Will & Kate’s Royal Wedding: The Mother of All Gen Y Weddings
So, we are surrounded by the unending mayhem of the Royal Wedding 24/7 these days. Brands (T-Mobile; Marks & Spencer; Tetley Tea; John Smith; Dunkin' Donuts; Swiss Army; etc.) are jumping on the bandwagon left, right and centre to cash on (Brands Anticipating High Sales Ahead of Royal Wedding; UK brands are stepping up to take full advantage of the occasion; Brands close to Kate gain royal endorsement) the unabated spotlight on the Royal Wedding. And then there is the endless chatter about the Royal Wedding in Social Media. You may love it or hate it, but you certainly can’t ignore it. They Royal Wedding mania is here to stay until the D-Day on 29th April, and is most likely to linger on even after that. By surprisingly, yet rather openly, embracing Social Media, the Royal Wedding may have changed the wedding industry for years to come.
This is not the first time that social media has been used in the context of weddings. Wedding bloggers have made fortunes by providing wedding consultancy and planning services without brick-and-mortar offices for several years. Wedding photographers, planners and enthusiasts enjoy sharing their journey in the wedding industry by putting forth their creative ideas and experiences for future brides to get inspired. Brides-to-be spend hours at length browsing through leading wedding blogs like Style Me Pretty, The Knotty Bride, Valley & Co., Ruffled, Kiss The Groom, Green Wedding Shoes, Polka Dot Bride, Forget Me Knot Weddings, The Knot Blog, DIY Bride, The Bride’s Café, Weddingbee Blog, etc. etc. for months preceding their wedding. While these are western blogs that are famous internationally, there are some prominent Asian wedding blogs too - we . love . laugh . kiss (Singapore), Big Fat Indian Wedding (India), The Unreal Bride (India), Alvindale Weddings (Singapore), Red Dress Weddings (for Chinese American weddings), Aaina (for the South Asian bride in the West), and many more. As a wedding vendor, you would either want to be featured on these blogs or have a bespoke blog of your own to feature your brand and engage with brides-to-be, else you are very unlikely to be found in today’s day and age where brides do a major chunk of their research online.
Now, if you are a wedding vendor up to pace with the times and you do have an original and edgy blog or web presence, you may want to seek membership into the TWIPS community (Twitter Wedding Inspiration Pals). TWIPS is a social media network for wedding industry professionals wherein members support and promote each other’s work. It is a great way to find followers on Twitter and have your word spread out faster and among a diverse set of customers. You must also tap on the #weddingwednesday meme on Twitter each week as couples seek ideas and wedding vendors through #weddingwednesday recommendations.
Once on Twitter, wedding vendors should be careful not to respond to customers only when their service is being discussed, but also engage with them on other topics surrounding their wedding or anything else. Show your customers that you are interested in their lives and that you understand their personality so well as to be a part of the biggest day of their lives – their wedding.
What is it that prospective brides and grooms are looking for online anyway? Inspiration. Inspiration for wedding venues, colour schemes, invitation card designs, bridal wear, jewellery, trousseau packaging, cake designs and vendors, photography locations and photographers, gift registries, bridesmaid dresses, venue decorations, wedding music – basically fresh and creative ideas to have a wedding more original than their best friends who got married last year. Wow! That’s a lot of information. Is there one single expert source or medium to get it all? The answer is ‘YES’.
Who is the expert in the eyes of the bride and groom? It is not necessarily a wedding planner with countless years of experience. Social media with its underlying ethos of crowd-sourcing and collaboration gives the brides-and-grooms-to-be expert information they are looking for.
When you can get the opinion of millions, why stick to one wedding advisor? Brides are known to create Facebook contests to get votes on bridesmaid dresses and gifts. Others put up a selection of wedding venue photos on their Facebook profiles to get friends and friends of friends to help them pick a venue for the big day. The Wedding Wall by OneWed allows couples to invite friends and family to their personal wedding social network to share their wedding tips, offer advice and vote on ideas compiled by the couple in the inspiration photo albums.
To get through today’s digital savvy customers, you have to engage not only with the wedding couple but with the key influencers they trust, i.e. their web community. Potential brides and grooms lurk around the social media space to find friends in strangers by following those who they feel are like themselves and those who they think get the pulse of their vision for their wedding. Experts for them are others like themselves who have gone through a similar ride of wedding research and planning and from whose experiences the couple can pick up practical solutions for seemingly trivial, yet very consequential, details for their wedding. Brides-to-be connect with other brides-to-be or newly wedded brides through the leading wedding forums at TheKnot, Hitched, Wedding Forum, You & Your Wedding, OneWed, and many more. As a wedding vendor, you should consider advertising on these forums and engaging with influential active members of these forums to get traction for your wedding business.
How else are couples using social media for their weddings? Prospective brides and grooms are connecting with wedding vendors through social media, ordering invitation cards through crowd-sourced design sites, setting up Twitter lists & Facebook events for guests to stay updated on all wedding happenings, planning pre-parties using social media networks like OneWed, streaming their destination weddings on Ustream (commoners aren’t the only ones, the Royal couple wants their wedding to be streamed live as well), creating a Twitter hashtag and getting a chief tweeter to record the wedding events for posterity - social media style, using photo crowd-sourcing services for their wedding photographs and videos (the Royal Wedding has got this too), and the list is endless. Social media fanatics set up Well-Wishing Facebook stations and have Tweets of Honour at the venue to add to the celebration. Couples are going as far as crowd-funding their wedding through social media at CrowdWed which encourages supporters to use Facebook & Twitter to help their cause. As a wedding industry stakeholder, you can become a part of the trusted network of prospective brides and grooms by maintaining a personal and authentic tone of voice and by engaging with customers through the right social media channels, blogs and wedding forums.
Living in an era where the first global event of celebration that has attracted so much limelight is the Royal Wedding, young couples are sure to be influenced by its nuances and inspired by its minutest details for their weddings in years to come. As major sporting events spark increased sign-ups for sports training lessons, the weeks and months following the Royal Wedding will see a huge spike in wedding chatter and consumption of inspirational wedding content. This only means that your blog and social media pages should be regularly updated so that if someone lands at your page through a generic search, they find something current and not a blog that has been stagnant for months or even years.
Many brides are coveting for the famous blue sapphire engagement ring adorned by Kate Middleton. Others are speculating about the splendour of her wedding gown and may want something designed along the same lines, even by the same designer, if money could afford. Whether she’ll wear Manolo Blahnik or Giuseppe Zanotti shoes is yet to be seen, but millions of future brides are searching for Kate Middleton’s bridal wear, trousseau and jewels online. As a designer fashion brand or a luxury jewellery brand, you should engage with the large number of brides-to-be who are spellbound by the Kate Middleton designer fever and rapt with a desire for something extraordinary for their wedding. If Kate & William have a YouTube wedding invitation, couples to be married this year are sure to want one too. Consider engaging them in video contests through social media to garner interest amidst the Royal Wedding frenzy.
Chances are that this year’s brides-to-be are all dreaming of princess weddings and magnificent ballroom reception parties. If you are a luxury wedding venue owner, be sure to tap on the trend, use the Royal Wedding hashtags on Twitter and join Google’s live Royal Wedding blog to convince customers that your venue offers nothing but the grandest of ballrooms for a romance that is no less royal than Kate and William’s. Even if you fall in the category of wedding professionals that are sick of the Royal Wedding hype, your customers (young aspirational couples) instead may show symptoms of Royal Wedding sickness (akin to homesickness) whereby they’ll crave for more wedding information even after the gala affair is over. If your customers hate the Royal Wedding too, then showcase something less cheesy and more original or less royal and more DIY on your blog to assure them that normal (a.k.a commoner), albeit luxury, weddings still exist and can be as much fun, if not more.
There are boundless opportunities for wedding brands and vendors to stand out in the social media space. This is the year of the Royal Wedding; this could be your year for weddings!