A Modern Guide to Real Wedding Submissions

 A modern guide to real wedding features

For wedding photographers and event designers, the ways to market your brand and showcase your work are nearly limitless in today's world. If you are naturally drawn to more traditional real wedding features, you may already feel the compounding pressure to differentiate yourself in a time when editorial priorities continue to shift at some of our favorite magazines.

Real wedding features will only become more coveted as media companies continue to replace organic content with sponsored posts from advertisers.

But trust us - those beloved stories won’t disappear entirely. Writers will still be searching for great content, but are looking for something that makes readers linger over each element rather than flip right past. Today, we’re diving into some of the insights we give our clients, specifically photographers and designers, through a modernized guide of how to attract an editor's attention, and your ideal client.

The Essentials

Imagine you just watched a movie with all your favorite celebrities - anticipating every moment only to be left at the end feeling unsatisfied from a lackluster storyline. You think it had all the makings of something great, but had nothing to sink your teeth into. Stunning photographs only have true representation of an event when they are complemented by a compelling and personal story.

  • Tap into your inner author: Envision the trailer of that movie and condense your couple’s story into an opening few sentences of your submission email. Highlight the most meaningful and treasured moments, and even a few of the finer details, to build anticipation for what’s to come in your collection of photos
  • Showcase your team: Include a thorough vendor list with links to website and Instagram
  • Build a media-friendly collection: Sending around 75-100 photos gives editors a great pool to choose from and help find photos that really give a complete narrative of your wedding. More on how to curate these photos in the next section.

The Visuals

Quiet stolen looks, boisterous laughter and joyful tears will always give your collection life, only to be enhanced by a dynamic range of detail shots that establish a sense of place and time. Those kinds of sensory shots give powerful depth to the entire celebration; a close up of the vintage leather used in a custom invitation and day-of suite, the unique tabletop linens mirroring the bride’s lace from her gown, or the Victorian china displayed at dessert, inspired by a set that had been in the groom’s family for years. Colors, textures and details of almost every aspect should be respected and embraced. Bring along a styling kit (linen board, silk/chiffon ribbon, small vintage mirror, ceramic dish, and some extra flowers from the florist).  

Try and visit the venue or property ahead of time - that perspective will help you mentally dog-ear a few spots to bring the couple during golden hour, style that invitation suite or have a second shooter capture the ceremony from an alternate vantage point. Photos of the intricate tile detailing in the foyer, the overgrown lemon trees in the garden, or the antique velvet settee in the bride’s room will serve as the interlude from one photo to the next - tying all the day’s happenings together seamlessly. Finally, a thorough understanding of the day’s timeline is critical. You’ll mentally anticipate the traditional must-capture moments, but also have time to capture the more obscure happenings that make a celebration truly unique; a prayer amongst groomsmen before the ceremony, a stolen dance between the flower girl and her father in the hotel lobby, or the boisterous embrace of a grandmother to the bride at dinner.

Real wedding features have evolved into true narratives - told both visually and through written word. Being able to keep some of these considerations in mind will help you build a submission that truly represents your clients and your distinct work.

We work with a select number of wedding professionals through our Real Wedding Submission program, and our short-term consulting service. Let's chat more

Building a Social Identity Your Followers Will Crave

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Have you ever sat staring blankly at a blinking cursor just waiting for the perfect witty response to surface? Welcome to the club.

We have so much control over our brand’s visual identity, almost to an overwhelming degree, that finding our authentic voice is not only essential - but rather a means for social media survival.

Millennials favor brands that deliver content in bite-sized, digestible pieces. The copy doesn’t have to be overworked - just something that your audience can connect to.

Consider captions like an asterisk that serves a greater purpose - a deeper explanation and personal reflection of what the naked eye may not catch. You’ll start to build a network that anticipates each of your posts, shares your content and self-identifies with your brand.

Bring Followers Value

Even while you’re selecting the next photo to post on Instagram, you can start crafting your captions internally. Ask yourself: why does this post matter to my audience? Does this photo show more than just a pretty scene? And, how is this post - both the photo and the caption - serving my community? Feeling confident in those few areas will help crystalize the intention behind your voice.

Transport your audience

Focus on giving followers a level of 'surprise and delight' with each short narrative - something new and captivating. What’s the story behind the scene? How does your unique approach as a creative drive that design or experience? Provide a sense of place and invite curiosity from your audience (which we will get to next). Videos are on the rise, and should be used liberally when you have the right content.

Encourage Curiosity

However brief, captions should be the appetizer - not the full meal. Always try to encourage your audience to go beyond the double-tap and further into your world, whether leading them to a blog post on your website, a media placement online or to your stories. Without this push, your followers might just casually scroll through your feed, rather then go on the journey that is your brand.

So, let’s get down to it - a few examples

Standard Caption: Florals by @flowerbud were so pretty!  Couldn't believe how everything came together for this wedding.

Revised Caption: With the creative artistry of @flowerbud, we transformed an otherwise minimal backdrop with a jaw-dropping display of budding lemon trees. Our clients spent three years traveling around Europe and remember fondly a sense of peace in a place that was covered in these earthly trees - the Island of Capri along the Amalfi Coast. We transported guests to that serene haven with a nod to A+J’s travels, through a multi-dimensional design that felt uniquely personal. See our stories for more.

Standard Caption: Just finished our fourth wedding of the year, what a crazy journey!

Revised Caption: We just returned from a special wedding weekend in Nantucket - one that was a true testament to many creative minds at work. At the start of our journey together, V+B had already selected a beautiful venue to host their celebration. But as the design process got underway, it became clear that the space didn’t feel totally right. Thanks to the gracious flexibility of our team, we moved things to a private estate that would allow for us to execute their vision without limitations. And the result was more memorable than we could have imagines. We’re so thrilled to share this celebration, now featured on @brides [link in bio]

Many of us share the struggle of communicating what’s going on inside our imagination, on paper. Here’s a helpful post we wrote a few months back about developing engaging copy for your brand. It’s not going to happen overnight and it may mean some trial-and-error. But shifting your approach in favor of a more compelling narrative is something your followers won’t be able to get enough of - trust us.

*This post was conceptualized by Rachel Trahan, a valuable member of the In Good Company team

Need a helping hand crystalizing your brand's marketing strategy? Email us - we'd love to chat

Maintaining an Intentional Marketing Strategy in the Busy Season

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As our clients head into the busiest season of their year, we understand that marketing may take a back seat to design plans, site visits and weekend-long productions. To help, this actionable guide is designed to help you maximize your marketing efforts during the course of the next few months.

You'll continue to build a dialogue with your network, giving them an even deeper understanding of your work that will sustain you long past the height of wedding season.

Pre-plan Instagram

Instagram remains one of the strongest marketing channels used in the wedding industry, primarily funneling new client leads and maximizing brand awareness (despite the ever-changing algorithm - more on that here). Remembering to post continuously and often on Instagram can seem like an uphill battle, especially while juggling tastings and client meetings during the busy wedding season.

  • We suggest clients take 2-3 hours every week to pre-plan content using a scheduler like planoly or later. These platforms allow you to upload images, visualize your grid and draft captions. You can easily re-arrange the look of your Instagram grid all in one sitting, and not have to worry about continuously posting in real-time.
  • Once you schedule the post, you’ll be instantaneously reminded to post on that day and time (making it super easy to do while in the middle of a project on-site, for instance). A few platforms have also enabled automatic publishing for those who want a totally hands-off approach.
  • We still encourage clients to make an effort to engage on Instagram, liking and commenting on content from other industry creatives to help contribute to an active community.
  • Stories are a way to post real-time content quickly while on-site at a wedding, to show your audience your creative process.

Whether you set aside a block of time every week or small breaks during your day, establishing an efficient process that works with your unique schedule can help you nurture and build your audience even during your busiest season.

Reflect in real-time

Traveling affords us a bit of extra time to read those bookmarked pages of our favorite magazines and blogs - take advantage of that time and get reacquainted with the media world. Take note of tone, style and types of features being published in your favorite publications. Are there projects you’re working on that could fit in nicely? Anticipate the weddings you have coming up that you think may be exceptionally 'noteworthy.’ Consider reserving one afternoon after that celebration (or on the flight back home) to reflect on the most notable aspects, still fresh in your mind, that can be later submitted alongside a thoughtfully curated collection of photos. That simple strategy will help you shape a narrative for the editor when you finally have bandwidth to sit down and submit the entire package for editorial consideration. Keeping with the shift towards efficiency, this will save you time down the road when you may be trying to remember the small, unique details that made a celebration so special.  

Utilize your blog as a megaphone

Maintain your blog, even at a basic level. Instead of simply posting a wedding recap, focus on more observations from the field that you’re noticing while on-site, working with other partners. What are the changes in design that are developing? Are there new venues of note, and what makes them special? Are there new specialty vendors or products that may align with your style? What are new ways you’re seeing other leaders deliver a memorable experience for guests? What has been inspiring you over the course of the season - from travel and design to culinary arts and culture?  Collect your thoughts into a brief post that will take your audience along the journey with you through this wedding season. Then, share that content with a post on Instagram and Facebook or through an email newsletter (if part of your strategy) to maximize its impact.

*This post was conceptualized by Neeka Bardi, a valuable member of the In Good Company team

Our consulting service helps brands gain clarity on marketing objectives and establish a strong strategy for growth. Contact us if you are looking for that perfect partner.

Instagram for the Wedding Pro: Mastering the Algorithm & Maximizing Impact

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In our modern world, we are challenged to strike a happy balance between quality and quantity, particularly on social media. Instagram is always changing and one of their most recent algorithm adjustments have followers frankly confused, searching for answers as to why their posts aren’t gaining the momentum they once did. How do we as an industry combat things? Today, we are sharing a few of our go-to Instagram marketing strategies to maintaining a strong, consistent presence (while keeping your sanity).

Spend More Time Engaging

With Instagram, engagement is key. The Instagram algorithm favors posts with high engagement. Your feed will be automatically curated by what you engage with most and the relationship you have with that user. Meaning, the closer relationship you have with your followers, the more likely your content will actually show up in their feed. Avoid getting your content buried with a few tactics:

  • Respond to all post comments, even if it’s just liking the comment with the heart feature on Instagram. Taking time to engage will reinforce your commitment to followers, and strengthen the visibility of your future posts.
  • Prompt questions from your followers in your captions. Encourage a conversation. When you start to create a relationship with future clients and fellow industry leaders, you’re creating champions for your brand, beyond just followers.
  • Optimize your posting schedule, pushing content at high-traffic times of 5-8 pm and around the mid-afternoon lunch break at noon.
  • Boost posts with intention. If you have a beautiful professional photo of your work that has performed well organically, considering boosting it to a targeted audience to maximize exposure (i.e. newly engaged brides in Southern California).

Utilize The Full Bench of Features on Instagram

It is important not to ignore the new features of Instagram, like live video and stories. When a user interacts with your brand beyond posts, your Instagram profile gains authority on their feed. Live video and stories can be used like a virtual consulting and education platform - encourage followers to ask you questions about a variety of topics (like designing a simple, seasonal tablescape for an at-home bridal shower, or even how to build a beautiful welcome box for guests). Your followers will quickly come to think of you and your brand as the true experts, and will start to look forward to the content you deliver them. Utilize stories as a complement to post, tying one to the other, encouraging followers to visit both.

U P D A T E : J U N E 2018

There have been some significant changes to the Instagram algorithm as of June 2018. Instagram will continue to show posts in order of who you engage with most regularly, but also based on four other key factors: (1) your perceived level of interest based on past behavior on similar posts, (2) the timeliness, favoring those recent posts, (3) your relationship with the profile / person, and (4) usage - the more you scroll, the deeper into Instagram's content archive you may get.

Our suggestions? Encourage others to tag your brand in their posts, not just in the caption. Also, a few times a year do a 'purge' of those accounts that you may have been following that aren't relevant anymore. Then, you'll start to see more from those you care about. Also, share a variety of content - both owned and curated - to ensure you're achieving a balanced approach and can engage in different kinds of conversations within your network.

 

*This post was conceptualized by Neeka Bardi, a valuable member of the In Good Company team

We help our clients build a stronger social media presence and nurture their brand for the long-term. Let's design your personalized strategy together - contact us

Wedding & Lifestyle Marketing Resources To Inspire a Successful 2018

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Time for a reality check. Truth is, we are conditioned to continually push ourselves past base camp, even after a full year of climbing uphill. But as one year comes to close and we prepare to ring in 2018, it’s important to first toast to our monumental successes. Whether you’re a wedding planner who just wrapped a busy season of destination events, a photographer who has expanded your shooting team or a venue that has undergone a major renovation - take a moment to appreciate the unending commitment you have to your business.

A great way to establish a strong start to your New Year is to first assess your goals at face value, and acknowledge how they may have shifted or evolved over the last several months. Are there opportunities for growth in one area more than another? How are your objectives serving your business best?

It's also a great time to start playing around with few new tools that can be utilized for more effective workflows, and then integrating them into your blueprint for business growth.

To give you a head start, we’ve designed a guide with a few of our favorites (and take a peek at some of last year’s best marketing resources for wedding & lifestyle pros, too)

To keep your sanity and your team aligned: Asana

This online and mobile tool helps you track multiple projects and business tasks all at once -You can see the status on any given project at a glance without needing to schedule a call or shooting them an email. This is a great tool especially for those creative business owners who have remote team members or contractors. The clean dashboard allows you to see all of your tasks in one window along with their categories (ex: blog, client, etc...), due dates, and who they’re assigned to if you’re working with multiple people. Asana also integrates with Google Drive which makes it easy to keep all of your resources in one place. The mobile app means you can access things while traveling, too!

To flex your graphic skills: Canva

You don’t have to hire a professional designer for smaller graphic needs when you use Canva. You can upload your brand’s colors and fonts to ensure all graphics you create stay cohesive with your overall aesthetic. Overlay wording on top of a photo for a creative Instagram post. Mock up a new Facebook cover photo. Design a client presentation, promotion flyer or invitation to your next business event. It’s so versatile and a bit easier to use than Adobe InDesign (which can’t be beat if you’re working with more complex web design projects). Plus, learn tons of design principles and strategies with Canva’s Design School - a blog with a plethora of resources to help you create great visual content.

To make your website work for you: Yoast

Give your website a fighting chance to stand up against the competition with a plugin that can help you optimize your content to better attract new business through Google. Yoast is a great tool to install on your website that will give you tips for strengthening meta descriptions and improving overall search capacity. Check out our guide to understanding SEO here!

To protect your rep: Google Alerts

An oldie but goodie - Google Alerts is a great tool to keep a pulse on your brand (and others) through an easy and effective daily notification. Google Alerts enables businesses to review mentions of their brand name, track competitors or simple keywords about their industry - like ‘destination wedding planner’ or ‘interior design trends.’ It’s particularly helpful when your work is featured in various wedding blogs and magazines, or articles online - keep track of your presence in a measurable way without spending time scouring the Internet.

To execute a defined Instagram strategy: Planoly

Save yourself some time and schedule Instagram content for the week, month, or next year with this desktop site and mobile app. Planoly is aesthetically-driven so it has features that allow you to visually plan and curate your account layout in a way that aligns with your brand. You can also track and reply to comments as well as track your account analytics. These features allow you to view your followers’ activity with your account and determine which posts do best in specific time frames to help you adjust for the future. For more tips of crafting a social strategy that works uniquely for your business, check out some helpful social media marketing tips here.

Cheers to a prosperous 2018!

Interested in learning more about our customized public relations partnership, social media marketing services or a consulting engagement? We would love to hear from you!