If you have been thinking about starting a wedding business, I’m going to cut to the chase: You will never have a better time to launch than 2020. Yup, I can already hear you disagreeing. This blog post is going to teach you the list about how to start a wedding business in 2020/2021. So maybe I should start by saying this another way, until you have customers, you are not really a business. And there are going to be more couples looking to book you, than ever before. So let’s make sure you are showing up for them.
We actually kind of need you to start a wedding business.
If you are a wedding planner or wedding photographer especially, a lot of your top competitors are going to be booked solid. I know in my destination wedding planning business we are booked solid for 2021. We are already booking into 2022. If you still have an open schedule, you are at an advantage we have never seen before. For many established wedding vendors, some weekends in 2022 are even being scooped up.
A lot of wedding pros have closed up shop and switched careers too. Wedding businesses are the IDEAL weekend job, by the way. Why? Most weddings happen on the weekend. Second? Couples are looking for wedding vendors who are down to meet on evenings and weekends.
Marketing Strategy for Wedding Pros
Can I offer a quick introduction so you know who you are listening to? Hi, I’m Kara. I offer Done for You Marketing Strategies for wedding pros and I am also the owner of Love at First Travel Destination Weddings. Being in the wedding industry AND serving the wedding industry, makes it easy for me to keep my finger on the pulse.
I am SO glad that you are here. Oh yeah, and I made these Pinterest templates for you to make it SUPER easy if you are DIY-ing all your marketing right now:
How do you start a wedding business?
Aside from the legal things (get a business license, look into business insurance, decide on the legal structure for your business), you need to get your first customer. I’m a little obsessed with marketing so I’m obviously biased. However, I am going to try and keep in 100 here. Until you have customers, you don’t have a business. It really doesn’t matter if you have perfect systems or an ideal customer gift picked out. Let me repeat: Until you have customers, you DON’T have a business.
There are a lot of places you can get stuck procrasti-planning in your business, marketing is NOT one of those things. You can figure out your onboarding process as you go. You can book clients for 6-9 months in the future and work on your skills before the wedding. Of course, I would never advocate you take on weddings spontaneously and do a poor job. But, I don’t think that’s the problem you will have. You are more likely to just never actually start. Or do free weddings (or cheap weddings) which will lead you straight to burn out town. And you don’t want to get stuck there.
Starting your wedding business by volunteering for free (or charging very little).
This starts off with the best intentions. And I KNOW how tempting it is in order to secure your first wedding couple. Often times the weddings you volunteer for your portfolio aren’t the higher budget, dreamy weddings, that you have your eye on for your portfolio anyway.
Even if you don’t burn out, you will never do your best work for free. I know from experience, and I am just like you: an overachiever. I could have sworn I’m not like those “free vendors” who do it for experience and don’t give it there all. But every time I undercharge, I also overcommit myself, in order to, you know, pay the bills.
I also want to say, people who charge high-ticket from the beginning, are also kind of a pet peeve of mine. I do think you need to be realistic about your experience when deciding what to charge. Just because I am telling you not to plan an entire wedding for $500, does not mean I think you should charge $10,000. If you do ever want to talk about pricing btw, don’t ever hesitate to hit me up in the DM’s.
Let’s talk about courses: Should you invest in a course when you are brand new?
If you want to be fully booked in 2021, taking a course is not a bad idea. First, investing in the right course will save you A TON of time. It will help you get that expert status and, more importantly, help you feel more comfortable talking to potential customers. Confidence helps you close the sale by the way!
This could probably be a whole other post, to be honest, but for now, just a couple words of wisdom from someone who has both avoided investing, and has over-invested, at different points in my business.
What you should consider before investing in your business.
- If you have the money (or you can invest the deposit from your first couple bookings), it is better to invest in one really great course than it is to invest in 20 little ones. Courses are great for learning a specific skill or finishing a certain stage of your business (like the beginning).
- At some point, you need to move your investments from courses to something like 1:1 coaching, group programs or a mastermind. Courses are great for the beginning when you are learning “all the things” but after your first year, you are likely going to want more support and personalized advice. TRUST ME. I kept buying courses long after I should have and it ultimately stopped me from scaling as fast as I should have.
- Enjoy free content, but always be conscious of who you are listening too. Wedding businesses have different marketing needs than other businesses!
- If you have a day job, use the extra money to invest in your business. Especially if you want to make it a full time things. Trust me, investing in your business is 1000x scarier when you don’t have “day job” income. When you count on your wedding business income for rent, the stakes skyrocket.
PS: If you are a wedding planner like me, here are a few of my fave resources/courses/books:
Firefly Method for Planners Handbook
Redefine your wedding business, by Andrea Eppolito
Candice Coppola: Both her Business Plan Blueprint Course & Her WeddingPro Insiders Mastermind (which I am in right now!)
Keep in mind, these don’t specifically focus on marketing so make sure you stick around on my own mailing list:
Marketing Strategies for your new wedding business (how to get couples to book you in your first 1-2 years of business)
5 Examples of Marketing Strategies that work Fast
- Engaging with ideal clients on Instagram or other social media platforms. More than just posting, this is when you are actively looking for people who fit your ICA (ideal client avatar) and engaging in their posts. If you notice they are newly engaged, you may even want to send them a quick DM offering something helpful.
- Creating amazing content – maybe even a styled shoot – and putting it out there on social media with ways to be found (ie. hashtages on instagram).
- Paid Ads – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google. Ads are designed to get you in front of people fast, and assuming your targeting/messaging is correct, they can work well if you have the money to invest upfront.
- Asking for referrals and reaching out to family and friends. Again, this isn’t my favorite strategy as I discussed above, but it is an example of fast marketing.
- Bridal Shows are another example of fast marketing. If you rock an in person convo, bridal shows are a great way to get yourself out their and connect with your ICA. For us more introverted folks, stick to Ideas 1-4.
5 Examples of Long-Lasting Lead Generating Slow Marketing Strategies.
- PINTEREST. Obviously. Pinterest can take between 6-12 months to really work. But once it does, it continues to bring leads for years to come. I know from experience. In my destination wedding business, we get one lead every 3 days (on average) from Pinterest. More about Pinterest below.
- Blogging is another great marketing strategy for wedding pros. I will add Youtube to this same bullet point as well, because long-form searchable content is really the goal. Creating one blog post a year (52 new pieces of content every year!), will help you appear as an expert in your niche too so when leads reach out for more information, they already get the sense they want to work with you.
- Search Engine Optimization. Yes, Blogging regularly is also good for SEO. But we want to make sure your website is also created with Google in mind! Your SEO strategy does not stop at blogging.
- Networking and vendor relationships are also a good place to focus for the long term. Especially in the luxury market, relationships are everything. Just make sure you are incredibly intentional about these relationships because it can also end up being something you pour a lot of time into and can leave you feeling more stuck if you end up with the wrong people (not good/bad people but people who don’t want to go in the same direction as you).
- You are never too early to start thinking about PR. Getting weddings published is ideal but it’s not the only thing you can do. You can also submit blogs and quotes before you have a “magazine-worthy” wedding.
Think of these strategies like your retirement savings, the earlier you get started, the better you will be. Even though, you might not see an ROI right away, they are worth the TLC.
Marketing your wedding business on Pinterest in 2020
Yet another opportunity like never before. Pinterest has made it crystal clear they want fresh content this year. And to do well on Pinterest, you just need to do a few simple things consistently.
4 steps to use Pinterest effectively in your wedding business.
- Create pin graphics that lead to your website. I already created 20 free templates to give you a head start. You can download them here.
- Upload them directly to Pinterest with keyword rich descriptions. You don’t have to be a keyword expert – just type what you think people are searching for. You can also check out my Pinterest highlights on the ‘gram for a mini keyword training.
- Use a scheduler. Tailwind is by far the easiest scheduler on the market and by using this affiliate link, you get to try it a month free.
- Have a system to get your content shared. If you sign up for Tailwind, you get to take advantage of Tailwind tribes which are group boards where you are encouraged to share each others content. Community over competition right?.
Want a more detailed Pinterest training? Grab this one (a 30 minute video with a workbook) for only $17USD. It’s Quick & Dirty and Covers the “How” in marketing successfully on Pinterest.
Should you outsource your wedding marketing right away? Should you hire someone else to write blog posts, manage your Pinterest, post on Instagram?
Before you outsource something like marketing, make sure you have these 2 things in place:
- Clear Branding. Ideally, a branding guide so the person taking over the marketing is representing your brand in a way that still feels like you. Because I offer done for you marketing services, I can tell you from experience. Clients with clear branding from the beginning, get results faster.
- Clear Services. Don’t feel like you need to offer “all the things”. Having one signature offer (ie. “day of” wedding coordination or full service wedding planning and design) to start is great because you can really zone in. You can also be flexible. If you offer day of coordination and an ideal client would love to hire you for more support, go for it. You are the CEO after all.
You’ll notice a theme here is getting clear.
A confused mind never buys and this is definitely true in the wedding industry. Getting CLEAR on who you serve and how you serve them is imperative to making sales. If you have those things in place, you can definitely consider outsourcing your marketing to a professional. No doubt hiring a professional is not a bad idea. They should get you results that are faster & better than you can get on your own. Am I the right fit? You can contact me here.
How to start a wedding business that is fully booked in 2021
The key thing I want to leave you with today, is that if you want a thriving business in 2021, there is a lot of room for you. The work has to start today though.
I know you might want to enjoy your summer and to be honest, I understand. But I have something really cool launching in the fall so if you are not on my email list yet, here’s another chance. I will see you in your inbox. I would also love to be friends on the ‘gram. Make sure to send me a message so I make sure to follow you back. I love networking with fellow wedding pros. Let’s do this.