they?
My husband and I were discussing the story this week and he said something that I have heard before: Businesses are made to be sold. While I understand that to be true, at this moment in time, I could never see myself as a person that creates a business just to sell it. Maybe it’s just not how my character works.
Or maybe I’ve just never had a multi-million dollar offer and a chance to make that decision.
Bridal bouquet
Alicia King Photography
But it’s pretty cut and dry, isn’t it? If you sell something, you are giving it up. You don’t have any control over it anymore and in essence you are choosing the money over what you created. That’s not to say you won’t always have some attachment to the business, but if you care about what happens to it, you wouldn’t sell it. 
In this particular fairytale, our leading character was repeating history. Prior to Style Me Pretty being born, the creator went from having a part time job at a stationery store to creating her own invitation line…which she then sold. The reason why she sold isn’t hard to find, and she basically talks about the stress and an opportunity landing in her lap in an article you can read right here
Later in that article, she shares that she received a buy-out offer for Style Me Pretty. But not the offer she would later accept from the corporation that would shut everything down. Instead, it’s an offer that she rejected because, as she states,  “what we were doing had more value than we knew.”

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Fast forward 8 years, when Style Me Pretty’s continued huge growth leads to a partnership with a corporate company…and eventually the buy-out offer, in May 2017, that would be accepted. Not just accepted, but seen as the “proudest day of her career” according to this interview

 

Growing Pains

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

― Anaïs Nin

The announcement that Style Me Pretty will essentially disappear was bigger breaking wedding news this week than any royal wedding ever will be. Emotions and opinions are really strong, and if I’m being honest, I don’t have mine completely sorted out yet.
bride and groom
Domenick Michael Photography
My work has been published in Style Me Pretty, and I still remember the joy I felt when that happened. Not all publications or wedding blogs are created equal. Style Me Pretty is a bucket list publication for many, including myself. There’s no denying the high level quality of work displayed, so feeling validated when they decide your work is good enough to be included, is normal. 
The problem though, is that those people validating you, aren’t the ones hiring you. Not then and not now.
When Style Me Pretty created a vendor listing, it was invitation only. Yes, you had to pay to advertise, but you weren’t even given the opportunity if your work wasn’t up to their standards. It used to be a big deal to get invited into their “little black book”. If you’re outside the industry, just imagine that for a second: Wedding vendors getting excited that they are good enough to give their money to an advertising platform. 
The thought process behind advertising (or not) in any wedding outlet revolves around return of investment. You put your advertising dollars into the platform that speaks to your “ideal” client. Frankly, Style Me Pretty couples are the ideal client for a good amount of wedding vendors. So between the ego validation and the higher chance of getting your portfolio in front of the clients you want to book, many would’ve gladly thrown money to be on this website. And then bragged about it. 
So, it should come as no surprise that many are devastated by this news. I understand it on paper, absolutely, but I can’t quite get there emotionally. 
Bridal bouquet
Jessica Janae Photography
It’s weird because, you feel like you’re supposed to be mourning. And you’re sad, but you’re not totally sad. It’s almost like when you go to a repast after a funeral. You just put somebody that you love into the ground and you’re never seeing them again. But now, you’re sitting over one of three pre-selected entrees with other family members talking about the good old days and laughing. You’re thinking how you just said your final goodbyes to someone and how devastated you are, so how can you be talking and laughing?
I remember my first funeral was when I was four years old. I was downstairs during the wake because this funeral home was some weird bi-level unit and wakes are really long and when you’re four you have to stay as long as your mom says you have to stay. Anyway…I’m downstairs with a few family members of mine, and just above my head on the second floor was a dead relative. At four years old you don’t really get the concept of death, but what you do know is that it’s sad and therefore, people will cry.
Yet this entire time I’m standing in the random basement of a funeral home, during a wake, and no one is crying. In fact, they are joking, laughing and telling stories. Meanwhile, all I knew was that someone was dead and you’re supposed to be crying. But you’re not.
That’s me with this whole Style Me Pretty death thing. I’m not crying. But this time, I shouldn’t be. And you shouldn’t be either.
Why?


 

Just like anything else, Style Me Pretty changed as the growth continued. The Style Me Pretty that used to get wedding vendors the bulk of their work, is not the one going dark at the end of the month. That one went dark years agoThat funeral is over.
I say this with the absolute and utmost respect for the website and everyone that has been a part of it: the mourning period is done. 
The wedding website that handpicked the vendors that were allowed to pay them to advertise, hasn’t been around for years. When their little black book was selective, you might have found 3 wedding planners in your area when doing a search. But now? There are so many planners listed that you can filter it down to categories like “elopement planners”. Those are just the vendors that are paying to be showcased. I’m not even going to bother figuring out the vendors getting free advertising on their “Vendor Guide” platform, including myself. 
bride and groom
Justin Tinapay Photography
Another change? There are roughly 900 other wedding blogs and websites out there now, many with vendor listings. Is Style Me Pretty still one of the best, even after the corporate change? Absolutely. So why should you still not be crying?
Because your ideal client isn’t there anymore. They haven’t been there since AOL got involved and they’ve been cheating on you with social media. You’ve been chasing the ghost of ideal wedding client past.


 

AOL presents, Style Me Pretty. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? I mean, all the sports stadiums and arenas are named after banks and big companies. I’m sure the higher ups at MetLife know how to throw a football right? (That’s a Giants Stadium reference for anyone that missed it).
AOL and its parent company know nothing about the wedding industry and more importantly, they don’t care. Corporations with portfolios so diversified that none of the companies they own have anything in common do not care. Corporations that own similar companies, only care enough to buy and shut down the one making less money in order to cut competition. 
Businesses are created to be bought and sold, remember?
The point is, corporate got involved, and it’s not the same anymore. Style Me Pretty grew up when you weren’t looking, and the validation you still need from them, has devalued. 

Life Goes On

There are a significant amount of people in the wedding industry involved in a petition to save Style Me Pretty. A petition that is being endorsed by the website’s creator and original owner. Despite the extreme amount of respect I have for both the creator and the website in general, I have to question this move. 
Vintage wedding set up for a dessert table
Alicia King Photography
And while I firmly believe that unless those signatures are on a stack of cash, that this is a waste of time, I’m going to link it anyway to play fair. Hopefully, if you’re a wedding vendor that wants to rip my head off right now, you can take this as my olive branch of understanding your pain. I am not, in any way, trying to mock or dismiss anyone’s feelings.
This week has brought intense debate of whether or not it will matter to future couples that the vendors they interview for their weddings were once upon a time featured by Style Me Pretty. The answer is “no”. It won’t matter if you were never published on Style Me Pretty or if you were featured every week since day 1.
Look how quickly major and devastating news stories are forgotten. This website shutdown didn’t even trend on Twitter. If Style Me Pretty actually disappears from the internet like the corporate owners have promised, people will stop caring much sooner than you think. The website, the hashtag, and everything else will cease to exist. Hell, this blog probably won’t make sense in what? A year? Less?
But it’s more than the website being erased from the internet. It’s about the growth of the website that didn’t match the evolution of the engaged couples. 


 

There’s nothing on that site that engaged couples are looking for anymore. 
Style Me Pretty was Pinterest before Pinterest. Style Me Pretty was the wedding blog before wedding blogs existed. But Pinterest isn’t going anywhere, and new wedding blogs are added every day. The market is extremely saturated, so why on earth would you want to save a website that doesn’t give engaged couples what they are actually looking for?
I said that the funeral for Style Me Pretty was years ago because that’s when their format changed. Marketing in the wedding industry (and I assume others) has also changed since then. But if you’re not changing, if you’re not going through that same growth that Style Me Pretty went through, then your funeral might be next. 
Style Me Pretty got it right with the rustic and organic style wedding trend. The reason that trend, that style, hasn’t died is because it can evolve and change. It is a niche that will survive because of it’s ability to adapt.
The lack of authenticity on “Style Me Pretty brought to you by AOL”, is where they went wrong. And it’s that same lack of authenticity that is present on all major wedding blogs and websites, that is unappealing to couples. This entire world is desperate for authenticity and real connections. You know when people are really desperate? When they’re planning their wedding, a celebration where they will announce to those closest to them that they found their soulmate. That’s when authenticity wins.
Go figure, right?
Vintage white dresser with flowers
Alicia King Photography
And that’s the trend that matters. It’s not about the alpacas as much as it’s about the authenticity. 
It’s growth and it’s painful. No one really likes change and everyone gets annoyed with big corporation take overs. Style Me Pretty grew up, went into a coma, and then Uncle AOL pulled the life support plug. This wasn’t the first wedding blog to go down, and it won’t be the last.
Whether the website is archived or obliterated at the end of the month will not affect your business growth. Wedding vendors no longer need to depend on huge blogs to define who they are. The validation of your work comes from the engaged couples, which is where it should have come from all along. If you’re not authentic, you are irrelevant.
And it’s about damn time.
bride
Style Me Pretty goes dark and what that means for wedding inspiration, engaged couples and members of the wedding industry. Read this blog for everything you need to know!