Styled Shoots – how do they help your wedding business? We asked Heather Benge, Founder of Styled Shoots Across America, to answer this questions for us.

creative freedom

Build your portfolio and attract new clients by showcasing your creativity in a styled shoot. What does this mean exactly.  As wedding professionals, we have access to content from our couples weddings. However, when a client is paying for your services, you are at the mercy of what they want. Sure they probably choose you because you are good at what you do. However you still have to use their colors, their style, etc. Styled shoots give you the freedom to show off your own style and create whatever it is that YOU want to create. Further you can create new trends – be a trendsetter! A lot of my branding clients tell me that they would love to create something out of the box, bigger or better than they’ve ever done. But they just can’t get anyone to hire them for it because they have no previous experience or images to show that they can do it. Therefore, this is your chance to try something bigger and better to show clients that you can make it happen!

Styled Shoot at Maitland Museum of Art

Styled shoot created for the cover of an I Said Yes! magazine. Photographer: PB and J Studios / Planner: For The Love of Events / Dresses and Tuxedos: All Brides 2 Be / Cake: Morgan Hunter Desserts / Linens: Over The Top Rental Linens / Rentals: Orlando Wedding and Party Rentals / Floral: In Bloom Florist / Venue: Art and History Museum of Maitland / Hair & Makeup: Laura Reynolds Artistry Hair and Make-up 

branding your business and social media

When you do a shoot, you can choose to do them in colors and styles that match your brand. That is to say, use it to your benefit and get the most out of it! Consider this, what do you want to show off on social media? Or are you tired of not having a diverse client base? Further are you ready to showcase some new skills? Certainly you will attract your ideal client by showing off your ideal work. In fact, it is the best recipe!

For example, the photos above are from a styled shoot created by The Event Company.  The owner had been dreaming of a way to use her company colors.  See the entire shoot in this Remarkable Moody Romantic Wedding in Orlando blog.

Contributing wedding professionals – Wedding Venue: D’Space Orlando / Photography: Tracy Townsend Photography / Planning, Design and Tabletop Rentals: The Event Company / Floral Designer: Atmospheres Floral & Décor  / Bridal Gown: Ivy Bridal Shop / Hair & Makeup: L. Santana Designs / Cake and Mini Cakes: Sugar Dreams by Dessy / Stationery and Signage: Bare Lettered Designs / Love Letters: Stationery For Lovers / Event Rentals: Clermont Party Rentals / Linen & Charger Plates: Longwood Weddings and Events / Videographer: Dreamscape Photography / Mobile Bar: Bubble Buggi
Ceremony Officiant: The Ginger Officiant

networking and vendor relationships

How can you refer another wedding professional if you’ve never actually worked with them? In this situation, turn to styled shoots. Unquestionably they are a great way to work with someone so that you can refer each other! Similarly, I highly suggest that no matter what you contribute to the shoot, you should absolutely show up on the day of. Assuredly I have met some of the best creatives at shoots. This is a time to get to know each other, see others work/workmanship in person and build relationships. 

Styled Shoot Florals for 1970's themed shoot
The Van Cam for a Styled Shoot in Orlando
80's throwback wedding cake
1970's Styled Shoot at Mission Inn
records for reception table chargers

Consider turning a networking event into a styled shoot. For instance, Mission Inn Resort & Club Weddings hosted and I Said Yes! Networking Event with a throwback to the 70’s. They worked with their sponsoring vendors and scheduled time before and after the event to turn this into a styled shoot. This allows the sponsoring.

Contributing wed pros – Venue: Mission Inn Resort & Club Weddings / Planner: Bella Sposa Events / Floral: Greenery Productions Inc / DJ and Lighting: Soundwave Entertainment / Cake: Le Petit Sweet / Rentals: Dishie Rentals / Photography: KMD Photo + Film / The Van Cam / Calligraphy & Hand Lettering: Wild Ivory & Co

gain experience

Maybe you are a photographer who struggles with shooting in harsh sun. Then a styled shoot in the sun is a perfect way to experiment with your camera settings and gain some experience in a less pressured environment than a real wedding day. Likewise, embrace rain or darkness. Whatever the case maybe, it will only help you learn to adapt to these conditions. In the same vein, maybe you’re a cake baker and you need to see what kinds of frostings or designs will hold up in certain heat condition. By participating in this styled shoot, you can now be comfortable when consulting with a client on cake placement and timing at their wedding. Same with flowers. No doubt, you don’t want to find out on a client’s real wedding day that hydrangeas don’t do so good out of water in a bouquet for 5 hours in the hot Florida heat.

styled shoots give you exposure

The good thing about styled shoots is everyone knows everyone’s credit information. Activity breeds activity. In this situation, TAG EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING, EVERYTIME. All it takes is one image from a shoot to hit social media and all of sudden thousands of eyes are on your work.

book more destination weddings

People ask me all the time how I book weddings in other states. My answer is always the same. You have to be seen in those states. That is to say, you can’t just hashtag #newyorkweddingplanner on a random picture from a wedding in Texas and hope someone will book you. For this reason, you need to get out and go to the destinations you are wanting to be seen in. Next explore the area and take pictures of the surroundings. Further do a styled shoot. Indeed do anything to get yourself noticed in the local area. For example, I did a styled shoot in Hawaii and I’ve gotten at least 5 different inquires for Hawaii weddings since then. It works if you put in the work

Blog Your Butt Off

Blog your wedding business blog butt off. No, seriously, if you don’t do another thing to grow your business in 2022, add a Blog {or, Journal if you wanna be fancy} to your business website!

Blogging might be one of the most underrated, underutilized ways to market your business, and it’s way easier than you might think

What Exactly Is A Blog?

Technically speaking, ‘blog’ is short for ‘web log,’ it is an ongoing journal entry with the most recent posts found at the top of the page.

What started out in the Mid 90s as a personal record of day-to-day activities, travels and hobbies, has grown into an easy and efficient way to engage businesses’ potential customers.

In the wedding and events industry, we have a ton of potential information to attract new clients. Undoubtedly it can easily be used in a wedding business blog.

Do I REALLY Need A wedding business Blog?

ABSOLUTELY! Do a simple test – go to your favorite search engine and search for your business. Obviously not by your business name because most potential clients don’t know you by name. Search for your business by service category and location just like you would if you needed something for your home. Search for something like Orlando plumber or Central Florida landscape service.

Does your business come up on the top of page one or consistently on the first few pages? If so, the next test is, are those rankings due to paid ads? For most businesses, those top listings come at an ever-increasing price tag.

The goal of the blog is to send traffic to your website, where {hopefully} you connect with readers, showcase your expertise, and get them to take the next step to book your services.

How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall?

There’s an old {old} joke that goes, “A man stops a stranger on the street in NYC and asks ‘How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” and the stranger responds, “Practice, Practice, Practice.”

As corny as it sounds, it’s really true – especially with blogging. Consistency is key. You’re not going to be amazing when you start out. You might not even be really good for your first thirty blogs. But consistency is key. You’ll grow and get better with time – you’ll get more knowledgeable and you have to start somewhere. And, a few okay blogs are way better than zero blogs. So blog your wedding business butt off and feed the beast! 

Feeding The Beast

Search engines are a beast, they need to be fed, and they need to be fed consistently.

Search engines have a mechanism known as web crawlers. They search the internet for content that is then cataloged and listed by topic and content.

The more you publish blog posts, the easier it is for web crawlers to find your website and catalog your content. The more times they catalog your content, the higher you begin to rank on search engines.

The reality is that ranking well on search engines doesn’t happen overnight. Much like getting Followers and Likes on social media, it’s a slow build. You need to pick the right keywords to get a search engine’s attention and write content to engage the people who find your site.

One Page At A Time

One of the keys to writing well is remembering that each page is a unique entity – and not just for search engines. Write like it is the only page of information on your business they can see!

 

Whether it’s a search engine finding your blog content to catalog it or someone who sees you on a search engine and clicks the link, the principles are the same. We need to treat them as if they know nothing about us, and they need to know who we are, what we do, and where we do it.

say my name

Always try to include your business name, not an abbreviation. Too many people use short cute, acronym abbreviations for their business name, and no one is searching for those terms. Duplicate your social media name, email url name, and business name, which should all be the same, with-in your blog. Recognition and consistency.

location, location, location

Including the location tells people they are in the right place. If you don’t include Orlando, Daytona, or Tampa along with DJ, you are now in the same search engine pool as every other DJ in the entire world. Including your location narrows the field from millions to a few hundred.

what do you do?

Too often, we read blog posts about a business, especially when they showcase real weddings, and have ZERO idea what the product or service that company offered in the wedding.  Tell the story of the wedding day from your own point of view. You want to highlight the things your team did on the wedding day.

make connections

Another important part of blogging is hyperlinking. You always want to build community. You want to give credit where credit is due, and none of us can do this alone. But, just as importantly, web crawlers pick up on those links to other websites and add to your ranking. Additionally, give yourself a little love. Be sure to link back to some related articles on your website. Anything from weddings at the same venue to other weddings and pieces showcasing the same design style, colors, or ethnicity of wedding can all add search engine value.

Blogging for your business might seem like there is a huge learning curve. But, if you know how to use a search engine, you can add value to your blog posts pretty quickly. Creating a content schedule, much like any other social media, makes the process of coming up with new content easier too!

Blogging helps you control your narrative and is one of the most affordable ways to market your business. You own your story, what you promote, and how search engines find you.

Content provided by guest blog writer:

Mark Kingsdorf is the retired owner of Wedding Ghost. A boutique content creation and coaching business previously located in Saint Petersburg, Florida. As one of 47 Master Wedding Planners globally and with more than 30 years of experience in weddings and events, Kingsdorf worked exclusively with small wedding businesses. 

Find more wedding business tips, tricks and advice on the I Said Yes! Vendor Blog. For instance, How To Get More Leads With A Small Marketing Budget

Cover photo by: Bellamore Studios

Trademarks is the topic of today’s vendor blog. As a wedding professional you understand the value of delegating and hiring others to work in their zone of genius. But have you considered that your zone of genius may be copied by another? Following this, think about the investment and sweat and tears it took for you to build your brand. Now how important is all of that to you?

We asked Nequosha Anderson, of Anderson Law Firm LLC to guest write on our I Said Yes! Vendor Blog today.  She offers expert advice on how to protect your wedding business.

Trademark Meme

Why Trademark?

The wedding industry is bouncing back from the Pandemical (aka the COVID-19 pandemic). Consequently the likelihood of others stealing your hard earned intellectual property to build their good fortune is alive and real. That is to say, more and more people continue to steal and copy your “signature offer”. Whether intentional or not. For this reason, did you know you can be proactive in the protection of your “zone of genius”. 

What is a trademark?

Well, my friends, let me introduce you to my little friend, known simply as “trademark”. A trademark is a form of intellectual property protected by United States Law. For instance, you may know a trademark as brand names or logos. Correspondingly, when you see a particular brand, you are immediately thinking of what they sell. For example, Carolina Herrera is a famous wedding dress designer. Assuredly, you can just picture her romantic dramatic styled dresses. In fact, you can distinguish her dresses from another designer immediately. Unquestionably, in the business, that knowing is what we call, “source recognition”.

Trademarks are words, designs, symbols, devices, and names used to identify the source of one good from goods made from another source. Above all, trademarks are invaluable assets and are protected at the federal level by the Lanham Act. Now understand, simply having a brand does not mean you meet the requirements for trademark protections.  For this reason, to protect your brand, it must be distinctive and used in commerce.

BUT WHY SHOULD I trademark MY BUSINESS NEQUOSHA?

For starters, trademarking, helps to protect your business identity. Second, it protects against others using the same or similar business name or logo. Third, federal trademark protection extends NATIONWIDE! Lastly, a trademark registration is a business asset, and it can be licensed or sold – show me the money! Also, did I mention that a trademark can be renewed indefinitely, unlike a copyright protection.

Storytime A.K.A Real Life example

STORYTIME. Let me tell you a story about a wedding event planner who went against the Most Powerful Woman in Entertainment — Beyonce. Have you heard of Veronica Morales? In this situation, Morales is the owner of “Blue Ivy Events”. She registered and received a federal trademark in 2009 for the name of her business. However, in January 2012, a famous little baby girl by the name of “Blue Ivy” was born. Of course her famous Mother, Beyoncé, wants to protect the brand of her daughter’s name. Obviously Morales, who secured a federal trademark protection prior to Blue Ivy’s birth, challenged Beyoncé’s right to use the term “BLUE IVY” in a particular class of protection.

In the end, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) did not move forward with Morales’ argument of likelihood of confusion. So the moral of the story is, Morales secured her brand, fought, and continues to fight to secure the protection of her brand. And my friends, you can too, even if you end up going against Beyoncé! NOTE: Morales can still use the trademark she secured prior to the birth of Blue Ivy.

Copy of a Trademark Certificate

How To Get Started

Now, if you have a logo or phrase that is unique to your event wedding business that you want to protect, I welcome you to reach out to me to book your free consultation.

Anderson Law Firm LLC, trademark and business protection expert

Anderson Law Firm LLC

Nequosha Anderson, Esq

info@andersonlawfl.com

andersonlawfl.com

IG: @esquire44

Yes, you are a salesperson. In fact, you are the best sales person for your business! And why is that? Because you are the person who is the most passionate about it. 

As an owner operator of a small wedding business (or even as the member of a large company), you have to sell your product or services. In turn it will grow your business, put more events on your calendar and money in your pocket. Of course there are many blogs, articles and courses out there to help you be successful. And recently in our perusal of the internet on this topic, we found a great blog by Hubspot. Thus we had to share some of our favorite highlights.

Trading Places Mortimer Sell Sell Sell

You're not being pushy

Look, I’ve been in sales for 25+ years and I understand what you are thinking…”I feel like I’m being too pushy”. I know you are worried that you called too much, or emailed too much. No doubt you are taking their lack of response as a negative. In some instances, that is true. However, let’s put you on the other side of those emails, calls and texts. 

Here’s the scenario – you are looking to get your roof re-done. First, you research different companies and kinds of roofs. Second, you request information through a roofing company website, or two. Next, you start to receive emails and phone calls from the roofing companies you contacted. Meanwhile, you aren’t ready to make the decision. Consequently because you are waiting on your tax refund (aren’t we all). Therefore you ignore said phones calls and emails. Because one of these roofing companies understands their client, they consistently email and call you. Finally, you get your tax refund and you get the phone call from the roofing company – AGAIN. But wait, you answer it. Why, because now you are ready to buy.

Consider this, why did you buy your roof from that company? Assuredly because they consistently stayed first of mind and they didn’t quit contacting you. According to Hubspot’s recent sales statistics research, “17% of salespeople think they are pushy compared to 50% of prospects.”

Now flip back and sit in the roofing companies chair. I guarantee you that they are glad they kept contacting you.

a few 2021 Stats to be better at sales

  1. On average, it takes 18 calls to actually connect with a buyer. Yes, I Said 18. Remember, be consistent and persistent.
  2. 60% of buyers want to connect with sales during the consideration stage, after they’ve done the research.  Particularly making wedding expos an important part of your sales closing process.
  3. 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls whereas 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up.  As you can see, you can’t worry about being too pushy.
  4. 70% of salespeople stop at one email. Lead follow-up is a process. Don’t give up early.
  5. Read all the stats on the 60 Key Sales Statistics That’ll Help You Sell Smarter in 2021 blog by Hubspot.

As you can see, sales is a process. Clearly its more than one email or one call. Undoubtedly it takes time to hone your sales skills. But consider the stats above and remember that you have to work your sales to make your sales work for you. As a result, you will find greater success and greater reward.

So in the words of Mortimer Duke, get out there and Sell, Sell, Sell!

Scaling your wedding business to six figures is the topic of today’s I Said Yes! Wedding Pros Blog.  As a result, we are excited to bring you a guest blogger who is sharing her 3 pillars of a 6-figure wedding business. 

3 pillars of a 6-figure wedding business

Hey, hey wedding pros!  My name is Brandee Gaar and I’m not only an educator for the wedding industry, but I’m a wedding planner right here in the Central Florida market. 

Before we get into this topic, I want to be super clear…I don’t think you necessarily need six figures to be successful. That is to say, I think that success is defined by everyone in a different way.

However, I also know that there is a lot of people out there trying to figure out how to take their business from barely making an income (and paying themselves) to hitting that six-figure mark. Then the multiple six-figure marks.

So I sat down to really think about the steps that have helped me go from solopreneur – to 6-figures with a small team – to multiple 6-figures with a little bit of a larger team.

As a result, I have narrowed it down to 3!  As you step into being the CEO of your business, and look to grow and scale in a new way, these steps will take you to the next level.

6 Figure Wedding Business Success with Brandee Gaar
Photo by Kristen Weaver Photography

Strategic Delegation

So often as entrepreneurs, we hear delegate, delegate, delegate. I think delegation in of itself is challenging.  Because we think we are the only ones who know how to do something? Coupled with no one can do it as good as me. Following this, you think “I don’t have time to train someone.  I don’t know where to find someone.” Admittedly, all of these things are excuses.

But what I want you to really think about is not just delegating, but strategically delegating. As a result, once you decide to hire, you hire the right person for the right job. Strategic delegation means really looking for someone that has the qualities you are lacking. Further, they take over the duties in your company that don’t bring you joy. Consider these questions when hiring: First, what takes you the most time? Second, what do you put off until you have nothing left on your list? Last, what do you absolutely dread doing? 

I hire people onto my team that have qualities that I may be lacking. For instance, I can teach people on my team how to be a great wedding planner. While on the other hand I lack in the skills to complete other duties within the wedding business. For example, I absolutely hate anything that has to do with SOP’s, CRM’s or writing a training manual. So when I’m looking for people to join my team, I want to look for people that love data and procedures. Correspondingly, I can say “Oh my gosh, we need a process for this. Or I need my CRM to do X, Y, and Z” and I have somebody on my team to do that.

In conclusion, strategically delegate and hire to ensure all duties within your wedding business are covered by team players who enjoy doing the task and are subsequently really good at it.

Your Network

In your wedding business, your network is everything. Indeed, the people that you surround yourself with are the people that are going to refer you. Further, they are going to sing your praises when you are not in the room. 

You cannot be everywhere all the time. So it is very important to have a network of people surrounding you, that love you. Moreover, they know your brand and believe in you. Additionally, they believe your uniqueness. Most importantly, they tell everyone how amazing you are.

Brandee says, “This has been something so essential in growing Blush for me because from the very beginning, I created a strategic network around me. To be honest, I didn’t think about that right from the beginning.”  Admittedly, I wasn’t like “I need to create this strategic network around me.” Of course, as it started to unfold, I realized how imperative it was to my growth.

For example, there are so many people that would refer me to their clients. Or refer me to a venue. Unquestionably, those relationships I started building 14 years ago, have catapulted me from a solopreneur into a business that does half a million dollars a year.

In addition, they believe in what I do. They make me better. And when something goes wrong in an event, or they see something we could do better, they bring it to me. 

Be Amazing At One THing

Oh my gosh, I see this so often as I’m coaching new wedding professionals, and I get it. Believe me, I totally get it. You come into the wedding industry and you want so badly to quit your nine to five. To sum up, you want to make it a full-time income.

In this situation, you may come into the wedding industry as a wedding planner with two or three clients. For good reason, you are excited. But then the work dries up and you’re like, “Uh oh, I’ve got to bring in more income.” Due to this lack of business, you start offering floral. Next offering rentals. Then you start managing venues. Unfortunately, the problem with this is people won’t understand what you’re actually excellent at.

Ask yourself these questions: What are you known for? Or, what do you want to be known for? Most importantly, what are you amazing at? 

It’s so important to be laser sharp excellent at the one thing you provide that makes you better than everyone else who is providing that same service. Consider this, if you end up providing 5, 6, 7 different services, you are going to stretch yourself too thin. Subsequently, you’re making a tiny bit of money in each service. Although you may end up making six figures. How much money did you put out buying new things and learning new trades? One other thing, your likely not even great at any of them. You’re mediocre at all of them. Similarly, you’re completely overwhelmed because you’re working six different things and you’re so fried you don’t even want to take any more clients.

I know how difficult it is to niche down. However, I promise when you niche down to one service, you will grow exponentially in that area. Assuredly because that is what you become known for.

It Takes Hard Work To Scale Your Wedding Business

Scaling your wedding business to six figures takes hard work – but it is worth it.

That’s all I have for you today! I love ,love, love getting to offer my advice to you through the I Said Yes! Wedding Pros Blog. Further I am excited to help you scale your business in any way I can. If you’re dedicated to following these three pillars – you’re bound to scale in no time.

Cover Photo by: Pavion Photography

Professional client communication skills are a key to building a successful wedding business.  However, it can at times be a difficult skill to navigate. For instance, at some point during your career as a wedding professional you’ve probably been blindsided by a person trying to tell you how to do your job. These interactions can range from an individual who sincerely wishes to assist you. Then to one who thinks they know the situation better than you. (Right?). We invited Dr. Kay Julien of Strombreaker Conflict Coaching to join us as a guest today on the I Said Yes! Wedding Pros Blog. As a result she is sharing five do’s and don’ts for professional client communication during emotional moments. They are not applicable in every context. But will be useful additions to your communication toolbox as you serve your clients.

five do's and don'ts of client communication

To start, don’t immediately start talking or become defensive when approached by an unhappy person. Additionally, do not tell them to ‘calm down’. Certainly do listen first and collect information. You may think you know what that person is saying. However, there is a good chance you don’t.

First, ask questions. Furthermore, repeat to them what you think they’re telling you.  This will help them clarify what they want from you. Next, make sure you are both defining the matter the same way. In return, your response will effectively hit the target.

Second, don’t delay addressing a troubling situation because you think you do not have time to deal with it. So do tackle tough issues early. Certainly, where there is smoke, there is fire. Indeed simmering problems won’t magically go away. Assuredly they will only get bigger.  Dr. Kay Julien says, “Slow down. Make the time to resolve difficulties as soon as they come up. If you put them off, you can be sure it’ll cost you more time in the long run.”

Third, don’t dismiss the person coming to you because they’re not your direct client. Undoubtedly, your client will hear the story one way or another! Instead, do value them as an appreciated participant in the couple’s big day. Further, be inclusive in your manner with professionalism and kindness. Also be attentive. Acknowledge what they are presenting to you.

Dr. Julien suggests the following option if you feel they’re overstepping. Say something like, “Thanks very much for your input. Let me run this by (your client) and get back to you.” Following up with your client will also give you additional time to determine how you want to handle the circumstances.

Fourth, don’t get into a power struggle. Particularly when you encounter opposition. Do remain focused on the specific wedding concern at hand. That is to say, a power struggle will divert you from addressing the wedding subject.  Continue by resisting to follow the tangent. Therefore, be direct and bring the conversation back to the specific topic. Say something like, “For now, let’s figure out the answer for . . .”

Fifth, don’t have tunnel vision when you are asked to make a change. Instead, do adopt the perspective that there is more than one way to slice that pie! After hearing about a desired change. Zoom out. Then come up with a few creative solutions. Following this, invite those involved to choose the option that best fits their desired resolution. This action will allow your expertise to continue to guide the process, and keep them involved in the decision-making.

As we finish up with this helpful information on professional client communication. We leave with a note from Dr. Kay Julien, “Cheers to you – skillfully being a pro!” She is passionate about helping not only you as a wedding professional, but also your engaged couples.  To help your engaged couples with conflict resolution, have them contact Dr. Kay Julien to schedule an appointment. 

For more do’s and don’ts for your wedding business. Go to the I Said Yes! Wedding Pro Blog

Cover photo provided by Steven Miller Photography

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