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Old May 7th, 2015, 10:28 PM   #1
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High End Wedding Websites

I've been using WeddingWire and The Knot as my main sources of obtaining clients for the past year and it's worked quite well. However, I increased my rates a couple months ago and I've found that after doing so many of the brides from these sites do not have high enough budgets for what I'm asking. Because of this, I'm considering looking into some of the high end wedding sites such as Style Me Pretty, Once Wed, and other similar sites.

Does anyone have any experience advertising on these sites? Has anyone been approved as a "Little Black Book" vendor on Style Me Pretty? I'm wondering if sites like these are the best ways to get emails from brides who are willing to spend lots of money on their wedding film. If it is then I'm thinking it might be worth focusing more on them and less on The Knot and WeddingWire.
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Old May 8th, 2015, 01:02 AM   #2
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Re: High End Wedding Websites

No idea about those sites, but Ray Roman has said he gets most of his work from referrals from wedding planners. Presumably high-end American weddings all have wedding planners?
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Old May 8th, 2015, 01:08 AM   #3
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Re: High End Wedding Websites

Hi Michael

Brides can usually always stretch their budget and are not that fussy about price when it comes to weddings ... Let's say you supply the same as me to the bride but your price is $500 more than mine. Guess who the bride is going to book ... simply because we both supply identical products but from me they save $500. Essentially I'm better value for money than you assuming we produce the same quality product.

Now, add in some "value extras" and suddenly your package looks far better value for money than mine does ...you are now $750 more than me but you offer a whole lots of extras that I don't supply and they don't actually cost you $250 but your package suddenly has a much higher perceived value than mine despite the higher price. It can be as silly as offering a 5 disk set instead of 3 or giving them a USB as an extra ... if your competitor is providing this at the same price as you then his deal looks far better to a client.

A photog friend of mine increased his prices without changing anything last year and his enquiries dropped to zero ..he went into panic mode and dropped back to his old prices and the clients returned. I did the same this year and increased my packages an average of 50% - BIG hike !! BUT I added a bunch of extras so my packages now had better perceived value than competitors and brides that have booked this year (for 2016) have never even queried the price.

Look what others in the same price bracket are offering .. maybe your product just appears to be under valued to the bride

Chris
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Old May 8th, 2015, 07:15 AM   #4
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Re: High End Wedding Websites

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Originally Posted by Michael Silverman View Post
I've been using WeddingWire and The Knot as my main sources of obtaining clients for the past year and it's worked quite well. However, I increased my rates a couple months ago and I've found that after doing so many of the brides from these sites do not have high enough budgets for what I'm asking. Because of this, I'm considering looking into some of the high end wedding sites such as Style Me Pretty, Once Wed, and other similar sites.

Does anyone have any experience advertising on these sites? Has anyone been approved as a "Little Black Book" vendor on Style Me Pretty? I'm wondering if sites like these are the best ways to get emails from brides who are willing to spend lots of money on their wedding film. If it is then I'm thinking it might be worth focusing more on them and less on The Knot and WeddingWire.
Mike, I have the EXACT same problem. I pay out a decent amount of money to both The Knot and Wedding Wire and most of the clients simply don't have the budget for my services. And honestly, we're not the most "premium" service in this area. I'm going to drop paying for both services once my contract expires later this year.
I think that Chris has an excellent point. We have to provide a unique value to our services that the client can't find anywhere else in our market. Over the years, I've seen that value evolve from being able to offer "HD Weddings" to the "DSLR" look to the current trend of short "Cinematic" form. Since everyone can basically offer the current trends, we need to figure out another way to stand out. And I don't believe this is exclusively in the distribution system (DVD vs Bluray vs thumb drive). We need something that stands out at the get-go. Before people are even thinking about how they will receive their product, they want to know that it is the product they want!
And I believe that "value" actually doesn't necessarily has to be your work. It can be your timeliness, professionalism, personality, you name it.
I'm still struggling myself with that "value" but fortunately we still have a little wiggle room since our market has become such a destination location. I'm still working out some ideas, but I would be happy to share them once I feel I have landed on something :)
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Old May 8th, 2015, 07:44 AM   #5
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Re: High End Wedding Websites

It's called creating a niche market Ian ..not my idea but some clever internet guru who seems to know what he is talking about. If you are nestling amongst say 10 companies and you all offer much the same service and product then the bride will consider all of you the same and look for the best deal financially ...if you are buying a blue ford sedan you already know what you are getting so stage two is to find which dealer will give you the best price won't you?

Create a package which has the base elements of any wedding video and then create unique add-ons (included in the costing of course) and you have a niche market so the bride cannot compare you to anyone else so as long as she likes what she sees and can find no-one else that provides what you provide then price is no longer an issue .. she just assumes that it's good value for money. However you do need to give something that others don't offer !! My brides are given an LCD book with a highlight video loaded ..no-one else in my market group supplies it so it's unique to my package and brides love it!!

You can create uniqueness with anything really from packaging to products and it doesn't have to cost a lot either as long as it sets you apart from all the other videographers competing with you.
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Old May 8th, 2015, 12:23 PM   #6
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Re: High End Wedding Websites

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No idea about those sites, but Ray Roman has said he gets most of his work from referrals from wedding planners.
Exactly, Adrian, that's pretty much how it's done in the upper end of the market.

Michael, moving into the higher end of the wedding market actually takes time and is not as simple as getting a better website or advertising in certain places. Those things are important, essential even, but that is more of a starting point than the destination.

The higher end vendors tend to be clubbish and it all has a lot to do with "who you know" and becoming part of the network of higher end vendors.

The higher end venues such as the upper scale country clubs and fancier venues are picky about who they work with and you pretty much need to fit in in order to get referrals.

The higher end guys tend to work largely off of word of mouth referrals by customers and photographers, as well as wedding planners and venue managers.

The main thing to do in order to move into the higher end is 1. Create a business model from top to bottom that reflects your target audience 2. Create a product that creates a buzz and then market it and put it out there. 3. Be the guy that that the higher end brides and vendors want to work with. At least this is how I would go about it.

A good friend of mine creates superior videos that could easily command $3000 or more but he is new in the business and in over a year he has yet to get the prices he deserves. In time he will get there but it's largely about networking and that takes time.
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Old May 9th, 2015, 06:41 AM   #7
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Re: High End Wedding Websites

Here in the UK we have our version of The Knot and Wedding Wire and your right about clients. Those browsing those sites are shopping around and use a directory to quickly find the cheapest or someone within their budget. Which is normally modest.

We found that there is nothing like them for higher end as higher ends tend to use planners or go with someone recommended as they are spending more so need to make sure they get well established quality. Lower end are willing to take a risk for a lower price.

You need to start getting in with photographers and other vendors who are at the level your looking to target. Look at planners and getting on recommended supplier lists at venues. Open your mind about paying for refferals. We have a lot of venues here who will only recommend you if you pay. I used to hate doing that but have now accepted that they are a business, they need to make money.

Make sure you have addons which you can either make money from or throw in there to give a higher perceived value. If you currently give raw footage away for free stop. Really people stop! You can charge for it and people pay. Or, as you've then given it a value it can be used to sweeten any package at little to zero cost to yourself. If you give it zero value then adding it to a package has zero value. 50% of our clients BUY the raw footage.

Network. People are right, its about who you know. But you cant just have great work. People recommend you because your work is good but your also someone they want to work with again.

A warning though, its a lot more effort to find and keep these relationships than simply paying to be on a website directory so this is something that must also be reflected in your pricing.

Charge what your worth. Low end brides will see great work and a low price and bite your hand off to take the deal of the century. Higher end brides are more sceptical though. If someone offered you a rolex for $50 would you take it or question why its so low?
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Old May 9th, 2015, 11:46 PM   #8
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Re: High End Wedding Websites

Hi Michael

Also do some serious market research to ascertain whether a viable high end market exists and is sustainable in your target area. I'm sure if you operated in Beverly Hills there is no doubt a high end market exists in abundance but check your own market carefully ..What is the average wedding budget locally? If it's $20K then you don't have a decent high end market but if you have weddings that are typically $100K + then you are in business. Let's be honest a bride spending $20K on a wedding is highly unlikely to spend half her budget just on video!!

It's great to do 10 x $15K weddings a year instead of 40 x $3750 weddings as long as you actually will get 10 high end weddings a year. Most wedding directories have stats on what brides pay for services and median prices for vendors.

Chris
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Old May 10th, 2015, 10:08 PM   #9
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Re: High End Wedding Websites

I applied for Style Me Pretty but was rejected. I have however had our Vintage Chic Southern Wedding Inspiration Featured on Style Me Pretty. Got a few hits from them, but no inquires. I am a Wedding Chicks vendor and I get a few hits here and there, but no inquires. I guess the backlink is cool, but I haven't really jumped in rankings Google wise. Getting backlinks from these wedding websites will be great. So doing like styled shoots are great as long as everyone in the project understands to blog and link to your website, so it helps locally.

These wedding blogs for wedding videographers aren't very helpful in my opinion because they don't feature us how they feature photographers.

I would see if you have a local wedding association. See who the members are and if any higher end venues or planners are a part of it and join. I am in the process of doing that and seeing how it works.

I'm in your boat. I want to shoot high end brides because honestly, that's what I want my brand to reflect, but I haven't got there yet. I have tried just about every single thing in the book. The wedding association is my latest attempt. lol.
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Old May 10th, 2015, 10:23 PM   #10
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Re: High End Wedding Websites

These are all really helpful responses. I'm not certain what my plan is for the next 6-12 months, but I'm pretty sure I will limit the amount that I spend on sites like WeddingWire and The Knot. Not because they aren't useful, but just because the costs really add up and the brides from these sites are often looking to spend much less than my asking price.

I really like all the ideas presented in this thread. I set up a meeting with a marketing guru that I know and he's going to give his thoughts on my website, my packages, and my overall marketing strategy. I may end up adding some "extras" like several people mentioned because my packages may be a bit too simplistic at the moment. I also really like the idea of giving a kickback to wedding coordinators and photographers for referrals. I honestly don't mind paying a percentage to them as long as the bride books me for their wedding. Plus if it would allow me to stop paying so much for advertising then why not?

I have a couple meetings set up this week to go over this idea with a photographer and a wedding coordinator that I know just to find out their thoughts. I'll update this thread in a few months to let everyone know how things are going as it's sort of an experiment for me which may help others as well.
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Old May 11th, 2015, 07:42 AM   #11
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Re: High End Wedding Websites

Mike,
I'm in the exact same situation. And it's funny that we are in the same market area. But as you know, I don't consider you a competitor. In fact, I think we would benefit one another if we have a similar approach. The more we stand together in terms of pricing, refusing to nickel and dime, and supporting each other, the more respect our profession and respective businesses will gain.
As soon as my contracts expire, I'm dropping both paid versions of The Knot and Wedding Wire. I don't believe there is a way to exit early. I'm sure I averaged the "single" wedding from each site that paid for that annual subscription, but I probably would have filled that date anyway.
When I look at at the big photographers in our area, I don't seem them on these sites. They have fantastic work, word-of-mouth, and clean websites.
I love the review feature on these sites, but I have built up enough at this time to let them ride.
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Old May 11th, 2015, 09:22 AM   #12
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Re: High End Wedding Websites

Hi Ian and Mike

I find this very interesting from an infrastructure point of view .. Google tells me that Charlottesville has a population of under 50,000 so it's not a huge city or am I missing something like your market extends way beyond just the city itself ? What would you guys consider a "budget" wedding price, a "standard" wedding price and a "high end" wedding price in the area??

Where we are our metro population is closer to 1,500,000 so with a population like that one could assume that candidates for high end weddings would be found in the $10K range but still not a huge high end market share. I think our stats for local weddings are around $25K ...that's the complete budget so the video only share certainly wouldn't be nearly as much as $10K for just a videographer but closer to 10% of the bride's budget. The local stats for your area could be very interesting if you are prepared to divulge them??

Chris
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Old May 11th, 2015, 10:50 AM   #13
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Re: High End Wedding Websites

Ian, it has been disappointing that both The Knot and WeddingWire aren't great options at this point. I'm also locked in for another six months or so with both of them. I've noticed that a lot of the brides that are contacting me from these sites are outside of Charlottesville, while the weddings that I book in Charlottesville tend to be through referrals. I'm excited to experiment with some different new strategies and I'll certainly give an update on what works and what doesn't.

Chris, we actually live in a small county that has about 1,000 weddings per year. I believe this is mostly because of the nearby mountains, the abundance of vineyards, and a very famous university in Charlottesville. So there's tons of people getting married here each year with many of them coming from other parts of the state or country. I'm really not sure what the average cost of weddings are, but it's probably quite a bit higher than the average city of our size simply because the venues cost so much to rent and the demand is so high. I don't think anyone around here is charging $10K for weddings, but I have seen some wedding videographers charging $4-$5K.
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Old May 11th, 2015, 03:12 PM   #14
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Re: High End Wedding Websites

Chris,
Read this in answer to your question :)

Marriage or bust: Why are Charlottesville weddings so dang expensive?C-VILLE Weekly
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Old May 11th, 2015, 06:54 PM   #15
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Re: High End Wedding Websites

Thanks Ian

Perfect sense ... back in the old days I was living in a small town in Southern Africa .. sorta one main street only yet, as a photographer I did plenty of weddings simply because of the beauty of the countryside and a little Church made of stone that was the oldest in the country yet seated a mere 12 people but had couples flying in from the big cities just to get married there!

It's a really good start to be living in a desirable wedding area so all you need to do now to get paid what you are worth.

Chris
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