Wedding Leads Decline: What gives?

wedding leads decline

Fewer Americans are getting married. On average, the ones getting married are having slightly smaller weddings. Their celebrations are shrinking; however, not necessarily becoming less expensive. Wedding leads are an important part of profitability.

Wedding couples are deferring wedding dates. In 2015, the average American bride was just under 28 years old and the average groom almost 30 (Source: according to the most recent data available from the Census Bureau). A decade earlier, brides were 25; grooms about 27.

Wedding Statistics

wedding leadsThe number of new marriages per 1,000 people (The U.S. marriage rate) has declined for decades. It crashed especially quickly, in 2008 and 2009. However, there’s little evidence people began getting married at a quicker rate, despite the recovery of the economy. The marriage rate is unlikely to improve, significantly in the foreseeable future.

On the world stage, this is no shock. The United States marriage rate must plummet by about one-third to match marriage rates elsewhere. Recent data shows a U.S. marriage rate of 6.9%, compared with an average rate of 4.6% for countries in the European Union.

In the United States, couples are postponing marriage indefinitely, as it is more socially acceptable for couples to cohabitate and parent outside the bonds of marriage.

Year Over Year Statistics

wedding keadsWhile advertising costs continue to rise, it’s important to compare the cost-per-lead from the various sources of traffic. It is reasonable for prices to rise, commensurate with website traffic, but only if cost and activity are rising in tandem.

You will know, immediately if a proper relationship between marketing costs and click-throughs or leads exists.

As a wedding business, your website or storefront on sites such as The Knot or WeddingWire are key factors. Most of all, they should be in proper order. That means current photos, accurate copy, etc.. This goes for local and regional sites as well.

Review your wedding statistics and marketing costs not less than every three months.

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Authority

The Business of Gay Weddings

Business-of-Gay-Weddings-Cover-332x500Overview: The cultural issue of Marriage Equality is a rapidly evolving topic in the United States, and the world. This post is a review of the book, The Business of Gay Weddings by Bernadette Coveney-Smith. 

About the author: Bernadette is founder and president of 14 Stories and the Gay Wedding Institute and author of two other books on same-sex weddings. 14 Stories has offices in Boston and New York, since 2004, has produced hundreds of gay and lesbian weddings at top venues with couples from around the world.

Reviewer perspective: Growing up in the 60’s, heading into college in the 70’s was an interesting time. I ran smack into the civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam. And then, on June 28, 1969, The Stonewall Riots took place; in my home town of New York City.

“The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against apolice raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. They are widely considered to represent the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for gay and lesbian rights in the United States

Read the full entry in Wikipedia

Americans live in a big country, and sometimes proximity to social unrest and news events are inexorably tied to geography. After attending college in Arizona, I moved to San Francisco. Less than two years after the move to the Bay Area, Mayor George Moscone and Board of Supervisor Member, Harvey Milk, were assassinated in San Francisco City Hall by former Board of Supervisor Member, Dan White.

In the context of the San Francisco assassinations, it became immediately clear to me that political and social climate had been electrified by events, just as in The Stonewall Riots.

And in my fledgling mobile disc jockey business, I would soon become more fully acquainted with all corners of our diverse community. Thought it is only recently California fully embraced marriage equality, my outlook was shaped in the mid to late 70’s, and stands today.

A 25-year residency in Greater San Francisco afforded me many experiences,  and some perspective, but does not qualify me in the cultural and social nuances of LGBTQ weddings. For that, we have Bernadette’s book.

Educating the Wedding Professional

Bernadette Smith
Bernadette Smith

As an educator, I often find people looking for THE ANSWER.  You won’t find simple answers, here. What you will read from Bernadette is well-thought-out, organized, and neatly presented guidelines, recommendations, customs, and suggestions on handling simple situations, complex ones, and everything in-between.

For example, there are many examples of dialogues between a wedding planner and an engaged couple. Through these well crafted examples, both good and bad, it becomes easy to see what approach is likely to be well-received, and how another is certain to offend. And, of course, with all the permutations of people and personalities, the most important skill is listening, because not all reactions will be the same.

Statistics are Changing, Rapidly

Though just published in 2013, even foundation statistics have been quickly eclipsed. A statement such as: What states have approved same-sex marriages? is significantly different than when New York State approved its same-sex marriage bill, June 24, 2011. 

Bernadette gives the statistical information as it was, upon the book’s publication date. Wikipedia shall pick up the slack on the numbers.

It’s About Protocol, People and their Feelings

In painstaking detail, Chapter 2 presents us with a glossary of familiar words, defined precisely. This section is supplemented by a discussion of subcultures and a discussion of stereotypes. More exactly, the danger of assuming stereotypes.

On Page 42, Bernadette narrates six stages of Cultural Competency in the arena of gay marriage; ranging from the unfamiliar to ‘Cultural Proficiency.’ It’s a variation on the 4 Stages of Learning; something I learned in formal sales training. Both these sequences start with awkward or incompetent, and end with proficiency that becomes reflexive, over time. Knowing what to do, and doing it, become inseparable after enough improvements and repetition.

Marketing to Same-Sex Couples

Chapter 9 addresses a range of issues, framed as: Marketing: The Key To Everything. The guidance offered, provides superb guidelines. But, take each step carefully, and with considered thought.

===

In current news

Friday, Wisconsin was the latest state to strike down laws limited or prohibiting same-sex marriage.

In a coincidence of good timing, today, a good friend of mine, KC Kokoruz, a bridal show producer, was hosting The Badger State Bridal Expo in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And the media came out… three TV crews, no less. They spoke with exhibitors, brides, and their entourages. But it was KC who had the mic, before the assembled crowd. He cited a line spoken by Pink, quoted in Bernadette’s book. Paraphrasing….

“It will a be great day when we no longer refer to a gay or lesbian wedding, but simply as a wedding.” … and those in attendance erupted in cheers and applause.

Pink

The Business of Gay Weddings is a must-have, not simply for Wedding Planners, but required reading for every employee of every company with plans to serve the LGBTQ communities. It’s both foundation and nuances. It’s both practical and tender.

Let’s face it… ‘We don’t know, what we don’t know.’ and understanding, not just reading, is an important step in reaching the level of Cultural Proficiency, necessary, to produce a wedding without bursting any bubbles along the way.

The Business of Gay Weddings: A Guide for Wedding Professionals (Amazon Books)

 

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Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

GMA on Saving Money on Weddings: Misinformation

An Open Letter To Good Morning America:

broke-brideLast year it was 20/20; this year it’s GMA – Good Morning America. What do they have in common? A lack of research or understanding of weddings, and absolute trivialization  and over simplification of the planning or execution of the event.

My name is Andy Ebon. I publish the Wedding Marketing Blog, targeted to wedding business professionals, and speak to the same audiences at seminars, conferences and conventions throughout the year, across North America and beyond.  Prior to my marketing and speaking career, I spent 26 years in DJ Entertainment. Suffice it to say, I have enough direct wedding experience with brides, grooms, and wedding industry to qualify my comments.

Rather than refute the advice outlined in your series, I prefer to take a different approach. The most misused term in wedding planning is the word budget. Without the services of a professional wedding planner, it is the rare bride that has itemized a realistic budget. 

When bride refers to a ‘budget’, she really means the amount of money she has set aside for the wedding an reception or funds ‘at her disposal’. What different levels of service cost and their relative impact is an item by item decision. If the overarching goal is to ‘SAVE MONEY… as much as humanly possible, on all fronts’, there will be failures and lots of them.

Saving Money

I take no condescending view of couples with limited funds. My wife and I paid for our own wedding, and experienced many of the same difficult choices on saving money. In retrospect, there are a few things I would do differently.

In making wedding decisions, the reality is: The choices may have disproportionate impact on the overall event. These decisions may have no relationship to the money saved or spent.

Selecting an officiant is not a big-dollar expense, but if they call the bride the wrong name or forget that her father passed away and are somehow expecting him to walk her down the aisle, it’s  a painful experience. The money saved is no longer the issue. The ceremony and reception are tainted at the outset.

In the digital world of the last 20-30 years, virtually everyone has music, photos, and video at their fingertips. That does not make anyone who owns a smart phone a professional disc jockey, photographer or videographer. The knowledge, professionalism, and decision making is born of training, continuing education, and years of experience. It is the height arrogance and ignorance to suggest that anyone could be both bride or groom and simultaneously and DJ their own wedding.

It is just as unrealistic to be so overconfident as to expect that one might make hundreds of correct decisions on the first try, rather than look to professionals for their collective wisdom.

Whether it’s the nuances of decor and floral design, catering or baking, among so many others, it’s important to know the limits of one’s own expertise. In the end, a wedding experience can succeed at any price point, provided a bride and groom understand the important questions to ask, what the answers mean, and the interrelated importance of each decision.

Most people will tell you experience of their wedding day is second, only to the birth of their first child.

It is a shame that GMA has provided little quality information to help brides and grooms make superior decisions in planning their wedding.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon 
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Facebook Memorial: Lessons in the Wake of Tragedy

The story and experience described in this post are real. For the last ten days, I’ve been almost entirely off-the-grid, except for Facebook. I’d like to share some highlights and lowlights. There are lessons in life, death, marriage, events, grief, sharing on Facebook, kindness, and sorrow.

Spreading the news through Facebook

Greg Marciel
Greg Marciel

A week ago, I posted a new Facebook profile photo showing me beside my girlfriend’s daughter, Lexi. She moved to Chicago to be with her boyfriend of two years, David. They became engaged about a month ago.

During the nine years, Jessica has been my girlfriend, I’ve grown to know her daughter from a college student to a young woman of 29.

A week ago, Friday… Jessica and Lexi’s world changed, dramatically… and not in a good way.

On Friday, Lexi’s Uncle Gary, called Jessica to check in on Lexi’s dad, Greg (Jessica’s ex-husband). Over the course of a week, he hadn’t answered phone calls, returned calls, and now his voicemail was full.

Jessica cut her day short and headed out to check on Greg. His car was there. She banged on the door and screamed at the top of her lungs, there was no response. Then, she called the police. They wouldn’t break in the door, and hesitated to pick the lock. By this time, three hours had passed.

Jess was able to reach Ellen (Greg’s Ex-Wife #3), who arrived with a key. The police entered the apartment and found that Greg had passed away.

Jessica had the impossible task of calling Lexi and breaking the news. To make the timing diabolically bad, Lexi was scheduled to arrive, the following Wednesday, to attend her sister’s high school graduation party on Thursday and look at a wedding venue on Friday. The coming week had taken on a radically different meaning.

Facebook plays a role

facebook-150-tileAbout five weeks ago when I spoke at the BSPI Conference, I described Facebook as “today’s town square. The place where we share good news and bad.” Sadly, it turned out to be a timely statement.

Greg did not have a Facebook account. I don’t think he even had email. The high-tech of his life was a cell phone. BUT, just about everyone who knew him  was on-Facebook. Within the first 24 hours of his passing, I built a Greg Marciel Memorial Page on Facebook.

Greg had been a musician since beginning trumpet lessons in fourth grade. After relocating from the San Francisco East Bay to Las Vegas, in the late 70’s, he became a mainstay in music scene, here. The news of his passing spread quickly. Condolences, rare photos, videos, music, and stories flooded in.

Since his family was converging on Las Vegas to celebrate the High School Graduation of Greg’s second daughter, Ariana, it made sense to schedule a memorial service this past weekend.

Events on Facebook

Jessica and Lexi Marciel
Jessica and Lexi Marciel

Greg’s obituary didn’t publish in the local paper until Thursday, but by supplementing the Facebook memorial page with a Facebook Event for his Memorial Service and Life Celebration, the communication process was accelerated.

Key musician friends reunited a band Greg had formed with, trombonist, Curt Miller. It was/is called Group Therapy, and as the ‘closing act’ for the memorial.

More than 200 people connected through the Facebook Memorial Page. About half of them were able to attend, even on short notice. Video of the remarks by the Pastor, Greg’s family members, and music by Group Therapy have already been posted to the memorial page and YouTube.

Virtual Town Square

About 100 people were immersed in the life and music of Greg Marciel, for the one-hour of services and couple of hours of coffee and cookies. And with the help of the Greg Marciel Memorial page on Facebook, many more people, not able to attend, will share and take part in fun stories, music, and other experiences.

An Unintended By-Product

A number of people remarked that it seemed they were only getting together at funerals (there had been a memorial the previous Saturday for another fine musician, Billy T, a longtime Las Vegas pianist).

A few remarked that it was time to have the occasional pot luck, and get together, without any particular landmark event attached.

— At different times Facebook is fun, annoying, or indispensable. Last week, for Greg’s entire family and network of friends, it was the latter.

All social media platforms are just tools. I don’t think we could have pulled off such a successful tribute for Greg, without Facebook.

Here’s hoping you only have to use Facebook for promoting meetings, business communications, and happy news…

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Expert
The Wedding Marketing Blog