Pond Full? Don’t Jump Out—Stand Out!

By Rebecca Richman, PBC™, The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants

Bringing in over $40 billion dollars a year, the wedding industry is naturally attractive to entrepreneurs, but now, the market is arguably oversaturated. With the pond so full and the competition steep, it’s more important now than ever to distinguish yourself and set yourself apart from the rest.

Know your specialties and make it personal
Our personalities make us stand apart. Do some self-reflection and think about what makes you different from the rest. “It might sound cliché, but relationships are hugely important to me, as a person, and really drive my business. I’m a people person, if I can’t see myself setting aside time to get coffee with a bride a month after her honeymoon simply because we want to reconnect as people, I’m less likely to want to work with her and her fiancé. I think it is that relationship building that makes me stand out,” says Tonia Adleta, PBC™, Aribella Events in West Grove, Pa. Brides, too, will be less likely to want to work with us if they don’t feel that connection.

Understanding your past and the steps you’ve taken along the way can sometimes drive the direction of your business and put a uniquely personal touch to it, making you feel more committed. “I named my company Aribella Events after a love letter that was written to my grandmother’s great-grandmother in 1815. ‘The legacy of a love story’ is not just a cute little tagline; it’s our approach to everything. Where is the love story? And how can we help create that legacy?” she asks. When you know who you are as a planner, it becomes much easier to communicate those unique traits to your clients.

Find customers by finding your niche
Wedding planners typically offer the same services: a day-of package, a partial-planning package, a full-service package, etc. In many cases, price becomes the hiring factor. However, if you develop a specialized niche for your business, then you’ll attract the kind of bride and the type of customers you want—those that sync with your style. Don’t assume you can serve all couples well; you can’t be everything to everyone. Every bride and groom has unique needs, it’s important to hone in on what you do best so you can focus and target your marketing efforts more effectively.

A perfect example of a niche business is 14 Stories, with offices in New York and Boston, founded by Bernadette Coveney Smith. “I was living in Massachusetts when the law was changing on gay marriage. I saw an opportunity to be an advocate for these couples who had been together for years and years. For me, though, it’s not just about being a gay wedding planner; it’s about being an advocate for my clients and helping them navigate this industry and the political climate. Being an activist wedding planner really differentiates us because we take it that one step further. This is so important for how we market ourselves to our couples,” she says.

After identifying your niche, you need to own it—become so skilled in that niche that no one in your region can execute it as well as you. That makes hiring you an even easier decision for your target bride.

Change with the times
As the industry grows and changes, you must, too. Consider branching out and offering a creative new service that fills a unique void. “Before this year, I relied on our professionalism, experience, and ability to put brides at ease to set us apart, but as things became more and more competitive, and the market became more saturated with those willing to be paid less, we decided to take a new approach to planning,” says Kerri Hatter, PBC™, by Kerri Hatter Weddings and Events in Ladera Ranch, Calif. We added a series of workshops called The Wedding Workshop to their list of services. The workshops allow brides who can’t afford full-service wedding planners to learn tips and techniques as well as vendors that will help them have the wedding of their dreams. “Many brides want to be hands-on to save money these days, so this is the perfect program that no one else is offering,” she says.

Get in the public eye—and stay there
Communicating your unique traits, niche, or brand is often the hardest part. Staying visible allows you to be heard. Offer to speak on planning tips at your local bridal show, or consider showcasing your work with a photo shoot. “Be unique with the design. Make it something out-of-the-box to show off your creativity and eye for style,” says Felicia Gantar, Felicia’s Events in Gardnerville, Nev. Remember, networking and keeping your brand in the public eye keeps your business top of mind.

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