Wedding marketing: From the bridal show and beyond

Listen. I’ve got the bridal-show blues. I’ve had them for over a year now and I can’t seem to shake them.

My first bridal show was the Bertram Bridal Show at the Bertram Inn last January. I went with my mom and best friend/maid-of-honor, Allison. (Yes, I did go to a bridal show before becoming engaged. And yes, it was awkward.) We hopped from booth to booth. Each vendor was as excited as the one before about being a part of my special day. There were a multitude of raffle opportunities. (I became a pro at writing my name, email address, and phone number down on those little orange tickets.) Most vendors also offered special deals on their services (most with the stipulation that you had to book them that day or by a certain date in order to enjoy the deal).

Landerhaven Bridal Show

Me with two of my best friends, Alli and Shannon, at the Landerhaven Bridal Show 2013 (Jan. 6)

When I got home, plastic Bertram Inn bag filled with business cards, free samples, and brochures in hand, I felt both overwhelmed and disappointed. But mainly I was disappointed. While each vendor made you the center of attention and showed enthusiasm about your engagement it was clear that the objective was to persuade you to book their services. There was something forced and inauthentic about the conversations I had with each vendor. I did not really feel like I was making personal connections with these individuals.

Billions of dollars are spent on weddings each year which makes the wedding industry highly competitive. Instead of having the opportunity to form meaningful relationships with their clients, wedding vendors are forced to focus on the bottom line. On her “about” page on her blog Christine Boulton, wedding marketing analyst and consultant, says that

“the wedding industry today is overcrowded. In most categories, there seems to be more vendors than brides.”

A bride doesn’t have just three or four photographers to choose from in her area, she has oodles! With so many options, how can a wedding business be set apart from the competition while still making the bride feel like her happiness, not her pocketbook, is what matters most?

This is a question that wedding marketing strategies try to answer.

Curious to learn more about wedding marketing, I did a Google search and found some professional blogs that offer wedding vendors tips on how to engage with their audiences and maintain relationships with clients.

Wedding vendor information

Miscellaneous wedding vendor brochures and handouts I collected from my two bridal show experiences.

The first place a bride is likely to interact with a vendor is at a bridal show. It is imperative that vendors put a lot of careful and deliberate thought into the presentation of their booths and informational materials. In her post “Tales From a Bridal Show” Boulton reflects on a photographer’s booth that she thought was excellent. The booth had special lighting, plum and silver/white accents, and some large examples of this vendor’s photography in the background. He also had a handout detailing “his perspective on life, love and photography” with images that he used for the background of his booth, and handwritten notes inviting the bride to visit his studio for chocolate and drinks. What Boulton’s post reveals is how important it is for vendors to have strong displays and personal touches at their booths. This will differentiate them from their competitors.

Other important marketing tools used to reach out to the modern bride are, of course, social media and digital communication. In “Embracing ‘the Shift’: It’s Time to Go Digital!” on Inspired by This, Be Inspired® Public Relations’ blog, it is recommended that wedding vendors embrace social media and email. Using these tools enable vendors to give their audience, mostly brides-to-be, the content they want using a medium they are fully immersed in (the internet). According to this article, wedding professionals should be actively using sites like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They should also be using and constantly updating a blog. Here is a snippet of advice they provide about blogging:

“…ensure your blog is being updated often with images of your work and inspiration for upcoming events. Brides want to know that your style aligns with their vision before they even meet with you, and what better way to do that than to give them real, accessible examples!”

Finally, this article suggests that email is still very much an important way for businesses to communicate with brides-to-be.

Boulton does a great job at breaking down how wedding professionals should be using social media in her post “Managing Your Social Media” and in “Tip[s] for a Successful Blog I Learned from the Wedding Dish” (the Wedding Dish is another blog Boulton manages) she offers suggestions on how to make your blog content effective and social-media friendly.

So are current wedding marketing practices effective? I don’t know. I think it comes to down to evaluating the unique behaviors of each wedding consumer. Personally, I rarely visit northeast Ohio wedding vendors’ blogs or Twitter pages. I got very annoyed at the emails I received after both the Bertram Inn and Landerhaven bridal shows. I think I only gave my email address out to one or two vendors at the Landerhaven show. And yet, I managed to receive quite a few emails from businesses I didn’t remember (or care about). I think I am just a tough person to market to since I am easily put off by marketing and advertising. (You want my money. I got it. Now leave me alone.)

What examples of good/bad wedding marketing have you seen? How should wedding vendors be using social media? Have you ever been to a bridal fair? If so, what was your experience like? Do you think emails are still a relevant form of marketing communication?


2 Comments on “Wedding marketing: From the bridal show and beyond”

  1. Christina, you aren’t any harder to market to than any other bride today.

    Here is why you got so many emails after the bridal show:
    When you registered for the show, you gave them your contact information which they gave to every vendor at the show. It is common practice, they use these lead lists as a selling point to book vendors for their show. Perhaps not to the letter of the law, but in spirit, this violates the can spam laws. Oh, they put some language in the fine print that covers them, but it still, in my opinion, isn’t right.

    Brides>>only give your real email address to vendors you want to talk to.

    • Christina says:

      Thanks for the insight, Christine!

      As the consumer it is frustrating to receive so many emails/phone calls from wedding vendors within days of a bridal show. I can see how turning the email addresses over to vendors would be a good selling point. Unfortunately, I think it weakens a business’ integrity if they choose to send emails to brides they didn’t even meet. It’s very pushy and makes the consumer feel like the business only cares about the bottom line.

      During my first bridal show experience I made the mistake of giving out my email address to too many vendors (mainly because they make the raffle opportunities so tempting). I should have known better. My second time around I was more selective about which vendors I visited and I was careful about who I gave my email address to.

      The good thing about all of this is that you have no obligation to respond to vendors you feel are sending you too many emails.

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