Marked Increases in Wedding Advertising Resources: Does this Help or Hurt our Clients?

We get a lot of email correspondence and while historically, much of it has come from our current and potential clients, wanting to discuss their wedding music, lately there’s been some competition in the in-box.  It seems that there are an increasing number of businesses associated with the wedding industry not in terms of providing services to brides and grooms and their families but rather in pursuing small businesses in the wedding industry and recruiting them to pay for advertising.  

In the last two weeks alone I have been solicited by businesses to advertise Effesenden Music in online and print format for anywhere from $125 to $2000 per year–and that is just in the Portland area.  Any time a small business spends money on advertising that’s an additional overhead cost that impacts the prices that we charge our clients.  Since we do a limited number of events and  I’d like to keep our costs low so that we can focus on the quality of our music without being too expensive for our clients, I’ve opted to advertise with only a select few paid services.  For the most part I’ve been pleased with the ability of these services to get our information in front of the folks who would be interested in what we do.  

But still, I find myself frustrated with the constant barrage.  What is particularly perplexing is that some websites claim to have really vetted their advertisers when in reality they will take anyone with a domain name and a pulse.  

To the potential bride or groom out there planning your day, here are a few tips on navigating the sea of wedding resource websites.

1.  Look for websites that utilize review based rankings.  I really like Wedding Wire (www.weddingwire.com) because rather than just a “like” (which could be coming from friends and family of the advertiser after all) Wedding Wire allows advertisers to request reviews from past clients both in a rating and descriptive manner.

2.  Put a premium on recommendations from other vendors.  When I recommend a particular coordinator, photographer or caterer (yum!) It’s because I have seen their work over time at numerous weddings.  I know that when my fellow vendors are experienced, passionate and kind that we will all work together to create the best possible experience for our brides and grooms. 

2B.  A caveat however about #2:  there are many venues who actually now solicit payment from other vendors in order to be “preferred” or recommended.  This often has nothing to do with quality of work but rather who is willing to pay for that exclusivity.  There are now entire companies devoted to creating those glossy mags for a particular venue.  The venue covers the expense of the brochure by charging other vendors to be included.  Rough costs even a few years back were anywhere from $200-$800 per year for a vendor and when you consider that most vendors work at numerous venues, those numbers can really add up…impacting overall pricing.  

3.  When comparing potential vendors, go directly to samples of their work rather than focusing on the catchy writeup in the advertisement.  If you are hiring live music, please please please listen to samples of the artists’ music!  Listen back and forth between different groups…maybe even a “blind test.” and ask yourself which one moves you more.  

4.  When you decide to reach out to a potential vendor about your day, pay attention to how you are treated.  Does the vendor’s response seem generic?  Automatic quotes can be handy but do you fully understand what you’re getting…and moreover does the vendor really understand what you want?  Does the vendor seem enthusiastic about your wedding?  

To my fellow wedding industry pros out there, I’m curious if you’ve noticed the same uptick in requests for advertising?  How do you feel about the increase in online, print and wedding showcase events?  Does this benefit or hurt our clients?  How do you navigate the sea of requests?  

 

More Than Entertainment

It came time to decide how the advertising would go for the coming year.  We do have to advertise… can’t just sit at home dreaming up beautiful wedding music in our bedrooms hoping someone will hear it outside on the sidewalk after all! 

But a funny thing I noticed… where flowers, cakes, and photographers all got their own special category on one prominent wedding resource guide, music was tucked away under the category “entertainment.”  This bothered me—at first I just wasn’t even sure why.  Was it because music is like breathing for me?  Was it because “entertainment” makes me think of jugglers and jazz hands more than a beautiful song?  My answer came back to the heart of what I believe about weddings versus the wedding industry.

“Wedding industry” is a bit of a taboo term amongst some who offer their skills to help make a wedding celebration unfold.  We truly love what we do and we don’t like it put in the terms of “industry.”  We prefer “craft” or “style” or “world.”  It is however technically an industry… a 62.8 billion dollar one back in 2008 according to MSNBC. 

So here we have this sort of scary, cold sounding beast of a concept “industry” butting up against this most intimate and important of choices:  how do you want to celebrate and commemorate your commitment to share your life with one special person?

As couples navigate the world of wedding planning, they can quickly feel overcome by the sense of “we don’t know, we have never done this before!”   This is not a party you are throwing so that you hope people will like you!!!  This is a party you are throwing because you want to share your happiness with your community who already loves you and wants to support and celebrate your love. 

Throughout human history, playing and listening to music has been one wonderful way that people mark momentous times in their lives and in their communities.  It is also a powerful tool of self expression.  With these two important functions in mind which have stood the test of time more than even the wedding ring, I hope that the wedding industry will someday come to give music the same credit it bestows on other elements of the wedding day.

In the end, the level of enjoyment at a wedding is still about the individual couple and their unique definition of a celebration… not a massive industry list of rules and requirements.  The couple who plans their wedding and keeps what the industry says in check might in fact just enjoy the process!