Wedding professionals can help couples navigate the onslaught of wedding-related media by serving as trusted advisors and guides.
Photo credit: Rhae Adams
We live in interesting times. On the one hand, what constitutes a wedding has never been so flexible. There's practically no rules -aside from what's necessary to create a legally binding union -and even many traditions are open to interpretation. On the other hand, there's never been as much pressure to meet expectations. I don't mean from family or one's religious community - obviously that pressure has always been there. Rather, I mean from the all-important They, peers and strangers attached to us via media (especially of the social kind). The expectation now is to make a wedding unique, Instagrammable and personal, littered with a myriad of small but significant details. "It's pressure" I hear more and more from my client couples, who are often overwhelmed by the feeling that they aren't "doing enough" to make their wedding special.
Added to this weird mix of wide-open possibilities and increasing public pressure is an unprecedented amount of information. Our couples today really could make wedding planning a full-time job, searching through literally millions of "inspo" photos, blogs, websites, and magazines, and attending open houses and wedding shows pretty much every weekend. Phenomenons like "Pinterest overload" aren't new. If you've been in the industry even a few years, you're likely familiar with it. Psychologists know that having many options -and not enough information to evaluate them -can lead to difficulty choosing and less satisfaction post-choice ("Too many choices: A problem that can paralyze," New York Times, Feb. 27, 2010). In the past five years, I've noticed a distinct trend that I think results from this problem. It used to be that clients came to consults with fairly specific visions for their weddings. Not only did they know more or less what they wanted from me for their flowers, but they were also generally set on the other details. Increasingly, however, the visions are either less well-formed, or more often, they are cookie-cutter replays of the same color palette and inspiration photos. Think about it -how many burgundy/blush/gold weddings have you been involved with this year?
While trends are always going to be strong influencers, it feels like we've moved into new territory. Engaged couples are faced with pressure to make their weddings picture-perfect and "so them," but also are overwhelmed by options and have no idea how to achieve this goal. Wise wedding professionals have positioned themselves in this gap, writing blogs and creating social media posts to provide advice and guidance. Good examples of this activity easily find audiences with these couples desperate for help. On Instagram, hashtags related to wedding planning and advice are nearing 10 million total. Traditional industry publications are focusing more attention on the professionals behind the styled shoots and real weddings shown on their pages. By establishing these pros as experts, these sources show couples a solution to the challenges they face in planning. As a result, we could be seeing a return to trust in the wedding professional to take a loose vision and run, and to provide help in navigating the wedding world. This would represent a wide swing from just a few years ago when DIY-everything ruled, and many couples felt comfortable planning their weddings without much professional help at all. A return to trust in the wedding professional is a huge boon and business opportunity for the industry.
We will all benefit from this transition, and we should all be prepared to support it. As we approach engagement season, take time to consider how you can take advantage of this. Are there blog posts you could write with advice from your experiences? Maybe there's a tip sheet you could provide to clients with helpful hints. Or perhaps you can adjust your consult to offer more time for chatting about details. There are many ways to approach this; for further reading, start with my post "Positioning Yourself as an Expert".